[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.
Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, how and why wordPress gets translated.
If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to WPTavern.com forward slash feed forward slash podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcast players.
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So on the podcast today we have Piermario Orecchioni.
Piermario a freelance web designer resides in Italy, and is deeply involved in the global WordPress community. His journey with WordPress began in early 2017, when he created his wordpress.org account. Among his many contributions Piermario has focused primarily on the Polyglots team, which, if you didn’t know, deals with translations. His dedication and involvement in this aspect of the WordPress community have been important to him, and he shares more about his experiences with the team and how they work.
Piermario begins by questioning the moral and legal obligations of making websites available in multiple languages. Is it simply a nice thing to do, or are they legal reasons behind it? He sheds light on the importance of language localisation, especially when WordPress is used on government websites to provide user centric experiences.
But translating websites comes with its own set of challenges, and we discuss the difficulties in translating and reviewing strings in WordPress, where slight changes can lead to a large number of strings needing translations. He emphasizes the need for maintaining consistency, and standards in translations by having a glossary in each language.
We then talk about Piermario’s journey as a contributor to the Polyglots team. He highlights recent improvements in the translation process, thanks to the GlotPress translation platform.
We get into how the project is always on the lookout for new contributors, and discuss how they can become editors for specific projects, if their translations meet the required quality standards.
We delve into the intricacies of language variations and the importance of localised translations. Piermario reiterates that coding expertise is not necessary for this work. Even newcomers with a curious mind and a willingness to help can contribute meaningfully. He paints a picture of how the work of translation is both accessible and beneficial, where short portions of text can be tackled in small amounts of time.
We end with a discussion of the ongoing projects being translated, such as Learn and Openverse, which aims to reach a larger audience and make WordPress education accessible in multiple languages.
Piermario shares insights into the Italian WordPress community, and the process of translating plugins and themes.
So if you’re looking to help out translating WordPress, or just interested in hearing about a way that you can contribute, this episode is for you.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to WPTavern.com forward slash podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.
And so without further delay, I bring you Piermario Orecchioni.
I am joined on the podcast today by Piermario Orecchioni. Hello!
[00:04:31] Piermario Orecchioni: Hey. Hi Nathan. How are you doing?
[00:04:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah really nice. Thank you for joining me on the podcast today. We’re going to stray into a subject which, I confess, as I often do on these episodes, it’s an area that I don’t really know a great deal about. So hopefully Piermario will be able to school me all about this.
I was introduced to Piermario, I don’t know if he knows this, but it was Courtney Robertson that pointed me in your direction because she thought it would be fascinating on the WP Tavern Jukebox podcast to have an episode all about Polyglots and the Polyglot team. So that’s what we’re going to do today. That is the endeavor.
Before we do that though, Piermario, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind just giving us two or three minutes of your time explaining, who you are, where you live, what your involvement is with WordPress. And I guess, importantly what your relationship is with Polyglots, translations, and the team that’s helping with that endeavor.
[00:05:28] Piermario Orecchioni: Yeah. First of all, thanks again for having me, and thanks to the ever amazing Courtney for just making my name.
In the everyday life I am a freelance web designer and besides that I’m part of the Italian and international WordPress community.
I started contributing in, I think early 2017, was the time when I started my wordpress.org account. And I’ve been mainly contributing to the Polyglots team for reasons that we’ll cover soon.
Over the course of the years I picked into other teams, like there’s a lot to be done in WordPress. Being not a native English speaker, so having access to bits and parts of WordPress that are not always translated. Everything must undergo some form of translation to allow people like me, and poeple that don’t speak English, to use it in a more comfortable way. So that’s what kept me going, and it’s still why I contribute to this day.
[00:06:40] Nathan Wrigley: Oh thank you. That’s really nice. I should probably stress at the beginning that maybe there’s a line to be drawn between translating the front end of a website, and translating the backend, WordPress itself. The software that may download from .org.
