Monday, January 16, 2012

Overcoming the #Babel effect

One wonderful #Wikimedia tradition is to welcome newbies and as I am creating a lot of profiles, I am welcomed in many languages. Probably I am getting a lot of advise on what it is I am getting into, what I can do and how welcome I am to make a difference for that community.

On all my user pages I am adding Babel extension information. Not only do I indicate what languages I do speak, I also indicate that I do not speak the language that is local for that project.

Now that the Wikimedia Foundation is testing what messages send to users makes a difference, it seems obvious that a message in a language I do speak has a greater impact than a message in a language I do not know at all.

Asking for #Babel information is in a way exactly the same as asking people for their gender; it is to make sure that we address people in an appropriate way. There are plenty messages we want to share with our logged on users. Finding the best ones, translating them and using when appropriate will make me feel more appreciated, welcome and makes me more effective as well.


Steven Walling said...

Hey Gerard,

This is a really good idea, and is similar to welcome templates that already exist in English Wikipedia for welcoming non-English speakers.

However, for us to automatically, randomly test templates in different languages, we would need a bot or something else to have programmatic access to user language preferences. Otherwise, it would just be people guessing about the native language of someone and hand giving them a template. That doesn't work for a randomized test.

GerardM said...

The point of the Babel extension is that people indicate their proficiency in a language. As it is in software already, it is "just" a matter of providing an API to that data.