What are the gotchas and responsibilites of running a translation team?

Created by Christian Reis on on 2008-06-10
Keywords:
translation teams groups translators
Last updated by:
Jeroen T. Vermeulen on on 2008-09-03

A translation team supervises translations to a particular language. The first gotcha is that nobody needs to join anything to start translating in Launchpad—so translation teams are not just teams of translators. Only the most well-organized, experienced, and prolific translators should be members of a translation team—enough of them to do the job.

So translation teams are not there to translate per se; they do the "gardening" on translations. This includes:

 * Documenting translation standards: which term will you use for "email," or "file," or "delete"? Does your language use zero-width spaces to separate words? Do punctuation marks go inside quotes or outside? Do you use the polite word for "you," or a familiar one, or one somewhere inbetween? Should the computer talk about itself as feminine, masculine, or neuter? Are there any special characters or spelling standards that are easy to get wrong, e.g. obsolete letters?

 * Organizing the translation effort. Create wikis, run mailing lists, discuss progress, motivate translators, divide the work, keep track of packages that need special treatment.

 * Regularly looking for new suggestions for bad or untranslated strings. Approve the best ones. Fix mistakes in translations, e.g. use of wrong characters or nonstandard terms.

 * Keeping translations in sync with upstream where appropriate. Regularly scan for translations that are unnecessarily different from upstream ones, and revert the changes.

 * Taking initiatives! If there's a mistake lots of people make (using the wrong term, forgetting zero-width spaces), remind translators about it. Coördinate drives to find and fix them every few months. Identify and reward the best and most prolific translators.

 * Managing the team itself. Clearly define the job that members sign up for. If you have lots of inactive members, consider asking them to join a "5-a-day drive": everyone pledges to review at least 5 messages a day. If some team members do not want to do that, it's probably a sign that they're not really interested in the role. Many people sign up only because they think it's required for doing translation, or to try things out, and then forget about their membership.

 * If there is an "upstream": talking to them. This may be a job for the translation group managers if the group covers very few translations; or you may have to delegate it inside the team if the group covers lots of projects. But definitely make sure your team knows about string freezes and release cycles, both upstream and downstream. Make sure that the latest templates get uploaded by either upstream or the translation group managers, and that you "give back" translations to upstream where it makes sense.

Finally, help us improve Launchpad. If you see something that we can change in Launchpad to make your work easier, discuss it with other translation team members and translators. See if there are open bugs, specs, or questions about it. If not, file them and let us know what you need! Even if we don't always have time to build what you want, a thorough, well-written explanation of a problem will help us determine what we should work on in the future.

See also: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/loco-contacts/2006-April/000257.html (very old)