Discussions in many languages, organized by tags

We aim to implement a multilingual Wikimedia Space where people are free to open topics in whatever language they choose, and filter and follow topics based on language.

Different forums do this differently. Some use an “other languages” category that lumps in topics not initiated in the primary language of the forum. Others rely on site-wide language tags. Many admins choose to set up separate forums for different languages.

Given the wide range of languages within the Wikimedia movement, and the fact that volunteers should be able to easily interact with others in any language, it seems the best system for us would be to use language tags with some customization. Posters would be able to tag their post with the relevant language so as to keep topics searchable by language.

This feature might be developed in future phases, based on whatever system we agree to be the most comprehensive and straightforward.

If you are interested in helping to build the multilingual element of this forum, have a look at the ideas outlined below.


The goal is to offer a discussion space that speakers of any language (and language combinations) can feel as theirs, as opposed to an English forum with a multilingual corner or a forum split in many languages becoming effectively many separate forums.

Language tags

For this, the main building block would be a tag specific to languages. This tag would be required for all topics, and it would default to English. Topics in non-English languages would be tagged accordingly.

Languages displayed

By default, Wikimedia Space would display topics in all languages. If needed, admins could select just one language, a combination of languages, keep all languages…

Through a language bar that pulls from the tag titles, users could see the topics available in a specific language.

Language user preferences

Through browser detection, language chosen by the user during registration, user preferences, and other means to be determined, the system would decide which language(s) are displayed to a user.

Again, the default would be English and admins could define other combinations. The user could always go to their user preferences and set the language(s) they want to see / ignore. It would be of further use if the users could set the default language of posting, to save them from selecting a language tag each time.

Localization of categories and tags

Tags, categories and their descriptions could be localized.

Search filter

Users could search in all languages or filter for their languages defined in their profiles.

Progressive implementation

Not all these features would be deployed at once, and maybe not all these features need to be in just one plugin. It would be preferred to test and build incrementally, and start with a minimum viable product that our multilingual community could start testing.

Does this approach sound like the right one? Are there other ideas for how we could more effectively build the multilingual element of this discussion space?

(A version of this proposal has been submitted to the Discourse community for evaluation.)


Less than 48h after the launch, we already have 2 posts and 2 comments in languages that are not English. Time to start planning for language tags! To identify topics in non-English since the very beginning, we can apply plain tags for now. Then, we should start the discussion at the Discourse forum about how these language tags should be implemented.

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Our contracted Discourse developer has responded to our initial proposal on how to best implement these features. He has outlined a list of items that would accomplish these goals.

To summarize:

  • A “Require tag from a tag group” site or category setting
  • A tag navigation component that displays tags from a specific group
  • A setting to allow a user to manually set their locale in the signup form
  • A ‘locale switcher’ for guests
  • Localisation of tags, category names and category descriptions
  • Add a tag-group-specific tag filter to the advanced search page

We are planning to move forward with this suggested list, and will be posting updates as features are implemented.

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There’s more discussion in https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T226721.