[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 translations of the WordPress project are created now and in the future.
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.
If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you all your idea featured on the show. Head to WPTavern.com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox, and use the form there.
So on the podcast today, we have Estela Rueda, Courtney Robertson and Javier Casares.
Courtney is a former teacher who now focuses on contributing to WordPress. With a background in education, she understands the challenges faced by English second language learners in the American education system. She’s passionate about providing access to WordPress in multiple languages, as she believes it’s unfair to expect non-English speakers to simultaneously translate content and understand it.
Estela is a language enthusiast who has spent years navigating the challenges of website localization. As a member of the WordPress community, Estela has come across the intricacies of language differences, and the need for accurate translation in various Spanish locales. With 14 Spanish locales to handle Estela’s expertise in understanding the subtle nuances, and localizations of each language variation has been indispensable.
Javier is a dedicated member of the WordPress community, with expertise in creating documentation. Javier has been instrumental in developing handbooks for various sites. However, there have been some technical challenges. Despite these obstacles Javier, as you will hear, remains committed to addressing and solving the documentation issues at hand.
This episode covers the important topic of translations, and making WordPress documentation more accessible to people worldwide. Our guests bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, as they discuss the complexities and challenges of language translation in the WordPress ecosystem.
We start by highlighting challenges posed in translating WordPress, such as the tangled processes currently in place, as well as more language focused topics. We talk about the extensive collaborative effort involved in translating WordPress, and the plans to expand translation efforts to documentation with the help of dedicated teams.
We get into how contributors might need to rethink how many of the current translation processes are structured. We discuss the different approaches needed for translating plugins and themes versus documentation. We touch upon how technical aspects of these processes such as content creation and updates also pose significant challenges.
All three guests stress the importance of global involvement in translation efforts, including translators, reviewers, and project managers. They advocate for the development of standardized style guides for each language to maintain consistency. And they explore the possibility of creating software, or tools, to manage translation tasks.
Courtney, Estela and Javier all acknowledge the challenges ahead, but express optimism that their ideas will help make WordPress accessible for all. Communicating how WordPress is built and how it works is an endeavor tightly aligned with the projects overall mission of democratizing publishing.
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 Estela Rueda, Courtney Robertson and Javier Casares.
I am joined on the podcast today by three fine people. I’m joined by Courtney Robertson, Estela Rueda and Javier Casares. Hello all three of you.
[00:04:48] Javier Casares: Hello.
[00:04:49] Estela Rueda: Hi Nathan.
[00:04:50] Courtney Robertson: Hello.
[00:04:51] Nathan Wrigley: Very nice to have you on the podcast today. We’re going to be talking about WordPress translations, and the way that we can make it easier for people from around the globe to get access to WordPress documentation. It’s a very important subject and there’s been a lot of work, albeit that you may not know about it. There’s been an awful lot of work going on over, well more or less a decade, and we’ll find out more about that in a moment.
But first of all I think it’s important that everybody gets a little window to introduce themselves, do a quick bio. So if I take you one at a time and lets start with Courtney. Just tell us who you are. And I know that I’m going to say can we be brief but I know time is short, so let’s keep it fairly brief if that’s all right.
[00:05:33] Courtney Robertson: Sure thing. I’ve been contributing to WordPress since 2009. A big part of the training team for many years. These days you can also find me over in Meta, Sustainability, and generally around the project on behalf of GoDaddy these days, and I’ve been there for about two and a half years. Long time contributor. Big fan.
[00:05:50] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much. I’m sure that people have come across Courtney in the past, as would be the case for the next two people. Let’s go for Estela next. Hello Estela, would you mind giving us your intro?
[00:06:01] Estela Rueda: Hi Nathan. Yes. I’ve been contributing for about five years already and I am mostly in the design and the documentation teams. But you can find me everywhere. I do mess around everywhere, I ask questions. And my goal has been to rearrange, recategorise the end user documentation. And that’s been the big project that we finished, it took us three years. And now we want to bring it up to the whole world in every single language we can manage.
[00:06:33] Nathan Wrigley: Okay thank you. And finally Javier, if you want to just give us your short bio.
[00:06:37] Javier Casares: Yeah. Hello everybody. I’m Javier Casares, I’m from Spain. I’ve been involved with WordPress since 2006, so more or less 17 years. I mainly focus on hosting, on the hosting team, and I’m helping the documentation team mainly with the Advanced Administration Handbook. So that’s more or less what I do. I do a lot of things but those are the main things.
[00:07:04] Nathan Wrigley: Those are the things which are pertinent to today’s discussion. Yeah, thank you so much.
