Handling categories and languages

I think there’s at least a chance we get sponsored, it’s a worthy pursuit. But if not just a sliiiiiice of this budget would suffice, I think. Especially when HOT are so vocal about the importance of localization I don’t see why they wouldn’t support this.

Perhaps the biggest barrier is the (all-volunteer?) operations team whether or not they have the time to implement the translator and test it. Who here is on the dev side of this? Is it feasiable to implement? @nukeador?

HOT has been experimenting with a translator plugin over its loomio instance in the past months, I’ve asked for some learnings and insights.

From my observations is a nice thing to have but it doesn’t replace the language or country specific spaces. I’ll get some input from the people leading this effort to inform this conversation.

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@nukeador thanks for that. Please keep us posted. I see it being something extremely worthwhile to test out, so we can make judgements if it’s sufficient to replace language-specific forums. Once we create those language-specific forums there’s no going back.

I’ve a feeling to just test out the translator plugin won’t incur enough words (translators charge by # of words translated) to go above a free tier. So I resubmit, that the biggest barrier seems to be on the tech side to give the implementation a try. Or perhaps the will to try it out. Anyone else think it would be worth it? Who among us is able to make it happen/give it a shot, and are they willing? In the spirit of not suggesting anything I won’t do myself I’m happy to help out on the tech side.

Would also like to add, I don’t think it will replace region specific spaces, but I think it could surely replace language specific spaces. For example the France forum most of the posts are likely to be in French, but if I want to post a topic there (my french isn’t so tres bien yet :innocent:) I can do so in English and those who aren’t bilingual can have the option to translate and still be part of the discussion.

Usually on local communities channels I know foreign language is not common, but usually welcome, answered and translated as needed.
Welcoming multi language participation on this instance by proposing a translation tool surely is a broader message than building small fortresses .


Glad to have your and a few others support on this.

You’re for sure right that posts in foreign language on a regional forum isn’t all too common. Where the plugin will really shine is by allowing engagement of non-English speakers in global discussions, and enable cross community collaboration even when there is no common language.

Such a translation feature should be a high priority for this global multi language community.

I hear that auto-translation is still less than magic. Maybe we should keep thinking about an architecture for multiple languages, just in case that some contributors still feel the need to create language-specific channels?

Sure, see it as a fallback even if it gets better and better.

We can imagine things today that were unbelievable 15+ years ago when fluxBB or the mailing-lists started.

We should take some time to experiment the translation plugin, because it may reshape the architecture of this forum.

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My 2 cents working with similar plugins:

Yeah, machine translation is not perfect, and note that not every language is supported. There are real limitation for medium and small size languages who are often the ones that need the most.

Having a machine translation plugin is something we can test-out and see how it goes, but in my experience that is not a replacement for language specific spaces, a native experience is way easier for people who don’t speak other languages.

Imagine having to click through all messages to read a medium quality version of them and then seeing your language is not fully supported, the contributor experience is not great. It might work well for major European languages (which have big enough communities to not need this), but not for everyone else.


Regarding how to accomodate different languages in categories or tags, some different approaches have been mentioned. I think one possibility hasn’t been mentioned yet and that would be to only use tags for that:

E.g. the topic “¿Cómo etiquetar la anchura del carril bici?” would be in the “Help and support” category and have the following tags: es cycling.
People that are interested in cycling can filter for the cycling tag and people who (exclusively) want Spanish content can additionally filter for the es tag.

Note that having multiple languages in a single category would imply people will get notifications of new topics in many languages they don’t understand. Tags can still be used inside language-based categories.

Ah, from the technical point of view, getting notifications for new content only works on a per-category basis(?)
I also noticed that the search at the top on the main view seems to only allow to filter by specifying one tag, or am I doing this wrong?

If this is the case, the tag-functionality in discourse is indeed quite basic. (I had hoped for something like in github, e.g. “get all labelled as ‘enhancement’ and ‘help wanted’” and the ability to make the filters stick, i.e. create a custom main view from that). So if this is the case, I take my suggestion back.

Both are possible, but people usually “watch” a category, with your proposal we are putting the complexity to people who want to follow (or just read from the website) the “Help and support” category. Probably we should reduce the complexity for people. What are your concerns over having language-based category or subcategory for Help and Support?

Sorry, can you clarify what you meant with your last sentence? (I’ll delete this post to not litter the conversation after it has been clarified)

No need to delete, we can always split into a separate topic if the conversation derails too much :sweat_smile:

If we decide to have a top level category for each language and then subcategories, including “Help and support” in each language, how would your feel about it?

This should allow people to subscribe to everything that is happening in their language, or just Help and Support in their language.

Well unfortunately, it seems like, due to how discourse works, having categories per-language is indispensible, otherwise people won’t be able to easily follow discussions only in their native language. And without an automatic translation, this is the mode that users that are not comfortable to exclusively communicate in English will want to view the forum in.

Still, this language barrier should not be allowed separate us.

My concern for segregating the forum into per-language (or per-country) categories is that it segregates the community too, just like in the old forum. Having come from the (old) German forum, I do not think this is healthy:

  • Members in one subforum are generally oblivious of whatever people in another subforum do, maybe on the same topic. In the past, this has given rise to many Germany-centric (or at least European-centric) tagging guidelines that are not well applicable for other regions - or (worse) have different meanings for the same tags in different communities

  • If there is a dedicated category for Germany, Germans may feel a certain obligation to participate in the space allocated to them even if they are comfortable to communicate in English. (E.g. in a world where everyone spoke the same language, we wouldn’t have this issue and from the standpoint of community cohesion, this would be ideal. Hence, I prefer to communicate in English in international projects to reach as many people as possible)

  • I have not been a fan of the discussion culture in the (old) German forum and I see this new forum as an oppurtunity to change this. There are two things that could change this from my point of view:

    1. Merging the community into a larger (international) one, i.e. removing the segregation
    2. Help steer the topic of conversation by creating categories/tags that promote collaboration (rather than dissent and open-ended discussion)

So, these are my concerns and this is because I brought it up in the first place. However, without the ability to easily translate topics / posts in other languages (or filter them away), I am not sure if throwing all topics in all languages together into one category is going to work.


Thanks for the feedback @westnordost

I suspect we are also talking about a wider community dynamic that might be present in any form of organization or tool, and I’ve been similar discussions on other open source projects too.

I’m taking notes of all the feedback in this topic to come with a balanced proposal that at least help (or try to) mitigate some of the concerns.


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You can search by tag, get notifications based on tags, view topics, etc…



The bell on the top right, allows to request notifications for this tag.
There is event an RSS feed available if you want to get notified that way.

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I’ve summarized the main challenges and come back with a proposal in the following topic, let’s move the conversation there so it’s easier for new people to engage, thanks!