User-Configurable UI Language/Locale


(Ted Strauss) #1

I would like to host a Discourse site for a bilingual context (en/fr) where users
give their prefered language during registration. Both languages will get mixed
together in the forum.
Is this doable?


Make a multi-language forum
Best practice to managing a multi-language community?
Allow different locale to be set for front-end and back-end, also personally for users and admins/staff
What if: Organising a multilingual site by tags
(Jeff Atwood) #2

No, this is not supported, and not on the roadmap at this time.

I suggest installing two instances and using URLs to distinguish one from the other.


(Ted Strauss) #3

The idea is to allow multilingual users to interact on the same discourse, and users decide which language the interface is in. Separating the content into different instances would defeat the purpose.
No problem if it’s not supported.


(J Phani Mahesh) #4

Yay for a user-selectable language setting. We can then have L33t speak, LOLCATS, and a lot of fun stuff.

Use the same facebook, same urls, with different user interface languages. Why not discourse?

@codinghorror, can you please add this to your list of topics to be looked at? At the very end with a lowest priority, doesn’t matter.

On a sidenote, do you have a trello board or something to organize the ideas? Would be great if you made one and made it public. May be meta.discourse bug/feature category serves the same purpose, but there is also a lot of conversation here, by design.


(Nabiki) #5

I like the idea of being able to mix languages with each member being able to choose their interface language.

C’est bon pour practicer la francais!
日本語もください!


(Ted Strauss) #6

Living in Quebec / Canada it’s more than just a nice-to-have feature.
It’s the difference between alienating a sizable portion of your target audience, and whatever the opposite of alienation is.

Not to mention it’s a regulatory requirement when it comes to websites for any sizeable organization, company, or government.


(Sam Saffron) #7

Nothing is stopping you from responding in French on an English site.

Displaying a French UI for French visitors and an English UI for English visitors has a mountain of issues and is not something that is on our immediate roadmap.

Besides the technical challenge there is the sociological issue. Even WikiPedia does not give you a trivial way to mix interfaces eg: Wikipedia – Die freie Enzyklopädie , how would you make that interface English and to what end?


(Ted Strauss) #8

Having implemented that kind of switch on Wordpress and Drupal sites, I’m trying to imagine this mountain you are refering to. It just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to toggle the locale file. Could you give a few examples?

The sociological issues are certainly worth talking about. But in my case, it really is the difference between a group of finicky people accepting a forum or not.

I’m considering writing a bilingual locales file that would put the UI in both languages “Reply to / Repondre a [topic]”.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #9

I think this is a really valuable feature, but the majority of forums will not need it, simple as that.

How does Drupal handle this? All I know is WordPress doesn’t support this out-of-the-box either, instead it relies on the de-facto translations plugin WPML, which offers translation features far and wide beyond what could ever be considered reasonable for the WP core.

Don’t you think a plugin might be the more reasonable route here as well? If there’s enough people interested, maybe you could pool some money together and hire a freelancer.


(Ted Strauss) #10

I would like to retract my comment that it should not be hard to implement this multilingual feature. It was a dumb thing to say. I have installed and superficially hacked on Drupal & WP localization plugins to make multilingual sites, but I have no idea how hard it would be to write one from scratch.

Great idea!


(John_Lee) #11

I’m not sure exactly how its done but you dont need a plugin with wp if your theme has .po .mo files which you can edit into any language


(Nate Finch) #12

Let me throw in my +1 for multilingual sites. Every year it’s a more and more international world. Assuming everyone that wants to use the same site speaks the same language is folly. Even if all the content is in one language, giving non-native speakers a native interface will help them use your site and feel more at home. And that’s not to mention the fact that many sites already have language specific sub-forums. Splitting communities based on language is not a good way to foster community.


(Jeff Atwood) #13

It totally is, though, because we can only understand and communicate with people who speak the same language as us.

Unless we’re communicating only non-verbally, with glyphs and pictures and videos, somehow…


(Ted Strauss) #14

You have made this point before, so I think it’s important to raise a counter-argument, since it goes to the core of ‘civilized discourse’.

There are many civilized multilingual communities. I live in one called Montreal. For two hundred years people from two linguistic cultures have lived together here. They fought a war, one side lost, there has been all kinds of strife, and yet we still live together and have a pretty awesome society and economy.

Misunderstandings and miscommunications are common but the goals of the wider community outweigh by far the difficulties of communicating. Technology like this forum can help overcome those challenges, making it easier for linguistically mixed communities to figure stuff out.

Faced with a similar use case, Facebook has a translation feature. For the user, it’s a simple and powerful way to cross language barriers. And it recognizes that people want to communicate with people who speak other languages.

Some communities are naturally multilingual. For those communities a multilingual forum is an important feature, so it is an open and valid problem. If this forum isn’t catering to those groups, fine, but please don’t say that the need isn’t there or it isn’t legitimate.


Inline translation of posts into another language
(Joop Kiefte) #15

Mind this is not about the written contents, but just about the ux. The contents on a Canadian site can easily be mixed English/French, but not to be able to switch the ux to your language indicates a level of ignorance… (No, not everybody speaks English!)


(Joop Kiefte) #16

English as a monolingual society is more an exception than a rule. And a lot of people on English-language sites are there not knowing English well, so having the ux in English is a dealbreaker for participation. This is a very important feature!

I have moderated a community that I can imagine using Discourse, the common language being toki pona. I wrote most meta-messages toki pona/english/esperanto, and sometimes french and spanish as well. You cannot expect that e.g. beginners just put up with a complete toki pona or english-only interface on such a forum!


(Nate Finch) #17

That assumes that we all only speak a single language. Many people speak more than one, though usually one much better than the other. It shows respect to non-English speakers to give them the option to see your site with the UX in their native tongue… even if most of the discussions on the site are still in English. It’s more welcoming, and less alienating to people with English as a second language. (using English as shorthand for “site’s main language”)


What languages do you speak, and how well?
(J Phani Mahesh) #19

Thanks for making me google toki pona.


(Dave McClure) #20

thanks for making me google toki pona.


(om_1984) #21

The forums we want to deploy have an English section for common discussions, and Polish, German, Russian sections for discussions in the respective languages.

The transition between the forum sections should be seamless for the user, and likely the Polish users would want to see their UI in Polish, the Germans in German, and so forth - even if they will all write English in the English-language section.

It seems that currently Discourse doesn’t support this (not that uncommon) deployment scenario.