Difference between revisions of "FAQ"

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I have two distinct source messages but when translated, they become identical. What shall I do?
I have two distinct source messages but when translated, they become identical. What shall I do?
: Usually, this is not a problem as long as their do not appear together, in the same context, or in the same Wiki page.
: Usually, this is not a problem as long as their do not appear together, in the same context, or in the same Wiki page.
: If they do appear in the same wiki page, carefully look at the way how and where they are used. Identical pieces appearing inside sentences, or lists, clarifying their different meanings can usually be tolerated.
: If they do appear in the same wiki page, carefully look at the way how and where they are used. Identical pieces appearing inside sentences, or lists, clarifying their different meanings, can usually be tolerated.
: If there is the chance of misunderstanding, especially with links going to different targets, you must find a way to make them different.
: If there is the chance of misunderstanding, especially with links going to different targets, you must find a way to make them different.
::For example:
::For example:

Revision as of 06:23, 24 June 2009

Getting started
Translation tutorial
How to start
See also
Localisation guidelines
Translating offline

This is a page of frequently asked questions (FAQs) based on general questions from the Support page and from the experiences of users. Please add new tips from your own experience.

How is the work done on translatewiki.net connected to other wikis?

When translations, new or updated, are 'committed' what happens is that the master copy of wiki software kept at MediaWiki.org is updated. This process is explained on Translating:Process#Getting things into Wikimedia, other MediaWikis, and other products. This master copy on MediaWiki.org is used:

  • as the sourcecode for each new wiki set up by Wikimedia or any other person
  • for updating the default mediawiki messages for all Wikimedia projects including all the Wikipedias, Commons, all Wiktionaries, etc.

This updating process should happen within about a week of the updated code being committed to MediaWiki, but can take longer.

I have changed a message but the old one is still appearing on my home wiki

The steps on the way from translatewiki.net to your home wiki are:

  • Changes should appear on translatewiki.net as soon as they are done so it is possible for you to check what your translated message looks like on translatewiki.net straight away.
  • All changes need to be 'committed' – see this explanation. Messages translated using Special:Translate (f.e. MediaWiki core messages and extensions) are usually committed without a request once every few days. Request a developer to put translations done with Special:Magic, or of imported messages, into action by leaving a message on Translating:Tasks. When 'committed' the messages disappear from the class 'Review changes to' in the navigation boxes of the translate tool. The next steps are outside the control of translatewiki.net administrators as they happen on other wikis (or other products).
  • The updated sourcecode on Mediawiki is sent on to the individual wikis belonging to the Wikimedia Foundation by Wikimedia administrators.

translatewiki.net administrators have no control over Wikimedia servers and so do not know when Wikimedia administrators will update their software. Most of the time this is done once every week, but longer periods been observed.

  • Once arrived at an individual wiki then the updated message will only appear if the wiki uses the default message. If a message has already been customised on the wiki then please see the next section if you want the wiki to display the updated default message, not the customised one.

Updates to partly-translated wikis

If a particular message has already been translated (customised) on a wiki then an update from translatewiki.net will update the default message but not the actual customised message used by the wiki. If you look at the list of all messages on the wiki in Special:AllMessages, you will see the new default from translatewiki.net above the message which was customised on the wiki itself. The wiki will use the customised message in its interface and sometimes this is what you want because the customised version is specific to the needs of that wiki. To use the new default message either:

  • edit (or request an edit if you are not an administrator) the customised message to be the same as the default - the change will appear immediately, or
  • delete (or request deletion if you are not an administrator on the wiki) the customised message - the system will still use the customised message for a few days before clearing it and reverting to the default message.
  • do both!

Update of "stable version" localisations

Every now and then, we will create a "language pack". With such a language pack, you can update a MediaWiki that is on the latest stable release. As these messages are also committed to SVN, a subsequent release of the stable version will include the latest language pack. You can find the language pack here.

How is each language translation managed on translatewiki.net?

A control page is set up by the developers when work starts on any language eg Portal:It, for Italian (It). This page contains links to general information about the language and to recent changes to the language interface translation on translatewiki.net. It also contains a list of the wikimedia projects in the language and records the users working on the language.

The list of 'mainteners' (users working on a particular language) is on Translating:Languages (as explained on Translating:How to start). The name of your language on this list should be in blue because it should have a wiki link to the Portal:XX page (for language code XX). If it is not on the list then go to the category of language and message pages on Category:Languages or go to the list on all pages Special:prefixindex/Portal:.

If there is more than 1 maintainer of a language then you can use the talk page of the Portal to discuss the translation amongst that language translation group, eg. Icelandic talk page.

Want to work on more than one language?

