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Unlike in programming where English is the undisputed Lingua Franca - the whole working vocabulary of the profession is English - many of the new Stack Exchange sites will be harder to use for non-native English speakers because of a lot of domain specific vocabulary.

To remedy this, introducing an illustrated, multi-language glossary for each SE site would help a lot. Many sites have started this on their own already - see discussion here - but I think this needs a more organized approach.

Here's a suggestion. alt text alt text

1. Defining terms for the glossary

For each term needing definition, create a question on the site. Title it "Glossary:" and add the term in question. The question gets the glossary tag. That tag becomes a moderator/administrator tag like status-* on Meta. alt text

alt text

2. User input

Let users answer the glossary question following two defined formats:

For translations:

  • Language/locale (xx-YY, e.g. en-US, en-GB, fr-FR)
  • Translation
  • Wikipedia link

one translation per answer.

For images:

  • The word "Image" in the first line
  • Uploaded image
  • Copyright status (an issue in itself)

alt text

3. Output

Fetch the highest-voted translations for each glossary term and language, and the highest-voted image for each, and auto-generate a nice-looking, illustrated glossary. (Or rather, dictionary?)

Something roughly along the lines of:

alt text

(It would have to be cleaned somewhat and restructured to suit longer words, more languages, missing translations and so on.) The user's browser language version would always be highlighted in yellow. alt text alt text

4. Linking to glossary terms in questions

If glossary terms are used in a question or one of its answers, let the space to the right, below the "Related" section, show a linked list of glossary terms.

The list items will simply link to each glossary question:

Terms used on this page:

  • Mincing
  • Sautéed
  • Angelica

if the user's browser language is set to a non-english language, show the translation for that language automatically (in this example, German):

Terms used on this page:

  • Mincing (Hacken)
  • Sautéed (Garen)
  • Angelica (Brustwurz)

that way, quick access to translations is guaranteed, but with a minimum of obtrusiveness and user preference settings.

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share|improve this question
    
This kinda seems like busywork, given how well Google works for this sort of thing most of the time. But it would be cool... –  Shog9 Oct 12 '10 at 22:58
5  
@Shog don't underestimate the effort of looking up 3-4 words while reading through a question. I felt totally lost on the bicycling site for this reason... –  Pëkka Oct 12 '10 at 23:27
1  
Won't most of these terms have tags and so be defined in tag wikis? –  Gelatin Oct 13 '10 at 1:35
    
@Simon not always. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/62296/… –  Pëkka Oct 13 '10 at 9:08
    
It sounds like a lot of effort, but given how much work is going into glossary "questions" on various sites (community wiki, for the most part) it seems like a useful extension. As it is new users have to realise there is a glossary then find it and manually look stuff up every time. If it can be auto-magic'd somehow that would be very handy. Note that many times it's a term rather than a single word "Schrader valve" or "chain tool", where picking one or both words by themselves is not as useful. That bit will be fun to code :) –  Ӎσᶎ Jun 10 at 4:08
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