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Can you explain me why there must be fallback language for every lang?

AS19:55, 24 April 2010

It's a MediaWiki/Wikipedia/Unicode thing - those in power don't understand that your language is one of the utmost expressions of your national identity, and that it is insulting to fallback elsewhere by default. The matter would go away to a large extent if you could bypass or change the fallback but that's not going to happen. Fallback language issues can be avoided if you translate every message to your language - even if the fallback gets changed in the future, you won't be affected. This has to be done on an on-going basis, as new messages come in.

Hamilton Abreu20:53, 24 April 2010

Thanks for explaining

AS21:20, 24 April 2010

No problem. And don't feel too bad about it, cause it has a solution. I'm a native speaker of European Portuguese and am forbidden to write wikipedia articles in this variant if those articles have already been started in another variant.

Hamilton Abreu21:49, 24 April 2010

This is complete balderdash. All other languages fall ultimately back to the English language. When a language is also falling back to other languages, it is as a service to the readers who are likely to understand this other language better then English.

The fallback is a service to our readers in the absence of a complete localisation. If you consider it offensive that another language shows, the only acceptable consequence is that you, the offended party, work hard to complete the localisation in your language so that this other language will not show. Thanks,

GerardM10:57, 25 April 2010

Thanks for illustrating the explanation so well. But this is not a technical IT interface presentation issue. It's not. It is a political issue.

What the repeated questions and queries about this issue, month after month after month, should be telling us is that many Ukranians would actually prefer the interface to fallback to English rather than to what "readers [...] are more likely to understand", even if Russian is widely spoken in the Ukraine.

What they are repeatedly requesting, month after month, is that they'd like to choose themselves their fallback.

What they're telling you is that they DO NOT want to fallback to Russian, irrespective of whether they're most likely to understand it or not.

Does it take a Phd in Psychology to get this?

One way to get it would be to adopt chinese as MediaWiki's default and then fallback English to German because they're both germanic languages, see how many hairs that would raise...

Hamilton Abreu12:28, 25 April 2010

By the way, issues of different nature but on a similar vein can be found at mediawiki.org. There, it was decided to achieve internationalisation by giving every page an English title and a language code subpage name.

So, the Russian Help:Contents page is called Help:Contents/ru, the same page in Italian is called Help:Contents/it.

People then vehemently refuse the creation of separate language wikis, as has been repeatedly requested by Russians.

One way to drive the point home would be to translate all page titles to Chinese. After all, it's just as arbitrary, right? Then, the Help:Contents page would become something like 用户帮助内容的主目录为 (apologies to chinese speakers, it's just an illustration) and the English contents page would then become something like 用户帮助内容的主目录为/主目.

The vehement refusers would then be FORCED to visit the '用户帮助内容的主目录为/主目' page and the bloody penny would drop in a sec.

Anyway, the main point here is that permanent autism regarding language issues, diminishing them and those raising them, even in the face of repeated queries and questions about them over periods of months and years, does no one a service.

Hamilton Abreu12:52, 25 April 2010

Complete balderdash, really? Gerard, how would you feel if the default fallback language for Dutch were German, and German would pop up randomly if the Dutch translators weren't keeping up? How do you think most Dutch users would feel?

Because language and identity are closely interrelated, the fallback language question is politically sensitive. I would think this is obvious. The solution is equally obvious: let wikis and their users choose their own fallback languages.

McDutchie17:43, 25 April 2010

Can we check that it is technically possible to change the fallback language? Assuming that this is possible, I would like to add my support to that of Hamilton Abreu and McDutchie. It is all very well to say that the problem disappears once the translations are done, but even if a new message appears for just a few days before it is translated, that is still too long if it is a prominent message appearing in a politically sensitive language. Encouraging more translators to translate the messages is one thing, stressing the translators by needling them with an unpopular fallback language is another matter. (By the way, from experience, it is the MediaWiki site notices which give an even bigger problem than the interface messages, because they are glaringly, insultingly obvious. There is just too much work to keep on top of it all. When I started here there were about 1700 core messages, now there are 2400! What a mountain to climb for new language projects.)

Even though we are opening a political can of worms here, I think that in a way, this can of worms was already with us in the original decision to go with Russian fallback for Ukranian. I assume that that original choice was suggested by an Ukranian translator and that it was a practical choice, given that learning Russian is, or was, compulsory in the Ukraine. So is it possible to conduct a consultation with all the Ukranian projects as to which fallback language they would prefer?

By the way, am I right in thinking that the question of a fallback language affects the Mediawiki software only, and not the other projects?

Lloffiwr22:15, 26 April 2010

Well, I can make "artifical English fallback": create "fuzzy translations" with the same content as English original

AS19:53, 27 April 2010

And meanwhile you have not made translations since 9 April, while MediaWiki for Ukrainian has 19 MediaWiki core messages untranslated, 4226 MediaWiki extension messages untranslated and 1295 Wikia MediaWiki extension messages untranslated. Compared to Russian, which has 0 MediaWiki core messages untranslated, 6 MediaWiki extension messages untranslated and 21 Wikia MediaWiki extension messages untranslated. Russian being a language that is widely understood in Ukraine, as well as written in the same script as Ukrainian, unlike English.

I appreciate the political sensitivities that come with the language of the former union, but as a more literate person than the average Ukrainian, which I assume you are, all emotions set aside, Russian is *the* best possible fallback language for Ukranian. I'm quoting the English language Wikipedia here: According to the Constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. While Russian, which was the de facto official language of the Soviet Union, is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian.[124] Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language.[1] The English language is not mentioned. Let's be done with this.

Siebrand20:08, 27 April 2010

How do you think, why I don't made translations since 9 April? I stopped here my activity until this problem is resolved (I began translate this messages locally :/ )

AS20:27, 27 April 2010

You could try creating a Bugzilla request for an enhancement, that enables each user to choose their fallback language in the preferences, right next to where the preferred language is chosen right now.

But give some thought to the fact that translating the messages here (not locally, because that helps no one) is the best immediate way of ending the issue once and for all. A translated message always prevents the fallback from being presented, and that's the end of that. And it's in your hands, so you have the power to change things this way.

Hamilton Abreu00:06, 28 April 2010

I know, I know... I must find some better way to show my protest ;)

AS06:25, 28 April 2010

I suggest rallying up enough translators for Ukrainian so that any fallback displays will be unneeded in a few weeks.

Siebrand07:00, 28 April 2010

Has anyone created a Bugzilla about this, per Hamilton Abreu's suggestion? If not, I will. This would at least help those readers who have user accounts. A good example of a language where this would be useful is Luo (OK it doesn't have a project here yet, but some day...). This language group lives either side of the border between Kenya and Tanzania. It would be useful to them to be able to choose either English (medium of primary instruction in Kenya) or Swahili (medium of primary instruction in Tanzania) as fallback.

Lloffiwr17:02, 13 June 2010
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 11:01, 20 July 2010

No need: bugzilla:11267.

Siebrand18:09, 13 June 2010

Great. I have added my vote to the bug - my first vote ever on Bugzilla. I would say that this was very exciting, except that might give the impression that I don't get out enough :).

Lloffiwr18:57, 13 June 2010

One more vote from me.

Hamilton Abreu01:02, 14 June 2010


AS11:59, 14 June 2010