Add Discourse Translator plugin

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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I understand it's very convenient for people who know English to keep it that way, but I don't think that it serves Swift itself and its community very well. It's exacerbated by the lack of translation of the official documentation to other languages, but we shouldn't cut off great ideas and bright minds just based on the languages they use.

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Well I do understand all your view points, however I said my standpoint loud and clear already that I as non-native English speaker would still be against encouraging non-English threads in these forums. You are free to disagree with that though.

(One hypothetical example: I really don't want to use machine translation for threads which are written in for example Chinese. Often times such translations would/could be inaccurate. It would only make things even more difficult.)

Also if we ever did anything like what you guys want, then I'd highly want the site admins to provide a language filter as it could become very tiring to filter out posts of interest manually.

It is not merely my disagreement—this is in direct opposition to the official policy of the forums that community members are "encouraged to use their language of choice". Please start a new thread if you wish to have a discussion about changing this policy.

I think that such a feature would be very reasonable in a world where we have a significant volume of non-English posts. I don't anticipate that there would be a sudden influx of non-English posts simply by adding a built-in "translate" button, though. I'm most interested in seeing additional tools for the community that help achieve the stated goals of encouraging participation in all languages.

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If you want to rephrase me my post. I'm not trying to change anything. I'm okay with the way it is right now. That's all I meant to say. :slightly_smiling_face:

I don't think I can provide any more valuable feedback to this thread or issue. I'm going to step back and watch what other post. :sunglasses:

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Thank you for your perspective! Obviously, the input of non-native-English speakers is incredibly useful in this area. It's unfortunate that it is difficult for non-English speakers to participate, though, since their input would be most useful here :wink:.

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Instead of language-specific sub-forums, might it be better if the polyglots among us could provide translations while answering non-english questions. It would be a lot of work tho.

Right, putting that burden on the members of the community who are already undertaking the additional effort of answering non-English questions (since the majority of the community is unable to help) is a flawed approach. It's like running your unit tests by having a QA engineer copy-paste bits of code into a playground one at a time. Yes, maybe the human aspects will be able to more intelligently filter out flaky test failures, but it's really something that should be solved by tooling if it's going to gain any significant traction.