We’re probably, if you’re a WordPress user for any length of time, you’re probably aware that there’s a bunch of third party plugins which will handle the translations of say text on your homepage, or any other page or post from one language to another, and you’ve probably come across some of those. There’s a variety of them in the ecosystem.
But this is not that. Polyglots is more about the backend. Translating WordPress. At least I think that’s the case.
[00:07:27] Piermario Orecchioni: Well actually Polyglots, and the whole Polyglots team, is responsible, if we want to use a big word. But it actually touches all the WordPress ecosystem and touch points, because we translate WordPress Core. We translate and localise, which sometimes it’s a more appropriate term. Like the bundle teams, like every standard team that comes with a new release of WordPress. We also do that.
We translate and contribute to plugins, like all the plugins that exist in some language and must be translated, go somehow, somewhere through a polyglots. A polyglots that localised it. Localises that plugin into their own language.
We also translate what we call Rosetta. That’s kind of an internal lingo. But Rosetta is just like the stone. It’s basically every localised version of wordpress.org, like the Italian wordpress.org, Spanish wordpress.org. So we’re basically everywhere the WordPress ecosystem needs a translation.
[00:08:44] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah now that you say that it makes so much sense. I for some reason hadn’t managed to parse that. But of course the wordpress.org website needs translating, and of course there needs to be attention given over to plugins and things like that. So yeah, that’s great. Thank you for clarifying that. It does seem like there’s a lot of work to be done, and we’ll touch upon that in a moment.
Slight aside, for somebody that is an English speaker the word polyglots is quite an unusual one. I mean, I can imagine it’s broken up into two parts. Poly I guess meaning multiple, more than one. But do you have any indication of what the glots bit means? I’m guessing it’s got something to do with language, but in all my years I’ve never just heard that word in an isolated environment. I’ve never heard anybody talk about a glot.
[00:09:31] Piermario Orecchioni: Yeah, a glot is, now I didn’t do my homework. It definitely means language but I don’t remember if it’s Latin or Greek. I would guess Latin.
[00:09:42] Nathan Wrigley: Well that’s the meaning anyway. If we collide those two bits, multiple languages is really kind of what it means.
Let’s talk about the actual endeavor of doing this work then. And although it seems like a fairly basic question, this question could go in multiple directions. So I’ll just ask the question, then I’ll give you some more context on that.
Why do we need there to be translations in our website? So that’s the basic question, and then I’ll pad it out a little bit more. What I mean by that is, is it just kind of like a morally decent thing to do to have something like WordPress, which is obviously downloaded across the globe millions of times. Is it just a nice, good thing to do to make it available to as many languages as possible?
Or perhaps there is something a bit more pressing. In other words maybe there’s legal things which come into play. I don’t know if you have any insight into either of those things, but obviously it is a nice thing to do. But I also wonder if as a piece of software which is shipping, albeit an open source piece of software, I don’t know if there’s any legal compulsion to have it translated.
[00:10:49] Piermario Orecchioni: I don’t think there is a legal obligation or some sort of legal requirement to have WordPress translated. Obviously if you use WordPress on a government website, the plugins or components you’re using should be localised into the language users will be using because that’s just user centricity 101.
I think that the simple reason why WordPress must, and wants to be, translated into possibly any language in the world is that we like to make this tool available to anybody, anywhere for whatever reason. The more we make WordPress available in somebody’s native language, the higher the chance that they will use it, and they could start something.
I think it’s just one of the few left idealistic things of the web. Do things for the common good, and having WordPress in your language definitely is quite something. And I was just digging a little bit into the Polyglots pages yesterday on the WordPress site, and one of the bits I found is that, as of June 2020, roughly 55% of all WordPress websites running were not running in English.
[00:12:17] Nathan Wrigley: That’s a big statistic, isn’t it? Yeah I did not know that number. That’s extraordinary.
