Translating for the user … isn’t it?

I want to expose some problems that we, translators, PTEProject Translation Editor A Project Translation Editor (often referred to as PTE) is a person, who has access to validate strings on a specific project (for example BuddyPress, WooCommerce or Twenty Fourteen) for one specific locale. A project translation editor can approve strings that are added by translation contributors. Per project translation, editors are appointed by a general translation editor after a request by the project author or by the contributors themselves., and GTEGeneral Translation Editor A General Translation Editor (often referred to as GTE) is a person, who has global access to validate strings on all projects for a specific locale. have been suffering for some time, and that can no longer be silenced, they require solutions if we do not want there to be less and less volunteer work in something as important for the implementation of WordPress globally as translations…

Note: This text has to be with the Spanish translation problems, but possible these problems could be also happening with other teams (feel free to comment if it’s your case too 😉 )

1. The ‘new’ stringsString A string is a translatable part of the software. A translation consists of a multitude of localized strings.

For some time now, some developers and pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party agencies have been promoting the monetization of their plugins from The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization., which is fine, but what I find not so good is that, suddenly, a plugin that volunteers have translated (altruistically) to 100%, suddenly there are so many new strings in the plugin, almost all for sale, that lower the percentage needed to update the new translations.

Several things occur as a result:
1.1 If you translate any new stringString A string is a translatable part of the software. A translation consists of a multitude of localized strings. necessary for the user of the free version of the plugin does not get updated.
1.2 If you want that all the strings of the plugin that the user needs to know to use the free plugin correctly are translated, the volunteers have to translate at least 90% of the plugin, that is, translate for free strings whose only objective is to obtain income for the developer or agency, which does not seem fair game to me: someone is taking economic advantage of volunteer work.

Currently, this is totally permitted, but it provokes that some plugins (I could mention many but striking cases are, i.e., MonsterInsights or All in one SEO, to name some of the most used, in the top 20) that always were 100% translated but that actually, by decisions of monetization of those responsible, put so many new strings that, for months, volunteers (understandable) no longer translate them, not even strings that would help in the free part of the plugins, because they do not translate dozens or hundreds of strings for free, they put in so many new strings that for months now volunteers (understandably) no longer translate them, not even the strings that would help in the free part of the plugins, due to not translating for free dozens or hundreds of text strings whose only purpose are blocked screens for being premium, or CTAs that lead to the purchase of paid versions.

2. The ‘premium’ strings

Another similar concern is developers or agencies that include the strings of the premium version in the free plugin, to which the user does not have access because they are not visible or are blocked without a paid license.

There are also more and more of this, and it is especially shocking because they are clearly introducing parts of a plugin or version of it, which is not in, which is paid, to be translated by volunteers.

3. The ‘professional’ translations

It is also happening, in the case of those who try to do it better (agencies, etc.), that they hire “professional” translators who do not know the ecosystem, do not read the glossary, the style rules, or anything else of each localeLocale Locale = language version, often a combination of a language code and a region code, for instance es_MX denotes Spanish as it’s used in Mexico. A list of all locales supported by WordPress in they are going to translate, and first ask to be PTE or CLPTECross-locale Project Translation Editor A Cross-Locale Project Translation Editor is an account owned by a plugin or theme author (or the authoring organization), which uses professional translators to localize their product. The cross-locale project translation editor can import/validate strings on a specific project for more than one locale. This role has the same capabilities as a Project Translation Editor over multiple locales instead of one. Cross-Locale Project Translation Editors need to meet a set of criteria before being appointed by General Translation Editors., which, if approved, would pervert the consistency of translations throughout the entire ecosystem managed by the user. And, if the profile is not approved, they also end up generating excess work for PTEs and GTEs, for the same reason: not knowing about WP, not reading the glossaries, etc.

This generates two problems:

3.1 Not having (or wanting) contact with the local community of translators, they send again and again hundreds or thousands of (badly) translated strings that involve extra work to PTES and GTEs who take their VOLUNTARY and ALTRUISTIC work seriously and review the translations one by one, not opting for the solution of bulk rejection everything.
3.2 Not observing the local translator community’s directions and not contacting them, reading the glossary, etc., means a lot of valueless additional work for the volunteers, work that they could be devoting to other plugins or themes, to WordPress itself … or to their jobs and families.

To summarize

This has become a free hostel in which agencies have seen the huge potential of SEO and free implementation and are taking advantage of the volunteer community to make profits, and the result, in the end, is going to be that… users lose quality because there are increasingly fewer really free plugins and those that are free are fewer and fewer in their language (as mentioned above) or are not fully translated (for the same reason). volunteers lose motivation when they see that they are WORKING for free for others to make money, without any recognition or solutions to the problems they encounter in their usual volunteer work, while they see that there are “professional” translators who not only are not doing the job well for which they are paid by the agencies (many of the volunteers are professional translators, they know what a professional translation is) but also generate additional work for the volunteers, for which they receive no compensation.

This is growing a lot, fortunately, but with problems along the way that can make us lose what has made WordPress great: its community of volunteers.


We need to be diligent and respectful with the volunteers’ work. Just as if a plugin or theme is a security threat it is temporarily removed from the repositoryWordPress Localization Repository The WordPress Localization Repository at is a Subversion repository where official WordPress translations are maintained. See Working with the Translation Repository for details., it should also be possible to do the same in case of detecting this type of exploitative and disrespectful practices with the WordPress volunteer community.

If developers and agencies UNDERSTAND that they are obliged to count and respect the volunteer community, they will play by everyone’s rules, follow the glossaries, not oversell their plugins, or if they are allowed to, and pay for it, they will be obliged to comply with the translation rules of the local volunteer community, if they want to take advantage of that rocket ship for their benefit called

We must have clear and mandatory rules, and be firm, otherwise, there will always be people who take advantage of our complacency, people who don’t give a damn about the GPLGPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license This means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD license and the MIT License are widely used examples. (even if they use it by obligation), the community and free software, and make WordPress products just for the money.

Thank You, and sorry for the long text. These problems aren’t new, we’ve been suffering them for months and, at this point, for the community’s benefit, we need to solve them.

PS: Reading today’s post by @matt, I think that these problems could be related to what he states at the beginning of his copy: