Thursday, January 31, 2008

When the obvious ain't obvious, state the obvious

I was talking with someone about localisation. I do that a lot. It was asked to expand a bit about why localisation is necessary and not just nice. So for all of you that do not get it yet, localisation is to help our readers understand what the fuck we are talking about and what we want them to do.

When people do not understand "edit", they are not invited to edit. When people do not understand "Log in / create account" what do you expect them to do? Without localisation we are lucky when people find an article and will read it. This not all that we want; we want people to expand on stubs, correct mistakes get involved. For this localisation is the most essential requirement. For all languages but English localisation is the enabling factor.

Betawiki is the most relevant MediaWiki localisation effort. It is not just for one project, it is not just for the MediaWiki software, it is not just for MediaWiki and the extensions as used by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is for MediaWiki and all its extensions.

BetaWiki is an extension itself; this allows other people to use the software if they choose. The friendly developers of BetaWiki help people implement localisation in their software. This is essential because localisation is an architecture, it is not something that you bolt on as an after thought.

I consider Betawiki a success, and I am happy that Unesco agrees with me. The statistics show clearly how much still needs to be done. We have not even started to reach out to our readers of most of the languages we publish in. Betawiki is a means to an end. In the end we will have people maintaining the localisation for all the languages we support.

To make it really obvious, we need you to help with the localisation of your language.

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