[00:12:22] Piermario Orecchioni: I might even argue it’s even higher by now because in three years we improved and we have way more translation available by now. But it’s true that English is the international language, but it’s also true that there’s a lot of people that does not English, or are not fluent enough to go into a backend of a site and deal with that, if that’s not in their language. So with the translation we remove this barrier and we make WordPress available to everybody.
[00:12:58] Nathan Wrigley: So let’s dig into the work of the team, the Polyglots team, the people who are translating. I noticed incidentally that you use the word locale a little bit. And so I guess these terms are interchangeable, if anybody’s listening and not quite sure what that word might mean.
So let’s start, let’s begin with the number of languages that WordPress has been translated into. Again, sorry I’m putting you on the spot. I haven’t actually primed you to know these facts, but I’m curious as to which languages seek attention, and indeed if there’s any kind of order there.
So you mentioned English, obviously that’s a very large language. I’m guessing you could pick the names of a dozen or more other equally large languages where you know there’s millions and millions of people. But I guess as you go slowly down that order the languages have less people, and I do wonder, are there any which are just being implemented for the first time? Or ones that you tackle later? Ones that you give more importance to? So yeah, just that question to begin.
[00:14:01] Piermario Orecchioni: I think that the importance is relative and it’s given by the amount of people that contributes to that language. And just as I was saying, in the bit I saw yesterday, this page which most likely was last updated in 2020, speaks about 172 languages.
But, I found there’s another interesting link which is make.wordpress.org/polyglots/teams, which lists all the locale. And I’m going to get into that a little bit right after this. And that lists, as of today, 208 locale. A locale is, it’s kind of a polyglots lingo, but it’s basically, let’s say the combination of a language code, a regional code, and peculiarities that make even a variation of a language different.
For example, even if we take English, we have American English, we have British English, we have Australian and so on. Or Spanish, there’s the Spanish spoken in Spain but then there’s the whole of South America. So even the translation of WordPress is not in one single version of Spanish, but it’s localised. So it’s made closer and we strive to make it as familiar as possible to every local speaker.
I translate only in Italian, but all the contributors that work on every language can pick their very specific language. Because there’s obviously have like hundreds of millions of speakers. But in the locale list you’ll find languages or dialects with like one contributor. So somebody who just started translating WordPress in their own dialect or regional language. Great. It’s a lot of work, but it’s possible. So we have the tools to make that happen.
[00:16:12] Nathan Wrigley: That’s absolutely fascinating. I run up against this, actually. Curiously, because I’m British, there’s quite a few differences in the way that the translations that I have to do, the transcriptions for this podcast. And there are some words which are spelt in American English differently. So typically, for example, they use a zed or a zee character at the end of a word, like customise might have a Z or a Z at the end. Whereas in British English we’d replace that with an S. And I’m always confused as to how I should translate things for this podcast, because I never know, should I just stick with what I would use? Or should I try to think more about broader audience?
In the end I settled on just having it done in the way that I would spell it, because then I can spot those mistakes more or less automatically. Whereas if it’s looking for a spelling error in American English I may not be able to pick that up. But thank you for clarifying that. So we now know difference between locales, and the fact that that obviously complicates the job of translating WordPress even more.
Who does this work? And, is there a base language which it’s built upon? So as an example, is WordPress originally created in, let’s say, American English? And then the translation team, they get their hands on it and they begin from that baseline of that language to make the translations where necessary.
Perhaps it’s not done that way. So yeah just tell us how it’s done, what the process is and who is doing it? And I don’t mean names I mean, who are the people? Bunch of volunteers I’m guessing just like much else in WordPress.
[00:17:49] Piermario Orecchioni: Yeah I think it all starts with the American English version. Since 2010, I did my homework here, we do have a platform which is called, we call it Translate but it’s actually based on a system called GlotPress which is developed and maintained by the WordPress community.