So if, like me, you are a native English speaker, English is your first language. It may very well be that some of the things that we’re going to talk about today have either never occurred to you, or you’ve never bumped up against this problem.
Because broadly speaking, if you are a native English speaker, you can find the documentation, you can find tutorials. You can find almost anything you wish to find out about WordPress, how to use it, how to implement things and so on, by going and doing a Google search. And you’re off to the races because essentially everything has historically been done in the English language.
So I guess that, in my case, makes me an incredibly fortunate person. But that’s not the case throughout the world. And as obviously WordPress has grown, we’re now 40 plus percent of the internet, it would be not really serving the user base of WordPress if everything was simply in English. It would be a laudable goal to get everything translated.
Now I guess we should probably outline where all of the things are at the moment. So it’s not the case that you can go to one website and there it all is, open a Pandora’s box, open it all and there it all is.
So let’s outline that problem first. I don’t really mind who wishes to tackle this one. Yeah if somebody wants to just outline the problem that we face, where are all the documents stored at the moment?
[00:08:23] Estela Rueda: I can’t give it a go. There are many, many limitations within WordPress. There are the sites that are called the Rosetta sites, or locales and those are the ones that are written in other languages for local teams.
But then we have issues, different issues. For instance, in Spanish, we have 14 locales in Spanish. So we have Spanish from Spain, we have Spanish from Mexico, Spanish from Colombia, Spanish from Costa Rica, et cetera. And everybody will think, well don’t you understand each other? Yeah we do, we understand each other, but there are so many differences in our languages. And there is the localisation of the words, and a lot of little things that we need to figure out. That’s one thing.
Then the other thing is that there are never enough contributors to do translations. And then there are all the technical issues that we have, and Javier can talk to you about those, because he’s more aware than all of the technical issues that we have.
[00:09:25] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, in that case, we’ll hopefully segue over to Javier. Are you able to take it from there?
[00:09:29] Javier Casares: Yeah. So the main thing is, we have the Rosetta sites. It’s local team can create their own documentation in a way, because some of the sites have their own handbooks. But there is some technical things there because, for example, the Spanish from Spain is one of the older sites in the WordPress network.
So it’s database is in LATIN1, it’s not in UTF, it’s a technical thing. But it doesn’t allow, for example, emojis in the database. That’s so simple but it’s something that happens. So we have some problems having documentation there. That’s one of the things.
But the other one is we have the documentation right now in wordpress.org/documentation. Also we have the developer.wordpress.org. We have the Learn corpus also in with a lot of documentation. In a lot of ways, WordPress TV should, maybe it’s another place with documentation, in video in this case. And everything usually is focused on English.
So the main idea on this project we started like a year ago is, how can we translate everything into, more or less, at least eight languages? Because eight languages cover more or less eighty percent of the WordPress users. And also, where are we going to put that documentation? Because, for example, we can do ses.wordpress.org/documentation, that’s the easy one. But, for example, the developer documentation is in a subdomain so, where are we going to put all this documentation?
So that’s one of the things we are trying to solve. That’s one technical problem we have to face. And the other one is, where are we going to put all the documentation to be translated? Because we know that WordPress will be multilingual in a way in some years. I hope soon, as soon as possible.
We have now the phase three, the collaboration part. But we have the problem that we cannot give access in this case. This is something concrete for WordPress, not for a translation or a documentation problem. But we cannot give access to thousands of people to the WordPress network, because it won’t be able to control the security and everything.
We decided to start migrating or having the English documentation in GitHub. That’s one place. Also GitHub has natively, the Markdown editor, so with some commands and some things we can put everything there in a way that everybody can take the English document and translate it into their language.
For example I’m doing that, I’m starting to do that in a beta project for the advanced documentation. That’s something we’ve been working on for more or less 8 months. It was a very difficult thing to arrive because it’s been a big problem. A lot of people have been involved, a lot of languages, people from different countries involved, a lot of teams involved. So it has been a very technical challenge in a way.
[00:13:00] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much. I don’t know if Courtney wants to add anything to that before we move on.
[00:13:05] Courtney Robertson: Yeah. So my background, before going full time contributing to WordPress, was that of a teacher. And in the education space within America we have a lot of ESL, English Second Language. So we have a lot of people that don’t primarily speak English, and it’s a disservice to them in the education system to expect them to understand the content on top of having to simultaneously translate a language. That’s a really big learning difficulty.
So I very much wholeheartedly believe in providing access for people to learn WordPress in their own languages. Down to reading the captions on videos. If you’re an English speaker I would encourage you to go over to wordpress.tv, try to find a video that is not in your language, not in your first language, and subject yourselves to reading the captions and think about how fair is that for the rest of the world.
