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3.1 How to Form a New Team

Establishing a new team is not hard, but a certain procedure ought to be followed. The most important thing to realize is that this is somewhat a long-term engagement that requires a lot of spare time, communication and technical skills, and devotion. The only “bonus” team leaders have is more work and more responsibilities.

You should read all the documentation related to the translation process and at the very least all important philosophy-related articles listed on the Translation Priorities page before you decide to form a new team, or take over an orphaned team. Once you have the internal feeling that having a translation team for your language is a must, and you are the one for this job, follow these steps:

  1. If you do not have a Savannah account, register at Write access to the repository and project membership is handled via Savannah, so you would need an account in any case.
  2. Checkout a complete working copy of the CVS Web repository as described at If you still don’t have a Savannah account or if you have registered one, but are not yet member of any Savannah project, refer to the instructions under “Anonymous CVS Access”. If you are already a member of (any) Savannah project, you can proceed with “Project Member CVS Access via SSH”, although you will still lack permission to commit (later, when it is granted, you can use the same working copy).

    Examine the layout and structure of the repository. Basically, it is mapped to the URL locations, more or less. Take a look at the most important materials to translate under /philosophy, /gnu, /distros, /education and /licenses directories just to get a rough estimate about the amount of work involved2. If you are still not scared and determined to go on further, excellent.

    As you have probably observed, every directory that contains translatable articles has a /po sub-directory, which is where the canonical source format of the translations is stored.

  3. Submit your first message stating that you would like to establish a new team to; please mention that you have read all the documentation and list the issues that remain unclear for you. The Translation Managers will answer your questions and send you the standard questionnaire for new team leaders. It is short and shouldn’t take more than 10–30 minutes to complete. This questionnaire is important, as we consider it crucial for any translation team co-ordinator to have a good understanding of the philosophy of the free software movement.
  4. Check if your language code is present in the variable TEMPLATE_LINGUAS in the file server/gnun/ If it is not, the first thing to do is to translate and submit to the following files (all in the server/po/ directory):

    See New Translation in The GNUnited Nations Manual.

  5. Any prospective team leader should submit a few translations first. This is a process of pointing errors and omissions (which are expected and natural); it’s an important thing to do as the leader is going to carry out these checks on her own, once the team is approved. If there are existing translations that are not yet in PO format, the best thing to do is to migrate one or two. You can use find to find out what’s already in the repository, for example:
    find -name \*.lang.html
  6. Submit at least two translations of your own. We maintain a list with priority articles on the Translation Priorities page, although it is probably hard to start with one of them. Choose whatever you wish, provided it is an essay and not an auxiliary page. Avoid translating the homepage or planetfeeds.html—they are moving targets and keeping up would be only a distraction for both parties in the process. As usual, send the completed translation to
  7. The Translation Managers will review your translations, and eventually comment on them (mostly technical details if there is no one among them speaking your language). Depending on the case, it might be required to submit a corrected file. In any event, please take into account the remarks in future work.
  8. If all goes well, you will receive a response inviting you to apply for a new translation project at Savannah. The project name should be ‘www-lang’ where lang is, unsurprisingly, the language code. If such a project already exists, this step will be skipped and you’ll be made an administrator of the project and its mailing lists. To register the project, go to and make sure you fill in the required fields. The “Group type” should be ‘ translation team’, and “Project license”—‘WebSite Only’. In the “Tarball URL” field enter a bogus URL such as ‘’.

    Pay attention: This step is a formality. You should proceed with the project registration only when you have been asked by to do so. Otherwise, the submission may appear in the task list of the Savannah Hackers for a fairly long time, which is troublesome.

  9. When the project is approved, the team information will be added to the list at README.translations.html, you will become a member of the ‘www’ project (thus granting you CVS write access to the whole repository—so be careful) and the ‘trans-coord’ project. You’ll also be subscribed to the following mailing lists:
  10. When you are appointed the admin of the new project, please edit its configuration; in particular, write its description, create a mailing list (don’t forget to subscribe yourself!), optionally add a home page using Web CVS repository.

    If you are taking over an orphaned team, the Translation Managers will make you the owner of its mailing lists (if any).

The whole process should not take more than two weeks or maximum a month—if this period turns out to be longer, it is an indication that you do not have the required time and resources for this job, or web-translators are badly lagging behind and do not process the requests with the expected pace.

Applications for new teams are sometimes processed in parallel3—the most suitable candidate is chosen in this case. This is, undoubtedly, based on a subjective judgment made by the Translation Managers, and many factors are important.

The procedure for taking over an orphaned team is the same. Once completed, you will be made an admin of the respective ‘www-lang’ Savannah project, or if it doesn’t exist, invited to apply for registration. Do not automatically remove old members just because you are starting “afresh”—some of them might want to continue to contribute. Contact them privately, explaining that you’re the new appointed team co-ordinator, and ask them if they would be willing to continue their involvement in the team.



As of December 2013, there are over 250 files to translate in “important” directories; their volume is about 4 MB.


In general, we try to avoid this and direct all new volunteers to the person who is already carrying out the process—this is also a verification if she can co-operate easily with others.

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