Two Years of German SUMO

SUMO in German

SUMO in German

SUMO was started 3 years ago to gather Mozilla’s support efforts in one place and offer the best possible help platform for Firefox users. In that time the self help part of that platform has grown to almost 300 articles.

Tonnes, our Dutch localizer, was the first to translate every article in the SUMO Knowledge Base and shortly after the German community, led by Thomas Schwecherl, also reached the goal of 100% localization. However in this case it was a team effort and Thomas was kind enough to provide us with a guest post explaining how the team came together and how it coordinates its work on SUMO. So, without further ado, Thomas’ guest post:

The German speaking SUMO team is small with less than a handful active contributors at the same time. Every contributor has peaks and valleys in his participation. That’s why there are times with zero contributions and times with insanely many contributions in German SUMO. One of those peaks was in May 2010 because we wanted to reach the target of 100% translated articles. We achieved this goal on May 29, 2010.

We started in June 2008 to review and adapt the help files that were ported from Firefox 2 to SUMO. If I remember correctly we were 3 people at this time and we worked hard to give the German speaking users of the coming Firefox 3 the same help experience they were used to have in Firefox 2. Kadir Topal – one of the 3 and the German locale owner of Firefox – was busy with the translations for Firefox 3. I was familiar with the help files because I had proofread the help of Firefox 2 and then the SUMO articles for Firefox 3. Therefore I, an Austrian, became the German locale leader for SUMO. That’s how fast you can become an “official” part of a Mozilla community.

At the beginning, the amount of work that is awaiting you on SUMO is frightening. But don’t worry, if you are beginning to translate SUMO into your language, do it in little steps like we did. First (after the adoption of the Firefox 2 help files which was very urgent because of the Firefox 3 release) I translated the most visible parts of the SUMO user interface and the start page. Having that translated, most users were now able to navigate through SUMO pages in their own language.

Apart from that not much work was done in the following months. Nobody knew about SUMO! And the German website of Kadir Topal – – had it’s own forums and a wiki, so we had to discuss what we wanted to do: keep separate wikis, or switch to SUMO and replace our own wiki? We decided to translate SUMO for the average users and to clean out our own wiki. Many of our wiki articles were out of date for months or years. That’s why we could take the step towards SUMO without loosing too much work. But we wanted to keep our wiki for more detailed information, tips and tricks, or add-on issues that didn’t match the SUMO philosophy.

I assume many communities will have or had such discussion about (new) SUMO vs. their own (old) wiki.

After this decision the amount of translated articles grew quickly. Especially the translation of the 10 most read articles and the firewall articles were a masterpiece of cooperation in the German speaking community. By the way, after translating the in-product help articles and the start page, the 10 most important articles should be translated to give as many users support as it’s possible with the least effort. The localizer dashboard gives you a good overview of what’s needed next. But in 2008 we had no dashboard, so we couldn’t see our statistics improving.

2009 was a great year for German SUMO but a bad year for SUMO itself. Besides the new shining dashboard functionality, we had to fight against rising SUMO problems: servers were getting slower and server errors came up that resulted in lost text sometimes. These problems are still occurring, hopefully SUMO 2.0 will get rid of it.

Some of the big translation challenges in 2009 were the administrative articles (contributor pages, like “how to add a screenshot”) and updates for Firefox 3.5 and 3.6. This page summarizes the amount of work that went into updating SUMO for Firefox 3.5. And it’s not just about translating small changes for a new Firefox release, the real work is to update whole articles since your translation of it needs to be in sync with the English knowledge base. Changes are made permanently in (English) SUMO articles to help people better and more efficiently. If you have time between major Firefox releases, update articles as fast as possible to avoid doing all the work during release time.

Beside the locale leader, the German speaking SUMO team is mostly doing separate work. One person is translating an article, another one is reviewing it and another one is creating the localized screenshots for Windows, Linux and Mac. This is working very well and I’m very glad to have Alexander, our screenshot guy. It’s time consuming work and especially in German speaking countries, not many people have a Mac.

Recently we got a new translator and we were able translate 80 articles in the last 5 months by the end of May 2010. Now all German speaking Firefox users can benefit from a localized SUMO. Many thanks to all contributors and the SUMO staff who did a great job to make this possible. We’re looking forward to exciting two more years.

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