iNaturalist Leaving Translatewiki

Fragment of a discussion from Support
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Thank you for caring about not wasting translators' work. Naturally, we'll do as the project pleases.

However, could you please elaborate on what are the reasons for this decision? I suspect they might be easier to fix than you think.

I see a lot of strange things going on at https://github.com/inaturalist/inaturalist/commits/master/config/locales , probably a result of some misunderstanding. If the things are not going well for iNaturalist, maybe a solution is to try a simpler and more efficient workflow compared to what we had so far. For instance, normally we strongly advise against: 1) pushing outside master, which makes errors more likely and slower to fix; 2) keeping up parallel/competing workflows and translation systems, such as Crowdin and translation changes directly pushed to the repository.

Nemo (talk)12:33, 17 September 2019

Hi Nemo. The two main reasons are the Mediawiki UI and Translatewiki's, well, wiki-esque policies.

Regarding the UI, we on iNat's staff find Translatewiki so frustrating and awkward to use that we hardly ever interact with translators directly and are extremely demotivated to fix things like problems with markup code in translations. We want to have a closer relationship with translators so we can explain things like context, jargon, why markup needs to be copied exactly, etc. I realize this is possible on Mediawiki, but those of on staff find it difficult. Furthermore, a great deal of our growth beyond English-speaking countries gets mitigated by partners in those countries, and those partners tend not to be technically-minded and often have even more frustrations with the Mediawiki UI than we do. I realize Translatewiki could probably fix things like those markup issues (and you have fixed many of them, both through filters and manually, so thanks for that), but it seems unlikely that a) you will abandon Mediawiki for a more usable web application, or b) that Mediawiki will become more generally usable in the near future.

Regarding policy, we really need to allow some people to have privileged approval permissions within specific locales. This is such a deal-breaker for some of our international partners that they simply refuse to use Translatewiki and asked us to stop integrating Translatewiki's contributions for their locale. Given my past inquiry on this topic, I got the impression that this kind of hierarchy is something that Translatewiki is philosophically opposed to. Personally, I understand and to a large extent agree with that stance, but it's proving to be a real hindrance to some of our collaborations.

Since we don't think either of those issues are likely to be resolved any time soon, we're going to move our translation process to Crowdin, which we've been using for our mobile apps for years and, while it has its own set of problems, does not have the problems I described above.

I hope that all makes sense and that my explanation didn't seem overly harsh. Again, we've been very happy with the translations we've received from Translatewiki and I've personally always been impressed with how responsive the Translatewiki developers have been considering it's an all-volunteer open source project.

Kueda (talk)17:42, 17 September 2019

Well, I'm surprised because at https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/translators-what-do-you-like-dislike-about-crowdin-and-translatewiki/3108 I don't see anyone complain about this perceived problem. If people had experienced such big conflicts within their locales, I would expect to see signs of it somewhere. Could it be that some translators just refused to engage because they rejected the wiki way for ideological reasons?

Nemo (talk)19:30, 17 September 2019

It's possible some folks have ideological problems with wikis, but the complaints we've heard offline about assigning proofreaders are more practical, e.g. the ones I tried to describe at https://translatewiki.net/wiki/Thread:Support/designated_proofreaders,_excluding_locales.

Kueda (talk)19:37, 17 September 2019

I understand, but as I said "our suggestion is to give it a try and avoid overthinking things beforehand". If people were making changes like vs. Usted outside translatewiki.net, i.e. without communicating with other translators, that's not a problem with the platform but a social problem. I don't see anything on translating:iNaturalist warning translators to use "Usted", for instance.

Another example: at times your commits resulted in User:FuzzyBot seemingly edit warring with users [1] [2] who appear to have registered just to translate iNaturalist (so iNaturalist translators?). No wonder it was hard for the es-mx locale to coordinate, when translation edits were flying in all directions unexplained.

This social problem of lack of communication can be nudged towards a fix by eliminating the alternative platforms and forcing everyone to translate on translatewiki.net. Translators would then discover that we offer tools to quickly solve such issues of consistency, like Special:SearchTranslations, as well as effective communication methods like edit summaries, talk pages and so on.

It seems to me that you've not yet really tried to use translatewiki.net, so it's no surprise that the results have been unsatisfactory. I would suggest to give it a try for real, for instance with a trial of 3-6 months. If the communication/coordination problems continue to be so pressing, then they can be acted on (as opposed to letting them stew for 18 months or so without any sign to the community of translators).

Nemo (talk)20:05, 17 September 2019

Just to be clear, we've made our decision, so while I appreciate the suggestion to engage more thoroughly with Translatewiki's tools as a way to address our problems, we have already decided not to. I started this thread to notify you, to thank you, to ask how best to attribute you and all the translators, and to answer any questions you might have.

Also, we have not had alternative translation platforms for the web since we started collaborating with Translatewiki (we have used Crowdin for the mobile apps, but only started using Crowdin for the web today). Our partners in Mexico had been using Translatewiki, and ultimately they got tired of the constant negotiation and asked us to stop accepting new es-MX translations from Translatewiki. Changes like the one you cited were me over-writing es-MX changes from Translatewiki by copying over that file with the copy from master, not the result of an alternative translation system. My apologies to TW translators that have been left in the lurch by doing so.

Kueda (talk)21:10, 17 September 2019

We wish you the best in your future endeavours. Thank you for your use of translatewiki.net in the past, and thank you for explaining why you're leaving.

Siebrand22:50, 17 September 2019