Michael Tremer

The death of localized documentation
by Michael Tremer, March 9, 2015

Since a couple of years now, we have been trying to encourage more and more people to contribute to our wiki. Today has come the day where we remove all translations of the IPFire documentation because of the following reasons:

The wiki is extremely outdated

Some pages do not reflect the current state of the software any more. They talk about software that does not exist any more or has received several major updates. The world changes and documentation must adopt to it. I consider it as harmful if people do not configure their systems right just because the documentation is too old. People also run into bugs over and over again and discuss those on the forums. There would be no need for that if the documentation was up to date.

The wiki is incomplete

Huge parts and important parts like the documentation of the new firewall GUI have never been translated. I get from that there must be basically no need to have a documentation in several languages. You guys must be perfectly fine with the English one. Most of the other new features that have been added to IPFire in the last couple of years have never been translated either. So what is the point in having an incomplete translation?

I understand that those two versions will never be totally identical, but missing out important features is not an option in the long-term. People tend to search only in their first language and not head over to the English version or use the search function.

“No one” really cares

There have been many people contributing to our wiki for a long time. I greatly appreciate your work. You know who you are. In the end, this was not enough. The wiki is huge. IPFire is huge. Documenting every feature is not done on a Saturday afternoon. This takes a much longer time. It also requires people with various expertise and people viewing things from different points of view. Those were not always there and those were certainly not all there for each language.

I find it sad to see this happening. So many people are using IPFire every day but there is too little giving back.

The discussion has been held

This is a very huge step and we are sure that this is not something that all of you will love. You can be sure though that we tried to avoid this happening for years. I announced that I was considering removing all translations on the documentation mailing list where hundreds of people are subscribed to. I got response from only three people. I cannot help thinking that if this is everyone who cares that we cannot do this any more.

So I am sick of talking about “we need to have a German wiki”. I think that we should have this, too. But we do not need an inaccurate, outdated and broken one. It is not said that this will never come back, but I need to be seriously convinced that there are enough people who would like to do the job – in the long-term.


Posted: March 9, 2015 • 1338 views