So we’ve got a bit of an issue with setting up new language categories. On one hand, we want to be able to set up new ones to allow non-English speakers to use the platform. On the other, as we see from current non-English language categories, setting up new language categories does not mean that they’ll get frequently used and we want to avoid having “ghost” categories that are set up but rarely used. I.e., it’s a question of whether a new language category is worth setting up—will it be used?
So, how can we gauge whether a language category, once setup, will be used? Any ideas?
To start with I was wondering if perhaps setting up a poll that’s active for 2–4 weeks could perhaps give us some idea? The period that the poll is active for can be used by the prospective language category moderators to:
spread the word (community blog post, other announcements on regional mailing lists etc.)
encourage users of the specific language to join the forum
encourage them to indicate in the poll that they will be happy to use + help keep the language category going.
This is not fool proof—folks polling does not mean they’ll stick around in the long run, but it’ll give us some idea of whether there are enough users to merit a new language category.
The idea would be that a certain number of votes from the community would be required for us to say “OK, there are enough community folks and users who will use this language category, so it’s worth setting up”. So it’s like doing a cost-benefit analysis to see if the language category is needed/worth the resources.
We could try measuring usage (with like a factor consisting of number of active users, number of new posts per month, number of new users per year, …) and then define limits from which on we think it’s worth running a separate language category. Give it one year to flourish and if it doesn’t, we’ll shut it down again
I think in general we should invite ppl. with different languages just to ask in their language. The only thing they need to do is to agree with the coc. I guess they do when they make an account.
So we have a feedback what is used most, without having all the work to set it up. If we make every year an investigation of all the requests, we are able to see what is going on in general about foreign languages.
We even can translate the requests to English if they make sense and note for example also the origin language in the Title. So we have also a feedback and can compare the poll with what we have in the Topics.
Yeh, that’s sort of the idea. The issue is—how do we get people to use the forum in their non-English languages to get an idea of usage?
We haven’t discussed closing down any categories yet—that’s not part of our SOP. Is this something to consider too?
I understand this, but in a volunteer community there’s no telling how long a contributor base will remain active. I guess what we can do is say we’ll review the category in a year, and if it hasn’t been active enough, we’ll close it down and inform the community with similar announcements? Otherwise a category once created will never be disabled in our current workflow?
This is a good idea but there are risks—for example, what if someone asks their question in a language that currently does not have any active community members to look at? In that case, their question will go unanswered for a while (or until someone takes the trouble to translate it using a web service to answer, but using translate services doesn’t always work too well). The idea is to sort of say “there are community members who speak languages A, B, C, D, so you can use these, otherwise please default to English”