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This is a page of 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 Betawiki connected to other wikis?

When translations, new or updated, are 'committed' by a developer (at present Siebrand, and Grondin) 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 and other MediaWikis. 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 a few days of the updated code being committed to Wikimedia.

Updates to partly-translated wikis

If a particular message has already been translated (customised) on a wiki then an update from Betawiki 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, you will see the new default from Betawiki above the message which was customised on the wiki itself. The wiki will use the customised message in its interface - to use the new default message either:

  • edit 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.

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

All changes need to be 'committed' – see this explanation. Request a developer to put your translation into action by leaving a message on Translating:Tasks. Since September 2007 changes to core messages and extensions are also being committed without having to request a commit, once every few days. Also, changes should appear on Betawiki as soon as they are done so it is possible for you to check what your translated message looks like on Betawiki straight away.

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 Betawiki?

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 Betawiki. 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 messages

How do I find information on the system messages?

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

  1. 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
  2. Translation hints on groups of messages appears to be scrapped for now.
  3. Categorisation of messages by type appears to be scrapped for now.

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.

  • Any message which includes !!FUZZY!! will not be included when changes are committed to the master copy kept on Mediawiki.org. So you won't find !!FUZZY!! appearing on any wiki other than here at Betawiki. 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.
  • Also, the group statistics counter doesn't know that a message has been marked !!FUZZY!! on Betawiki. So, if the table shows that 100% of the messages in a language have been translated, then it is possible that some (or even all!) of them are marked !!FUZZY!!.

Old messages

If you are using the messages from another wiki, eg Wikipedia, to update messages on Betawiki 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', eg [:en:Mediawiki:Exif-aperturevalue]. If you come across any of those then you can skip over them in Betawiki 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.

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

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).