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Re: About the new Status Pages


Christian Rose schrieb:

Thanks Bernd for taking the time to write this explanatory letter. It
definately helps having the points summarized.

There is a lot in your mail that I think everyone agrees with,
especially the good intentions. But I believe some of your arguments
you're making for the policy you appearantly have already decided upon
are very skewed and not based on reality. More on that below.

As said, and that's why I am a little surprised by your email, I am actually in favour of not just giving anyone cvs access for a certain language, if 1) the group wants it, and 2) somebody makes herself/himself accountable for such decision. If a language group wouldn't want to restrict cvs access to "newcomers", nobody of that language group would actually be willing to be accountable for such decision, or there isn't any language team in place yet, I do not see why I should not give someone of that language group cvs access. What is wrong with that model? If 1) the group wants it, and 2) somebody makes herself/himself accountable for such decision, I do agree completely that cvs access should be restricted, and the group should decide when/if it is time to give a "newcomer" cvs access. I've said the exactly same before, and I say it here again, just in case it wasn't entirely clear where I stand, though it should be.

tor 2004-07-01 klockan 03.13 skrev Bernd Groh:
[ snip things about intentions that everyone agrees with ]

First new thing is that a module can be assigned to a Translator and there is a [Take]/[Release] mechanism in place. What exactly is a Translator in this respect? A Translator is a person translating a file at a given time (thanks, Josep ). What's it for? Two things. First, so other people know who's currently doing what, and second, to minimise conflicts because two translators are working on the same file at the same time. You say that wouldn't happen if you'd have a group and one coordinator to coordinate all translations of the group? For a small group that might be feasible, but if you have one coordinator and 70+ translators, things can get quite difficult to manage this way. Also, we would require the coordinator to be available at all time, we'd require the coordinator to make a decision, or we'd require 70 people to discuss about who's going to translate the file. Sometimes it is much easier if, given the translator can do a good translation of the file, whoever sees first that there is a file to be translated, that this translator just does the job. Sometimes, there can be too much talking about things, and it is, in fact, better to just do it. And there's nothing that says that that's not how the group wants to do things. Not all groups work in the same way. That might have an effect on consistency? If the group has already agreed on a certain terminology, and a person of that group simply does the job, without requiring too much talking about it, how? As said, different groups work differently, and I do not like the idea to build a system that is set to a certain way, I rather build a system that can accommodate a large range of behaviours of groups, or even of individuals. And yes, I am aware of the disadvantages of this system, but IMO, groups should form because groups want to form, and not because they have to form in order for the entire system to work, groups should form in the way they want to form, and not in one certain way, because that's the only way the system accommodates for it.

The first thing that struck me was the claim that there will be 70+ translators for any single language. Believe me, the largest language translation teams I know of aren't more than, say, a dozen to twenty people for any project.

I can only go by how many people sign up to be a translator for a certain language, and we have language groups with well above 70 translators.

And then that's still an exceptionally huge
team; almost all of them are much smaller, like one to five people. So
giving an example of "70+ people" doesn't really look like it's even
remotely connected to reality. It looks like the figure is intentionally
blown out of proportion.

Well, it's not, and it certainly shouldn't look that way. My apologies if it appeared as if I'd intentionally blow things out of proportion, I simply did a count.

Second, teams in practice usually annotate who is responsible for what
themselves, sometimes only with a simple spoken agreement, sometimes
with a list on a static web page, and sometimes even with more advanced
systems, similar to the current Fedora status pages. It usually depends
on the team's size and their structure what sort of method they want to
use and feel comfortable with.


Thus, there's really not an argument to be made that just because the
current Fedora status pages implement this, it's automatically superior
to what a team does for assignment (who's working on what) control, or

Christian, please, you know as well as I, that I never called any system to be superior to another, neither I made an argument for it, I simply said that there are different ways of doing things.

even that there is a benefit for larger teams, because larger teams
usually already have this in place. This is not new. The reason you got
requests for this is probably because you haven't had a team policy in
the past, so team agreement didn't always apply. That's fine, but don't
make it sound like evidence of team agreement not working.