So with that in mind, in Learn WordPress we have a different workflow perhaps than the Docs team. So Docs again think of as the dictionary and the reference manuals, and Learn as the teacher’s spot to be, or the direct learner’s spot to go, if they don’t find reading the manual version to meet their learning style.
And that’s something that we very much want to consider. Some people need a little more instruction to be able to get the concepts. And so Learn WordPress exists for that, both direct learners and educators. And over there we do not get access to Rosetta sites and instead we rely upon one instance of Learn WordPress.
Whereas in the Rosetta sites and what we’ve heard from recent episodes with Vagelis and Piermario, just a few episodes back. We could hear that from what they’ve shared in other parts of the WordPress project there are tools to basically make a whole separate locale instance going on. So if you were in Spain and you wanted to read the same type of content, you would have an entire version of the site that is just for you.
Whereas with Learn WordPress, what we have going on is all the languages all smooshed into one site. And what becomes difficult is we don’t have good workflows yet established around if the English language version gets an update, how do I assess what content? I speak only a tiny bit of Spanish and a tiny bit of Latin, of all the things. Good conversation starters.
So you won’t find an easy way to identify even what the other topics are with the same title. Let alone somebody that can’t assess what that content looks like. So we have some locale ambassadors, Piermario is doing a great job with the folks based out of Italy on rounding up some efforts there. Margarita especially, is someone that’s participating with Piermario on identifying the content to be translated into the Italian locale.
So we’re basically duplicating the content, but just in other languages all under the same site. So that’s not the most efficient way and we’re using GitHub as well to do some of this work. We have GitHub issues that have a template. So think of GitHub issues as logging something on the WordPress forums, right? It’s about on par with that. But we prefill what the text of that issue is, and have a workflow to publish that.
But that’s not necessarily in conjunction with what the English version, last update, is or plans of how do we maintain those updates? And then, how do we also look and see if the Docs team did a certain bit of update? And how do we find the polyglots that really like these specific areas? You can see this becomes quite a challenge as we’re looking ahead to Gutenberg phase four with multilingual support natively. We’re still a ways out from that, but you can see where this is something to start untangling and working on internally before we roll it all into Core.
[00:16:59] Nathan Wrigley: So it sounds like that this is a spaghetti of things just loosely held together simply by people actually understanding what the processes of the different teams are. But we don’t have this one workflow, which presumably is some kind of goal. But we do have a moment in time, which would be the release of Gutenberg phase four, where hopefully a large proportion of this would be either in progress or completed, because at that point WordPress itself becomes translatable. And I suppose at that point it would be incredibly useful to have this work done.
I just want to touch on a couple of things that may have confused the listeners because we’re all speaking, probably in a bit of an echo chamber here. And so there were a couple of things which were mentioned. The first of which was Rosetta, that got dropped a couple of times, and it may be useful for people to actually know what that means. So if anybody’s willing to just very briefly explain what Rosetta is. I mean we know what the stone is and so we get the connection there but, what is that thing in WordPress?
[00:17:57] Javier Casares: The Rosetta sites are the locale sites in WordPress. So we have wordpress.org, everything is in English, it’s the main site. Most of everything is there. But, for example, for Spain we have es.wordpress.org, or for Catalan we have ca.wordpress.org or I don’t know for French we have fr.wordpress.org.
Those are translation sites from the main site, but not everything is in there. There are the main contents, for example, the download page, everything is in your language. When you download the WordPress from that site, it’s in your language. It includes the translation files. But each site can be managed by different people.
For example, in Spain we usually publish one post every week talking about things. It can be translation from general post, or it can be local things about WordCamps in Spain or whatever. So that’s more or less the thing inside the Rosetta. It’s the technical name, the project, the Rosetta project is the name or the locale site. So that’s more or less the thing.
[00:19:12] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah thank you, that’s perfect. That explains it beautifully.
The other thing that was mentioned was eight languages have been put forward as the language is to get us to 80%. So I guess it would be quite nice for the listeners to know what those languages are. I don’t know if a quick Google search needs to be done there, or if anybody’s got that information to hand. But it would be nice to know eight languages initially are.
And also to know that isn’t the entire scope of the project. That’s more a, let’s get something over the line with these eight languages, as opposed to that’s what we’re doing and that’s all that we’ll ever do.
[00:19:44] Javier Casares: Yeah. I have some information from the hosting team, and it was like, okay, I’m going to analyse where and what language are the most downloaded in WordPress. So these languages are not the eight most top languages in the world, they are are the most used in the WordPress ecosystem.