Once you have acquired translator privileges to work on one language you can also work on other languages. You don't have to request translator privileges each time you want to work on another language. However, in order to let others know that you are working on a different language, please remember to add your name to the list of maintainers on Translating:Languages and on the language portal and add some information about your knowledge of the extra language to your user page.

The translation tool and multiple languages

Links to the translation tool such as the link in the sidebar usually give the list of messages to translate in your default language, as set in your preferences - like this - Special:Translate. But it is possible to create links to the language tool (Special:Translate) in a particular language. The translation tool links in the language portals are linked to the messages in the language of that portal. The translation tool has a 'Language' box at the top of the page which tells you which language you are in now and where you can choose a different language to work in.

The messages

How do I find information on the system messages?

translatewiki.net is slowly putting together pages of information on the system messages which should be useful to the translator - information on context, etc.

To read information on a particular message click on the 'edit' tab on the message. This edit page contains a box headed 'Information about this message'. Information pages carry the extension /qqq for example MediaWiki:Lockbtn/qqq

The manual on the Mediawiki site also has some information on the messages. Go to mw:Category:Interface messages to browse this information.

How do I find information on the Mediawiki extensions?

Each mediawiki extension should have a description page in the 'Extension' namespace on the Mediawiki site, for example Extension:Icon. This is a list of pages in the 'Extension' namespace on Mediawiki. Unfortunately, the descriptions are sometimes very technical, written for software engineers, not for translators!. Sometimes the information (qqq) page for a message will include a link to the relevant description page on Mediawiki, but not always.

Sometimes an information page is created for an extension here on translatewiki.net, in the 'Translating' namespace, for example Flagged Revs extension. This is a list of pages in the 'Translating' namespace.

How can I spot messages having a given content?

There are two basic approaches.

  1. Special:Search should make it possible to search. Select the namespace of the project, that you are translating for, e.g. "FreeCol", or "MediaWiki". As we have very little content but translations, you will most probably only get hits on the translations, even if you search all namespaces. Hint: preset your most common choice of namespaces in Special:Preferences, and use the box labelled "Search" on every page.
  2. In Special:Translate, select "show all messages", the component, the language, and a sufficiently large number so as to have all messages shown in one page. Then use your browser's search feature to spot the desired text.
    If you copy-paste searched text from real messages of another wiki, take into consideration that, the message may already have been altered on translatewiki.net. Be cautious to not include any variable parts inserted via $1, $2, etc., which may be pieces of text at times, coming from extra messages. Likewise, you cannot cross the beginning or ending of {{PLURAL}}, or other such constructs. In doubt, just use shorter search string.

Can I sort the messages in the translation tool alphabetically?

No. The messages on the translation tool cannot be sorted alphabetically because this would use too much of the system resources.

The order in which messages are presented is the same in which they appear in the original .php file, at least for single file message groups. Usually, the messages near the bottom of the list are the newest messages.

Improving the English source message

If you spot a spelling or grammar error in the original English message, or you would like to suggest a better way of expressing the message, then please put a message on Support. You should explain why you think there is a problem with the current message and propose your alternative. The proposed change will then be discussed in the usual way and, if agreed, then one of the developers will change the message.


When an English source message is changed, the developers mark the current translations of the message !!FUZZY!! which means that they will appear in the 'Review changes to' section of 'Special:Translate'. See localisation guidelines for an explanation.

  • When changes are committed to the master copy kept on Mediawiki.org, all occurances of "!!FUZZY!!" are not exported. So you will not find !!FUZZY!! appearing on any wiki other than translatewiki.net. When you have checked the current translation against the new English version, and made any changes to the translation (or none) then just delete the !!FUZZY!! mark, and the message will be committed in the usual way.
  • The group statistics counter knows that a message has been marked !!FUZZY!! on translatewiki.net. So, if the table shows that 100% of the messages in a language have been translated, then there are no !!FUZZY!!s left.
  • When a message is marked !!FUZZY!! the edit summary usually contains a hint on the change that has been made to the original message. To read the edit summary click on the 'history' tab of the message.
  • You can insert !!FUZZY!! yourself, for example in partially translated long messages, or so as to mark messages needing further testing and checking before you can be sure that translation, formatting, and so on, are 100% correct.

Old messages

If you are using the messages from another wiki, eg Wikipedia, to update messages on translatewiki.net then you will notice that some messages have been deleted. They have a warning message 'Warning: You are recreating a page that was previously deleted'. If you come across any of those then you can skip over them in translatewiki.net too. These messages are old messages that are no longer used. If the message has –old in the title then that also means that the message is old and there is no need to translate it or edit the translation. However, you can still pretend to edit the message by saving it unchanged. It will be committed along with other changed messages and the edit counter will count it as translated.

