Fedora and Translation Teams

Mohammed Elzubeir elzubeir at arabeyes.org
Fri Jun 25 12:28:01 UTC 2004


This is intended to all translators involved in Fedora, whether they are
involved for Arabic or any other language. It is also intended for the
people who shape the policies and tools used by and for the translators.

To all Arabeyes members who are involved in translations, I would
strongly advise you to join the fedora translation list [1] to voice
your opinions, in order to allow the Fedora maintainers to better
understand our requirements.


Fedora recently announced [2] a new system which nullifies pre-existing 
language translation teams. This is not to say that they had such an explicit
policy, in the past but they are now saying that it is definitely not the
policy. What do they want to do then? They want to have translator per module.
What does this mean? Simple. There is module A that translator X can take, 
translate, release. Translator Y comes along, takes A, translates, releases. 
The same goes for modules B, C, etc.

Sounds good, eh? More people can easily contribute. What this will result in 
is complete and utter chaos. Allow me to elaborate.

The Loss of Consistency

There will be absolutely no conherence among translations. Each translator, 
depending on their language skills will have their own interpretation of 
strings. They will also have their own vocabulary that will most certainly 
conflict with someone else's in the overall translation.

The Loss of Quality Control

Since there is no group overseeing the quality of the translation, there are 
no assurances that the quality of translation is up to any standard. So who
says what is standard? In the case of Arabic, the Arabeyes Project [3] has 
set up a committee (Quality Assurance Comittee [4]) that is specifically 
tasked with overseeing such standardizations across all translation projects. 
This is something that other projects can learn from. However, with such a 
scheme standards published by the QAC have no means of being implemented.

The Loss of Communication

Since there is no group, each individual translator is on their own island 
with their own ideas of how things should be done. This does not affect
Fedora alone. This affects how Arabic is translated across a variety of
localized applications and libraries.

This additionally creates a very serious problem for a large project, like
Arabeyes. For example, in order to perform CVS sync's, the maintainer now
has to manually see what module he still has control over and what
modules he does not. In other words, a 5 minutes job will now take 50

The Loss of a Community

This scheme completely obliterates the sense and spirit of a community.
In the case of Arabic, this took very hard long years to build and foster.
With such a scheme, this community no longer needs to exist and is simply
put back to an individual doing a couple strings and going home forgetting
about the work he/she has modified.

The Loss of Credit

Arabeyes has taken great pains to ensuring that credit is given to each
and every individual who has contributed in any way, shape or form. With
the current scheme, this is no longer guaranteed.


Past experiences from projects such as KDE, GNOME, Mandrake, etc. should be a 
good reference point to anyone outlining a localization policy for a project
of the size of Fedora. Fedora's point of view is, if a team maintainer
is needed, we can do that, as long as no one objects. However, it is not
clear as to what would be done if someone objects for no reason. I can simply
sit there on the list and object to every maintainer who comes up, just
in spite of the project. Would that be taken seriously? What if I have a
personal agenda against an individual? Would that suffice? What if, what if?
These questions do not have answers yet.

It is our hope that this policy would be reviewed and discussed with the
community of the many language teams and individual translators, before it
is being made as policy. We also hope that this would result in a more
reasonable policy that accounts to the fact that some languages already indeed 
have a large set of translators and contributors who are organized and 
structured. It is also our hope that other language teams of translators would
join us in our plea to Fedora to re-consider this policy.


[1] https://listman.redhat.com/mailman/listinfo/fedora-trans-list/
[2] https://listman.redhat.com/archives/fedora-trans-list/2004-June/msg00046.html
[3] http://www.arabeyes.org/
[4] http://wiki.arabeyes.org/QAC
| Mohammed Elzubeir    | Visit us at:                 |
|                      |  http://www.arabeyes.org/    |
| Arabeyes Project     | Homepage:                    |
| Unix the 'right' way |  http://elzubeir.fakkir.net/ |
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