Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-translation (237 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-translation] openSUSE Weblate
Hi all,

second round of inline ranting...

On 13/10/15 17:49, Richard Brown wrote:
On 13 October 2015 at 09:50, jcsl <trcs@xxxxxxx> wrote:
From my point of view, the problem here is a communication problem. Things
developed "secretly" (à la TTIP) without first asking and discussing the
subject with the involved parts for the benefit of all. We are a community,
aren't we? So transparency and communication are fundamental pillars.

While I wholeheartedly agree that the communication about Weblate
could have been handled better, I think it's a stretch to go as far as
a comparison to TTIP

Come on, "communication about Weblate could have been handled better" is
pure BS. There has been no communication *AT ALL*, so everything is
better than nothing.

The reality is that we're a community of technical people, and the
psychology of technical people is sometimes a little hard to
understand, but when you do, this current situation makes a lot of

Translators are not required to be technical people, and their
psychology can be different.

In my previous life as a Systems Manager, I used to quote this
following article when i tried to explain some of the behaviours of my
Even though it talks about 'IT Pros', I find much of this logic
applies to the way the vast majority of our contributors think and
act, and therefore I think a lot of the information here is relevant
to the situation with Weblate

But for those who don't want to read the full thing, here's a few extracts

"Few people notice this, but for IT groups respect is the currency of
the realm. IT pros do not squander this currency"

"IT pros always and without fail, quietly self-organize around those
who make the work easier, while shunning those who make the work
harder, independent of the organizational chart."

"IT is a team sport, so being right or wrong impacts other members of
the group in non-trivial ways"

"If you are dismissive of complaints, fail to recognize an illogical
event or behave in deceptive ways, IT pros will likely stop
complaining to you. You might mistake this as a behavioural
improvement, when it's actually a show of disrespect. It means you are
no longer worth talking to, which leads to insubordination."

"Arbitrary or micro-management, illogical decisions, inconsistent
policies, the creation of unnecessary work and exclusionary practices
will elicit a quiet, subversive, almost vicious attitude from
otherwise excellent IT staff Interestingly, IT groups don't fall apart
in this mode. From the outside, nothing looks to be wrong and the work
still gets done.
But internally, the IT group, or portions of it, may cut themselves
off almost entirely from the intended management structure.
They may work on big projects or steer the group entirely from the
shadows while diverting the attention of supervisors to lesser topics.
They believe they are protecting the organization, as well as their
own credibility -- and they are often correct."

I think it is fair to say that for quite some time there has been a
growing perception that the translation team is resistant to change
and a blocker to progress.

Again, the fault is on translators only. What has the dev group done to
avoid this? No communication, no request for comments, no request for
the translators' opinion. But obviously it is translators' fault.

The only thing they did was: we develop something new that works for us,
then we tell the translators that they have to use it. Does this affect
their workflow? Does this make their work more difficult? Of course no,
because we, the developers, know that it works better, even if we know
very little about what happens on translator's side.

This happened around 2 years ago when weblate was first proposed: it was
announced with already a roadmap for having it in use in short time,
with the underlying message: translators, either use this or just leave.
Is it this a good approach for having new technologies adopted? Is it
this a good example of fair cooperation for the best of the project?

I do not want to solely blame all of this on Carlos, but as a very
vocal mailinglist and forum poster, there are countless examples of
posts from him with help reinforce that perception.

He is vocal, but for sure he is not alone. I agree with him on several
things, even if I don't express this by sending mails.

To cite an example, statements like "Factory can not be translated"
are the kind of illogical statement that is downright wrong, resists
the direction of travel the rest of the Project is already taking, and
is going to lower the respect of the person uttering it.

Don't you even consider to try to think that this may be a signal that
the overall behaviour of the project with respect to the translators'
work has some problem? No, because the project is correct, the
translators are wrong.