So that’s the main idea behind having those languages as the main ones. German, more or less the 6% in the WordPress scope. English, the 48%, Spanish 7%, French 5%, Italian 4%, Japanese 6%, Portuguese 5%, and Russian 3%. More or less that covers the 80% of the documentation or languages that WordPress has installations.
[00:20:34] Nathan Wrigley: Okay thank you, that’s great. That clears that one up.
So I guess we’ve highlighted a problematic past, well not really problematic, it’s just the way the project evolved where everything is done in a unique way depending on the team, or which part of WordPress you’re touching. And maybe this one is for Estela. The enterprise of this podcast really is to highlight some future where we improve things and we take things forward, and you have outlined, I guess a project is the best way to describe it.
What is your idea? What is it that you want to happen in the future? We don’t have to create timelines or anything, but let’s just imagine that we’re a decade out from now and it’s all been achieved, what would be your north star for all of this?
[00:21:16] Estela Rueda: This is where we are, you know where we are working at right now, where we are starting. I started with this Spanish team. They are my trial team. And the only reason why I started with them is because I speak Spanish and it’s easier for me to guide them. We had to start the project in, you know, baby steps, go little by little. The idea is to create a process or a model that we can replicate into other languages.
I started with the style guide and how to write documentation in Spanish, because we have many grammar issues with the language. First of all, you know, we have the way we address each other, like formal, informal or we have the language is genderised, completely genderised. Everything is either female or male, there is no neutral gender in Spanish.
There are so many issues that we need to address. And I’m pretty sure other languages have the same or similar problems in their grammar, you know, grammatically speaking. And we need to address those and, how are we going to use them in documentation, in order to make it as neutral as possible and as easy to understand? They’re going to be like, you know, writing rules.
Then we have the translation of the sitemap. Now, what I did with the Spanish team, we spent during a WordC amp, a whole contributor day, translating the site map for end user documentation. But I sat the marketing, the polyglots, and the documentation teams together. And I told them, okay, we’re going to translate but I don’t want you to translate literally. I asked marketing, give us words that are searched for, that will help with the SEO of the site. So that way we can localise also, and we can increase the use of the translation of WordPress.
After that, I guess we’re going to start working into translating documentation. We’re going to create teams, and we’re going to start working on it. My idea is to start some sort of triage hours with teams. And let’s say twice a month, to review what we have written and to continue writing and just that sort of thing.
Because I know that if I leave it to every contributor day for every WordCamp it’s just never going to happen. And this is something that we need. If we want to progress we need to work, you know, a little bit every day, a little bit every day.
So if we don’t put set goals then this is not going to happen. But that’s where I am right now. And I will reach out to the Brazilian team who approached me and may be the second team that I start working with.
[00:23:56] Nathan Wrigley: So Estela, just to be clear the intention here is to delve into, in your case, the Spanish language and come up with a rule set, like a workflow. Where, okay, if we receive things in English, these are the set of constraints that we’ve got when we translate into Spanish. So somebody who is new to the team would be able to look at those guidelines, the workflow document, whatever it may be and have a very strong idea of, okay, this is the way to do it. When you’re going from English to Spanish, this is how you do it. Have I understood that correctly?
[00:24:29] Estela Rueda: Yes. But those writing rules, or the style guide, I call them the writing rules because that’s what they are. But I want to apply that for every language, just not for the Spanish team. And that style guide has to be according to the language grammar, not to what we like.
[00:24:45] Nathan Wrigley: In my head I’m seeing a website when you say that, but of course, you’re talking about the style of the language, in your case the sort of gender that you’ve got to go to and things like that. That’s interesting. And, can you give us some sort of insight into how that’s going? Has it proven to be fairly straightforward to put that workflow together or is it a really thorny thing to unpick?
[00:25:03] Estela Rueda: We are just at the beginning of it. I just pitched this idea at the WordCamp in Pontevedra, which was last month, two months ago. And I realised that I need to sit down and start writing. So I gave them some sort of topics that might affect the language, and gave it to the team, to the Spanish team actually.
They are going to start writing the style guide. And I said listen, I write something, ideas that I have and if they are not okay, feel free to go ahead and edit and change them. And let’s see what affects us where. Is it easy? No it’s not easy. It’s going to be difficult because like I said, we have 14 locales, or 14 Rosetta sites, for 14 different versions of Spanish. And we need to come together to a point where, what is the most common use for everybody?
[00:26:03] Nathan Wrigley: So this question is going to sound a bit meta, meta in the real sense of the word. You are creating a document which then you will be able to share to other teams in order that they can run their own process. So a silly example, the Latin version of WordPress would need to look at what your team have put together, how to go through the process? Which they can then implement with their own locale.
