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CZ:Proposals/A new subpage for translations of approved articles

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Complete explanation

This proposal aims for the CZ community to officially endorse translations of approved articles and to encourage people to start such translations within languages that have reached a critical mass of authors. I propose that once a language has reached 20 native speakers on CZ:International, translating to that language will be allowed by approval of the Editorial Council.

On the technical side, there shall be a new default subpage type "Other languages" for approved articles where the links to the different translations will be placed. The actual naming convention for a translated article shall be Article/Translations/Language.


I think it is perfectly clear that CZ aims to be a mature and better Wikipedia in the not too far future. This implies CZ projects in other languages than English. As can be read here, internationalisation is far from being without serious problems.

Arguably, one of the biggest problems for the English CZ community may be building up a reliable and trusted base of foreign citizens with good English, who might be able and willing to transfer the spirit and rules of the English CZ to an international CZ. Having said that, this proposal shall be seen as an easy-to-implement and very convenient way to gather up such a healthy international CZ community within


It's no secret that, in the first place, people are attracted by content. By good content, that is. To attract enough people for building up our international community in reasonable time, we will need good non-English content. Such content will enable us to gain more coverage by non-English media, and to climb the ranks of non-English Google sites.

But how to get good non-English content without a critical mass of foreign authors?

Just translate our premium content, the approved articles. Translations don't require subject matter experts to be good and readable. Arguably, I think that when two or three people with a good skilll in their first language team up, a quality translation will be the result. Over time, we will no doubt attract professional translators who will serve as leaders for the translation community, and as editors for a future approval process of translations.

And what if, finally, we'll have built up our international community?

Just imagine the launch of the first international CZ with hundreds of approved articles ready for consumption and with a bunch of enthusiastic native speakers who will transfer the governance and spirit of the English CZ to the new project. Successful launch, anyone?


What shall be done? (Who does?)

1) Email CZ-World for people to put their name on CZ:International. (Jens Mildner)

2) A week after this email, decide which languages shall be allowed for translations. (Editorial Council)

3) Create new default subpage type "Other languages". (Jens Mildner or someone with more technical experience)

4) Update CZ:Subpages with the new subpage type. (Jens Mildner)

5) Create CZ:Other languages as a central place for international content policy and information. (Jens Mildner with help]

6) Going public with

a) Update the main page and CZ:Home (Jens Mildner)
b) Email CZ-L and CZ-World (Jens Mildner)
c) perhaps a press release and/or blog entry (Larry Sanger?)

7) Let's see what will become of this and develop it. [All]

Future plans / ideas (not subject to this proposal):

a) Propose a place for international external links.

b) Team up with Eduzendium to reach language scholars all over the world.

c) Propose a simplified approval process for translations.

d) Translation workgroup(s) (see discussion below)

e) Translation of the month


A discussion section, to which anyone may contribute.

Allowing translations seems harmless as long as there's a disclaimer indicating that errors may have been introduced during translation, so why not? However, I don't think we should go so far as to actively encourage this currently. Warren Schudy 12:55, 23 February 2008 (CST)

Permission to translate articles is already granted under terms of the CC-by-sa-3.0. Stephen Ewen 14:12, 23 February 2008 (CST)

Perhaps the name that was chosen to give to this proposal wasn't the best. I think that the subpages system could have another item, "Other languages", where the reader could find a translation of an approved article. --José Leonardo Andrade 09:38, 25 February 2008 (CST)

I see. So this is really about "Add a translation subpage to approved articles". Stephen Ewen 11:37, 25 February 2008 (CST)
Permission to translate articles is granted by the license, but permission to post those translations on CZ is not.
The limitation to "approved" articles seems handy, though I think the translations ought to have an approval process as well, and translations not approved should have the same disclaimer that non-approved articles carry. Anthony Argyriou 13:19, 25 February 2008 (CST)

There are issues associated with translation, namely assuring that those translations have quality. Since we still don't know if it will be possible to replicate Citizendium's structure in other languages, I think that presenting translations of approved articles is a choice to consider because it would allow people whose English is not that good to read and use Citizendium content. I think of this a bit like what I see in some pages from the U.S government, like MyPyramid [1], which offers some of its content in Spanish [2]. There could be recruitment of professional translators who would take a look at the translations done by authors. And of course we still don't know what languages would be chosen.--José Leonardo Andrade 10:03, 26 February 2008 (CST)

José, I thought of people putting their names on our international page. Once a language has reached a critical mass of some 10 or 20 people, that would allow translations to be posted. Jens Mildner 16:03, 26 February 2008 (CST)

