AB/2014-2015 Priorities/multilingual W3C

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The limits of your language means the limits of your world. However only one language as English is workable for W3C works such as f2f discussion, email discussion, documentation and even minutes officially. That situation makes non-English natives hesitant for W3C participation and sometimes not fully productive within the W3C.

The new project as the best practice for multilingual W3C has been formed during the last AB meeting in November TPAC and chartered to work on the brainstorming and researching ways of wider collaboration in W3C from non-English native speakers than before, and come up with the solutions.

Basics of the project

  • The project does not intend non-English speakers to learn any languages and level up their communications skill. It is clearly out of scope of the project.
  • The project aims to look into the current W3C multilingual issues and come up with the best practice for multilingual participation and discussions in W3C from non-English speakers.

Suggestions (based on members discussion)

  • Non-English participation
    • Call for question/comment to multilingual participants and collect their requirements prior to the meeting (in particular AC/TPAC) and post them on the meeting website to be shared with all participants. Anyone can answer them freely on the website or in the meeting in person.
    • Detail descriptions on all agenda items to be clearly understood to multilingual participants prior to the meeting (in particular AC/TPAC). Don't say like "HTML5 what is next ?". This could be a local meeting or call and could include IRC advice and "some tricks for offline communication like corridor conversation and bar talk" (Angel's comment).
  • Translation method
    • no preference at this stage.
  • Technical
    • First step is to have a Simple-English summary of any important topics after the meeting. For instance, policy discussions, process changes and specific decisions. That should take place less than one week from the meeting end.
  • Application
  • Communication barrier between multi-culture background
    • Several breakout sessions for each multilingual participants coordinated with W3C teams where major language is not English, and each breakout session can have its own preferred language. To recognize these sessions, we are tagging the mark to these sessions on the agenda page or dashboard in meeting place. For instance, A Session (Korean), B Session (Japanese), C Session (Chinese), and so on.
  • General
    • Set up an anonymous question page (Members only) where AC reps can post questions they may be embarrassed to ask in person (e.g. What is WHATWG? What are the main points in the @@@ discussion?). Answers or clarification could be sent either to the w3c-ac-forum list or a new w3c-answers list.
    • Extend the buddy program beyond AC/TPAC meetings only so that new AC reps have someone specific to ask for help during their first year. (Originally suggested by Ann I believe.)
    • See also the minutes from the "Better Participation" breakout session at TPAC 2013 (Shenzhen).


  • [~'14.4Q] Researching and surveying on the current practices and experiences in the international communities.
  • [~'14.4Q] Gathering the comments and suggestions from W3C members regarding the current limitations and obstacles.
  • [~'15.1Q] Analyzing and brainstorming on the collected suggestions, limitations and ideas to come up with the preferable approaches to multilingual participations. In conjunction with AB meeting on February, 2015.
  • [~'15.2Q] Summarizing the AB suggestions to AC and having their feedbacks for further evaluations. In conjunction with AC meeting on May, 2015.
  • [~'15.4Q] Evaluating the suggested practices and expanding the research and survey continuously.

May 2015 AC Meeting #ac-questions IRC experiment

Ahead of the May 2015 AC Meeting we announced "May 2015 Advisory Committee Meeting materials available; Meeting facilitation" to the attendees.

The goal of the experiment was to facilitate participation from our international audience: Non-native English speakers joined #ac-questions on IRC [2], where questions could be typed in languages other than English, and multilingual volunteers from the AB, Offices and Team would translate them in real-time.

In practice, the group naturally chose to feed back to this channel multilingual translations of the presentations.

Evaluation of May 2015 AC Meeting experiment

Yosuke wrote a preliminary report in the wake of the meeting.

Yosuke created charts from the IRC logs (day 2, day 2):

Volunteer translators comments?

  • The voluntieer concentrated on translating questions, with skipping answers. This is because 1) questions create contexts or setting for succeeding discussions, 2) this helps them think of their own questions, and 3) translating and inputting both questions and answers were not easy.
  • Keeping consistency with the live minutes on #ac seemed critical, but sometimes it made the multilingual service slow or delayed.

Audience Comments?

  • For non English speakers, brief summaries in their native languages on what’s going on the stage and from the floor in English are quite helpful.
  • For English speakers, this channel has increased the awareness of the fact that W3C is a global organisation and made them feel more connected to non English speakers.
  • Non English speakers to be able to speak up their opinions, they need to build better understanding on the flow and context of discussions in the AC meeting. The multilingual channel helped deepen their understanding, however, they needs to spend some more time there before they start writing questions even in their languages on the multilingual channel.
  • The annotation for each question was very useful to understand its history and background.

Suggested improvements?

  • We need some help to understand more for each question in English. Sometime we can not understand the behind locked door. Especially the case of slang and idiomatic phrases.

Task Force members

  • Soohong Daniel Park [Lead]
  • Jay Kishigami [Lead]
  • Natasha Rooney (I live in Japan and have to deal with the late conference calls, also, I can relay any issues being expressed to me from the native Japanese speakers who may have little English ability)
  • Daniel Davis (I also live in Japan - same comment/offer as Natasha)
  • Kerry Taylor (I live in Australia and I want time zone and hemisphere and distance to be addressed too! And I think the task force should be called "global W3C")
  • Ann Bassetti (I live in Seattle. I have long been interested in, concerned about, and fascinated by how to better enable communications across language, culture, time zones, etc.)
  • Angel Li (Interesting self-introduction pattern :-) I live in Beijing, not a native English speaker. Also have to deal with late night calls, interpret/translate the information from W3C to local community in an easier way, and try to set up or sometimes work as the bridge between W3C community and the local members. Not easy. This TF seems to be a good place to work on this puzzle. Happy to be on board.)