I wonder why you have not cited the conclusions of your beloved article:

"Finally, executives should have multiple in-points to the IT team. If
the IT team is singing out of tune, it is worth investigating the
reasons. But you'll never even know if that's the case if the only
information you receive is from the CIO. Periodically, bring a few key
IT brains to the boardroom to observe the problems of the organization
at large, even about things outside of the IT world, if only to make use
of their exquisitely refined BS detectors. A good IT pro is trained in
how to accomplish work; their skills are not necessarily limited to
computing. In fact, the best business decision-makers I know are IT
people who aren't even managers."


"As I said at the very beginning, it's all about respect. If you can
identify and cultivate those individuals and processes that earn genuine
respect from IT pros, you'll have a great IT team. Taking an honest
interest in helping your IT group help you is probably the smartest
business move an organization can make. It also makes for happy,
completely non-geek-like geeks."

where "translators" play the role of "IT pros".

Where is the respect for the translators? Or are only the translators
expected to have respect for the others?
There are lot of examples of the low level of respect for the
translators' work: not providing them the updated files to translate,
not using their translated files, make their work difficult by ignoring
the "localization best practices" [1,2], just because this simplifies
dev's work, play with their work so to have something to impose on them
without telling them it will happen, don't tell them when translations
are expected to be available, and so on and so forth.

It is also dismissive of those of us who feel Tumbleweed must be
translated, because it's a major output of the openSUSE Project.

Nice, you feel TW must be translated, but you never asked translators
what they think about translating TW, the problems they see in this and
what may be needed to have it. But obviously their opinion is useless,
it has been decided that TW has to be translated and, translators, you
have to do it in the way the devs and decision-makers decide. This has
been decided and so it must be.
The mantra "those who do, decide" works again in one direction.

The very mindset of 'us' vs 'them', the history of bikeshedding over
translations, and Weblate in particular, further feeds into that cycle
of reduced respect and from that insubordination.

I want to remember you that the majority of the oS translators are
volunteers, so there is no insubordination at all. This is another hint
of how much you value translators: either they do what others decided,
or there is insubordination.

It doesn't matter what the 'openSUSE organisation chart' says, whether
or not there is an 'official' translation team or not

There has been and remain to be a group of dedicated contributors who
believe Weblate is part of the fix for the solutions they perceive and
who have felt their only option is to work quietly on it due to the
resistance they have witnessed and directly faced.

So that after, once the solution is ready, it is imposed to the
translators. Either accept, or go away. Some contributors are more
contributors than others...

Now, at the earliest opportunity from their perspective, they are
trying to bring their work out into the open because they do believe
in concepts like openness and transparency, but up until this point,
while not ideal, I totally understand how they have acted, in their
shoes I could have seen myself doing the same.

No, "they are trying to bring their work out into the open" because
their work has had side effects that have been noticed and that have
puzzled the translators, that have seen their work disappear, then
re-appear, and then disappear again (while breaking the work of other
people), so the problem exploded.
I really wonder when and how they would have announced the change if
things would not have been noted, but I can not have such an answer.

In an ideal world, this route wouldn't have been taken. Mutual respect
for all involved would have been present, and it would have been
possible to work in an open and collaborative fashion from the get go.

Scenario: devs propose a new solution to translators that changes rather
deeply the established workflow of the translators, with the already
decided idea that the proposed solution is the one that will be used.
Translators react to this heavy change by complaining about the changes
in their workflow, the added difficulties, the lack of communication. It
is clear that this is only translators' fault.
Your ideal world: translators agree with everything devs propose. Devs
don't need input from translators because they know what it is the best
for devs (granted) and translators (not granted at all).
This is a very fair ideal world, isn't it?

I'd rather see progress being made via this route however than the
available alternative, which would mean preserving a translation
approach that everyone accepts was dysfunctional and from a very
practical perspective would mean Tumbleweed (and possibly also Leap)
would be insufficiently translated

And hopefully from this point we can all learn how to get along a
little better.. I can still hope :)

And I would still hope that devs and decision-makers show more respect
for volunteer translators, but the hope is really low :-(



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