Using MediaWiki’s interface in your own language

Today I fixed bug 13463. It is relevant to people who use MediaWiki with interface language that is different from the wiki’s default language. When person logs in to MediaWiki, the first page saying your login was successful was shown in the default language.

It has apparently been like this for years, so I wonder why it only recently came up. I remember fixing a similar issue when changing the interface language in preferences few years back. Maybe people are not using their native language as often as possible as interface language. It may be that they are multilingual and don’t care about what language the interface is.

Of course there is also real reason not to use custom interface language. Interface messages can be customised, and they often are. All these customisation are “lost” when another language is chosen. Is this a problem? Can we do something to it?

MediaWiki has a feature that some interface messages are always displayed in a content language. It is a good thing for important and often customised messages like the one containing copyright information. The bad thing is that this list is somewhat arbitrary and it is not always clear what belongs to the list. It is also possible to remove messages from this list using a configuration variable. Adding is not possible.

Now, what if we just added all customised messages to this list and force them to be shown in the content language? Users would always see customisations, but we would also lose a bit in the localisation support. This may be acceptable on some wikis, but on large multilingual wikis this is not optimal. We could go one step further and translate these customisation to other languages. But to do that we need a translation infrastructure. Special:Allmessages isn’t usable for that.

One solution could be to use Translate extension. It has all needed features to easily group and translate messages. As I see it it would require two steps:

  • Automatic or manual creation of messages groups of customised messages
  • Change MediaWiki to use different message loading order for these messages (skip the translations in message files)

Is this needed? Would it be just a nice toy or useful feature?

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