Anybody can go to translate.wordpress.org and pick and choose basically. So if you go there you can start by choosing the language you want to translate, or help with. And then once you pick the language you can pick what you would like to help with. So you can suggest translations into the WordPress Core, a plugin, a theme, or really anything that’s available. For example, other projects that we translate are like Open Verse which has been growing fast over this last years.
New, very interesting things like Learn WordPress. That’s all in the process of being translated and made available to a larger audience, because even Learn WordPress, it’s kind of new at least in the form it has now. But it could potentially open the doors of WordPress education to everybody virtually in any language, and make WordPress education available for free to anybody. So there’s a lot of work being done on that as well.
[00:19:28] Nathan Wrigley: That’s really fascinating, because as a consumer of WordPress news, I love it when these new initiatives come along. So you know Open Verse is a perfect point, and the new revamped, revitalized efforts into Learn and all of that. I’m just looking at it and thinking oh that’s brilliant, look there’s loads of new resources.
And of course completely forgetting the part that you’ve got to play, your team, the team has got to play in order to make that available to everybody else. So it kind of seems like this is a hamster wheel which just gets faster and faster all the time. I’m guessing there’s never less translations to be done, there’s only more translations to be done as new ideas and new initiatives and new projects come with the growth of WordPress.
[00:20:12] Piermario Orecchioni: Yeah, yeah. There’s always new translations or even projects. The project that personally I really hold close to my heart is the Italian localisation of the Gutenberg plugin, because it’s really one of the first project where in the Italian community somebody gave me the responsibility to kind of take care of that.
So even to this day, but for some time, I was really focused on maintaining and you know helping people come on board to help translate Gutenberg, and have it as close to a hundred percent of translated strings.
Our unit of thinking is string. We could go into that like super quickly. But basically anything you use in WordPress that you find on translate.wordpress.org is conveniently listed as endless, or less endless, series of strings that must be translated to have a hundred percent of the English content of that specific project or plugin, or anything translated into your language.
So even projects like Gutenberg that, yay, a hundred percent. So we have like three minutes to celebrate because Gutenberg comes out every two weeks. So every two weeks, the strings are added or different or wait, there’s parts of the full site editing experience that now are called differently. Like we’ve seen now I didn’t prepare any examples, but I mean even going to what’s current, like 6.3 has synced patterns.
[00:22:03] Nathan Wrigley: Right. Reusable blocks became synced patterns.
[00:22:05] Piermario Orecchioni: We’re kind of starting to, let’s translate and do our best every time we translate. But let’s also, especially when it’s something so fluid and so fast moving as the whole new block themes, full site editing effort. Let’s just make the best we can do because it might change in weeks or months, or when we find a better way to communicate that or market that.
[00:22:36] Nathan Wrigley: That’s really interesting. So I’ve learned a couple of things. We have this expression by the way in the UK and the expression goes, it’s like painting the Forth Bridge. There’s this very long bridge in Scotland, and there is a team of people who paint it. And because of its great length it takes them you know multiple years to get from one end to the other. And you can guess what happens. As soon as they the end they just start right over again at the far end that they, you know, a couple of years ago began. And so this process of painting never ends, and thus it is with the project that you are talking about.
But also what I learned there was that the translations are sort of grouped into blocks. And I don’t mean blocks as in a WordPress block, I mean groups of things. So Gutenberg, that is an object if you like, that needs translating. And you can achieve a hundred percent of that, albeit that’s an example which is constantly changing and probably never quite stays at a hundred percent for particularly long because it’s constantly in flux.
So I’m guessing that there are other groups like that. And I’m wondering if some of those things receive more importance. So as an example, something like Gutenberg which has become really the bedrock of WordPress, I’m guessing that when a new version of WordPress comes out, let’s go with a new version of WordPress rather than the plugin itself for Gutenberg. When a new version of WordPress comes out, 6.3.
