The importance of reviewing suggestions

While at Mozilla we want to ensure consistent and high-quality translations, we also want to make sure that contributing is a rewarding and pleasant experience for everyone. Translating in a timely manner is important, however there are other essential things to take into consideration. For example, leaving non-urgent projects with missing strings so that new localizers can get involved is one of them. Reviewing pending suggestions regularly is another – and the main topic of this post.

In the last few months, the l10n-drivers Project Management group (Delphine, Peiying, Flod, Jeff, and Théo) has taken a good look at the state of pending suggestions across teams and projects in Pontoon, and has decided to take more direct action in order to ensure that localizers (newcomers and old timers alike) get timely and constructive reviews. In fact, a lack of timely replies – or worst, a total lack of replies – creates an unwelcoming environment and risks losing contributors.

We started reaching out to some teams individually – but given the amount of locales concerned, it seems a broader “call to action” at this moment is a better way to kick things out.

As a first step, we’d like communities that have more than 300 pending suggestions to go through these and take some time to bring that number down. In fact, our goal this year is not only to get a better picture of the health of the localization communities, but also to take action in order to ensure our localization communities are thriving and healthy. This is just one of many steps to get there.

The reality is that when a locale has hundreds or thousands of unreviewed suggestions, and that remain unreviewed for months, it creates an unwelcoming environment for newcomers who could have a high impact on the project with some mentorship. Seeing these high numbers will make new potential localizers think that no one is paying attention, that they will not be able to get involved effectively and that they won’t be able to make an impact. In addition to being unwelcoming, this slowly creates a closed localization community, as the lack of reviews and transparency restrict involvement to only a handful of localizers (or in some cases, one localizer alone).

In the case of teams that have thousands of unreviewed strings, one way that they can start thinking about this is if there are any projects that have become less important, that they are less passionate about, and that they do not want to work on anymore. In this case, they can simply reach out to the Project Manager in charge in order to discuss the situation. The Project Manager can also easily be found on the Pontoon UI under each project page, next to the “Contact Person” field. If still in doubt, simply reach out to the dev-l10n mailing list and we will gladly respond from there.

So, what are our next steps here? Starting in July, we will reach out to teams that still have more than 300 pending suggestions and ask that they bring that number down. In lack of response, or if no action on pending suggestions is taken, we will carefully evaluate which contributors to give more permissions to and assign translator rights to new particularly active localizers. We will also talk with them on how to coordinate the localization activity for the locale.

So this is a call to action for every locale that has pending suggestions: please help us ensure that we all have a great experience in localization at Mozilla, by not only welcoming and onboarding newcomers in your team – but also making sure everyone gets a timely review of their work.

Pontoon documentation explains what a healthy localization workflow can look like, and we invite you to take a look at it here.

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  1. Amir Aharoni wrote on :

    … Or you could do away with suggestions completely.

    Seriously.

    Try just removing them from the process, and accepting whatever comes in. In almost all cases, review will be unnecessary.

    It works for Wikipedia’s software, MediaWiki. In the MediaWiki translation process it’s easier to fix a translation mistake than to have a process for preventing them. For Mozilla’s web apps you could do the same immediately. Updating a bad translation on the website should be a very simple process.

    For Firefox, with its longer release cycle, it’s more complicated, but even there you could think of ways to get rid of review. For example, you could change the translations release process so that translations would be updated separately from the whole desktop app.

    Finally, you could require reviews for new and inexperienced translators and give full rights to the experienced ones after they get some number of good translations approved, for example a 100.

    Getting rid of the requirement to review should be a goal.

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