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Multi-lingual ET?

by someone Thu May 15th, 2008 at 11:51:04 AM EST

I have from time to time though about the problem of creating a mulit-lingual community blog, and have some ideas on what some requirements of such a platform ought to be. First, I think a hybrid machine/person translation system is a must. We cannot expect to hand translate every comment, and one can often get a sense of what it should be from the machine version. A machine version should initially be generated for all contributions, and improvements should then be user submitted for diaries and substantial comments. The key, I think, is a true multi-lingual community blog. As in, users with different languages should be reading the same material, and responding to each other's comments. If all we manage to create are parallel language communities with the occasional cross over diary, it is in my opinion a failure. Given this, how might a multi-lingual interface work?


This requires an interface that allows for the translations of a submission to be editable by any user. This editable content must be tracked in a database where changes can be viewed and rolled back. I for see two parallel ratings systems, one for translations, and another for content as is now implemented. A machine translation would be labeled as such, and have a rate of '0', to be improved by user editing and subsequent up-rating.

Something like a user score of translation should be kept. I.e. users who reliably (by community voting) generate good translations would be able to edit a piece of text and then self-rate a higher scored output, even before voting. Also, vote weighing should be tied to user skill in the relevant language pairs. I.e. someone with good knowledge of two languages should have their vote count for more in determining the translation score for that piece. This score would be determined by translation contributions by that user. Ideally there should be some way to mark sections of a text. As in, "text mostly good, but there is a problem here.". Markup (color-coded?) of translated texts should thus also be displayable, both as default or by a simple one click with dynamic update.

All this should be seamless. One should not have to open a separate interface to view/edit translations. The user account must accommodate options for both content display and translation activity. As in, I may wish to see the site primarily in English, but if the original content is in French, I would like this displayed too if the translation is rated below X, as I can read some French and maybe help improve the translation. Side by side display in a format similar to current ET translation columns is probably good.

Even users without knowledge of a language can help with translations, as machine translated output is generally quite comprehensible, but clearly broken in some way. It usually involves switching the word order here and there, adjust some verb tenses , correct personal pronouns, and change awkward phrasing where the meaning still seems clear. Thus, there should be a way for the translation rating to indicate that a piece of text has been edited for grammar and readability, but without knowledge of the original language. Maybe with a dual translate score, in correctness and in readability?

Some careful though would have to be put into the operation of the rating system to have properly scored translations. A user may for example make some minor improvements to a text, leaving it better off than before, but still not perfect. In this case we would not like the user's translation score be brought down from low ratings. Thus, any improvement in the score after an edit should be seen as positive.

A mock-up example

I chose an Italian article. I speak no Italian. Thus, the only improvements I can make to the text are ones of readability of the English output. This is what someone on the "English only" version of the site would see. (or on some version that does not include Italian as a language)
(Mouse-over ratings to see what they mean...)

 > Italian (original)-->English, rated: (0/0 ; 2.0/0)
ANSA.it - Afghanistan, 2,500 Italians between Kabul and Herat
ROME - There are bout 2500 Italian soldiers in Afghanistan. The two main contingents as are equally divided between the capital Kabul and Herat, in the western part of the country. Both incorporated in the NATO mission ISAF. For Eupol, the European Union mission to rebuild the local civil police, Italy participate with a dozen Carabinieri, while a core group of border police is responsible for the training of the customs police. But the Italian contingent in Afghanistan is scheduled for changes: in August, in fact, there could be a drastic reduction of troops deployed in Kabul and a corresponding increase of those in Herat, where there is now already a brigade type structure. All this in view of greater responsibility for the Afghan forces in the capital.
Rate /Commentreadability of translation

Request Improved Translation

Edit translation
To comment/rate a particular sentence or section, highlight it and press the relevant rate button.

The translation only text comes with a drop down menu to rate the readability of the translation. The user cannot judge the correctness of the translation as the original text is not shown. The "Comment" button here is for commenting on the translation, rather than submit a comment on the content. The "Request Improved Translation" button would mark this comment/diary in a way that is viewable to those interested in helping out. It would also send the user an email when the translation improves, or provide the content by the user's personalized RSS feed.

Now, clicking the arrow next to the translation block heading should replace this content with something like the following. The same content would be displayed by default to users with English/Italian language pairs in their preferences.

