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From David Crossley <>
Subject Re: accommodate non-native-English-writing developers
Date Thu, 30 Oct 2008 05:09:27 GMT
Robert Burrell Donkin wrote:
> David Crossley wrote:
> >
> > My initial question was about how to conduct the
> > mailing list discussions. Of course the issues
> > are much wider. Some feeling for how to handle
> > these issues will help us to make a better
> > proposal to the Incubator.
> >
> > For example, some key parts of its puzzle are
> > developed by Japanese people. Other parts by
> > English-speaking people. Some of these people
> > can read/write English, but others are not
> > at all comfortable.
> >
> > Some code contributions would have Japanese
> > variable names and internal code documentation.
> >
> > I understand that the code documentation could
> > be augmented with English. However, i don't see
> > how to deal with actual code and ongoing
> > contributions.
> in my experience, ongoing code and contributions is much easier than
> discussion. one useful accommodation is to use more diagrams and less
> chat. for example, using UML diagrams to explain. some infrastructure
> is required (mailing lists and UML don't tend to get on). an area for
> diagrams in subversion works ok.
> decision making tends to be ok. developers can use babelfish to
> translate the proposition in a formal VOTE thread and then cast their
> votes appropriately.

That is good to hear. Being sure that everyone can
be involved in decisions.

> discussion is the major PITA. even on conventional apache projects,
> it's hard for developers who are not confident in english. it's very
> easy for misunderstandings to spiral out of all proportion. this is
> especially true of questions about code.
> large slices of patience, understanding and goodwill are definitely required

Yes, some cornerstones of the ASF open development ideals.

> > Obviously the non-English speaking people need
> > to interpret any English changes to the code,
> > and vice-versa.
> >
> > Mail lists:
> > Should people just partipipate on the podling's
> > dev mail list in their own languages? Then expect
> > that someone summarises the outcomes and decisions
> > into English/Japanese. Or would it be better to have
> > separate dev language lists, with the same
> > summarising outcome. The former would enable replies
> > to be threaded with the other language.
> i think one dev list is the right way to approach this problem. it's
> important for the development community to have a single forum for
> discussion and decision making.

Yes. The key is for the project's PMC to ensure
that there are always bi-lingual members active.

> i'm not so sure about the user lists (perhaps someone from tuscany
> could jump in and tell us about their chinese users forum)

Thanks for the pointer. I expect that the issue
of developer involvement has bigger impact than
user involvement.

> > In any case, i reckon that it would be desirable
> > to have these lists at
> i agree but the issue raised in the past has been moderation.
> moderation volunteers would need to be found for every language
> supported.

We do intend to have some people who are bi-lingual
on the project's PMC. So they would be mail moderators

> > Documentation has similar issues.
> >
> > Likewise the svn commit log messages.
> one tactic which works ok is to use JIRA for task planning. commit
> messages are necessarily concise. a JIRA allows a change to be tied
> back into a more substantial task which can be explained in more
> detailed and potentially translated. patches (in particular tests) can
> be attached to demonstrate or illustrate points.

Thanks. That is fine for larger issues. For the commit
messages babelfish-type services can assist.

I wonder if it would be possible to have some
commit messages in Japanese, with another committer
following up to use 'svn propedit svn:log ..." to
add English comments.

> > Does anyone here have some tips for conducting
> > an open development project that accommodates
> > multi-lingual developer participation?
> i wonder whether we might need to raise this question more widely

In what forum?

> one of my concerns is that we're unlikely to be able to recruit
> Mentors with a sufficiently wide range of language skills to be able
> to monitor all discussions on list. we may need to consider asking for
> additional volunteers from the pool of committers to act as community
> mentors (with a small 'm').

Good idea. However we would encourage that anyway.
Such interested people would be "developers" and
hopefully become project committers.


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