Re: Complaint of the Slovak coordinator

let me contribute by point of view.
I'm not a Slovak and a member of the Slovak team, but I'm working for a
Czech company Divido as a translation coordinator. I've been translating
for GNOME (Czech team) for almost 3 years. But due to my job, I know
situations in many open source translation teams both in the Czech
republic and Slovakia.
Our company produces books about open source software and Linux
distributions. One of our products is a book about Ubuntu with DVD and
Ubuntu on it. Although the book is in Czech and our main market is the
Czech republic we have a lot of customers in Slovakia as well. In our
feedback, we received a lot of complaints about a horrible condition of
GNOME translations into Slovak. Some our readers literally wrote us that
they rather used English or if they didn't understand English (e.g.
their parents) they rather used Czech (Slovak's quite similar to Czech).
Then I started looking for reasons.
Originally, Czech translations were much worse than Slovak ones. At the
beginning, Slovak was even used during translating GNOME into Czech.
Nowadays, the situation is totally different. The Slovak translations
have been experiencing steady declining for last 10 releases (from 81%!
down to 46 %). The Czech translations are currently at 100 %.
First I thought it was caused by lack of translators in Slovakia, but
after a bit of searching I found out that there were actually quite a
lot people willing to give a hand. BTW the Slovak translation team of
KDE is doing very well (there are people who stopped translating GNOME
and started translating KDE [1]). Then I lookend into the Slovak GNOME
team itself.
As I said I have worked in several translation teams, but what I found
in the Slovak one really surprised me. I'm gonna make a little
comparation with the Czech team because our countries are still very
similar, both open source communities blend together, and the user and
volunteer base is similar.
JOINING THE TEAM: In the Czech team, you just need to sign up on
Vertimus and make a modul reservation. It's also recommended to send an
e-mail to the mailing list to check if someone's accidentally
translating it. In the Slovak team, you have to send a formal e-mail in
which you have to write your real name (tell open source people about
privacy...). You have to ask for moduls and many of them are not
available even though no one has touched them for months.
CHECKING TRANSLATIONS: In the Czech team, a translator uploads a
translation and a corrector checks it. If he finds any incorrect
translations he corrects them and if he thinks there are serious he
provides feedback to the translator. But he doesn't return the
translation! The time between uploading and submitting is about a few
days, 2 weeks max. In the Slovak team, if a corrector finds a problem he
returns a translation to a translator. This happens again and again
until it's perfectly correct or more likely the translator gets
frustrated and gives up. No surprise that there are many translations
waiting to be submitted for months and I think some of them will never
be submitted.
ACCEPTING TRANSLATIONS: The Czech team accepts translations even from
translators who, as I say, just go along. All teams I've been involved
in do it. That's the spirit of FLOSS. I need to translate something and
if it's done why not to provide it to someone else (to upstream in this
case). It does not work like this in the Slovak team. If someone
provided a translation he was told that he would become a long-term
translator or there was no interest... a very picky policy from the team
which has lost almost 40 % of translations in 10 last releases... and
result for users? no translations. There was a case when one guy
uploaded 60 % of Empathy translations. It's several hundred strings,
decent work. But he was told not to upload it until he gets over 90 %.
What happened? That guy got apparently frustrated and looks like the
uploaded 60 % will never be submitted. The result for users? no

Because people kept asking why Slovak translations were in such a bad
condition I wrote an article about it on [1]. That
article got a huge response. And it's interesting readings, especially
commentaries by users, former and current team members etc. (the article
is in Czech and the commentaries either in Czech or Slovak). I received
e-mails from people and some of them suggested that another Slovak
localization should be made. If those ideas are brought up it's serious.

I'm not a member of the Slovak team, so I can't take part in resolving
this problem. But please take it seriously. From my point of view, there
is no other real solution than changing the coordinator. I have followed
the development in the team for quite a long time. There have been
several complaints of the coordinator. He always promised that he would
do the job better or make changes, but the result is self-explanatory:
almost -40 % and steady fall.

Jiri Eischmann


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