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Before Rupert, h2g2 was open to all languages, although the prevailing language used to be English. After Rupert, with the BBC at the helm, h2g2 had to get used to new rules. On of those new rules was the restriction to 'English Language Only'. The reason was that the BBC wanted any content on their sites to be 'reasonably moderated'. Like it or don't, but that's the law, and most people didn't see any problem in that restriction, as their mother tongue was English, anyhow.

(Quoting from the Asterix Comics): It was in the days after Rupert, and all h2g2 spoke English... All h2g2?... No, a small band of people from exotic countries that no one had ever heard of (Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden,...) didn't cease demanding their will to continue with their respective languages.

Their cause was delegated to U24 who assumed the unappreciative task of instituting a new Volunteers scheme: The Translators or Translator Volunteers or short TransVols. It is their job to browse through foreign language Entries and to decide whether these Entries are ok with the House Rules or not. If in doubt, they translate the bit and send it to the inhouse team to leave the final decision up to their discretion.

What does that job demand?

Obviously, TransVols need a profound knowledge of the respective language, far beyond what is taught and learnt at school. In most cases that means that they have to be native speakers or at least truly bilingual. They have to be able to read between the lines, they have to know the House Rules, and it is very useful if their h2g2 presence is rather frequent.

Above all, they have to be trusted. Those who are in charge of h2g2 cannot speak all those languages, so they have to rely on what the TransVols tell them. On the other hand, if a TransVol deems something as ok that breaks the house rules, the inhouse team will be the first ones to be in trouble.

Can I volunteer?

Of course you can. But be prepared for some things:

  • The Translators' scheme is still being tested, and the language of choice is German so far. Any other language may be allowed sooner or later, provided that the testing will satisfy the needs of those in charge.
  • If you are rather new to h2g2, the Italics might prefer to keep an eye on you for a while before you are recruited officially. After all, you are supposed to be a member of the House Rules Enforcement Team (in some respect), and in a worst case scenario YOUR faults might get THEM in trouble.
  • For quite a while nothing at all might happen. Most h2g2 users speak and write quite decent English1, so the TransVols' job isn't really crucial for the Guide. It might become more important as soon as the foreign language restrictions are eased somehow.

What else are the TransVols going to do?

They are open for all foreign language related problems. If you have a little bit of text that you want to have translated, call them. If you want some 'cultural advice' for their country, call them. If you just want to check out your knowledge of a foreign language, call them. As they are trusted to keep an eye on the House Rules, it might be ok to take part in a foreign language conversation as long as one of the TransVols is present there. Please keep in mind that this is not an official House Rule, it's just an idea how things might work.

Jeremy FS JBB

21.02.02. Front Page

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1Even the native speakers (some friendly pun intended)

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