Language and location based content and categories

Implementing this plugin has a cost per translation, that we still haven’t discussed and also we haven’t evaluated any other requirements. The current tools we are transition over here don’t have this functionality and that’s why we would like to control the scope of the current work and don’t add additional requirements yet.

Also, Discourse allows us to organize and reorganize topics as we need, and we are currently leaning towards allowing an organic growth, opening categories when the communities need it. The forum governance team is meeting at the end of this week to digest all the feedback and take some decisions.

I think it would be important to hear in this discussion from people whose main language is not a major European one, and understand if they need o not a language-based space, and not block them because others think a translator plugin is enough.

I’m from Sweden, but as many here /we understand and speak English reasonable good. The younger people better then we old (I’m 67). The traffic in the current Swedish forum is very low, and I suspect this partly because we don’t need a specific forum for our language. Besides that, the most active osm group here is on Facebook.

So I assume an auto translation Swedish<–>English is not important for Swedish osm mappers.

Lol, had the same thought. Appreciate GDPR for being the first thought though, it’s important stuff! FWIW, I know at least DeepL is GDPR compliant.

You mention opening categories when there is organic community desire…but not about closing them, or merging them. That’s what I mention here, once we create language-based categories there is no going back. Not that it’s technically impossible, but that at least this community has such trouble with consensus it will just not change once the categories have been made.

It’s like the ele tag in OSM, it should be elevation but there’s too much use and inertia already so change just ain’t gonna happen, point blank. We here have learned to be cautious and consider all angles before adoption of new things so as to avoid situations like this.

What’s wrong with starting the categories as not language-based, and then if it really does become cumbersome, communities can request we create them later on?

By not opening language-based categories at the outset isn’t blocking communities from creating their own categories. As you said we can open categories as needed down the line. This is about the structure which has been created from the outset, which is an admin decision not a community decision and is why I bring up this topic now.

Plus, without having installed the translator plugin these folks are not able to make an informed decision of whether language-specific categories are necessary or not. We have at least one dissenting opinion from a non-major language speaker here who doesn’t think language-specific categories are necessary (thank you for your input @Msiipola !) so imo that warrants more discussion as opposed to a hasty decision.

I quite agree… with the opposite. And later it seems to be what you meant: I think a tag for the language should be sufficient, at least in the beginning.
It’s the way the Wiki is defined with automatic links to similar entries in other languages.
And then inside a section for the region/country specialties.
Key:priority - OpenStreetMap Wiki has automatic links to similar pages:
čeština Deutsch English español français italiano polski português]( 日本語
Here the French page has a specific section for France as the Vienna signs displayed on the English page:

Priority over oncoming traffic (B6) Priority for oncoming traffic (B5)
Vienna Convention road sign B6.svg Vienna Convention road sign B5-V1.svg

Is translated as follow:

Signalisation routière en France

Les véhicules prioritaires voient ce panneau : France road sign C18.svg

et ceux devant leur céder le passage sont avertis par ce signal : France road sign B15.svg

(No need to have a different layout, but it’s real example)

In order to decrease the risk of silos, it’s better to “split” just by language so that tags invented in Germany are also tested in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, etc… then proposed globally.

BTW (*) we CAN’T and SHOULD NOT expect that let say a Spanish use a ES:Bicycle) tag without help. Bicicleta or ES:Bicicleta is more realistic. Don’t oblige people for requesting help in their own language to know the terms (tags!) in British English.

Yes Deepl is a tool tool. Not perfect, but a good one. It is missing some (!) languages, for instance if you want to translate from/to Ukrainian, you can use SimplyTranslate with the Google engine or the Reverso engine.
I believe we should have at least the 6 official UN international languages. From w:United Nations: The six official languages of the UN, used in intergovernmental meetings and documents, are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Even if today there is not much traffic in Arabic, creating a place for this widely spoken language is important, even if it’s at first an almost empty shell.

Data Items may help here. @pyrog?

(*) By the way: try to avoid cryptic conventions too :face_with_hand_over_mouth:.

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Arabic is indeed in the Top6 of languages by speakers: List of languages by total number of speakers - Wikipedia with 274M total speakers, while Russian for example is 8th (258M), both long after Hindi (602M). As you can see, on a global scale also Bengali (273M), Portuguese (258M) Urdu (231M) and Indonesian (199M) are big languages.

If you look at the list of languages by native speakers, 27 languages have more than 50M native speakers and 91 languages more than 10 million.