Sometimes in translatewiki.net the message info page is listed on Ignored messages. Again please leave without editing. - Ignored messages has been deleted as of Jan 2008.

Old Mediawiki releases

Beginning with MediaWiki 1.12, translatewiki.net allows you to translate messages for old, stable releases. These additional translations go into the appropriate language packs.

If you find issues inside a message that would need fixing with previous releases, other than message texts themselves, do not report them, there will be no such fixes. You can, however, look whether a problem persists in the current development version of MediaWiki, and have it fixed there.

Mediawiki:Cite text

Where i can translate MediaWiki:Cite text to (for example) Indonesian?

It is a "message" in a separate file (mwsvn:mediawiki/trunk/extensions/Cite/cite_text). There also is for example an Indonesian version. We do not support this particular message, because of its odd formatting. You should make a copy of the original English one and retranslate it, then submit it through bugzilla: as a replacement, or modify the current Indonesian version and submit that one... It sucks, I know :) Siebrand 18:48, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Different sources lead to identical translations?

I have two distinct source messages but when translated, they become identical. What shall I do?

Usually, this is not a problem as long as their do not appear together, in the same context, or in the same Wiki page.
If they do appear in the same wiki page, carefully look at the way how and where they are used. Identical pieces appearing inside sentences, or lists, clarifying their different meanings, can usually be tolerated.
If there is the chance of misunderstanding, especially with links going to different targets, you must find a way to make them different.
For example:
  • In Chinese, "Special page", and "Special pages" are the same, but their meanings "repeat this special page", and "show list of names and links to all special pages", differ. Find distinct translations based on this difference. You cannot accept identical translations, since these are link labels appearing together on each special page in most skins.

I can't find a particular message on the translation tool. Why?

Messages which are left blank in the default system messages

There are some messages which are left blank on the default system messages. They are not included in the list of messages to translate on translatewiki.net. These messages are specific to each site; they will be different according to the type of site, the site policies, etc. An obvious example is the site notice. If the message MediaWiki:Sitenotice is changed from '–' to ‘Welcome to Wackywiki’ on a particular wiki then ‘Welcome to Wackywiki’ appears at the top of every page of that wiki. If you look at MediaWiki:Sitenotice in the list of Special:Allmessages here at translatewiki.net you will see that the default message is a single minus sign '-' (which gives a blank message) but there is probably text in the customised message shown below the default; this is the text which appears at the top of every page at translatewiki.net.

So if you come across any messages on your home wiki which have a default of '-' then you won’t find them on the translatewiki.net translation tool. On your home wiki, they can be left blank or used, according to the needs of your wiki. Here is a list of these blank messages together with some examples of how they are used on some wikis. If you know of good examples of these messages in action, please add them.

  • title
    • examples of use on other wikis
      • notes
  1. anonnotice
  2. autocomment prefix
  3. edittools
    1. Wikipedia:en
    2. Wikipedia:fr
      1. This message appears beneath the edit box and the upload form
  4. history_copyright
    1. Wikipedia:en
  5. licenses
    1. Wikipedia:en
      1. This gives the choices for the input box labelled ‘licence’ on the file upload form. If this is blank then the input box does not appear at all on the upload form. There is a lot of work to creating the licences too, which in turn depends on the licensing policy on the wiki. If anyone knows where there is a help page or tutorial on how to set up a complex upload form then please add a link here.
  6. Resetpass_text
  7. Revision-info-current
    1. Wikipedia:en
      1. This message appears at the top of the page when you use the 'permanent link' button in the toolbox. It tells you that the page URL is now shown in the Location Bar of the browser.
  8. Shareddescriptionfollows
  9. Sitenotice
    1. Mediawiki:Sitenotice
      1. This notice appears at the top of each page on your wiki
  10. sp-contributions-footer
    1. Wikipedia:fr
    2. Wikipedia:en
      1. This is a navigation box which appears at the bottom of the special page 'User contributions'. The Wikipedia:en talk page has some discussion about which tools it is best to add here.
  11. sp-contributions-footer-anon
    1. Wikipedia:en
      1. This is a navigation box which appears at the bottom of the special page 'User contributions' for an anonymous user.
  12. talkpagetext
    1. Wikipedia:en
      1. This is a message that appears at the top of every talk page on the wiki
  13. Uploadfooter
  14. Statistics-footer
    1. Wikipedia:en
      1. This allows a site to add links to other statistics at the bottom of the Special:Statistics page.