Do you have to sort of drop the translations temporarily of other things, so that you can make sure that that ships perfectly? Or at least as perfectly as you can. Do you have some sort of system of saying, okay this is the important thing for this week or this month, and some of these things may have to wait? Is there an overarching authority that makes all that happen? Or is it really just left to the contributors to decide what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it?
[00:24:23] Piermario Orecchioni: It’s really left to the community but we set ourselves with priorities, like when a new major version of WordPress is about to be released, lets focus on that. We do not forget Gutenberg for a few weeks, but we just focus on getting all the strings for the new version translated. Usually after a few release candidates there’s like a string freeze. At that point nothing is moving. At that moment we just check what’s left to translate and what needs our attention.
In a way the beauty of this is that the WordPress Core and Gutenberg are so tightly related that they’re constantly above I would say 90, 95%. Like we hardly drop, as I’m talking about Italian localisation, but we hardly drop below 98% of translated strings. Sometimes we have like 50 new strings, or a hundred strings that need to be translated or reviewed because something has been slightly changed or synced pattern.
[00:25:38] Nathan Wrigley: That’s a good example at the moment, isn’t it? Because can you imagine how many times the word, in English, reusable blocks would appear on all of the .org properties? I mean I’m guessing it’s multiple thousands. The idea of going back and changing that in, not just WordPress Core but also in, like you say, the Learn materials and the documentation for WordPress. It’s a big search and replace, isn’t it?
[00:26:02] Piermario Orecchioni: Well in a way it could be, but we do have a few tools. We have many tools but two of the tools that are really our bread and butter as Polyglots team is the, like every locale, every language has it’s own glossary which is the reference for translating WordPress into your language. Because the Polyglots team of each country is also responsible for choosing what’s the standard translation for an English term.
In Italy we do have this tendency to gleefully adopt English terms, which is fine by me in some cases, because I speak English. But not everybody is as tech savvy or has a specific knowledge of English that allows them to make sense of any English term you want to squeeze into a plugin translation or something, so we have to set boundaries.
For example, one we always use when we onboard new contributors to the Italian community, is that the Italian translation of a post, like blog post, it’s articolo. It’s like article. Which kind of makes sense, but at the same time we do recognise that’s kind of weird in a world where any social media bit you publish is a post. So people are now familiar with the word post. So why don’t we just use it in WordPress? Because somebody years ago decided that we go with articolo and until, perhaps there’ll be in x time, a real reason to drop that translation that we set as standard, we’ll go with that.
But having a glossary also allows you to create much more consistent translations. So I like to say, we like to say, that polyglots, it’s really probably or maybe just because we want to float our boat. It’s probably the easiest team to get involved with if you want to help in the WordPress community, because you don’t necessarily need to know coding. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert.
Even in WordPress you could be a regular new user. Just have curiosity and will to help, and you can start pretty much anywhere. And when somebody’s new and it’s starting, all the entries that are in the glossary are already highlighted so that we help somebody suggesting new translation to stay consistent, and use the same terms that we already used over and over in tens, hundreds, thousands of strings all around the WordPress ecosystem.
[00:29:09] Nathan Wrigley: I guess also, unlike many of the other teams, the enterprise of the work is fairly obvious in that you know that what you’ve got to do is look at one language, translate it into the other language, as best as you can, and rinse and repeat. So the enterprise is fairly straightforward.
And I’m also guessing that it’s fairly atomised. What I mean by that is there’s going to be portions of text which are relatively short. So it’s the kind of thing that you could dip in and out of. Whereas maybe some of the other teams, the approach would have to be much more, you know this thing is going to take hours and hours and hours. With translations, I could be wrong forgive me if I am, but it feels like if you had the inclination you could dip in for several minutes and still achieve something valuable, but it would only have consumed a few minutes of your day which most people could probably find.
[00:30:08] Piermario Orecchioni: Absolutely. Like I always keep some projects handy instead of playing wordle for the day. I open a plugin or something I’m curious about, or I want to help make available in Italian, and just punch in a few strings. But it’s really for everybody, like this is the message. It’s really for everybody and there’s no way you can break the internet by contributing because there’s like levels of contributors in the Polyglots team.