Italian (original)-->English, rated: (0/0 ; 2.0/0)
  1. Machine
  2. someone (0/0;3/0) -- Did some changes to improve readability of the English
  3. other translators...
Translation mark-up guide   √  Show markup
eventual notes on mouseover
red: to be changed
orange: inferior quality
other colors...
Italian (Original) English (translation)
ANSA.it - Afghanistan, 2.500 italiani tra Kabul e Herat ANSA.it - Afghanistan, 2,500 Italians between Kabul and Herat
ROMA - I militari italiani in Afghanistan sono circa 2.500. Due i contingenti principali in cui sono equamente divisi, nella capitale Kabul e a Herat, nell'ovest del Paese, entrambi inseriti nella missione Isaf della Nato. Ad Eupol, la missione dell'Unione europea per la ricostruzione della polizia civile locale, partecipano invece una decina di carabinieri, mentre un nucleo di finanzieri si occupa della formazione della polizia doganale. Ma per il contingente italiano in Afghanistan sono previste novità: da agosto, infatti, potrebbe esserci una drastica riduzione dei soldati schierati a Kabul e un corrispondente incremento di quelli ad Herat, dove già adesso esiste una struttura di tipo brigata. Tutto ciò anche in vista di una maggiore assunzione di responsabilità, nell'area della capitale, da parte delle forze afgane.ROME - There are bout 2500 Italian soldiers in Afghanistan. The two main contingents as are equally divided between the capital Kabul and Herat, in the western part of the country. Both incorporated in the NATO mission ISAF. For Eupol, the European Union mission to rebuild the local civil police, Italy participate with a dozen Carabinieri, while a core group of border police is responsible for the training of the customs police. But the Italian contingent in Afghanistan is scheduled for changes: in August, in fact, there could be a drastic reduction of troops deployed in Kabul and a corresponding increase of those in Herat, where there is now already a brigade type structure. All this in view of greater responsibility for the Afghan forces in the capital.
Rate /Commentcorrectness of translation

Rate /Commentreadability of translation

Edit translation
To comment/rate the translation of a particular sentence or section, highlight it and press the relevant rate button.

The two column text comes with more options, like the ability to rate the correctness of the translation for those who know both languages. The numbers next to my name in the list of translators are my hypothetical scores as a translator. The first is zero as I don't know Italian, the second is higher as I am capable of producing a readable text from machine translated output. The translation rating of the comment is the starting score that I self-rated it at. (mouse-over the various parts for meaning...)

How to implement this? Well, I have not had a look at exactly what is out there. I doubt there is anything which would work "out of the box". The site I envision would be Scoope like in its Diary/Comments structure, but with the added translation support. I don't know if It would be easier to start from some product like Scoop and build on top, or if one would be better off starting from just a database/webserver setup. (I suspect the latter...) This is clearly a quite substantial bit of coding. But since the multilingual ET has been brought up in a few places recently, I though I'd get some ideas on functionality out there.

Display:
Very interesting...

That sounds like needing heavy community involvment, though. Will need much investment of time by readers if we want to hope to have significant translations...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 12:01:37 PM EST
This is unavoidable, I think. A machine translated version would always be provided, so there is a starting point. Short comments would probably never have to have their translation improved. So, I think a mix of content. Auto-translated for short, simple stuff. improved versions for more substantial pieces. The "Request translation" button is there to see where there might be an interest for more, so that the process can work both in a push and pull mode...
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 12:54:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay--just some ideas:

I like very much having the text with alternative language options at the top of the columns--directly on the page, I mean, rather than having to right click translate and then see the same idea in a different window.

Does the following sound technically horrible?

  1. A diary can be tagged for language--so this diary would be tagged "English".

  2. In the User Preferences, the user states the languages they can read, there is a checkbox list with all languages listed--the list of languages exactly matches the tags in 1)

  3. If a user clicks on a diary in one of the languages they can read, the diary appears--as is.

  4. If a user clicks on a diary in a language they can't read, something happens--a box appears?  Or a page maybe, but with the following question:

"The diary you have chosen is not in one of the languages you can read.  Would you like a translation?  If so, choose the language here"--and there'd be a drop down box of languages, you choose a language and the page loads in two columns, original text to the right, translation to the left--there could even be an option "Show me the original text"--in which case the user only sees the translation.

I can imagine a similar function for comments: "Would you like to comment in the language of the diary?"  In which case the comments box is the same, but when you click "Post" it translates it to the language of the diary--and etc.  (I can imagine other scenarios!)

All of the translated text can function as you say above--all translations are editable as you say; any reader who calls up a diary in translation will see the latest version; there could be something to click through to the area where the translation discussion/work has occured (the default setting of any translation will be "this is machine translation.  If you can make it more readable"--do X, Y, Z.