[00:26:28] Estela Rueda: Yes. I will be documenting. Actually this week I’m going to publish a post in the Polyglots team regarding about this step one, step two. So what is the writing style guide and why are we writing it? And what happened to the sitemap and how we came up to what we have.
[00:26:44] Nathan Wrigley: So just talking about it on this podcast, it seems like a fairly solvable problem, but of course when you actually apply thought to it, this really is a gigantic plate of spaghetti. There’s an awful lot to be unpicked. There’s an awful lot of work to be done. And I’m just wondering how you feel about this, whether you’re sanguine.
And it’s not necessarily for Estela, it’s for everybody on the call. How you feel about whether this project is going to be able to ship its aspiration in the, well let’s say, it’s probably a matter of years not months certainly, but probably under a decade, before Gutenberg four comes out.
Because it does sound, on the face of it, it sounds like you’ve got an awful lot of work to be done. If you complete the Spanish, then you’ve got to move on to another one. You’ve got to get people’s buy in, you’ve got to re educate those people who are contributing their time, as translators. They’ve got to be re educated to do it in a different way. How positive, sanguine do you feel that this is achievable?
[00:27:41] Courtney Robertson: Nathan, I’ll jump in here. One of the ideas that a coach in my life has shared with me, the motto of this company is, a world that works for everyone with no one left out. And I think about that a lot in the context of open source, and how we make WordPress possible for the whole globe, right?
We are trying to make this tool that we have available, be available for as many people as would have used it, and make the best of that situation. And if we take that backwards to a place where we might need a mindset shift to go on, let’s think about a couple of features in the WordPress project that have rolled out within the last few versions of releases, and the naming that goes into it.
I know the community would like to improve how we name things from this outset, so that we don’t have to rename them later. So one example that I thought went really, really well is what became the Command Palette. The initial proposal was to call it something along the lines of Wayfinder. And one of the great insights, because we were able to identify and put this kind of call out across social media and other places, it was not something that was just buried and obscure over in GitHub.
It was raised throughout the community and a lot of folks said, that doesn’t make sense in my language. If you do a direct translation this does not make sense. So it’s not just about translating after the fact, but it’s also about how we name things really even before it gets widely publicly released.
And so that’s a mindset shift that I think, I’ll say as an English speaker, I really think that we need to experience more of being the second language to truly appreciate and understand the depth of why naming things matters so greatly. The depth of why we need to consider how this will work with other languages. Consider the workflow process. To the point where we’re not just, yes, it will probably remain English forward first.
But to always tuck in mind the processes that go on downstream after we get the thing out in English or what have you. What are we asking our translation folks to do, and how does this impact somebody in a different language? I learned that when Learn was added the navigation menu across all WordPress sites, that the way it had been translated, particularly into Russian, Olga caught this one, it didn’t make sense in the way that it was translated. And so we have to think about these things before we just ship sometimes.
[00:30:22] Nathan Wrigley: I have this intuition that if the Command Palette had been called something, even adjacent to the Command Palette, it would have stayed like that. It the controversy of it being so poorly named that led the community to sort of say, well that’s really not the right idea.
And so sometimes I wonder if backing yourself into a corner is the best way to get attention, if you know what I mean. It’s probably not the desirable outcome but it is possibly a way that, you know, people get enraged by something and so they go out on social media and change happens more quickly.
From what I’m hearing there Courtney, you’re basically making a moral argument for this. It’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, whether we achieve this in a matter of 2 years, 6 years, 10 years, whatever it may be. The journey is the important thing, making the steps now to make this possible is the important point, not the end goal.
[00:31:11] Courtney Robertson: Absolutely true. Yes.
[00:31:13] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, thank you.
So I guess in order for this to happen, as with many things in WordPress, bodies need to be on the ground. We need people actually doing this work. There’s probably a whole lot of people listening to this who are already committing their time to translations, but there’s probably a lot of people who haven’t. So I guess we need to speak to them.
Firstly, I suppose we need to reassure people that if in the future, if this project has wings and takes off and it all goes in this direction, that they will be educated in the new ways of doing things. But also a call out to people who haven’t yet committed their time and feel that they could commit their time. How do they go about doing it?
So let’s tackle it in two parts. The first one, to people who are already translating, will there be education materials? Will there be instruction as to whatever comes out of this whole process?
[00:32:04] Javier Casares: Okay. So for me, we will need two different teams. This is not a polyglots project in a way. Obviously everybody will be invited to participate on everything, but I don’t think that the same people translating WordPress plugins, themes or whatever, needs to be the same people translating documentation.
