Improving language and socio-economic diversity


I assume that there is a lack of socio-economic and language diversity in Free Software projects. I’m under the impression that most contributors of a software project share the same socio-economic background and the same language. The projects I contribute to use English most of the time. A a survey from 2017 contains questions regarding the socio-economic background but the data was not summarized.

  1. What is the highest level of formal education that you have completed?
  2. What is the highest level of formal education that either of your parents completed?
  3. How old were you when you first had regular access to a computer with an internet connection?
  4. Where did you first have regular access to a computer with internet connection?

I suspect it would show that most people are educated and grew up with educated parents and had access to computers early in their life.

This is all speculations on my part and maybe observing the facts will show I’m mistaken. But if I’m not, I wonder if it would be a good idea to translate the fedeproxy textual content to another language and vice versa and therefore encourage participation from people who are not comfortable using English. The idea is derived from early conversations with @misc and @pilou as well as trying to figure out the contribution pattern of a project hosted on both GitHub and Gitee.


(This is admittedly old and anecdotal experience). I had a Spanish girlfriend in the past, and while learning Spanish it struck how their was a vast parallel world in the ‘Spanish hemisphere’ with very few touchpoints to the English speaking world. Own news, own TV content, own culture. At the time Spanish was the 2nd most used native language after Chinese.

These days I have the impression there are quite a few Chinese projects on Github, with all issue content and code comments in Chinese. It is a big barrier to participate.

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This is also my observation working with Spanish Free Software developers and activists over the past 20 years. I suppose it is one of the reason why there are so many excellent translations from English to Spanish: I’m under the impression that it is the most actively translated language.

And which is growing it seems. I explored it a little more yesterday and I think it would make sense to add it to fedeproxy at some point.

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Today I spent 90 minutes discussing how to engage with Chinese developers using Gitea with a friend who speaks Chinese. I must confess that it was not productive, primarily because I have no clue how to approach this. My friend was very patient with me, there is that :blush:

In terms of China, there is also the great firewall which makes it difficult to access repos on Github. This is why you’ll find on Gitee (and many mirrors of repos from github. This is interesting, as in contrast to the US sanctions that prevent certain countries from access github/gitlab, this is the reverse where it is a country that prevents access to a remote property.

@dachary If you are interested in more discussions, Gitea’s founder is from CN, as well as we have many maintainers/contributors from there as well, and I can connect you with some.

@pilou we could try to find someone to simultaneous translate French/English for the next videoconference for fedeproxy updates (October 14th). One of us could speak French are exclusively rely on the simultaneous translation for communicating with other people in the meeting speaking in English.

I remember FOSDEM did this with volunteers some years ago but it’s a vague memory. It could be a great way to break the language barrier.

This is a good idea but non french native speakers participated to only two meetings (June and September).
Because we have been only two french native speakers - most of these meetings - I would not plan to do that. I would first wait that at least another not french native speaker plans to participate or later that someone points out a misunderstanding.

Alternately, I would invite someone who doesn’t speak french not english - maybe someone from the Gitea community or the ActivityPub community? The meeting should bring up something which is a matter of interest to the guest.

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This is an excellent idea :+1:

The purpose wasn’t clear to me. If the goal is to validate that simultaneous translation is a good experience, having an English speaking guest will be good enough.

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