[acawiki-general] AcaWiki should be multilingual
benjamin.geer at gmail.com
Wed Oct 7 14:55:14 EDT 2009
2009/10/7 Mike Linksvayer <ml at creativecommons.org>
> I don't speak for AcaWiki, but FWIW, running a multilingual wiki or
> other site that works well is pretty difficult.
I'm surprised to hear you say that. MediaWiki is thoroughly
internationalised; I once set up and administered a multilingual
MediaWiki site (English/French/Arabic) and found it very
straightforward. It was only a little more work than running a
monolingual MediaWiki instance.
Any web site aimed at a global audience of non-specialists clearly
needs to be multilingual. That's why Wikipedia, WordPress, Blogger,
Gmail, and Facebook are multilingual (along with many, many other web
sites, of course), and they work just fine in different languages. If
they can do it, I don't see why AcaWiki can't do it, too.
> To start a new language
> Wikipedia (where each language gets its own independent mediawiki
> site) a bunch of content has to be created in an incubator to ensure
> there's an adequate community to keep the Wikipedia instance going.
I don't understand what you mean here. Which content needs to be
created in an incubator? Perhaps what you mean is that the user
interface needs to be translated. That's true, but it seems to me
that AcaWiki has a pretty small user interface, so this wouldn't
actually be much work. It could probably even be done by volunteers,
e.g. using Launchpad Translations
>From a technical point of view, a MediaWiki instance will keep running
as long as the server is up, even if there's only one article on it.
Perhaps you mean that if there aren't a lot of articles from the
outset, it's not worth the trouble? I would disagree. Any community
has to start small.
> I don't know what the right language strategy is for AcaWiki
> (possibilities range from none to independent sites like Wikipedias to
> mixed content like Wikimedia Commons to a mixed site like the CC Wiki
> to only automated translation like opened.creativecommons.org is right
> now. Do you have ideas?
Automated translation is definitely not suitable. The best automated
translation systems don't translate more than 60% of sentences
correctly; the rest is wrong or gibberish. That's good enough to give
you a general idea of the topic of the original text, but not good
enough to give you any reliable, specific information about what it
says. If the purpose here is to make reliable scientific knowledge
available to a wide audience, I think the summaries need to be written
or translated by human beings.
I think Wikipedia has a good approach, which has proven to be
successful, and which would work well for AcaWiki, too: a separate
user interface for each language. People are free to write different
articles in different languages, or to translate articles from one
language to another if they wish. Thus every user or contributor has
the option to use the site only in their native language, and is not
forced to deal with any language that they may not know.
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