Neither I said there is a benefit for larger teams, I simply said there could be, depending on how the team handles things. And yes, the reason for the requests might as well be because there wasn't a team policy in the past, however, even if, I cannot change the past, all I can do is to try and better things from how they are now.

Third, you make it sound like who's in charge of what usually changes
every day.

How? By introducing a Maintainer and stating that a maintainer should be a "permanent" entity?

In fact, it's usually quite a static thing. When a person
starts to translate a module, he usually keeps maintaining it, unless
some unforeseen issue arises. Of course people do sometimes exchange
modules, but that's almost always the exception. If you study teams
empirically you'll find that almost all translators keep maintaining the
same modules they've done previously. So requests for changing module
maintainership is usually a rare thing.

That's how it should be, and that's why I've said a Maintainer should be something "permanent". However, in our current reality, we do have to deal with more than one person working on one and the same module at the same time. Simply saying that it shouldn't be that way doesn't make it go away. Saying that it's because there aren't any teams and we shouldn't have done a, b, and c in the past, doesn't make it go away either. As said, I cannot change the past, all I can do is to try and better things from how they are now. All we did was adding visibility to what's going on, what was so wrong about that?

Fourth, you claim that all members of the team would fight for
translating a new module, thus making the life of the coordinator

No, I don't. I can kind of see how you could get there, given I've said: "or we'd require 70 people to discuss about who's going to translate the file", but with this, I did not intend to say that members of a team would actually fight for translations, neither I was making any kind of claim, I simply meant to illustrate the responsibility a coordinator has, and the difficulties s/he could, in addition, face in a large team. All that was part of me making the point that, even though we'd like to have coordinators for every team, we'd like such role to be entirely voluntary, and not mandatory in order for the entire system to work. That's all. Again, I didn't mean to say the coordinator model doesn't work, neither that our model is better, not even that we do not want to have coordinators, all I meant is that I do not wish to build a system that is dependent on a coordinator or a team of a certain structure being in place, but supports it iff that should be the case.

This is almost never the case. It's difficult to get
volunteers, and every volunteer can usually get all what they want in
terms of getting their hands dirty without stepping on someone else's

I'd say this depends on the language and the people involved in that particular language, in general, I'd tend to agree with you, though.

The problem is almost always the opposite -- to get volunteers to
work on a new module at all. Hence, the situation you describe with all
members of a team fighting for a particular module isn't the common case
at all.

Christian, in fact, I do agree with you that it is hard to get good people taking on certain responsibilities, and this isn't just limited to translations, but even more so to maintaining modules and coordinating a language, or would you now disagree? Do you believe it is hard to get people working on a module, but actually easy to find maintainers, or even coordinators? I actually do agree with you, that, in general, it is hard to find either, and that exactly is why I don't want to build a system that is dependent on it. Why would you build a system that is dependent on something that, apparently, is hard to find? Why not simply support it if a given structure is in place or forms naturally, and voluntarily? Maybe it is just my opinion, but if nobody wants to be the coordinator of an entire language, I don't think the language should have one, though I'd hope it would be the case. Maybe I am wrong, but that's simply how I see things.

Fifth, you make it sound like saying "I will be working on this
translation" in advance to the team would be as difficult as ending
world hunger or something like that.

And you're telling me I blow things out of proportion?

Trust me, it really isn't. Most
translators seem to be happy with and familiar enough to email
communication to be able to send short mails in their native tounge for
this to be a total non-issue. And, the assignments are almost always

We do have quite active mailing lists for some languages, and yes, with 70+ subscribers (just to stick with that number, I could easily blow it even more out of proportion), and I doubt communicating via email in large and active mailing lists is an ideal situation. Again, I don't say it can't be done this way, neither I say our way is superior, I simply say that I prefer our way for mere reasons of scalability. That may as well be a non-issue, but not one I'd like to count on.

non-controversial, so there is rarely the big discussions you try to
make a point of. Almost all this communication is a two-piece, really
short one: "I will translate XYZ" and the reply "OK, noted". Again, you
blow the issue out of proportion, and the argument doesn't seem to be
based on reality.

