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Create a Foundation staff taskforce for urgent translation requests
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Description

It would be awesome to have a "taskforce" of Wikimedia Foundation staff (or volunteers?) who are willing and able to translate messages at very short notice.

It has been a huge problem in the past when we have had to give out messaging in English with only a link to a translatable version on Meta-Wiki. This is arguably disrespectful to communities who do not read English (that is, most of them).

Creating this task for tracking, this "taskforce" idea is just that at this stage.

Event Timeline

WMF already has a "Staff language skills" list which would allow you to find and contact potential staff.
Is the "taskforce" formalization in order to distinguish 'willingness to translate / be contacted'?

What are recent examples for "urgent translation requests"?

WMF already has a "Staff language skills" list which would allow you to find and contact potential staff.
Is the "taskforce" formalization in order to distinguish 'willingness to translate / be contacted'?

This is correct. Also, this is for urgent (as in, needs to be done within the day or so) requests, which is a different thing to "just happens to speak the language".

What are recent examples for "urgent translation requests"?

A recent example of this is with the call for strategy coordinators on large wikis. Like many banners we put together, this one was sent out in English-only and relied on translations from those who happened to see it. Ideally we would have it translated in some languages in advance to prevent this from happening.

(It may well be this task is misguided for some reason though, happy to hear thoughts.)

I occasionally get urgent translation requests. While some issues are difficult to foresee (e.g. security issues, as when leaked passwords were used to compromise admin accounts), most of these shouldn't be urgent, the urgency is a result of not having taken time for translations into account when planning. While having a solution for urgent requests is a good thing, I think it's important to make sure it doesn't become an excuse to not take the fact that we're a multilingual movement into account when planning.

Countless +1 on what Johan said about planning time in for translation. I too am more keen on working on the problem rather than deal with the symptom.
Also "within the day" is not really feasible if people on the task force are on wildly different timezones.

(With that said, a third category is when you put up something for translation and end up with twenty languages and get Latin, two variations of Portuguese, two variations of Norwegian, but not German or Japanese, and on the last day start looking around for someone to translate the most important languages, in terms of numbers of speakers/Wikimedians, or number of speakers/Wikimedians who don't understand English.)

(With that said, a third category is when you put up something for translation and end up with twenty languages and get Latin, two variations of Portuguese, two variations of Norwegian, but not German or Japanese, and on the last day start looking around for someone to translate the most important languages, in terms of numbers of speakers/Wikimedians, or number of speakers/Wikimedians who don't understand English.)

I rarely send out stuff for translations, but when I do I make sure to:

  • explicitly state which languages are must-have (so as to grab the attention of people speaking them)
  • explicitly state the deadline (so that those people can organise their time accordingly)

I find the "Hello translators, please help us translate X" to generally be: too vague, too impersonal, too assuming (that a translator may be just waiting for stuff to translate) and with little thought and planning put to it. And I say that not as criticism, but with the best intentions, as feedback from somebody who routinely does translations for colleagues as well as for own work.