So in a way, at least for me, because I think those are two very different things. As Courtney was saying, translating a plugin for example, or WordPress per se, maybe you need to be a little more literal in the translation. But documentation is different because people need to learn about what you are explaining. So you need to relate with that person.
So in this case that’s the work Estela is doing. You need to know how to communicate to these people, and that’s very different than translating a thing. So for me, it’s not like translating documentation is adapting or doing your own documentation based on one in another language.
So we don’t need to have the same documentation because, cultural things or whatever. Because not everybody in all the countries, in all the languages, use the same tools, the same things. So that’s one thing we need to have in mind. For example, as I was saying at the beginning, I just started leading the advanced administration handbook like one year or two years ago. That’s something Milana gave me as a gift in a way.
So one thing I started, for me this is the pilot in the technical part, not in the documentation part. But now the only thing, or main thing we have in GitHub, in English, everything synchronised with WordPress, is the advanced admin handbook. So for me the next step is to do the technical part for this translation.
We need to check also the technical part because writing right is one thing, but doing the thing is another step we need to check. And that creates a lot of new problems in a way. Because we have new content, we have updates, and we have changes in the documentation. Because it’s not the same changing or creating a new feature, because I don’t know the command palette and everything. It’s a new thing from one, two versions ago.
So we need to create all the documentation. We need to notify everybody in all the languages that we have this new. So we need to translate everything and we need to check with the Polyglots team, how are you going to name the palette in your language and everything? Everybody should be involved in a way, because documenting in all the languages should be a global thing, not a local thing.
And also, the notifications. We need to have like three levels in the translation part, because we need the translators. We need people doing the translation per se. And we need something like the GTEs. So people can check that the translation is doing fine, the translation is right. And we need project managers because each documentation is not the same. The advanced admin handbook, the end user documentation, the Learn WordPress whatever, the plugins handbook, the themes handbook, developers handbook. Each documentation needs one or two or a team that can control the publication that everything is right.
For example, one thing we talk in WordCamp US was how we are going to relate it’s language? Because we don’t have that now. So if we publish the documentation in Spanish and somebody wants to go from this page to another language, how are we going to do that? Because that’s not something we have now.
So we are trying to solve phase four before we have phase four. So we have a lot of challenge in the organisation and in the technical part. Also with the translation or the organisation about how we are going to talk to people. Because, for example, the Spanish for me is one of the best examples, because in Spain we have a more direct, we talk to people and in Latin American they talk in another way.
So we need to find like a common ground because we cannot maintain the Spanish documentation in 12 or 15 different ways. So we need to create a standard or international Spanish. That’s something that more or less exists, but we cannot create a lot of different documentation. So we need to have that in the translation part. We need to have that documentation, that style guide. We need to have one international Spanish because we cannot maintain, we don’t have a lot of people maintaining some little languages or whatever, because it’s not possible right now in the WordPress ecosystem.
[00:37:35] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you. That was really insightful. I got an awful lot out of that. I just have a little question off the back of that. So, is the intention then to build I guess more or less software to take care of this notification problem? And obviously there’s a lot more than notifications. There’s, you know, the work that needs to be done, and perhaps the order that it needs to be done, and who it’s going to be assigned to.
Is the intention to have that as, if you like, paper based web pages or is the intention to have a piece of software that people can log into and assign themselves tasks, and offload tasks, and check things out, and then finally hit publish if something meets all of the different criteria? And it sounded like it was partially done but I don’t know if that’s falling on your shoulders Javier. Just a little guidance around that.
[00:38:18] Javier Casares: Yeah. that was one of the main things we have pending. We started talking about this in WordCamp US, in the contributor day. Right now, for example, for the advanced admin handbook I’m going to lead everything in the Spanish part because I think we need to test everything, and I’m going to test this development part or whatever we are doing. I know Milana is doing it for the end user. She’s creating like teams in GitHub and doing actions and everything.
She’s starting to automatising more or less the notifications and everything. So the main idea is we will have translation teams. So for example, the Spanish translation team, or the German translation team. And you will apply in those teams. And when something changed, in the English part, you will get a notification.
For example, there is a new page. This document has changed because of whatever. So we need to inform people that we need a new version, or to update something, or to add something to the documentation. And then we need another step that when somebody translates something, it needs some checking or review or whatever. So we need like the GTEs in Polyglots more or less, the general translation editor. So people that know imperfection, the style guide or whatever. And they will check that this document is ready to be published.
This is something we start talking and I think it will be something good for the project, is to create versions for the documentation. When we have 6.4 or 6.5 or whatever version, we can create a new batch of documentation, and we can create the 1.2 version of the end user documentation. So we can have a history of everything that changed, and we don’t need to put the documentation every day.
So we can have a weekly or a monthly updating. So it’s control, it’s more like the WordPress. So everybody will know where the new version is going to be published. If you need to add this document, priorities or whatever. So that’s something we are working on now, but there are a lot of people involved testing different things.
So for example, Estela is doing the documentation for Spanish. I’m testing the technical part. Milana is testing this notification system. So we need to check everything because we don’t really know if this project is going to be real, but we think it will be. But we need to check everything, and we need to do this in parallel because we cannot wait to have all the work from one person to do the next step.
I think that’s something we are going to work on in the next contributor days in some places. At least in Spain I’m going to try to do this. And for example, that’s my next step in the documentation part, is going to test this technical part. How are we going to organise everything?
So everybody is invited to participate. So if anybody wants to check things, we can talk. Probably in the Polyglots or the documentation channel in Slack. So I think a lot of people are doing the right steps right now, and before 2024 we have some pilot or something finished.
[00:42:02] Nathan Wrigley: If you’ve ever been involved in creating software, you’ll know that the devil is in the detail. And although it’s easy to say what you’ve just said, I suspect that it will be fiendishly challenging.
Firstly, good luck, I hope that your endeavors pay off. And it does sound like you would desperately want some people to cast their eyes over this.
And we’ll get onto that in a moment. We’ll figure out a way where people can get in touch if they wish to. But you’re clearly all good people. You have the, what I’m going to describe as the right moral intentions here. You are giving up lots of your time for this worthy cause. Nobody could deny that this is a fabulous endeavor.
But for people who are listening to this and sitting on the fence, thinking to themselves, what would I get out of translating? It’s a bit of an ephemeral question really, but I’m wondering if you could portray or explain to us, what do you get out of this? Apart from the fact that you’ve translated a software project, that much is obvious. But, do you get like a warm, fuzzy feeling out of this? Does it make you feel good? Is there a good community? Are there nice people sitting behind translation that you’ve become friends with? I’m trying to offer a path for people who kind of want to commit but haven’t committed, because they just see it as there’s more things to do on my plate each week.
[00:43:13] Estela Rueda: I think that friendships, they just come. They are just like part of it. But that’s not the reason why I do it. For me it’s more about empowering people. I think that, you know, if I can translate more of the documentation in another language then there will be more plugin developers, or theme developers, or agencies in that country. And then you will empower people. You will empower more people because they will be able to start their own businesses, you know, create their own little plugins and start small like we all did at some point, and then become bigger and bigger.
I don’t know, I kind of took into that Matt’s dream about a hundred years. I think that if we open everything up for more countries, more cultures to join, then WordPress will be bigger and bigger and more people will use it.
[00:44:10] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much, Courtney. I think maybe you want to chip in there.
[00:44:13] Courtney Robertson: I really love solving complex puzzles. And so if we look, devils in the details. Relaying communications between docs and training becomes pretty important. So not only do we want to leverage Milana’s system about the GitHub actions, some of that automation work that can notify people in other languages. But also the communication between the teams about the same topics or the areas in which our topics overlap. It’s a fun thing for me to do that.
But then in addition, as I kind of look more broadly like Estela, I firmly believe in empowering others. And that’s really what open source and the four freedoms give us. You are free to do what you would like with this thing.
So to make that possible my method is to solve big problems, I guess. To work on these interesting challenges so that more people can leverage what’s going on and get involved along the way, and have mentors and others to connect with. Because for every time that I felt personally like I didn’t know what was going on, or I didn’t understand the value that I brought, or understand how I could start contributing with something small, I want to remove those barriers for other people. I want to make their lives a lot better from that process.
[00:45:34] Nathan Wrigley: What a fabulous set of answers. Thank you so much.
We’re running short of time. I guess the only thing that we should say before we wrap up is to give out a shout to people who are sitting on the fence, who haven’t contributed so far. What is the best way, the quickest route to finding out more? Is there a particular page that you would highlight more than any others? Is there a particular venue to go to? Is this a contributor day kind of thing? What would you recommend? We could take that one at a time. So let’s start with, well let’s go back to Courtney.
[00:46:05] Courtney Robertson: Sure. Since our process looks a little bit different than what you see in Docs, for instance, I would encourage folks to swing by the training team. You can find our main site at make. wordpress. org slash training. There is a handbook in our top navigation area and inside of that has some information on how to get started with content localization. I’ll make sure that we have all those show notes. As well as a GitHub issue to log if you want to take part in that translation effort.
And for those inside the WordPress project that are really skilled with amazing things like GitHub Actions, if you understand how to make GitHub automate some stuff, there is a channel if you search for GitHub inside of the channels area, you’ll find a channel where we share tips and tools about GitHub activity.