[00:30:41] Nathan Wrigley: I was going to ask this. I thought this was an important point.
[00:30:44] Piermario Orecchioni: So it’s safe, and can be really, you can take it as a game. Because if you have a wordpress.org account you can go, log in on translate.wordpress.org, pick a project and start suggesting translation for any project.
So in that case you’ll be contributing to a translation, but at that point you are not an editor for that specific project. So basically if somebody who just discovered that they can do this thing suggests a translation, an editor, and we have two main categories of levels of editors, they can review the translation and approve it. And now that bit of WordPress is yours. Like you contributed to WordPress and it’s the best feeling.
And usually, this is just a silly thing, but when a major version is coming out if you participate in translating the new strings for the new Core version, like 6.3 just few weeks ago. If your translation is approved you also get the warm fuzzy feeling of having your name in the WordPress translation credits.
[00:32:11] Nathan Wrigley: That’s nice. I was curious about that because obviously the capacity to go in with your wordpress.org account and then just, well for want of a better word, and I hope it doesn’t happen all that often, but just to cause mayhem. Unless there was some sort of editorial hierarchical approach, where things entered a pending queue and then somebody with presumably more backstory in the translation team. So the longer you’ve been there, the more kudos you’ve built up, if you know what I mean, presumably the more responsibility you get.
I would imagine that that’s probably really required. You need people who are going to get a notification or something to say okay things have been amended, go back, have a look. And so they may not be involved in doing all the translations, but they’re presumably the ones that get to say actually that one looks fine, move on. That one looks fine. Hold on a minute there’s something weird there, let’s not publish that one. Something seems to be weird. Let’s just reverse it and go back to what we had previously. So there’s those processes going on.
[00:33:13] Piermario Orecchioni: Yeah It’s actually something we’re continuously trying to improve because in a nutshell, there’s like regular contributor, like somebody that comes in and for example, right now one of the things we are working on is the Italian translation of the new Italian WordPress website. Because if you go to the Italian website today it does not look like the English version, because the theme was not made available yet. But it’s about to be available once the translation is completed.
So when I started with other contributors to translate that weeks ago, many strings were just version numbers. Like the page where WordPress versions are listed is version numbers, dates, and jazz musicians. So you don’t need to have like a specific knowledge of either English or jazz history or anything else to know that you can help with that bit of the translation.
So when it comes to other projects obviously there’s like hundreds, and possibly thousands, I would leave the possibly out because there’s thousands of plugins in the WordPress plugin repo. So everybody wants to be translated in other languages.
So at the top, let’s say with many quotes, at the top of the editor’s pyramid in the Polyglots team, that’s what we call GTEs, General Translation Editors, of which I’m one for the Italian team. Basically we have the power slash responsibility to proof and edit any string on any project related to WordPress. We can approve somebody’s suggested translation. We can edit a translation if something’s wrong or improper terms have been used in some way.
But one of the improvements we’ve been doing, thanks to the team that develops GlotPress, and the whole platform that powers the translations, is that for probably less than a year we now have like a feedback tool. When somebody suggests a translation, as an editor you now have a field where you can ask the person to make some changes. Like, can you please change this because? Like check the glossary. You know, you can give them a hint on how to improve their translation.
As new contributors get better at translating, and we see that their contributions are of course always welcome but the quality is good. If you want and if you show that your translation meets the standard we’re aiming for, you can become an editor for a specific project, which is usually a plugin or a theme.
So we have lots of people that are either developers that have a plugin that they want to translate into Italian. So they want to become editors for that project and that is called, that position let’s say, it’s called PTE like Project Translation Editor.
If you are a PTE you can approve all the strings for that specific project. So we love when somebody comes in and adopts their favorite plugin or theme that is not yet translated into their own language.
