Dienstag, 10. Juli 2012

Some questions on l10n and my answers


Some time ago Jeff Beatty asked localizers to fill out a survey about motivations/reasons for doing localization of Firefox.The results of the survey can be read in Jeff's blog Why we localize Firefox. The survey asked for additional comments and I raised my hand. Jeff then sent me a barrage of questions, which I am copying below, with my answers to them.

Questions and answers

Jeff:  you wrote that  "from initial go-get-em drive it has turned into watch-for-deadlines routine." Do you attribute the evolution of a "go-get-em drive" to a "watch-for-deadlines routine" to being a natural result of contributing to the project over a long period of time? Or to any of the current l10n policies, communications, or procedures?

Vito: what I meant by  "Go-get-em drive" was getting into the release process in the first place. Firefox in Slovenian language has been around since ages, but it is a different story with Thunderbird and Fennec. With Thunderbird it took us a whole year, if not more, to get fully involved in the release process. With Fennec it is a similar story, with somewhat changed border conditions: after a year of active involvement we have nightly builds, but as yet no official release.

As you see, I am not limiting the context just to Firefox, as was your initial intention.

The evolution from "Go-get-em drive" to "watch-for-deadlines routine" is thus (of course) a natural result of contributing to the project over a longer period of time. It just has to be understood as a sign of persistence. Note that  77 out of 106 languages represented in l10n repository can boast with an official 13.0.1 Firefox version. I wish the remaining quarter all the best on their way to the "watch-for-deadlines routine".

Instead of "watch-for-deadlines routine" one could talk about  "riding on the release bus", were it not for the switch to tighter release cycles. Fore me it resulted in kind of a tunnel-vision response, with the dashboard record for Firefox, Fennec, Thunderbird and Calendar (times Aurora, Beta and Central) on the one side and the ticking deadlines bomb on the other side.

As regards your second question: I think the major reason for "watch-for-deadlines routine" is the time squeeze. I am sure  there's been a lot of soul searching and fighting over possible fall-outs involved in the decision.This is just one more negative side effect that was to be expected.

Jeff: others, I'm sure, have shared this aspect of your experience. Do you feel that there is anything we can do to help re-inspire a "go-get-em drive" in localizers?

Vito: what helps most, is attention and a positive feed-back. That applies above all  to the language teams among the 25% that are not yet fully there. I wonder if anybody, starting on this journey knows, what it takes (as of end of June, the aurora SL repository contains close to 70.000 words). So what one needs is endurance first of all and any help to sustain it. Note, that there's differences between different language teams, from a lonely wolf to a well-oiled localization machine, involving several Mozillians (see my blog on localizing SuMo)  so it is not one-shoe-fits-them-all.

Jeff: Many communities struggle with remembering deadlines, causing their localized releases to fall behind with each release. What suggestions would you give to remind communities about upcoming deadlines without giving the impression of being driven by deadlines?

Vito: with three channels (central, aurora, beta), each involving two product repositories, mozilla and comm,  and one l10n repository, it is pretty hard to keep your ducks lined up properly - they get out of of line  every six weeks anyhow. Anyhow, I have a strange feeling, that is one, two or even three repositories too many.

One more point: there's absolutely no need for localizers to have complete product repositories on hand. The size of my local  Aurora repository is 1.4GB, out of which I need just 5.44MB in size. I really have no need for those extra 1394.56MB, the en-US tree, extracted from  up-to-date product repositories, is all I would need. I asked for it already several times already:

Hint 1: provide the en-US tree in l10n/releases,  to serve as a source and template for a given channel. This can be done with one single compare, run once and for all languages. If this is not doable, then whoever has an en-US tree on hand, drop me a note.

Note: with this hint I am probably risking  a barrage of Why-dont-you, Havent-you-read and  I-told-you-so comments. My comment to all in advance:"where were you all, when I needed you".

As regards the question about helping localizers keep deadlines ... maybe a polite hint on mozilla.dev.l10n, like "seven more days to ..." with the URL to more about it, would not look too invasive.
    Jeff: You're also quoted as saying, "it is NOT just Firefox we are talking about (or at least localizing). For instance Firefox alone without SuMo is a job halfway done. A little broader perspective would be welcome." Do you feel that Mozilla l10n is too centered on Firefox desktop? Please explain.

    Vito: I just said that when it comes to localizing, there's more to Mozilla than just Firefox. This pizza has several slices:  products, MarketPlace, Persona, Mozilla Support (Firefox, Thunderbird, Mobile, Desktop), Corporate Web presence,Verbatim projects and so on. A localizer thus has to communicate with a number of pizza slice owners, who all in their own turn compete for the localizers' attention and favor. Think of it like this: ab_CD team owns the ab_CD localization market and the Mozillians on the other side of the fence are in competition with each other for its services.

    Eventually one can not be everything to everybody - that's where either the specialization starts, assuming there's a team in place.If there's "more than one person, but less than two", which is often the case, the game is then played by the ear. And sometimes it's the loudest, and not necessarily the overall optimal alternative that wins. Maybe this Brownian motion is the best one can expect in a given situation - provided there's a focusing discussion or a MozCamp now and then.

    Jeff: To provide you with some perspective, I chose to ask about localizing Firefox since most l10n contributors are attracted to the project because they have been loyal Firefox users. Do you feel that localizers on other l10n projects are frequently overlooked by the l10n drivers?

    Vito: I guess drivers are in the same unenviable position as we are: they have to decide what to focus on and what to let go or simply ignore. Instead of "frequently overlooked" I would thus rather say "practically invisible": other l10n projects are out of the l10n drivers' attention span and the localizers' involvement elsewhere, even if it is the one and the same team, i.e. same persons,  plays no role.

    PS: have a comment? Diverging opinion? Hint? Experience to share? Write it down here!

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