Linguists Wanted


One of the things we're taught to aim for here at Hack Reactor is to start contributing to open source projects as soon as possible and as much as we can. However, for many of us early in our software dev career that can be quite the challenge - we're new(ish) to coding and therefore it can be pretty intimidating to try and offer ourselves as contributors.

Smaller contributions

A way around this is to start small - try contributing to automated tests, documentation, read-me or website help, and get your name out there and your foot in the door.

These are all awesome, but there's another way you may be able to contribute if you've happen to be in the camp that has some extra language skills.

Speaking in tongues

Turns out, it isn't just folks in the bay area that benefit from open source (duh). If you're either a native speaker or accomplished learner at any language other than English*, this can be a huge benefit to many projects and developers out there.

Projects of all sizes can benefit from your translations and localizations today, and you can start getting some commits under your belt straight off the bat.

*or any alternative to the native language of the developer

A few categories of things that need translation:
  1. Documentation
  2. Help pages, Github files, and "getting started" guides
  3. User interface elements - titles, buttons, menu text, etc.
    and more...

All repositories that enjoy at least a bit of popularity can benefit form all of these things, and there's a great many out there to choose from.

A simple example

I recently crossed this bridge myself when I recently contributed to Peter Cottle's most excellent resource Learn Git Branching.

This site was a great help to us in learning to use git and github when ramping up for Hack Reactor, and is probably the most fun you could possibly have learning this material.

However, when I originally went through the course, I ran into this dialog quite often as my client machines are always in Japanese:

Needs translation

In some cases, this even prevented me from reading the lesson content, as this dialog text would often replaece the actual descriptions in the prompts.

I saw it as a perfect opportunity to lend a hand, and I've begun by translating the main menus and lesson names that were not yet translated into Japanese, and will be working my way through the lessons one by one when I have time.

translating strings

Peter has done me the great honor of accepting my commits, and I've now been able to both contribute to a project I've gotten some great value out of, and also to boost my commits and start getting some open source experience under my belt.

The world needs YOU

In summary - if you've got some extra linguistic skills to lend, go ahead and get them out there - it's a great way to get started even while you're learning to code.

It may technically be just adding and editing strings, but it can go a long way towards other developers worldwide.

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