Handling categories and languages

Like for the wiki, we can prefix with the language code (this time lower case as it should?).
de:cycling, nl:cycling.

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Hi @StC and thanks for the suggestion, I’m moving this to a new topic for visibility.

Do you have any specific proposal in mind? Thanks! :slight_smile:

Other discourse forums usually implement a top level category in English and then they generate sub-categories per language.

In our case that would mean having a top level functional category like “Cycling” and then having sub-categories there for each language.

Is that something that would work?

Unlike the original forum, Discourse has great support for tags. These seem like a good way to represent topics – especially because they are non-exclusive.

So I would be inclined to use tags for topics (e.g. “cycling”, “rendering”, “overpass-turbo”) and categories for communities (language communities, regional communities, organized communities such as local chapters).

Also note that we have the option to evolve from having one category with multiple-tags, to split those topics into their own sub-category if needed in the future, avoiding creating new (low traffic) categories or subcategories unless there is enough volume.

I can think of several proposals:

  • the one by @trial above, with a prefix
  • the one I made in another thread, to have one server per language
  • your proposal above
  • one where we somehow use Discourse to create a clear hierarchy of categories, and create a top-level category for each language.
  • one where an editorial committee decides which topics must be in English

My main concern is that I don’t want to be involuntarily exposed to a huge unstructured list of categories whose messages I cannot read anyway. Given how the Discourse app works on my iPhone, having one server per language would be easy: I would connect only to the fr and en servers, and would get only categories I can read.

Would a top level per-language category solve this for you? I understand you want a single place for all things in language X, right?

A few open questions in my mind:

  • How can we make this easy for new comers and reduce complexity?
  • What about the people who want to follow more than one language?
  • What about conversations about region/countries in different languages? (thinking people who want to edit Japan and discuss in English about it)

Other questions:

  • how can we coordinate languages so that categories are not totally different from one language to another?
  • how to avoid zombie categories, when there is not enough participants to sustain more than an English version?

I imagine a top level per-language category could work. But I don’t know enough of Discourse to be 100% sure, the devil of complexity may be in the details.

Also, we need to take in consideration that some themes are more popular in some languages and non-existent in others. Here is where I suspect tags can help alleviate the category-creation-need and opt for a more organic growth, where only when there is a significant volume of topics around the same theme that become distracting for other topics in the same category, we create a new subcategory for that.

How to make decisions about this? I guess we’ll have to rely on language-communities to self-organize and decide what’s most effective for them, rather than a global policy?

For specialized topics (outdoor , or node networks for instance ), a multi language sub forum wouldn’t hurt to harmonized tagging practices , I think .

… if we start with language communities right ahead, then I fear we loose some opportunities for global discussions .

Note that a multi-language category would mean people tracking o watching the category will get notifications in all languages, which might not be ideal for average user.

I’ve taught UX design, so I can see what you’re trying to do :smiley: Unfortunately, on this topic my imagination as a user is too limited to produce anything vaguely credible. If I resort to magic though, I can perhaps try something.

Imagine a magic technology that translates texts from any language to any language. Then, my ideal solution would be a unified forum with a set of meaningful categories and tags that I would choose according to my interests, including some for world regions. And all messages would be presented to me in my native language.

Alternatively, comparing to my experiences as a computer programmer, another ‘ideal’ world would be one where everybody speaks English. Once again, a unified forum with categories for world regions but the forum would be 100% in English.

In the real world now… let’s see if clever ideas emerge. I liked the idea of one server per language because it would be easy to select your favorite languages (just connect to the corresponding servers) , but I’m sure there are various drawbacks to that. And it probably does not help much with local tag-cultures.

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Magic technology:


This has been discussed on OSMUS slack channel #discourse-community-rollout:

The point of contention seems to be who will pay for the translation (I nominate HOT because they have a ton of money and have a mission dedicated to community development) I personally don’t believe we should create any language specific forums on this site until we try out that plug-in. I see it being a huge missed opportunity if we continue to fragment the community around language when there are other options to test out.

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Thanks for the feedback and description of language barriers, I’ve moved the messages under the existing topic talking about languages and categories.

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… or we could get sponsorship for this.

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.