Localisation is important. It is one of the best strategies for making people feel comfortable in their Wiki project in their language. There are many projects in the Wikimedia Foundation and all deserve proper localisation. My hero of the MediaWiki localisation is Nikerabbit, who has been working on the MediaWiki localisation since 2006 first with Gangleri and now with Siebrand. He has been instrumental in starting and developing BetaWiki and it has developed in a first class environment.
The continued need for better localisation is best illustrated by numbers. According to the SiteStatistics, the WMF supports 258 languages. In the Incubator is a long list of requested projects many representing new languages waiting for a place under the sun. BetaWiki supports 257 different localisations. This is not the same as 257 languages, Chinese alone represents at least four languages.
What is also important is to consider the quality of the localisation. Only 128 of the 257 localisations have more then 50% of the most relevant messages localised and only 55 are better then 99%. For all MediaWiki messages 98 localisations do better then 50% and 56 are better then 90%. For the extensions used in the Wikimedia Foundation 31 do better then 50% and 15 do better then 90%.
When this is news to you, it may be grim reading. It reads like we are letting our readers and editors down. When you are looking for bright spots, there are plenty to find. We now have the numbers that shows our performance when it comes to localisation. We have numbers showing our progress; more languages are supported and an upwards trend can be observed in the other numbers. Personally I am happy to observe that the policy of the language committee is proving its value.
What we need is more people caring for the localisation for their language. When this localisation is done in BetaWiki, not only will people benefit from an environment that is made with them in mind, they will even get pointers indicating what messages are used for. The messages are committed daily to SVN and this makes the messages go life as soon as Brion updates the life systems.
We need to promote BetaWiki, we need to spread the message. Please help us promote BetaWiki, spread the word and check out what you can do for your language.