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In fact KISS: use the languages on the main page of the Wiki:
Afrikaans asturianu azərbaycanca Bahasa Indonesia Bahasa Melayu bosanski brezhoneg català čeština dansk Deutsch eesti English español Esperanto euskara français Frysk galego hrvatski interlingua íslenska italiano kréyòl gwadloupéyen kurdî latviešu Lëtzebuergesch lietuvių magyar Nederlands norsk occitan polski português română shqip slovenčina slovenščina srpski (latinica)‎ suomi svenska Tiếng Việt Türkçe Zazaki Ελληνικά български македонски русский српски / srpski українська հայերեն עברית العربية فارسی پښتو नेपाली বাংলা සිංහල ไทย 한국어 中文(简体)‎ 中文(繁體)‎ 日本語

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My point is, let’s not block communities to request a language-based space if they want to.

If Germany or Italy just need a location-based category it’s fine, but if Spanish, Arabic or French prefer to also have a language-based category, let’s allow that.


wouldn’t it be possible to do some orthogonal categorization with both, location and language, maybe with tags? This way one could for example follow everything in German, regardless of location, or everything in German in Italy (German happens to be a recognized minority language in some areas of Italy).

This is always possible no matter what category organization we end up with, it’s just a matter of how you ensure each and every topic is tagged with its language, which is a manual task unfortunately.

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Maybe not with the translation plugin installed as it will detect language for each post.

There is no mechanism so far to use that info to create a tag automatically, but the code is open for improvement !


I was under the impression that this whole discussion was in response to what you stated in the topic post:

That each language will have a top level category isn’t a request from the communities, it’s the proposal that you’ve put forth.

I only hope you succumb to reason to not jump the gun on segregation based upon language, and install the translator plugin so users can make an informed decision after trying the forums without said segregation. Based upon the amount of support received here and on other threads, it would be worthwhile to not hastily make this irreversible decision, and open up more dialogue.

I think, from the user’s perspective, it’s not so important in which language a text is written or tagged, if it’s possible to translate it with just one mouse click - or maybe even automatically.

Sure, the translation quality is an important point - but, it can be expected, that it will continuously improve over time.

You are totally right and that’s my bad with the wording. I’ll change the wording now to reflect “will” → “can request” to note that the proposal doesn’t intend to make this mandatory and only optional if a language community request it.

Looking at the discussions about the pro’s and con’s of translation plugins I would like to link back to the areas where already today is a need.
We have some very active communities using the existing forum. The users of those are looking for a new home and there are good reasons to have a language and country specific replacement for those.
I (and as I see many others as well) would like to have a place to monitor for new topics “nearby” - in case I have overarching questions, I can still look at the overall forum.
Embedded translation services I would see as nice to have. Worst case I will use external sources.

Focusing on the topic here again, I am all in for “Language and location based content and categories”

FWIW, the old forums were divided by country, not language. So dividing by language would be a new addition here, not a replacement


This proposal is taking in consideration not only the old forums audience but any other OSM communities that might want to have conversations here, as some have already expressed their opinions here and on the previous topic.

These forums are intended to server a wider OSM audience and that’s why we are not just trying to replicate but opening a discussion with everyone about their needs and come up with something that works for most people.

I agree with you that by all means the integrated translator should be given a try - I myself proposed that within another topic. Nevertheless I do not believe this is the most important thing to be pushed at the time being, and I do not have any doubt that a translation plugin will surely NOT make language/country based categories needless in future. I am aware that some members do not feel happy with the idea of language silos being established within the world wide community but there are many contributors who are happy to contribute to a world wide project on one hand but still feel home in a “regional” community on the other.

I could imagine a structure like the old forum with an international main category containing all superordinate stuff like Q+A, Development, Special Issues, General chat etc. and there an integrated translator would be a great step forward to remove language barriers.

Besides that international stuff with English as basic language it’s a MUST to migrate the most active forums channels being the country communities as mentiones many times before in various topics if we do not want to push hundreds of engaged forum users away. Any international category/section cannot satisfy the regional/country community needs even if a perfect integrated translation tool would be available.

I would not mind about the structure - country communities to be established as main categories or to be grouped as subcategories under a language main category but without those the forum would lose definitely many if not the majority of it’s users.


For me, this project is a great chance to break down boarders within the community, especially the language boarders. We should keep in mind, that when we decide to define language categories, this boarders will still remain.

Also tags for languages are not really necessary, if there is an option to translate text automated. And language specific searches are always possible - for example, just search for “Stadt” or “town” and you get german or english topics.

Categories for countries or regions are pretty useful, if local communities wish them. They offer the ability to discuss local themes in a smaller context.

That would be the base structure I am looking for to give the existing Germany Forum Community a new “home”.

In the current proposal countries can have a top level category with subcategories if needed (for subregions or other needs you might have due high volume of topics).

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