Doing the translation sounds like a lot of work!  If there are five diaries a day, and each diary is being read in english, french, german, spanish, dutch, italian, greek, and russian (just as examples), then that's forty translations in one day--and the next day there might be another forty--(if I have my maths right)--

It sounds a more feasible task for a subset of diaries--those that are expected to endure.  Taking a personal example, my music diaries have text in english--the machine would therefore be translating into french, italian, german (whatever the user chose if they couldn't read english)--I couldn't edit the final texts (except for the italian one, and then my written italian is not-very-italian--my phrasing is all strange); so maybe some noble souls would go through the 15,000 (! Twelve diaries at maybe 1,500 words per diary--that includes the quotes from other sources that would also need translating) words--translated into ten languages that's 150,000 words to be translated--and that's for one discrete diary series!

Heh....just thinking aloud!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 12:37:54 PM EST
there could even be an option "Show me the original text"

Should read...."Don't show me the original text"

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 12:39:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:

I like very much having the text with alternative language options at the top of the columns--directly on the page, I mean, rather than having to right click translate and then see the same idea in a different window.

Does the following sound technically horrible?

  1. A diary can be tagged for language--so this diary would be tagged "English".

  2. In the User Preferences, the user states the languages they can read, there is a checkbox list with all languages listed--the list of languages exactly matches the tags in 1)

  3. If a user clicks on a diary in one of the languages they can read, the diary appears--as is.

  4. If a user clicks on a diary in a language they can't read, something happens--a box appears?  Or a page maybe, but with the following question:

What you proposing is almost what I am proposing... I am proposing that the site and all the diaries exist in all languages, with some (most) of them machine translated. Yes, you could set preferences for which original versions you would like to see by default. Or more complicated preference trees as well... As in, if the diary originates in Spanish, and there exists an Italian version with a high translation rating and a machine translated English version, you could set it up to show you the Italian and the English, as you can read both and might get something out of the improved Italian one that you would not find in the machine translated English.

A mono-lingual user would just see the best translated version in their language of choice. They would however have the option to click to display the parallel columns. This would not open a new page but rather replace the content on the present one. Dynamic content updates is not very hard... Same thing goes for comments. Where you should also be able to change your mind about which languages to display on the fly. Again without reloading a page, but with simple content replacement. Even clicking to translate would simply put an editable portion on the current page. This is quite possible to do.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 12:51:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah....I like it.  It adds to the ET learning curve--New Users would have to get to grips with the system (as would Old Users!), and there's the question: What would be the default setting?  I suppose something would have to change with the registration process such that a new user would have to choose some languages, maybe with English already ticked but possible to untick (so if a person just clicks through they'll get all the english diaries and won't see any problems.)

The diaries that would get translated would be those where users felt the need to do a good translation--and that would depend on the content of the diary, the Stop Blair series, for example, where requests went out for translations--that could have all happened using your new proposed system: would it have speeded up the process and/or brought in more translations?

It still sounds like a lot of work, but....it may be the kind of thing for which an organisation could get funding.

I don't suppose there's a very very easy to create mock up that could be built and tested over at the test site?  Just using two languages to start with, french and english say, just to test it?  I'm happy to be part of the test team but I couldn't write any of the code and don't want in any way to shove work onto people--

--I still go with Colman's default position for users: "If you don't want to do it, don't."

(Well, that's how I remember it!)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 01:06:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:
I don't suppose there's a very very easy to create mock up that could be built and tested over at the test site?
In short, no. To get anywhere with this approach one would have to implement a significant bit of the system. You really need the database to pull from and scripts that do the pulling. And you need a way for people to be able to do submissions. Of course, the first version could have very reduced functionality, but it should not be launced to a wide community. But to see if it can be made to work, as it would have to work with a community it would be necessary to have a good beta with almost all features. Then the interface would have to be tweaked in response to community input. That is the interesting bit. Just coding it up is hard, but whether or not it 'works' cannot be established purely from a technical standpoint.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 01:21:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
someone:
I am proposing that the site and all the diaries exist in all languages, with some (most) of them machine translated.

This isn't going to be practical. It took two to four weeks to get translations of a single petition. The amount of effort required to translate every diary and every comment into every language would be enough to keep a translation agency working full time. It might be possible with a Euro-wide readership which was a thousand times bigger, but given where we are we don't have the people hours to cover more than the occasional translation effort.