Jens: From what I understand that page has another purpose, but it can be helpful to what we are discussing here. I don't know if those people are interested in doing translations. I also want to say that I agree with Anthony's point about some sort of disclaimer. Another idea that comes to my mind is the creation of translation workgroups. --José Leonardo Andrade 04:25, 28 February 2008 (CST)

José, I think that every native speaker has a natural interest in articles in his first language, at least I have. Thus, if there are 20 Spaniards here, Spanish translations will follow. Having said this, I think that CZ:International is sufficient for now, and we don't need to bother people with an extra page to put their names on. This may change, however, when translations are adopted. Then we should gather all available translation information in a central place, including people.
I agree, too, that every non-approved page should have a disclaimer. Translations will be no exceptions, this doesn't collide with my future plans to have a simplified approval process for it.
Could you elaborate on the translation workgroups? Do you mean one group per language, or one per science group, or even one at all? Jens Mildner 15:17, 28 February 2008 (CST)

How does this proposal relate to CZ:Proposals/Internationalisation sandbox? Will we continue to translate articles in, say, French after a French Citizendium is started, or is the goal simply to have something before Citizendia in foreign languages are started? -- Jitse Niesen 08:30, 3 March 2008 (CST)

This could be a good way of developing a basis for future international Citizendiums. If we have e.g. a French translation, when the French CZ kicks off the article could simply be moved there and the old subpage replaced with a redirect. Also, the translation should be checked by at least two other people, preferably native speakers. Of course, translation is a professional skill that requires substantial training as well as awareness of technical vocabulary, style, etc., so if we have amateurs doing it mistakes will inevitably occur. Making sure there are several people working on the translation - and discussing it (in English!) would help. John Stephenson 02:18, 4 March 2008 (CST)

John, I'm afraid that, for the lack of experts, we'll have to make a start with amateurs. And I strongly believe that two or three amateurs with a good feeling for their first language can do a satisfying job. And if not, it may well be that a professional translator dropping by will feel the urgent need to sign up at CZ, just to improve a substandard translation. Jens Mildner 15:44, 5 March 2008 (CST)

I think that if translation workgroups are to be created there should be one for each language (e.g "Translation Workgroup English-French" or something like that). But of course you need the editors (experts) to have workgroups (I don't know how they would be chosen in this case, if by academic qualifications or by professional experience or both). I also agree with John's point, if one day Citizendium is launch in other languages you can move the translated articles to there. I'd like to add that I think that this proposal should be rewritten, some details are missing here (for example in the "implementation" part). A good idea may be lost because of this --José Leonardo Andrade 09:43, 4 March 2008 (CST)

José, I think that translation workgroups won't be possible in the beginning, just for the lack of experts. As regards building this proposal, I'm lacking time right now. But if someone else steps up and rewrites this page for the better, I'm far from objecting. Just dive in. Jens Mildner 15:44, 5 March 2008 (CST)
  • A couple of years ago, when I was young and stupid, I spent a fair amount of time writing articles for the French WP about,, and a bunch of other tennis players. The French wasn't perfect but was serviceable; afterwards, just about the time I was losing interest in arguing with WPians in two languages and dropped out of the French project, I saw that various Frenchpeople were coming in to correct my French in the various articles. Today, I imagine, they are 100% Frenchified. If, at some point in the future, there's a French CZ, would we be able to go in and grab these WP articles for inclusion, at the very least the versions that I myself originally wrote? Hayford Peirce 11:36, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
Hayford, why wait until a French CZ launches? Once this proposal is adopted, and the French language is approved by the Editorial Council, I suggest writing those articles in English and translate them. It would require rewriting them, though. Jens Mildner 16:38, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
They already exist in English, at Pancho Gonzales and Bill Tilden. I wrote them in English for WP a couple of years ago, then translated them myself into French for the French WP.... Well, time will tell where they end up.... Hayford Peirce 16:55, 20 March 2008 (CDT)
Didn't look up yesterday, sorry. Jens Mildner 04:32, 21 March 2008 (CDT)

This is a quote from the "Reasoning" section of this proposal:

Translations don't require subject matter experts to be good and readable.

That is an absolutely fallacy! Translating a highly technical article in any of the sciences or in engineering requires a person who is highly skilled in the subject matter. It would be a serious mistake to think otherwise. - Milton Beychok 11:57, 26 April 2008 (CDT)

No doubt, there will be errors, even if the translation reads well. But I don't see any difference between an unapproved English article and an unapproved translation. Jens Mildner 16:58, 10 May 2008 (CDT)

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