How to maintain extension translations on the long term?

How to maintain extension translations on the long term?

Our good friend Davide Ficano, a top but too modest developer who also contributed to our site and system (not to mention the awesone Externalize strings extension), recently explained on his blog why he could not afford maintaining numerous locales for his extensions.
Dear Davide, I know the efforts you have been doing for some years in order to maintain as many localizations as possible, so I cannot blame your decision.
Are extension translators lazy?
Not necessarily, but yes, it is very difficult to have them involved on the long term.
Very sad but very true, I fear.

Now the challenge is : what can be done to have a more permanent engagement among the ever so friendly but also so “temporary” translator community
What kind of incentive can be used to have volunteer contributors become so to say permanent allies to the developer and its extensions?
What kind of link or symbolic reward can be used?
We already have an awesome world community with enthusiast and dedicated individuals, but it is a transient community.

We would appreciate very much whatever comes to your mind about this issue. Whether you are a translator, an extension developer or interested in community motivation, please use open comments below. TIA

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5 Responses to How to maintain extension translations on the long term?

  1. Speaking for myself, I’m mainly drawn into translation projects by bad or missing translations in software that I use with relative frequency. I guess reasons for me to become less involved with a translation project would mostly be that there are others taking sufficient care of it (e.g. Firefox), or that I don’t use the software anymore (e.g. Songbird).

    I don’t think rewards are really a way to keep me involved (although an occasional free t-shirt is a nice show of appreciation :)), however having a healthy community is. And most importantly, keep making good and useful software, so that the translator wants to use it in his daily life :).

    Good tools to make translation easier are also good, but you have to be careful that they foster community and cooperation. Few things are more frustrating than any layman translator being able to introduce all kinds of errors into a tidy translation that you dedicated a lot of your time on, without proper review or collaboration.

  2. DaveG says:

    In my experience as an extension developer, I think the biggest problem is that most locales are done by a series of individuals rather than teams. When one translator is no longer available I need to hunt around for a replacement myself, rather than having the locale’s team figure it out. When you have dozens of locales for an extension this process is a large amount of work. If more locales were handled as cohesive teams, turnover within each team wouldn’t be as much of an issue and extensions could be updated more easily. Teams would handle the actual personnel selection, and probably better and more efficiently than the developers doing so. Having more obvious activity around translators in more visible teams would also make translators less likely to be transient as they would be more of a part of something. The obvious obstacle to all of this is getting enough permanent people to form and maintain the teams in the first place. 😉

    The other biggie is just raw numbers: there’s a lot of extensions and not enough translators. This bad ratio also makes it more likely for translators to leave, as they know they’re overworked. I think occasional translator recruiting drives might be in order. Even if people can only volunteer for a little while, get a lot of them and you can make a team that functions and evolves over time. Make any team and it becomes easier to keep that team.

    Now that Babelzilla is on and reaching a larger audience, I think we need to leverage that to get the word out on a regular basis to attract more volunteers.

  3. I think addon creator really should meet translators in real life during FLOSS events for example. They have to talk each others, communicate using IM, or IRC.

  4. Jonathan says:

    The key problem is that a translation is assigned to an individual translator. Would-be contributors cannot jump in and fix the missing three strings, because Babelzilla does not allow them to do so. I don’t think there should be such a strong ownership of translations. If someone just isn’t up to the task, it should be easy for anyone to just come over and finish the translation. The translator won’t unregister by themself.

  5. tito says:

    [this is just my opinion and my enlgish is very bad, read carefully]

    In my opinion, I think the problem is that the control of the localization is under the translator and not the extension owner/submiter.

    Localization is not about translating two or three words; is to look careful the context or the meaning of the expressions, look if they fit correctly on the design and take proper testing.

    I think there is two types of extensions, these small / easy with very few strings, that anyone can contribute / fix new strings, and big and/or complicated extensions that the translator should understand maybe technically the extension mission, such Firebug, AdBlock Plus, etc.

    In my opinion the extension owner, should have the option to lock a language to some specific translator/s [this allow to give some control to complicated extensions]

    On the other hand, The translators should have the default option to [submit (and allow anyone to contribute)] and [submit and notify me of other contributions], By doing this, anyone can change a localization.
    and If the translator is interested to take some control on the localization they can hit “notify me of other contributions”; then they receive mails alerting of changes done by another contributor.
    This is good to,
    – unlock translations to allow other contributor wishing to help.
    – attract new translators allowing they to contribute on already taken extensions.
    – monitor if new contributions are ok with possibly teaching of new translators.
    – Keep translations update on long term

    Also , I think that developers should link back to babelzilla from the extensions homepage to attract possibly interested new translators, this is something that I don’t see frequently.

    Well, probably I missing some other important points,

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