I think it’s a beautiful way of contributing. There’s several people I admire in the WordPress community. But people like Rich Tabor, Anders Noren who have been putting out for years themes for free for the community. Having those themes translated right away, or almost right away, when they’re released, I think it’s also our way of giving back, because I think it’s just a beautiful thing and it makes us community.
[00:37:40] Nathan Wrigley: There’s a little bit of quid pro quo there, isn’t there? Which I guess you based upon the endeavors that you’ve put in in the past.
I have a curious question in that, and again forgive me because of my English, as in British, proclivity. So I speak English, I confess in terms of any other language I have no skills whatsoever, so it may very well be that this team is kind of out of the question for me because I couldn’t manage to translate anything. But it makes me wonder, is it possible to pollinate languages outside of English into other languages?
So let’s say, for example that the Italian translations, like you’ve just said it sounds like your auspices and the team that you are working with, that those translations in many cases are done fairly rapidly. Which means that the Italian strings and translations could be looked at fairly swiftly as complete. Now if I don’t speak English but I do speak Italian and Japanese for example, is it possible to go in that direction? There has to be no single language which you are feeding from. Can you go from one language to another without having to have, let’s say, English in the mix?
[00:38:51] Piermario Orecchioni: Yeah I would say so. It’s something I’ve hardly done, but sometimes I have the same curiosity so I just didn’t follow what happened next after I suggested a string in like Spanish or French. Or I translated Louis Armstrong’s name into Norwegian let’s say .
I didn’t follow up to see if that string was approved, because if for Core versions the approved strings go into a big bucket and you get like a credit in the WordPress credit page of your localised version. But if you go check any plugin and check the translation for a specific language you can see who translated that plugin.
So somebody translated one string, somebody 200, and so on. So I think it’s quite possible that you can suggest a string in a language that is not yours, and if it’s correct that can be approved. I just didn’t follow what happened after that, but it’s possible.
[00:39:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah thank you. Just before we round it out I guess would be good to talk about the team itself and how you think about that. And then maybe move on to talking about how you can become involved. So I’ve got a few questions around that.
The first one is, are there enough people doing this work to make it so that you know you’re all just having a very nice time of it? There’s a few things to be done each day, or is it more a case, I guess you can speak to the Italian I don’t what it’s like elsewhere, but maybe as a part of the team you’ve heard discussions around this.
Are there enough people or does the team feel undersubscribed? Are you on the lookout constantly for new people? And are there any languages that you know of in particular or locales that you know of in particular that are crying out for help?
[00:40:44] Piermario Orecchioni: Well every language in any part of the world could use some help, definitely. We always have room for new people, and we’re very happy when folks join us so that we can do more in less time. And we’re happy when somebody joins and stays and is happy and gets rewarded by having their translations approved, and seeing that something is in your own language because you helped. That’s always great.
Sometimes I think we tend to think about WordPress as this huge, giant project that will be there no matter what, and is translated into my language because it has to be. Like, how can it be not available in Italian or so? But then when you go and see the numbers, I think the active general translation editors for Italian are about 15 people.
We have hundreds of contributors that range from somebody who translated two strings two years ago, to somebody that needs a plugin, like a specific plugin, localised because their business needs it. So they become editors and they contribute even just to that.
But there’s always room for new people in, and there’s like grunt work and weekly meetings where we hold Slack meetings, as all the WordPress community does. And having more people on board means that somebody else can host a weekly meeting. Otherwise it’s like 2, 3, 4 of us that rotate and do that. And it’s a pleasure, but sometimes you have life in your way.
We always make space for WordPress because we love the project, and it means so much to us. And to answer your question, the team itself, I think I can even speak beyond the Italian team, because like at Work Camp Europe I had the chance to meet other Polyglots from other countries, and the vibe is really good. Like it’s a non-competitive team. Anybody’s welcome, and in the Italian community we’re really kind of family. Like we have WhatsApp chats to check on each other, like we really develop friendly relationships. That’s part of what keeps us going, because you feel like part of a group that is nice to be around.
