Multilingual Blogging – what’s out there?

Well I figured I’d do some searching to see if anyone had “solved” this challenge, or at the very least come up with a good workaround.

Almost immediately (i.e. first hit on Google) I thought I’d stumbled on someone with the solution. Proclaimed as the “first multilingual blog” in a press release, I immediately thought “cool”. Unfortunately when you click through to www.multilingual-search.com what you encounter is a bunch of English posts with language options of…

Yeah, English. :(

Thinking I’d maybe just hit them in a bad streak of English only content I scrolled down a bit to see other posts. About halfway down I encountered a post that was tagged as being in both English and Bulgarian. The “holy grail” was right there! I clicked on the [Bul] and was promptly greeted with “Page not found”. I don’t speak any Bulgarian – but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the content I was looking for.

(Update: Andy from Multilingual Search let me know that the Bulgarian translation issue was a bug and it’s fixed now – which I’ve confirmed.)

I came across many other sites that were about globalization translation and multilingual blogging, but, like my site, they were all in English.

A glimmer of hope this morning – I just came across a plug-in called “Polyglot” for WordPress. It talks mostly about “localizing” your blog and seems to be quite focused on the wrapper (i.e. non-content text) of the blog. After navigating through a few more layers of blogs & other sites I encountered “Multilingual“, a plug-in for WordPress that allows you to post in multiple languages. The only limitation that I can gleam from the website is that it’s geared more for those who know two languages and want to blog in both – i.e.. do their own translation. (I’m going to drop these guys an e-mail and see if that is the case.)

I also encountered a few plug-ins for Machine Translation – but, yeah, not wanting to go there yet…

What I still haven’t found though is any sort of translation workflow solutions. Something that spits out your content to someone who’s willing to translate for you and then makes that translation available – I’ve got an idea on that, and depending on how the next 24 hours shape up I’ll try and get it on the blog tomorrow – otherwise I’ll crack it off this weekend and post Monday.

– Ryan

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  • indizoo

    Hi, Saw your post and took great interest in it. I have a multilingual web site http://www.indizoo.com that promotes independent musicians worldwide. We are new and the site is in Bet phase. I am wanting to put a multilingual forum on the site and have started investigating the how to. I would enjoy comparing notes and continuing a dialogue.
    You can email me through the site contact page.

  • Ryan

    Hey – thanks for stopping by – took a quick look at your site but I’ll be sure to give it a more detailed look in the next day or so and drop you a message.

    – Ryan

  • Andy Atkins-Krüger

    Ryan – thanks for your views. Multilingual Search was always intended to be a resource that brought non-English search engine news into English.

    However, we have today added a cool feature – RSS feeds by country and language.

    It won’t function properly until our team of bloggers have produced more in the way of non-English posts – but that’s where we’re going.

    This means – not now but later – web site owners will be able to plug in a news feed from us in Bulgarian, Russian, French of any other languages. It has to be said thought that we will always have more English on the site than local languages.

    And the Bulgarian thing was a bug which we have hopefully now fixed. :)

  • Ryan

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the clarifications about your site – glad to see the Bulgarian “issue” was just a bug, I’ll include a note in the original post to indicate that.

    My one bit of feedback message wise is I got the reverse impression of your site’s intention from everything I read about it. The bringing non-English search engine news to the English market doesn’t come across.

    Thanks for stopping by – it seems you guys are still in the midst of setting up and getting your site off the ground, I’ll defenitely be sure to check back periodically.

    – Ryan

  • ad

    hi ryan, today i stumbled upon crossbase, a web-based translation-workflow-thingy. you might want to check it out.

  • Ryan

    Thanks Ad – I’ll take a look.

  • Nick Wilsdon

    Hi Ryan,

    We built Multilingual Search actually (e3internet) and I’m also one of the editor for Russia. Good to see Andy, our Managing Editor here as well!
    I thought I’d just give you the technical run down as I think we came pretty close to completing your challenge.

    The MLS platform lets the editors post in any language they choose. Each extra language translation is added to the parent blog post. You can see some of my Russian posts by searching on the right (ru). RSS, as Andy wrote, can be selected by country and language. When you select a language you will only view those posts.

    The only part we didn’t work on was changing the interface to suit the language chosen. We did look at that but decided it would have got a little confusing for our users. That may be something we look at in the future. Key to our platform though was that the editors themselves could blog in whichever language they chose, we did not have any automatic translation running.

    Of course this then places more work on the editors to provide those translations! This is a unique aspect though of Multilingual Search and something we want to expand upon.

    Thanks for your interest in the project.

  • Ryan

    Hi Nick,

    Interesting to hear how you guys are doing it. Do all of your contributors translate their own content or are there a handful of you who share that duty?

    One of the challenges I see facing the blogging (and other user-distributed information models) is breaking free of the restrictions of their native tongue.

    For example English is essentially my only language. I can understand and read some french but Machine Translation would probably put out something more legible than I could.

    Does your model account for contributors like that or is the onus on the authors to self-translate?

  • Nick Wilsdon

    Hi Ryan

    Yes the emphasis is on self-translation by the authors. If you go to the Russian language you will notice quite a few I did. Authors can also choose to make a posting in their own language and not provide any English version at all (or as a translation). This hasn’t happened too much though.

    We didn’t want automatic translation as the quality is still quite poor. This is especially the case for non-European languages.

    I’ve got no doubt things will get there eventually but we’re not quite there yet. :)