Polyglots outreach effort retrospective

Inspired by the Community team’s Meetup reactivation project, in November 2022, I proposed starting a Polyglots outreach effort. The goal was to understand better the challenges and ways to support 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 https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/teams/ teams. 

The outreach effort mainly focused on teams that have previously had a WordPress CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. package release but are currently behind by more than one version. A few locale teams with a high number of waiting stringsString A string is a translatable part of the software. A translation consists of a multitude of localized strings. were contacted as well.

Over half of the localesLocale 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 https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/teams/ responded with feedback about current challenges and future goals. Most responded via a short survey to gather feedback, with a few others responding via private messages or comments on the related post. While most people who responded were GTEs, a few translation contributors also reached out, which helped see a diversity of perspectives.

Relevant stats

All the progress related to this project can be found on the related Trello board

I tracked the total number of GTEs and WordPress releases as a potential metric to see if the outreach project was successful. In hindsight, these weren’t the most accurate metrics to track since the real goal of the effort was to engage various locale teams, which I think we did.

Of the locales contacted, 57% responded to share insight on their locale team. Two have added new GTEs and another added a new editor to the Core WordPress project. While there is always more outreach that can be done, we received more responses than I expected from various perspectives, thanks to the GTEs and translators who took time out of their day to reply to this effort. 


The feedback received included some common items, which I’ve grouped into four themes.

  1. More contributors needed
  2. Challenges with the software
  3. Team challenges
  4. Personal challenges

Almost every locale team that responded said they would benefit from additional translators. Additionally, resources or ways to facilitate new translator contributions—e.g., additional training material or guides—would help make new contributors more effective, more quickly. 

Feedback related to challenges with the software included things like: 

  • too many fuzzy strings
  • strings that are too long
  • root languages overtaking variants 

The first two items may relate to better education and best practices around internationalizationInternationalization Internationalization (sometimes shortened to I18N , meaning “I - eighteen letters -N”) is the process of planning and implementing products and services so that they can easily be adapted to specific local languages and cultures, a process called localization. This is the process of making software translatable. Information about Internationalization for developers can be found in the Developer’s handbooks.. For the final item, this might tie in nicely with the preferred languages plugin

For one of the locale teams I spoke with, finding new contributors was difficult. When people realized that only WordPress Core was available in their local language, they often switched to the root language for more accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility) to plugins, themes, and other related projects.

Team challenges were related to feedback around things like: 

  • inactive GTEs
  • training new contributors
  • not having enough time
  • not having clear leadership or prioritization within the team 

Locale teams with inactive GTEs were one of the biggest challenges. In some of these cases, there are GTEs who are relatively inactive but prevent other contributors from becoming GTEs. This makes the whole locale team inactive since there is effectively no one able to review translations, and it’s discouraging to see. 

On the other hand, it takes time for GTEs to train new contributors, and exploring ways to work more efficiently with more trained people would help to spread this workload.

Finally, personal challenges were related to individual issues, such as finding more time or more motivation. This may be a good opportunity to explore what people “get” from contributing to Polyglots—particularly beyond the role of translator—since maintaining a locale takes a lot of effort, particularly when roles and responsibilities may not be clearly defined.

What’s next

Based on some of these findings, I would like to propose a few ideas for the Polyglots teamPolyglots Team Polyglots Team is a group of multilingual translators who work on translating plugins, themes, documentation, and front-facing marketing copy. https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/teams/. to explore. Specifically, I’m eager to look at ways to: 

  • improve the onboarding process for new translators
  • explore new ways to recruit new translators
  • clarify roles and expectations for current contributors

These can help us to facilitate new contributions while also ensuring the current roles available within Polyglots fit most locale team’s needs and see if there’s an opportunity to explore more ways of getting involved. 

I would love to hear your feedback on this project and the feedback that came from it! 

  1. Are these findings reflective of your locale team as well? 
  2. Have you been able to overcome any of these challenges successfully? 

If so, please share in the comments – this is an excellent opportunity for each team to learn from one another.

I’d also like to add a very big thank you to the following contributors who helped with this outreach effort over the past few months: @aion11 @devinmaeztri @leogopal @lidialab @kharisblank @nao @robinwpdeveloper @samahnasr @tobifjellner 🎉

Thank you to @mysweetcate and @nao for reviewing this post.