[00:46:51] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much, Courtney. Estela, anything that you wanted to add?
[00:46:55] Estela Rueda: You can go into documentation Slack channels. We meet on Tuesdays, 2 PM UTC, and just join us. And then we can talk about it. We are trying to look now for Documentation writers, but they are also bilingual. So they do need to dominate at least one word so that they can help us in the future once we move into their own language.
We have, actually the documentation team is, most of us are non English speakers. English is not our first language, so we have a lot of people that speak other languages, and they do help when it’s necessary. Now, we have several posts. I’m posting, like I said, I’m documenting what I’m doing, and we’ll be documenting it both in Documentation and polyglots, and just pick it up from there. Join the polyglots team. They are open to every language, or every Rosetta side, locale team. They all need contributors. They all need translators. So that’s the best way.
[00:48:01] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much. And Javier, if you’ve got anything to add there.
[00:48:05] Javier Casares: Yeah. In my case if anybody wants to check the most technical part or be involved in the testing, they can ask me directly in Slack. Because right now it’s like I’m doing the test alone. I probably when I do the main testing, I will explain everything because we did the proposal in the make.wordpress.org slash project. You can look for a proposal, documentation, translation, localization.
That’s the main document explaining everything. It explains why we are doing this. How we are going to do that. I think, right now, Estela, Courtney, Milana, and I are the ones involved. So another way is to, at least for this project, is to contact us, and we will try to put you in the right place to contribute.
Yeah, we are always open to help people. So another way is to contact directly to us.
[00:49:09] Nathan Wrigley: Well, Thank you so much, the three of you, for joining us today. Thank you Courtney, Estela, and Javier. I really appreciate it. Obviously, a very complicated set of challenges to come, but hopefully with your and other people’s contributions, WordPress will be readable by all the world. Thank you so much for your contributions today.
Courtney is a former teacher who now focuses on contributing to WordPress. With a background in education, she understands the challenges faced by English Second Language (ESL) learners in the American education system. She’s passionate about providing access to WordPress in multiple languages, as she believes it is unfair to expect non-English speakers to simultaneously translate content and understand it.
Estela is a language enthusiast who has spent years navigating the challenges of website localization. As a member of the WordPress community, Estela has come across the intricacies of language differences and the need for accurate translation in various Spanish locales. With 14 different Spanish locales to handle, Estela’s expertise in understanding the subtle nuances and localizations of each language variation has been indispensable.
Javier Casares is a dedicated member of the WordPress community. With expertise in creating documentation, Javier has been instrumental in developing handbooks for various sites. However, there have been some technical challenges. Despite these obstacles, Javier, as you will hear, remains committed to addressing and solving the documentation issues at hand.
This episode covers the important topic of translations and making WordPress documentation more accessible to people worldwide. Our guests bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table as they discuss the complexities and challenges of language translation in the WordPress ecosystem.
We start by highlighting challenges posed in translating WordPress, such as the tangled processes currently in place, as well as more language focussed topics. We talk about the extensive collaborative effort involved in translating WordPress and the plans to expand translation efforts to documentation with the help of dedicated teams.
We get into how contributors might need to rethink the way that many of the current translation processes are structured. We discuss the different approaches needed for translating plugins and themes versus documentation. We touch upon how technical aspects of these processes, such as content creation and updates, also pose significant challenges.
All three guests stress the importance of global involvement in translation efforts, including translators, reviewers, and project managers. They advocate for the development of standardised style guides for each language to maintain consistency, and they explore the possibility of creating software or tools to manage translation tasks.
Courtney, Estela, and Javier all acknowledge the challenges ahead, but express optimism that their ideas will help make WordPress accessible for all. Communicating how WordPress is built and how it works is an endeavour tightly aligned with the project’s overall mission of democratising publishing.
Notes provided by the guests
We want to offer non-English speaking people the possibility to access all the WordPress documentation in their language. To accomplish that we need to translate all the actual documentation at HelpHub, DevHub, Learn WordPress and some Handbooks.
But, the problems are not to do the translations per sé, but where to put that in each language, how to get the updates from the English primary documentation, and then how to maintain everything in place.
First, we need to know where are we putting the documentation, because this project cannot wait until Gutenberg Phase 4. This means that Local Communities should be involved here (for example, where are we putting the documentation in Spanish? es.wordpress.org/documentation, developer.es.wordpress.org?)
After having the right place… how are we going to know if something changes? The best way is probably using the same way we are translating right now: translate.wordpress.org, (GlotPress). If we can use this platform, each page can be translated and, when arrived to the 90% threshold, it will be shown in the local language page.