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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. MediaWiki core messages and extensions are committed without a request once every few days. 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.

Betawiki administrators have no control over Wikimedia servers and so not know when Wikimedia administrators will update their software. Most of the time it is within days, but periods of more than a month have been observed.

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

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 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.
  • The group statistics counter knows 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 there are no !!FUZZY!!s left.

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

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)

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 Betawiki. 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 Betawiki 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 Betawiki.

So if you come across any messages on your home wiki which have a default of '-' then you won’t find them on the Betawiki 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

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).

Testing wiki pages on various browsers

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


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 Betawiki, with a guess as to what they mean!