Saturday, April 30, 2011

Who wants to help?

On Monday this week we’ve seen a pretty strong wave of new visitors from Spain, via We’ve never had that many (7100+) visits in one day and it made me feel like it’s time for Tatoeba to get a better organization and more people involved. Like, really.

Allan (aka. sysko) and myself (aka. Trang) have been saying for too long that we don’t have time. With our respective busy lives and with the growing community, we cannot take care anymore of many small or not so small requests made by users. But we’re not the only ones who can make this project more awesome, you can too!

What can you do?

I’m listing below the various “departments” of Tatoeba, with a general description. I will be posting more specific tasks whenever needed, but the general descriptions should give you an idea of all the things you can do if you enjoy this project and feel like being a bigger part of it.

This is what everybody works on when they join Tatoeba: adding, translating and correcting sentences. Generally speaking, we’ve got the “sentences” part going on pretty well. We would just need more moderators (ideally, at least one moderator for each language).
However the corpus is not just about sentences. It is also about links, tags and audio. And for these, we don’t have a very good system yet, but to improve that, we’d need people to help in development...

This is about programming. There’s a huuuuge amount of work to do here. We have plenty of ideas to code but also a lot of maintenance to do... So we’re going to need more people in the dev team.
Sysko started working on the next version of Tatoeba (in C++) and we’ll have to wait patiently until he’s ready to bring more people in. In the meantime, I am maintaining and improving whatever I can in the current version (in PHP).
If you’re interested in joining us, you’ll be mostly helping me with the current version, but I really hope you’ll stick around long enough to be part of the new version as well.

This is about writing articles (or making videos) that explain what the project is about, how it works, what are the policies, what are the procedures if you want to do whatever you want to do, etc. Basically, the documentation is the place where people can go to search (and hopefully find) answers to questions they ask themselves about the project.
Documentation is extremely important. Without it, it’s difficult to get more people involved and quite unfortunately, we have way too little documentation.

This is about taking care of the social aspect of Tatoeba, and maintaining a good karma around the project. It’s about making people feel welcomed, helping them understand better the project, encouraging and thanking them for their good work, getting them to calm down if they get involved in conflicts, contact those who would be good trusted users candidates, and more.

This is about translating the interface, documentation and news.
The news is currently not translated at all and only parts of the documentation have been translated into a handful of languages. We'd really like to improve on this front to make the project accessible to as many as possible.
We're doing better on the interface, which has been translated into many languages through Launchpad. Still, the translations are not all perfect and ideally we would like each language to have one person overseeing it to ensure the overall quality.

I’m talking about graphical design here. This is about making Tatoeba prettier. The interface, the icons, the illustrations, the videos, the goodies... We need designers to... well, design these things. Great design is not vital, but I personally think it makes people happier. It’s much more pleasant to contribute on a platform with a nice interface, it’s much more pleasant to read or watch a tutorial if it’s illustrated with nice graphics.

This is about making sure that Tatoeba works as it should work, especially when we implement new features. Testing is not going to be super urgent until we have a bigger dev team though.

Technical support
This is about helping people who can’t get things to work properly. When users ask for help on the Wall, the whole community can help. But we also sometimes receive emails asking for technical support, and it would be nice to have a person (other than sysko or myself) who can dedicate time answering to these emails.

This is about about informing the community of things they may be interested to know. For instance writing a release note whenever we’re introducing new features, publishing statistics, announcing new policies or important decisions.

This is about organizing special activities on Tatoeba. For instance we organize a Tatoeba day every month (or almost... we had none in April though because I was way too busy this month). We’ve also tried organizing a contest (for the banners), and it would be nice to organize some more.
Events can bring fun into the project, but finding ideas, planning them out and motivating people to participate is quite some work.

Interested in helping out?

If you are interested in helping us, then here’s what to do:
  1. Send us an email:
  2. Use the following title: I want to help ([category], [category], ...). Ex: I want to help (documentation, tests, news).
  3. Tell us a little about yourself in your email and what kind of tasks you feel ready to take on.
  4. We will contact you back and assign you more specific tasks and give you any information you may beed to know.
  5. Update your profile accordingly (and regularly) to let the rest of the community know what you’re working on.

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