Language and location based content and categories

During this period the Communities category can serve for multiple communities to get familiar with the platform. People can use tags so we can easily move all things around to a new category with a couple of clicks.

In addition to that we can agree on a process to handle requests here and then grow organically as more people and communities start using the forums

OK. But is it clear to everyone that tags and categories may/will be reshuffled in some time?

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We can put clear wording about this and how topics might be moved if they are more suitable for other categories. The forum is a living thing, we will keep improving and evolving and we might want/need different things in the future than we need today.

Be aware that the more content we put here (including creating categories) before migrating the old forum, the more we create migration issues…

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Probably, but there are also a number of communities that were not active in the old forums and want to have a space here as soon as possible. We shouldn’t probably block any content creation or activity here because of a potential migration (which we haven’t decided yet if we’ll go that route).

Let’s keep this proposal open for input and feedback until March 29th.

After that date the @forums-governance team will take in consideration all the input and take a decision.


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There are lots of people that use the DE forum. It is serving both the needs of people, that prefer to communicate in the German language and to talk about local issues, that affect people in Germany.

I propose to add a category “Deutsch” to, that is explicitly tailored to talk about various issues in the German language. The category must not be named “German”, because this contradicts the low barrier entrance idea of accessibility for the people, that have no command of the English language.

The category should, in my personal opinion, NOT specify “issues in territories of the German Nation State” as something that it is about. Such should be in a different category, from perusing the DE forum, I thin a tag would be better. Very little talk there is about Germany as a whole.

No idea, if category is the right guide. After all, language does not lend itself for use as a category. Language is not a category. But discourse does not offer a suitable replacement. BTW: Machine translation, again my POV, will never capture the delicacies in phrasing. (Natives do not fare much better, but so be it.)

When you take a look at the posting statistics it is quite clear that the most intensely used categories in the “old forum” are some of the national user communities. Considering this fact my suggestions would be to migrate the existing user community structure into the “new forum” (together with the complete content of course). In the same way we show respect to the mapping work of other contributors the contributions of communitiy members to the forum should also be respected. Any set up national community, big or small, is well worth to get a place in the new forum.

Not every community member will be happy with the migration of the forum to a new platform, be it Discourse ore any other one. I do not think it would increase acceptance if the whole structure will be rearranged simultaneously. Talking about rearrangement could be the next step … keeping the forum alive. I personally would not have a problem to change the focus from national communities (France, Germany …) to language based communities (French, German …) but such a change should be based on a widespread discussion within the communities affected.


For country/ language specific communities, I like the set up of the current forum. Atleast for the Dutch part it seems to function well. I personally think it more important to have communities on country level rather than language level as central place to discuss country specific topics.

P.S. people seem to be creating topics in the communities section where they thought they created a community

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I think this is a good assessment. if something pertains to a specific region or country like Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, they could mark it with a country tag.

Maybe the header can rotate between languages? It could be a feature that people could turn on and off.

Let’s hope that this proposal will put a stop to the rude behavior that consists in switching from one language to another in a given topic. That was part of what I did not like in the previous forum, and that is coming back on this one.

Maybe it should be explicitly mentioned as discouraged in the forum guidelines?

Hi all. Late to the party on this new topic, excuse my delayed reply.

Regardless of what ends up being the topic structure of this forum, to have a translator plugin is critical to integrating our global community which is a huge goal of this forum. It ought be a high priority to implement.

After bringing it up in the previous topic I heard concerns of the imperfection of machine translation (for the record, give DeepL a try it’ll blow your mind) but this is just conjecture - the only way to see if this would work for our community is to try it out.

I agree fully with the comment above. Is the point of this forum not to bring us all together? Before we segregate our community by language and silo our conversations away from eachother based upon a barrier that in 2022 can be addressed by technology, we owe it to ourselves to try a translation plugin.

After testing out the plugin, it may be clear that language-specific spaces are the only way to go forward for our community, and that’s OK! At least we tried! And, we can still keep the translation plugin for curious users who want to see what other language communities are discussing!

For sure there may be implementation issues wrt to translating topic titles or getting notifications of posts in other languages, things getting confusing with multiple languages in a category…I’m not convinced this will solve everything.

But if we are to create language-specific spaces now there is no going back to delete categories, we already know how this goes in OSM, I’ve no hope we can reach consensus to change something back after it’s already been done. Just the reality.

To not give the translation plugin a try will be a huge missed opportunity, and I see no reason why we don’t try it. There really is no risk. And, I’m happy to help in the tech side of things to implement it, just let me know.


Went ahead and created another topic specifically about the translation plugin, as it’s not just relevant to forum category structure but the site as a whole.

