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Boosting the translation process

First let me give you a brief background of the current Arabic translation status, We have 167 contributor, 266742 untranslated string which make %64.72, 8847 strings that needs review.
I'm putting the following assumptions to build sort of road-map, one crucial way to way to boost the translation process is to get more contributors (I'll talk about how we can double the number later), lets say we can double our contributors 334 lets assume that 300 of them will translate 30 strings a day and others will review the translation that makes 9000 translated string a day on the other side each reviewer will review 60 string a day which should be around 2000 reviewed string a day.
Having a 300 contributor translating to translate 266742 string would take 30 days to push our status 100% translated (which is kind of a dream) in the same month we will have 60000 string reviewed with 206742 strings that needs a review and by the way I'm putting the worst case scenario here which is we have to review all of translated strings and later if we were able to keep the same spirit we will have all translation reviewed within 103 days.
Of course we still have to find a way to export our translation to the upstream and hopefully make this automated in a way similar to Upstream bugs linkage.
Now, How to get more contributors?
People would do things for free if they have passion for it, if they need it, if it's fun doing it and finally if they are making some money out of it.
Passion can be achieved by advocacy and encouraging new blood to contribute as translators, explaining why it's important, the light-weight technical side of translation too and of course explaining how translating applications and documentations would help in spreading FLOSS.
Needing it and I wonder who don't need to use an app or read a documentation in his native language, although most technical people tend to prefer English regardless of their native language but what about the community? they will definitely need at least the basic documentation that is enough for them to get started.
The fun part, if you watched Human Computation you would understand what I'm talking about, people spend lots of time online for fun and we definitely can make something that is fun and useful at the same time it could be via online translation game where people compete for points, scores or karma. someone might say but translation apps and documents is different which is true but we still have a room of doing something that is fun and useful at the same time but of course this would need loads of resources.
The money part, currently we're discussing a sponsored translation campaign to boost the process and we already got some promises to get some cash from Jordanian companies that benefits from FLOSS however this wont be enough because if we want to pay $0.05 per string then we would need around 13,000 not to mention that we also have to pay for reviewers also payment processing fees which is still feasible if we got enough cash and if we can guarantee that sponsoring a translation wouldn't introduce licensing issue.
Finally, no single approach can solve the problem but maybe all together can make a change and thinking of it again, passion, fun and needing it are the most feasible approaches.
[tags]worst case scenario,translation status,arabic translation,native language,new blood,documentations,floss,road map,linkage,contributor,assumptions,advocacy,bugs,passion,spirit,money,ubuntu,translation[/tags]


  1. Salam:
    first, let me congratulate you on a great effort to get Ubuntu over to the Arab speaking world. I think your goal is noble and achievable.
    Currently, I am working with a professor in the Aleppo's Electrical/Computations department on trying to get students involved in FLOSS and translation is one of the issues we need to address. We are in the discussion phase at the moment, but this professor is passionate about FLOSS and this is half of the battle.
    Your biggest challenge is attracting translators since the idea of volunteering is almost non-existent in the Arab world. Money is a good incentive but swag is better, IMHO. Debian/Ubuntu hats, T-shirts and other paraphernalia might have a bigger impact.
    Asking for donations is a great way to start but be careful with post 9/11 world. The mere mention of the word "Arab" might be an issue. To resolve that, see if you can get some further funding from more companies in the Arab world. Personally, I prefer the swag idea more.
    Best of luck. I will share my contacts with you to help the cause once I get some commitment.

  2. hello Jad,
    i think it's better to focus translation on the Upstream projects(GNOME,KDE,XFCE,debian-installer and more), it will be imported to launchpad anyway. on the launchpad it's better to translate ubuntu-only applications the documentation.
    another thing, the number of contributors is really not important, but the amount of time spent is :)
    The Hebrew team has a bit less then contributors you but still we are close to 50% translated (it's hard to believe we got that far!).

  3. Hi Jad, congrats on trying to stir things up and attract more translators to the Ubuntu community! Having led the Brazilian team for a couple of years myself, I wanted to point out a couple of things I've learned along the way. Obviously advices are best taken when asked for, but here it goes anyway.
    * Beware that 300 volunteers working at the same time without a robust and clear way of knowing who's doing what will make it impossible for your team to manage;
    * Also, with this many people contributing with single, hand picked strings is extremelly detrimental to the overal quality of the entire package, not to mention the entire suite;
    * I have always liked the idea of contributions being done upstream first, and then tricklying it down to distros and what not. It is my dream and goal to make sure that Ubuntu reverses this trend and start sending contributions upstream (translations). Check out my blueprint:
    Well, back to work I go. :)

  4. [...] post is my 2 cents about Jad’s latest post trying to stir things up and attract more translators to the Ubuntu community! Having led the Brazilian team for a couple of years myself, I wanted to [...]

  5. Do it upstream, LP stinks.

  6. Good Jad, very good job.
    I think this is a good idea and worthy to try.
    the discussion between using Lanchpad(LP) or Upstream, I think it will be better to use LP for many reasons:
    - Like OgMaciel mention, it will be easier to manage the project.
    - with LP we can re-use this translation later in Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04 for example. that's mean it will be more easier to obtain the 100% in the future in Ubuntu.
    - For Upstream: this is very important because that will make available this translation for the hole open source community. But LP architects works very hard to make LP more communicating with different Upstream projects (like gnome, firefox, ... and all other) specially for bug tracking. that's mean if Upstream can't profits immediatly from actual translation in LP today, it will be possible later.
    I liked the 'swag' idea of Ammar, but I think it will be better to keep the original proposition (made by Jad) and add some extra gift for the first 10 or 20. example: the best will receive +100$ and some Ubuntu stuff, second +50$ and ..., 10th Ubuntu T-shirt... this will make the first place more valuable and encourage people to do more efforts.
    hope this help.

  7. [...] post is my 2 cents about Jad’s latest post trying to stir things up and attract more translators to the Ubuntu community! Having led the Brazilian team for a couple of years myself, I wanted to [...]

  8. Anmar
    I believe we should get in touch even if you don't have time for commitment yet, I'm highly interested in getting to know how things work with your students; I'll start giving some lectures and maybe courses next semester and sharing your experience with me is highly appreciated.
    I though of giving swags instead of cash but handling logistics is way harder than cash; however I'm still considering it.
    Thank you for the valuable comment.
    I understand that but it's easier to get the new contributor to understand how LP work rather than telling them about many tools and sites and on the background we will have to find a way to automate exporting LP translation into upstream.
    On the other side, I totally agree the number of volunteers isn't the best measuring tool here; I have always been fascinated by the Hebrew translation teams on different projects, they are hard workers although their teams tend to be small, maybe it's the time to share some of your experience as part of the Hebrew team, some tips on how to achieve what you guys achieved with the small teams would be great.
    Og Maciel
    Personally I prefer introducing a single translation mechanism and automate linking it with Upstream but unfortunately it seems that translation have the lowest priority in LP development, nevertheless using LP still better because you can handle all issues in single place and when you grow you can nag LP developers for enhancements and ways to automate translation linkage with upstream.
    Thank you for the tips, I appreciate it.
    If you really believe that LP stinks then be sure that someone is waiting to hear your feedback on how to make it stink-less.
    Zied ALAYA
    I totally agree with you and I would love to see more translation features implemented in LP to make translator life easier and make linkage with upstream easier too.
    If things goes as planned then we will be giving books, swags and cash but only if we could settle the logistic problems.

  9. [...] public links >> string Boosting the translation process Saved by kiyotin on Sun 09-11-2008 Testing code by precompiling view pages in mvc Saved [...]


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