It might be more realistic to have:

Separate language communities
Auto-translation options for all content (in fact we this have already)
One or more (themed?) multilingual front pages which cherry pick the best of the separate communities, with hand translations of just those selections

And I think it would be more realistic still to start out with just one or two languages for proof of concept before trying to go further.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 01:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, most of the machine translated?
I don't think we'll be translating every bit of text that comes down the tubes by hand! The shift is just to have the auto-translated version already up there. Included as part of the site. Labelled as auto-translated, but already there in place. No extra click to translate. But a possibility to click to improve. People should be encouraged to improve translations of texts they think are important. Not perfect them, but put them into a bit better language. 10 minutes spent changing some of the most obvious stuff on an autotranslated diary can make quite a bit of improvement. Yes, one or two languages are clearly the place to start.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 01:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In that case maybe lose the ratings - at this point it's going to be more useful to take whatever effort we can get.

If people don't like a translation they can always change it. There probably isn't any need to keep track of versions or translation ratings - keeping things simple will be more likely to get them started.

One problem - doesn't this mean that edit privileges will have to be shared somehow for translated content?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 05:07:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, edit privileges would have to be shared. I don't see this as much of a problem. Though it does mean we have to track changes so that they can be rolled back in case of accidental deletion etc. The ratings are to give people who only read the content in one language an idea of how accurate the translation might be. Translated content should for this reason be clearly marked as such. I included the 'self-rate' possibility to allow a score to be assigned initially by people who edit translations, to indicate to readers that the content has been looked over. The system should be most useful for those pieces that do get a bit of rewrite work done on them.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 02:14:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
someone:
Yes, edit privileges would have to be shared. I don't see this as much of a problem. Though it does mean we have to track changes so that they can be rolled back in case of accidental deletion etc.

Wouldn't it be easier to Wiki-fy it and let translators sort it out for themselves?

someone:

The ratings are to give people who only read the content in one language an idea of how accurate the translation might be.

Still not convinced this is essential. If someone only has a few minutes to tidy up some basic errors, I don't think they should be de-rated if they've still managed to improve the original. That's likely to demotivate them from attempting more corrections, which would not be a good thing.

If you pseudo-Wikify translations, multiple edits can converge on something better. You wouldn't need the extra complexity of rollbacks then.

You'll have to hope there won't be too much obsessive anal re-editing, but I think at the initial stage the aim is basic readability, not fluent perfection, and if you make that clear it will minimise unnecessary tweaking.

Basic quality will be obvious to everyone who reads a language, so I'm not sure it needs to be tagged explicitly.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 03:19:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
If someone only has a few minutes to tidy up some basic errors, I don't think they should be de-rated if they've still managed to improve the original.

Yes, this is crucial. That's why even a 'low' score, if higher than the previous one should count as a positive rating. I don't see these ratings as the same as 'normal' ratings. I think there will be fewer of them, for example. I imagine there will form a kind of 'sub-community' of translators to/from various languages. And that pieces that have been improved will be separately listed somehow. This would allow those who consider themselves as part of 'translation staff' to review changes, and up-rate the work of others. In particular new translators who would in this way get established as progressively more trusted. The more trusted a translator is, the higher self-rated score they would be able to assign a piece, for example. And, yes, a wiki type system is what I was thinking. One should be able to view all previous translated versions in case a rollback is necessary.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 03:55:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at least the vids dinna need it!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:34:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a non-techie, what is being proposed here is very exciting, and quite ambitious.  As a gradualist businessman I would be quite happy with a project which defined a gradual migration path from a mono to a bi to a multi-lingual environment where
  1. all content is available in machine translated form
  2. Users have to option to improve this (as described above)
  3. But the main focus of human translation enhancement efforts would be on a) seminal papers for the wiki, b) Main diaries/stories and c) comments, in that order.

Most comments (especially mine) might not be worth the hassle of improving the machine translation.  Where genuine confusion as to meaning occurs it might be quicker and simpler to just post another (machine translated) comment asking for clarification.  Gradually people would get used to common machine errors and just do the enhancement mentally as they read without bothering to correct the written text.

"Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good"

Some cross language support for people with some multi-lingual capabilities has to be better than none, and what Someone proposes here seems to me to be a huge step change forward if it can be implemented within the constraint of the technology and  budget available.

Do professional translation agencies not have some of this functionality already?  The EU spends many millions on translation services - surely they already have some functionality we could piggy back on?  Anybody know any professional EU translators?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 02:27:13 PM EST
This sounds like ET3.0 to me! My plan is as follows:

1) Get ET1.0 running on a server under our control - see my diary about testing.
1.5) (Maybe) Upgrade to the latest version of scoop, which has a few nice new  features, like tagging.

