Help:Beginner's guide to translating

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Translation is the foundation of Wikiguage, ensuring a fun way of engaging native languages of users, and in the process producing the best quality translated texts in our library.

The process involves two "namespaces" and a special piece of software. Both together, these two namespaces (Index and Page) are sometimes called the "workspace". This is where the translating, editing and other "back room" processes are done.

The process is based on page scans of a physical book, usually in the form of a DjVu file. This is used to make an Index page, which is a page in the "Index" namespace with the same name as the DjVu file. Each individual page in the book is a separate page in the "Page" namespace. The Index page will link to the pages and each page needs to be translated into the targeted language.

The following guide will explain how to translate a page.

How to translate a page[edit]

Note: To get an idea about how this process works, it is a good idea to try a few pages of the current Ongoing translations.

Translating is based around the Index page and all of the connected Page-namespace pages.

  1. If you click on any of the numbers on an Index page, you will see an image of that page side-by-side with a text field. The text field may be blank or it might have been automatically filled with the text of that page.
    • If it is blank: start reading and attempt to translate from the English text you see in the image into the text field.
    • If it is not blank, and the text is not in the target language, but in English: select and delete the English text in the text field, start attempting to translate a sentence, or more, from the text in the image.
  2. Preview your work, set the status to "Proofread"(which is yellow) ONLY when all the text in the image has been translated by you or another user, then save.
    • If you have not finished translating the page but you want to save it, set the status to "Not proofread" (which is red).
  3. Repeat the last two steps for every page in the scan.

The side by side layout[edit]

Screenshot from the Page namespace, showing the text field side-by-side with the scanned page image.
(Fig 1) Side-by-side layout in Page namespace

When you view a page in the Page namespace, the screen will be split into two sections (fig 1). This is the default side-by-side layout that allows users to translate the text on Wikiguage (left section) against the scanned text (right section). When you click Show Preview on a page in the Page namespace, the screen will then have three sections. The text edit window and the scanned text section remain as they are, with the previewed text showing in an area above the other two sections.


To translate a page, you should write your translation (please, have fun doing so! No one is going to mark you down, they can only edit your translation) of the text in the left section from your reading of the scan in the right section.

You do not have to worry about translating it right the first time: you probably do not. The idea is to get used to reading and writing at least a sentence in your native language, on a daily basis. If you consider the number of English language sentences you read and write daily, it's not too much to ask. But, by all means, try to get as close as possible. We just might achieve a close enough translation!

Some things work in books but do not work on Wikiguage. For example, columns of text are not necessary and do not work well on Wikiguage; they should be ignored during translating. Remember that several pages will be added together in the main namespace when translation is finished. Things like columns will not be readable.

Page status[edit]

Screenshot from the Page namespace, showing the page status radio buttons along with surrounding feratures such as the summary field, the save button and the preview button.
(Fig 2) Page status buttons

When you save the page, you should also set the page status. You should see a row of color-coded radio buttons just above the save button (fig 2). If you have just started a page with no (or not many) changes, then select the red button (for "Not proofread"). If you have completely translated the page from the image file, entirely by you or building on the work of others, and corrected every error you can find, then select the yellow button (for "Proofread").

Some pages will have been translated already by other people. You can check these and upgrade the page status. Look through the page for any remaining errors or things that need to be changed. If there are no errors, or you have fixed everything that needs to be fixed, increase the page status by one level. "Not proofread" (red) pages become "Proofread" (yellow), which become "Validated" (green). Validated pages are finished and should not need any more editing (this is not the case in practice, though). Blank pages (gray) and Problematic pages (blue) are special cases.

Blank pages[edit]

Blank pages can be left blank and set to the "No text" (gray) page status. These pages will be ignored when pages are added to the main namespace.

This includes book covers, unless illustrated. This does not include pages with an illustration, which should be translated as normal. If the illustration is unavailable at present, see Problematic pages.

Problematic pages[edit]

If you have a problem while translating a page and cannot finish it, you can set the page status to "Problematic" (blue). This will alert other people that a problem exists, which they may be able to solve.

Common problems include pages with illustrations (if no image file is available), pages with equations, pages with foreign text (especially text that does not use the Roman alphabet) and pages with special formatting. In some of these cases, special templates exist to identify the problem. These are useful to anyone else looking at the page and they can attract the attention of people able to fix the problem.


Do include[edit]

  • Text formatting, such as bold or italics: using '''bold''' or ''italics''.
  • Different text sizes.
  • Special typography, such as:
    • Dropped or raised initials
    • Capitalisation.
    • Horizontal lines
    • Section breaks (rows of asterisks: * * * * * )

Do not include[edit]

  • Any marks or additions—including handwriting, library stamps, stains, scratches, watermarks, dirt, etc.—that are not part of the original book.
  • Columns are not necessary. The text columns should just continue from the previous column on the page.


  • Line breaks. Webpages will normally ignore single linebreaks, so text broken into different lines (common with scanned text) will be seen normally by a reader. Line breaks can cause problems (especially with templates, links and tables, and italics/bold which are closed by the line ending) but removing them is a matter for the individual Wikiguage user.
For example
Original "Hello," said the example. This is
an example of a broken line.
Corrected "Hello," said the example. This is an example of a broken line.
  • Pages that are not part of the work itself, such as adverts, do not need to be translated or included in the main version. On the other hand, if a Wikiguage user wants to translate and include these pages, that is allowed.
  • Advanced typography. Creating a page that looks like the original is nice. However, the text itself is more important. Some typography can be difficult to produce. Some can cause problems with the website.

The OCR texts[edit]

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the function used by computers to read text. This is often saved within DjVu files and is extracted by the computer when a new page is started in proofreading. However, since we are not proofreading, but translating on Wikiguage, these extracted texts are to be deleted to make room for the translation work. This is the first thing a Wikiguage user should do when creating a page in the Page namespace for the corresponding Index page for the first time.

Other common things to correct[edit]

  • Paragraph breaks. A blank line should be left between paragraphs, as standard for electronic and internet formatting.
  • Spaces before punctuation should be removed (when the mistake is not deliberate by the author)
For example
Original foo bar ; lorem ipsum
Corrected foo bar; lorem ipsum
The space before the semicolon has been removed.


There are some templates that can be necessary when translating a page. Such will be created as we grow and they become necessary.

This page is based on similar page on Wikisource