In my experience, it's a short email "I will translate abc", "I will translate bcd", no "Noted" then replies "is anyone translating def"? or "who is translating bgr", maybe "I have translated xrt", then "sorry, xrt is finished now", maybe "what is available?", "what can I translate?", and just scale that out a bit now, and make a good argument of why I should use email communication to manage who's doing what? You say this is not based on reality? Sorry, but this is the reality I am facing. Yes, true, assignment is most of the time non-controversial, and if you read what I wrote, you'll see that I never said otherwise. Given everyone knows what everyone else is doing, why translate what someone else is translating already? But, if I don't know, I don't know, and an email is easily missed too, especially if you get many. Of course, that is all blown out of proportion and not based on reality, right? Or is your reality the only reality and every other "reality" is just made up and blown out of proportion?

And last but not least, you fail to answer the question why you think
translation is different enough from other forms of contributions, like
software patches, where this anarchistic, no-prior-review-needed policy
is definately not used. If you believe a mandated review and cooperation
policy is bad for contributions, then why does every other form of
significant contribution to a project require this?

Well, naturally, the most important thing is that the system is stable and works properly, and not reviewing software patches couldn't ensure that. Of course, it is most important that the systems works, and be it only in english. Or would you rather have a swedish system that crashes regularly, than an english one that works properly? I am not the only one who would agree that the software working properly is more important than the translation being perfect, or do you really want to say that this isn't so in reality?

Now, I don't really believe a mandated review and cooperation policy is bad for contributions, I merely think that nobody should have to be a maintainer or coordinator for a language if nobody really wants to. I do think that review and coorporation is good, I simply don't think anyone should be made to do it.

Given all of this, it sounds like you're making up arguments out of thin
air to defend your policy, instead of arguments based on experience. I'm
sorry to say that, but nevertheless that is the impression I get.

Well, maybe you simply got the wrong impression, but I don't know why? :(
I've made it clear where we want to head to, but it seems like you're still more concerned with what we've done before. But as said, I cannot change the past. We haven't changed or introduced any new policy, we've simply added a layer of visibility to how things are. I still fail to see what was so incredibly bad about this step, and that is a question you haven't answered yet.

Granted, you're willing to change minor details in how the translation
system works according to feedback, but the most fundamental and
pressing issue that almost all experienced translators complain about is
the one you appearantly simply don't want to consider.

First, how can I know that almost all experienced translators complain? It was only a handful of people who said anything on this list. If people don't speak up on this list, what am I supposed to do? Secondly, what fundamental issue am I not willing to consider?

Instead you make up fictive arguments to defend your stance, unwilling to take note of
the massive complaints, or even the fact that one of the most wellknown
volunteer translator groups have recently left the project because of

First, it was the same handful of people who complained, and given the number of subscriptions, I can hardly call it massive. Secondly, I still don't know what stance you are talking about? What exactly is that stance of mine that is so massively criticised? All I did was adding a layer of visibility to our current system, and I still think it was an improvement to how things were. On a side note, the translator group you are referring to had their very own reasons for leaving. But, since we're at it, what am I supposed to do? Let's say, you, and you alone, take on all swedish modules. You do a good job, but now I have 11 translators signed up, of 2 I don't hear anything and the 8 others are complaining about you? Do you want me to just go, yes, he did all of the translations so far, and everyone else should just deal with it? What kind of policy is that? Yes, this is an exaggeration, simply to illustrate the problem of where to draw the line. Out of the arabic language group I had more people not in support of that group taking over maintainership than I had in favour. Tell me, what am I supposed to do? IMO, it is not up to me to make policy, the individuals of that language group should just come up with a solution by themselves, I cannot possibly be the judge, especially not given I don't speak the language.

[snip] Appearantly it doesn't, but you decide that the Fedora translation
project should continue full steam ahead with an anarchistic policy that
no other major translation project uses, unwilling to consider why this
is the case, and a policy for which no good defensive arguments based on
conditions in reality can be made.

What exactly are you talking about? Are you sure you didn't simply misunderstand the situation?

I would urge you to stop and reconsider before more teams lose their
faith in the reasonability of mankind, and decide to leave the sinking

Christian, I don't know what to say? I do listen to what the community is saying, and I do consider everything coming to my eyes or ears, the only problem I have is that I haven't got unlimited ressources. I don't know why you'd think otherwise, but as it seems, there is nothing I can do about it, and that's a shame.



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