Testing the translate plugin is something we would like to do eventually, right now we have still a few big things to sort out with the Help OSM and old forums transition.

We already know that a translator plugin is not going to replace language specific spaces, as some have already commented here. Thinking from a major European-language perspective it’s easy to think that a machine translation can solve it, but there are a ton of African and Asian languages where machine translation is not doing a great job.

Testing a translator plugin is not incompatible with enabling people spaces in their languages where there is nothing in the middle doing a okish-to-poor job adapting their tone and expressions.

We also have some commenting here that it could work, if only we tried. Furthermore to support the language plugin and to have language-specific spaces is not mutually-exclusive, however to start the forums with language-specific spaces is an irreversible decision and ought not be made with haste. Is this a community decision or an admin decision?

Perhaps this is something we can consider once we try it out? As opposed to assuming. Especially try DeepL, it’s really that good. Do we have any non-major European language peoples here who can help us understand that perspective? How does language segregation help these folks as opposed to regional categories and allowed to post in any language they want, with ability to translate?

Enabling people spaces in their own languages can also happen if we go by location-based (which in cases of many non-major languages, is a proxy for a language space) instead of language-based. And in the case of a post in a location-based category in a non-major language there is no need for translation between speakers, only in the case of a non-speaker wanting to understand.

I’m all for people having spaces they are keen to post on, I just hope to do so with least fragmentation as possible and I think that can be done without segregating based on language, if only we make the small effort to install a plugin and just give it a try.

@mDav well since you mention it. I think theoretically, this is something that can be 100% solved with technology (with the known caveat that auto-translation is not perfect).

The issue is that the currently available translator plugin for discourse (GitHub - discourse/discourse-translator) does

  1. only translate when triggered, i.e. not automatically everything but you have to click on a (small) button next to the Reply button to do that - for a single post. This button can easily be missed. In contrast, comments in Google products usually do it the other way round - show the auto-translation and have a button to show the original. I think this is better, but costs more money of course.

  2. More importantly, the translator plugin does not support translation of the topic title as far as I know. But exactly this title should always be translatable - in fact, it should always automatically be translated because it is most important for finding content.

  3. Since the translation is manually triggered, I don’t think it is well integrated with search which of course would be important in the long run for discoverability.

The plugin is freely licensed and could be forked so that it can be improved to meet our requirements better. These improvements in the fork could be contributed back upstream (if the maintainers want such features, no way to ask since they have the issue tracker deactivated). The plugin is written in ruby, a simple and easy script language.

Edit: It looks like their “issue tracker” is their own forum with everything tagged with translator - Topics tagged translator (quite nice that there is such a permalink for tags: it’s <forum url>/tag/<name of tag>)


@westnordost - thanks for that! I too believe that it is possible to customize discourse / translator to adapt for our specific community needs and remove the need for segregation based on language. We do have quite a few developers around these parts, and the OSM website is also written in Ruby, so it’s not totally out of the question. What’s more the question is if the “powers at be” agree to support it or not.

If I were to dream we could for surely implement a way to translate topic titles, auto-translate posts, and only send notifications for topics in a user language, etc… and solve all the potential issues with using the translator plugin which have been brought up so far.

However I hasten to talk about what-if’s at this stage and at this point wish to focus on the low hanging fruit, which is just installing the translator plugin as-is (or, even install this fork with DeepL support) just so the community can see the potential here and decide for themselves whether it’s worth investigating. I myself am not even convinced it will work, but I am convinced it’s worth a shot!

I continue to be surprised by the lack of interest from the admin team to implement such a plugin at this stage considering how low effort it is to install (soooo easy according to the docs). Just give me 10 mins of ssh access and I’ll do it myself, even.

It remains unclear to me what the overall category structure we’re going for here, but I like what you mention about tag permalinks, why not have languages as ISO-2 tags for each post (ie fr for french), which is auto-assigned by the language detection of the translator? Then all french posts are at /tag/fr ?

There is so much potential to tailor fit this Discourse to our unique community, if only we open ourselves to that possibility before it’s too late.

I see a bigger problem here. Especially from the perspective of a European, a translator based on Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. is not necessarily so compliant with the GDPR. Here you also have to be careful…
I have no experience with the quality of LibreTranslate. DeepL is powerful and very good, but there is also a cost factor.

GDPR should not be an issue here.

The translation is done by Discourse from the server itself, so the external translation API only knows what is send to it by Discourse: text to translate, server IP address, nothing else about who wrote that text.

Don’t forget that the same text is publicly available for anyone with much more informations :wink: