Add Discourse Translator plugin

Discourse offers an official plugin which adds an inline translation link for posts in various languages. While participants in this forum mostly use English, I noticed this post which appears to be in German. While it's wonderful that we have a diverse group of community members that were able to help, it would be wonderful if non-English-speaking members of the community were not limited in receiving help from those who also happen to speak the same language.

Obviously, community members could copy-paste each post into Google Translate (etc.), but lowering the barrier for all members of the community to participate would be great. This would also allow non-English-speakers to read the majority of the posts on this forum without having to copy-out every post.

It looks like the plugin would require hooking into an existing account on Google Translate or Microsoft Translator (which costs $$), but is this something that the forum owners would be open to if the costs were reasonable?

Both of the supported machine translation services offer browser plug‐ins for free if a user wants it.

Given that the very screenshots showing off both tools contain botched translations, I’m not convinced either is worth investing money in:

Microsoft:

[French:] Ses sœurs l’adorent, la chouchoutent et passent le plus clair de leur temps à chanter au fin fond des océans et à se recoiffer devant d’immenses miroirs de style art‐déco.

✗ Sisters love it, the spoil, and spend most of their time to sing in the depths of oceans and schoolgirls before huge art‐deco style mirrors.

✓ Her sisters love her, spoil her, and spend most of their time singing at the very bottom of the ocean and redoing their hair before immense Art Deco mirrors.

[German:] Teilen • Twittern • Teilen • E‐Mail

✗ Parts • Tweet • Parts • Email

✓ Share • Tweet • Share • E‐Mail

Google:

[French:] Les travaux étaient nécessaire...

✗ The work needed...

✓ The work was needed...

But regardless of what ends up decided, it is nice to see someone looking out for us, @Jumhyn.

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Yeah, machine translation is obviously still far from perfect, but I’ve seen more than a few posts on here from non-native speakers who are struggling to write in English, presumably because it appears that this is an English forum (or at least, they expect to receive the most responses if the post is written in English). I believe in many instances, allowing users to post in their native language and relying on machine translations for wider community participation would produce better outcomes than leaving it to the varied English ability of non-native speakers.

Browser plugins are nice, but the goal here is to lower the barrier to cross-language participation as much as possible. I believe many users who would happily click a “translate” button will not be bothered to download an additional plugin in order to participate.

I was going to point out that machine translation quality might not be good enough for this... but then I pasted the linked thread into Google Translate and was surprised by the result. Of course, quality depends on the language pair and other factors.

I think in general it's better to let people who know the language reply.

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To be clear, I’m not saying this would be bad to have, only that it probably isn’t worth paying for.


Some of the “features” seem strange to me:

Each post is only translated once per locale which saves you :moneybag:

So then if the machine translator improves over time, the older clumsier translation will still be stuck there permanently...?

Translations are rate limited to 3 per minute

Do I misunderstand, or does that mean if you were a user relying on this feature, you’d only be able to read the first three replies, and then you’d have to wait?

https://www.deepl.com/translator :

https://www.deepl.com/translator#fr/en/Ses%20sœurs%20l’adorent%2C%20la%20chouchoutent%20et%20passent%20le%20plus%20clair%20de%20leur%20temps%20à%20chanter%20au%20fin%20fond%20des%20océans%20et%20à%20se%20recoiffer%20devant%20d’immenses%20miroirs%20de%20style%20art‐déco.

-> Her sisters adore her, pamper her and spend most of their time singing at the bottom of the oceans and combing their hair in front of huge art-deco style mirrors.

-> Share - Twitter - Share - Email

https://www.deepl.com/translator#fr/en/Les%20travaux%20étaient%20nécessaire...

-> The work was necessary...

IMHO one of the best online translators available. Sadly it doesn't offer a plug in

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Right, it's definitely a cost/benefit question, I just wanted to take the temperature of the community to see if this is something that others would find useful.

I think your interpretation of those bullets is correct, though it's not clear whether any of that has changed in the past ~year. This specific plugin may not end up being the proper tool for the job, but maybe there's something else out there that could serve the same purpose (perhaps integrating with the DeepL translator pointed out by @IOOI).

I really appreciate your input on this issue, @SDGGiesbrecht! I've admired the effort you put into pre-translating your non-English posts and making this forum accessible and welcoming to non-English speakers.

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My 2 cents are that it’s a nice idea, but I think it’s not worth it. I can’t find the post where I mentioned that before but the preferred language here in the forums is still English and we really don’t want to fragment the community into multiple languages. Threads in different languages happen, and it’s okay to let them float or to kindly ask the author to transform his/her post into English if possible. Other than that, just let it float. If such thread won’t receive any feedback that might be a signal to the author that it’s potentially due to a language barrier. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily answer some questions in multiple different langauges, but as a non-native English speaker, I still do prefer English in this forum. :wink:

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Would it be possible to create subforums for other languages that are automatically suggested if Discourse detects a message in a different language? I don't think that would fragment the community in any way, quite the opposite, making people who don't know English feel welcome here is a requirement for making Swift truly global.

I was very excited when localization of compiler's diagnostic messages was picked for this year's GSoC, which signalled that this issue is at least being considered as important. Still, swift.org is available only in English. I realise that the community has no control whatsoever over the content of that website and the documentation published there (which is very unfortunate), but could we at least make some effort to make the forums a bit more welcoming?