[00:43:23] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah that’s really nice to hear. It does strike me as a very, well I mean this may sound obvious, but it’s a very communicative team, because you are basically dealing in communication. So it’s really nice to hear that.
Just before we wrap up, you’ve said that there’s always a need for people to do this work. And you did, I think, mention it earlier but maybe it’s a good idea to mention it again. Where’s the best place to go to get involved? For somebody that’s never touched on this before, where would you direct them?
[00:43:51] Piermario Orecchioni: The go-to place is always make.wordpress.org or wordpress.org. Somewhere in the navigation there’s either a make menu item or a get involved menu item. So just go there and pick your team. I would suggest Polyglots.
But really, every team, there’s like photography team. It’s something that did not really exist until a few years ago, and you can contribute to WordPress moderating photography or send in your photography so that everybody could use nice, copyright free, pictures. There’s really a space for everybody to help in every way. We like to be open and welcoming in WordPress. That’s really what we love.
[00:44:43] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you. And finally, last question. If people wanted to get in touch with you. You may have a social media platform that you prefer to use or email address or a website, whatever it may be. Where do we get in touch with you?
[00:44:57] Piermario Orecchioni: I’m on Slack as @Piermario. So on the WordPress Slack anybody can message me on the Italian, and the international Slack just with @ my name. I would say on what’s left of Twitter, I do have a weird handle because Piermario was taken. So my Twitter handle or X handle is succoallapera, which means pear juice, because I’m an avid pear juice drinker. And I would say that’s about it.
One day I will keep updating piermario.com, which I’m slowly rebuilding and using. Even as a kind of sandbox or block theme playground. But I have more ideas and drafts than actually published posts for now, but one day it’ll be more lively.
[00:45:58] Nathan Wrigley: Piermario, thank you so much for chatting to us on the podcast about this really intriguing subject. I’ve learned a lot. Thank you very much for joining us.
[00:46:06] Piermario Orecchioni: Thank you so much and thanks again for having me.
On the podcast today we have Piermario Orecchioni.
Piermario Orecchioni, a freelance web designer, resides in Italy and is deeply involved in the global WordPress community. His journey with WordPress began in early 2017 when he created his wordpress.org account. Among his many contributions, Piermario has focused primarily on the Polyglots team, which, if you didn’t know, deals with translations. His dedication and involvement in this aspect of the WordPress community have been important to him, and he shares more about his experiences with the team and how they work.
Piermario begins by questioning the moral and legal obligations of making websites available in multiple languages. Is it simply a nice thing to do, or are there legal reasons behind it? He sheds light on the importance of language localisation, especially when WordPress is used on government websites, to provide user-centric experiences.
But translating websites comes with its own set of challenges, and we discuss the difficulties in translating and reviewing strings in WordPress, where slight changes can lead to a large number of strings needing translations. He emphasises the need for maintaining consistency and standards in translations by having a glossary in each language.
We then talk about Piermario’s journey as a contributor to the Polyglots team. He highlights recent improvements in the translation process, thanks to the Glotpress translation platform.
We get into how the project is always on the lookout for new contributors, and discuss how they can become editors for specific projects if their translations meet the required quality standards.
We delve into the intricacies of language variations and the importance of localised translations.
Piermario reiterates that coding expertise is not necessary to this work; even newcomers with a curious mind and a willingness to help can contribute meaningfully. He paints a picture of how the work of translation is both accessible and beneficial, where short portions of text that can be tackled in small amounts of time.
We end with a discussion on the ongoing projects being translated, such as Learn WordPress and Openverse, which aim to reach a larger audience and make WordPress education accessible in multiple languages. Piermario shares insights into the Italian WordPress community and the process of translating plugins and themes.
So if you’re looking to help out translating WordPress, or are just interesting in hearing about a way you can contribute, this episode is for you.