  1. Move to ET2.0 using a new cleaner code-base but without all the internal configurability.
  2. New features.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:18:31 PM EST
Who is developing scoop, and what plans are there for enhancements in the future?  Presumably some of the proposed features we are talking about are not specific to ET and thus there might be a more general demand for enhancements to scoop on the lines we are discussing.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:25:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not really: the Scoop developers weren't all that interested and the code base is horrible.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
who are they, are they any good, and would they be more interested if we paid them out of EU moolah....

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the homepage not much development seems to be going on anymore.

But slightly changing the subject, do you see possibilities to get EU moolah for ET improvement?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon May 19th, 2008 at 08:42:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
one word: perl.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 10:55:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ET 2.0 will be a clean rewrite I suppose ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why the site needs to acquire two hierarchies of admnistrators: one of "editors" under Jerome and one of "techies" under Colman, and I would immediately promote linca, ceebs and someone to "techie" status even if Jerome isn't going to give them front-page posting privileges or superuser "moderation" permissions

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 05:23:35 PM EST
Someone, you're amazing! You read my mind. What you're proposing is exactly what I had in mind. As I said in another thread, I'm sorry but I don't have enough time to discuss it in depth today. I will be back soon.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 06:21:59 PM EST
This is a superb diary on a very important subject. Someone is not the first to raise the problem, but states the arguments succinctly.

The USA Is part of a large continent. But basically, politically, they have one language - with dialects.  

In Europe we have many languages. Can languages be disconnected from cultures?

But here in Europe. we perhaps have an advantage? We can be almost sure that there will be a need to communicate worldwide. We are slowly comng to the correct conclusion that we are all inhabitants of Planet Earth, and, as such, we are all in the same 'boat'. Solving these intercommunication problems would be a major contribution.

Anything that would demonstrate and facilitate this multilingualism would, IMO, assist in containing the US self-perceived destructive hegemony

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 06:35:29 PM EST
Before looking at the interface shouldn't we be looking at how we want to structure the database?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 04:41:41 AM EST
No, the interface is rather the point of this. The rest must follow.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 04:43:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the database is also the hardest part - if we want it to perform efficiently, be upgradeable in the future, and also if we have to migrate data from the current database.  This is where real money and expertise would be money well spent.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 06:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh? No it's not. The interface is much harder. The database is pretty well known and worn technology, once you know what you want it to do.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 07:00:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't need money to buy that expertise.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 07:06:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First rule of corporate programming : have a nice interface to show to the boss as quickly as possible.

Which is what is happening here...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 07:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there are the two questions of "What do we want the 'product' to do?", and "How do we make it do that?". The first does not define the second. Choices still have to be made on which infrastructure to use, etc. I imagine that the number of people with an opinion on number two are many fewer than on number one. I also think it is the less interesting question.

"What it does" will come to define the sort of community the site can support, "How it does it" should not matter. The user should not be able to feel the nuts and bolts of a properly designed 'product'. Thus, "what it does" comes first.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 07:30:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, in this case it is a perfectly appropriate way of doing thing. (Not so much the case in a corporate environment where the boss wants an interface to be able to say, "that button should go there" and moving his weight around).

The only thing that frightens me a bit is the necessary size of the community required to support that functioning ; it'd seem to need a thousand rather than a hundred participants. I hope either that I'm wrong or that ET will grow very quickly upon the introduction of multi-lingualism.

If someone has access to the ET database and copious amounts of free time : how many people have commented within the last month ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 07:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the advantage is that with the machine translated versions always available it is possible to run the site primarily in English until some other languages begin to take-off. As I see it, there is no good way to start the thing immediately in many languages at once. I.e. the active community will not be available at first for most languages. Maybe with some pushing some of the better diaries into translations the process could be initiated? The ramp-up to have a larger portion of non-english speaking users might be slow. But without any infrastructure at all, it cannot happen.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 08:00:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I'll agree.

There'll need to be some "promotion" in the various language blogging communities too, similar to the one made on DKos

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 08:05:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would probably start writing longer comments and diaries in swedish, machine-translate and then edit the english version to perfection. That would give most content produced by me in good swedish and reasonably good english, and machine-translations for other languages. If the machine-translations from swedish to english is good enough (or at least learns from corrections made, so that I do not have to correct the same errors over and over) time consumption/comment could stay roughly similar as I write faster in swedish.

Assuming similar behaviour among others whos first language is something other then english, we would soon get it good enough in some languages to attract members who are today excluded by the usage of english language. My guess would be that spanish and french will be among the first to attract users who will primarily use their first language.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon May 19th, 2008 at 08:37:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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