Other messages customised by Wikimedia

There are some messages which are not included in the translation tool because they are customised by WikiMedia for all the Wikimedia projects. They are blank in the source code available to download from Mediawiki by anyone else (that is, outside of the Wikimedia Foundation). These messages can be translated on each wiki. Here is a list of these messages, together with the message as customised by Wikimedia for all its projects (please add to the list):

  • title
    • as customised on Wikimedia
  1. Shared-repo-name-shared
    • Wikimedia Commons

Localized namespace names

Aren't localized namespace names part of interface translation? ([1]). (can't these be used in translated messages?)

Interface messages need to be reusable or general. This means that for example links need to work even if you are using the Latvian interface in the English Wikipedia. This means we have to reference namespaces in a way that works in every wiki in every language. Link description text is used to hide this information from the user.
But, core namespaces can be translated using Special:Magic, so that the namespaces appear in Latvian on the wikis where the site language is Latvian, Latvian Wikipedia, Latvian Wiktionary, etc.


How do I find out about the magic word PLURAL?

wikimedia.org has a general introduction to the Plural function; why you need it, etc. See also mediawiki.org.

If the grammar for plural in your language is different from the grammar for plural in the language that your translation is based upon then you are going to need to have a special Plural function designed for your language. For example, if your translation is based on English, but the grammar for plural in your language is not [word/grammar for 1][word/grammar for all numbers except 1] then your LanguageXx.php file will need to include a definition for plural in your language. If you don't know computer code then all you need do is leave a message on the Support page describing how plural works in your language. Give an example for each number, or group of numbers, which has a different plural. Then ask a developer to code this for you.

As at February 2008 the sourcecode can cope with a language having any number of different groups of numbers (see Translating:Interface translation/guidelines).

An English message contains a PLURAL function but it doesn't need a PLURAL function in my language

If an English message uses the PLURAL function but your translation doesn't use it then the software will include this on the list of localisation checks - see examples on 'Localisation checks'. As yet, there is no quick fix to this. The long way round this is to type the PLURAL function as if you needed it, e.g. {{PLURAL:$1|word|word}} for a 2 option PLURAL function and a variable $1. There is a quicker way which is to type {{PLURAL:$1|word}} - you only need to type the word once.

If your language does not need the PLURAL function at all, then explain this on the Support page. You may be able to get the check software to ignore missing PLURALs in your language.

This value cannot be 1 or less, why is PLURAL used here?

There are languages that use grammar variations on totally different criteria than "one", or "several". Compare with English: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.

Testing wiki pages on various browsers

At http://browsershots.org/ you can test URLs on their appearance in different browsers and on different systems.

What does this term mean?

Here is an attempt to explain some of the terms used on wikis and other websites. See the glossary on Wikipedia for a list of terms specific to Wikipedia. If you can't find a word on the Wikipedia glossary or below, please ask on Support.

  • checkbox: a small square box you can select in which case it is usually filled with a character like a "v". It is used to choose options. Many examples can be observed in Special:Preferences. In British English this was also called a tickbox, especially when it was used on paper forms.
  • checked/unchecked: the action of selecting/unselecting a checkbox (see above). In British English the terms ticked/unticked mean the same as checked/unchecked. 'Marked' and 'selected' are other synonyms for 'checked' in this context.


Some writers on the internet like to use abbreviations for things. If you have been puzzling over what these abbreviations mean then here are some which have appeared on translatewiki.net, with a guess as to what they mean!

  • afaics / afaicr - as far as I can say/see / recall/remember
  • atm - at the moment
  • btw - by the way
  • e.g. - for example
  • etc. - and so on - and more of/like this/these/those
  • FAQ - frequently asked question
  • f.e. - for example
  • fmt - format, formatting, etc.
  • FYI - for your information
  • imho - in my humble opinion
  • IRC - Internet Relay Chat. See Wikipedia article and Wikipedia tutorial for more information on IRC.
  • mwr - MediaWiki Revision - often follwed by a revision number of the Subversion repository, where MediaWikis program code is held
  • T-V distinction - a linguistic term referring to second-person pronouns which distinguish varying levels of politeness, social distance, etc - see Wikipedia
  • Tx - thank you

If you come across unintelligible abbreviations in messages that need to be translated, please report them on Support so that the message can be changed.

What is the difference between Betawiki and translatewiki.net?

None. The wiki originally started out as Betawiki on a domain name that had no relation to its name. When translatewiki.net moved to its own domain name, no "betawiki" domain names were available, leading to the registration of translatewiki.net.


Language codes mul, und, zxx

I noticed that there is a language called "mul - Multiple Languages". What does that mean? How to translate to it?

There are language codes that do not refer to actual languages. They identify some specific special cases:

  • mul — content composed of various, or multiple, or mixed languages,
  • und — undetermined — the language is undefined or unknown,
  • zxx — there is no linguistic content, such as in an empty page, or a text-less photograph, or an orchestral piece of music.

There are no translations to or from any of those.