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My posts would then be moved to the British English subforum... :see_no_evil:

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All of my posts would land at undefined English subform. :sweat_smile:

Subforums seem like a step backwards, to me. For one, it doesn't effectively solve the problem of languages for which there may only be novice users, without any experts to provide guidance. But even beyond that, dividing the forums like this seems antithetical to building a unitary Swift community. Non-English speakers remain discouraged from participating in Swift Evolution discussions or other primarily-English threads. Building language detection into forums in a per-post manner would still potentially allow users to filter posts by language, or hide those that aren't in their native language if they're not interested in reading translations.

There are plenty of solutions available currently (self-translating, copy-pasting to machine translation services, etc.) that empower those who want to put in the effort to collaborate across languages, but they are high-friction and potentially increase noise in the forums. I think it's indicative that non-English threads today generally don't have participants entering to ask the poster to translate.

This is precisely the issue that this thread intends to address. Obviously, in the happy path where we have knowledgable community members who are able to provide useful answers in the language in question, there's no issue. But total silence is, IMO, a very poor signal. It could be an indication that nobody speaks the language in question, but it could mean countless different things as well. If it is a goal of the Swift project to support users who speak many different languages (which, as @Max_Desiatov points out, it appears to be), the forums should strive to support those community members as well.

There's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem here—would the forums see more more non-English usage if localization support were better, or does the relative dearth of non-English posts indicate that it would be wasted effort/investment? I don't know how to answer this question, but if effort is being invested to expand the usefulness of the Swift compiler to non-English speakers, we should expect to see an increase in non-English speakers coming to the forums.

Of course, there's always going to be some inherent friction in cross-language communication, and I don't think that there's any realistic risk that decreasing that friction would cause English to cease being the lingua franca of the Swift forums.

A lot of this may require development support to e.g. build a custom plugin, or expand the capabilities of Discourse, so maybe it's too pie-in-the sky for now...

@DevAndArtist Just as an example, I believe that this exchange perfectly captures the problem with "just ask posters to write in English." If they don't speak English, the suggestion is downright unhelpful, but I don't really believe there's a good way to request that (especially of someone whose English proficiency is unknown) without potentially coming across as insulting.

English may in fact be the "bevorzugte Sprache/preferred language" amongst English speakers, but if the forums are meant to be welcoming to non-English speakers as well, it makes no sense to enter a thread between two (or more) non-English speakers and inform them, no matter how politely, that they aren't using the "preferred language". Preferred for whom?

In fact, such requests appear to be explicitly in violation of the addition to the guidance provided here that was added in response to @SDGGiesbrecht's excellent thread:

  • Different users may have different preferences in choice of language for discussion and are encouraged to use their language of choice.
  • As a matter of courtesy, responses to a post should be in the same language as the original post in order to maintain the original inclusiveness of the discussion and not inadvertantly exclude other participants already engaged on the thread (including the author of the original post).

IMO, requests to use a different language, even polite ones, are a form of discouraging other-language usage and are inappropriate on a monolingual thread.

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Thanks for you feedback but I think you may miss my exact point. I didn’t meant to say “ask the user to write/continue in English” in the same thread. I said that we could ask them to do so in the future “if possible”. I also said that English is not enforced but is preferred (at least from my point of view) as Swift itself is based on English and it’s currently the dominant language in the forums. ;)

I understand that there's a subtle difference there, but asserting in the midst of a German thread that English is the "preferred language" as though it is some sort of official/global preference for the entire forums still has the effect of discouraging non-English usage on the forums. Community members are perfectly capable of seeing that most of the posts on this forum are written in English, and non-English threads do not need interjections that point that out. Respectfully, your preferred language has no bearing on what language community members should be using in a thread in which you are not a participant.

P.S., the response you received to an otherwise polite request, if various machine translation services are properly translating the severity of the word used, is also entirely inappropriate.

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Just to drive a point home: the same feeling of exclusion/inability to participate/"this is not for me" that (presumably) the majority of the members of this forum feel when coming across a non-English post (including myself!) is precisely the same feeling that non-English speakers feel with respect to the entire forum. We should, IMO, be striving to reduce that feeling.

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This brings up a parallel issue. Most of the moderators of this forum speak primarily English, AFAIK, so aside from those community members who have participated enough to earn some bit of moderator ability, no one can moderate non-English posts. Barring such a resource, it seems better to encourage English usage rather than allow unmoderated non-English posting.

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@Jumhyn I appreciate your feedback as it's really valuable for all readers of this thread, however I must admit that I strongly second what @Jon_Shier said. I don't think there is enough capacity available from the admins, which probably won't be able to participate in many of the non-English threads at all, from the moderators which are doing this job more or less in their spare time and are not required to do it at all and from the missing good technical capabilities. (I hope this was an understandable English sentence.)

Yes, that is a concern. But encouragement to participate in any language the community member chooses is the official policy of the forums as it stands today. Furthermore, Ted's thoughts on this topic are spelled out in the previously-linked thread:

In other words, the current policy has been considered in light of the potential moderation difficulties that it raises. Discussion around changing this policy is, IMO, appropriate in another thread. I'd like to refocus this thread on discussion around how to more-fully realize the current policy of encouraging participation in any language that community members choose to use.

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Exactly this. If at least some effort is put into this, you'll find it much easier to recruit moderators for other languages. Otherwise we'll never get out of the English-speaking bubble and non-English speakers will continue to feel unwelcome. It's very similar to the general problem of diversity, or one could say it's exactly that problem. "We don't have enough resources to make our community more diverse" is never a good excuse, because then the community will never become more diverse and we'll keep making excuses.

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