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On the topic of an "english only" general chat


heegemcgee
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On a practical level, i understand the concern that if everyone is speaking random languages in general, no one is actually communicating.

My chief concern is that i have personally witnessed some rudeness from other players telling their peers that they cannot speak other languages in General Chat. Staff have been silent in this because, i presume, they lack the tools to moderate non-native languages easily. I have seen multiple admins complain about how non-english moderation detracts from their enjoyment of server participation. This does not engender a community spirit or encourage new players.

If nerd is an international charity (how the last fundraiser was communicated, along with current player base and network access statistics), then we should be welcoming players of all languages. Players and staff alike should be patient with English as Second Language speakers, and not be so quick to coldly tell them to take it to DM. Before the Mr. Epic video, new players RARELY joined nerd.nu, and were even more reluctant to stay. This is a challenging community to enter and thrive in. If our goal is to a) raise money to keep the server online and b) raise money for a charity, we should be working WITH our community's interest.

What i would have preferred to see this evening is a friendly guidance of the german speakers to find each other, reminding them that this is an *international community* and English is the *current* lingua franca. I am glad we have backed away from banning people for simply speaking their native languages in chat. I think we need to take another step forward towards embracing a neighborhood that supports a variety of languages. The current lack of leadership (and response to community engagement in the previous thread) is not sustainable in the long term and is observably harming the server.

1) Tech admins could investigate a moderator chat feed that includes automatic translation of non-english chat via API call to one of the many cloud translation services. This should allow the admins to more easily moderate chat.
2) In-game player preferences to help different language communities find each other. If we're going to tell players to join a special language clan-chat, we better have that chat already created and populated with some people, otherwise we're just leaving them hanging.

I wrote those two points BEFORE reading this post from 2014 - Please follow up on the FABULOUS suggestions mentioned here and here. Yes, i know the linked plugins are likely dead - however, we should be pursuing replacements, not running from them.

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For idea #1, it is worth noting this is not free. All translation services that are used at scale and have an API cost money, and we would need to send ALL chat to them, just to determine if it needs translation in the first place.

Since the "cost" argument is mostly quantifiable though, I went and did a quick analysis of chat since the start of the rev (October 7) plus the last 7 days, to make up one month. Over that month, there were about 3.5 million characters that would need translating. Google has a monthly 500k char free tier, so we would need to pay for 3 million characters, which is $60 a month. Bing translate (Azure) has a 2 million free tier, and is $10 per million after that, so would be $15 a month. These prices aren't totally off the charts.

Having said that, I think the user base that would actually benefit from this would outweigh the cost. Secondly, this could open us up to an expensive DDOS, which is more risk that I think we should take on. Thirdly, translation is not always that great, particularly for slang and other ever-evolving cultural phenomenon.

There are additional arguments to be made here besides the cost, in regards to the practicalities (why should only mods get this feed? It would double chat for staff anyways, or alternatively we could replace the chat with the English, but then that introduces chat lag for everyone, even those writing English.) But I will leave those arguments for others to make.

I think the bottom line probably is that - if we want moderation in genchat, we can only allow chat in languages that the moderation body understands, which is only English. We do not have such requirements in clanchat, given that these channels are explicitly opt-in, and so we can allow any language there.

I think #2 is a completely workable solution with basically no downsides, however, and would support "official" creation of language channels for popular languages, which are advertised somehow and available for anyone to join. Moderation would be on an adhoc, by-request basis, as it is with any other clanchat or private messages today.

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we would need to send ALL chat to them, just to determine if it needs translation in the first place

Not quite. The first pass is the check for english or a language detection check, all messages would have to go through that. Translation, as a heavier call, can be done subsequently.

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this could open us up to an expensive DDOS

I have other thoughts to share but i just want to say that rate limiting can be implemented on the Nerd plugin side, as well as cloud billing controls to prevent this.

Edited by heegemcgee
clarifitcation
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Translation and language detection are the same price, and count towards the same quota. Further, the network latency, even if the server's processing is instantaneous (which is close enough for our purposes, for both translation and detection) is by far the larger issue.

Rate limits could be put in place, sure, so once we hit a monthly budget we turn the function off, but then we have to say "sorry, no more german in genchat for the rest of the month" or "no more swedish for the rest of the day" which is.. not sustainable.

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Also, just to entertain this argument further, I just chunked several lines of short (english) genchat in google translate, with detect language on, and it's bonkers how much english slang it detects as some language or another, so I just think that this isn't workable, cost aside. Here's some examples:

Genchat: "*bongidy*" - Malagasy "block"
Genchat: "yey" - Somali "wolf"
Genchat: "nais" - Filipino "want"

My favorite when it does detect English, but it autocorrects some stuff (this might be different behavior in the API, dunno):
Genchat: "but they wont frop" - English "but they wont drop"

So, the only workable way to do this then is to always print out both the original and translated, if we end up detecting non-english, which would just make actual non-English in genchat even more obnoxious.

Anyways, there's just lots of problems here with solution #1, and none that I can think of with solution #2, so I would rather focus on that, try that out, and then go from there. 

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looking back on the thread from 2014, i notice there is strong and clear opposition to the prospect of forcing usage of general chat to only be english:

image.thumb.png.6f9fcbef0157ff2b28fe6adbcdbaca0f.pngimage.thumb.png.46502f5111fadf5e202bae60c2c5dc82.pngthimage.thumb.png.3535b6aaac220b611e0b10625198d369.png

this led to no change of rules on nerd.nu/rules and there has never been an official rule change since, yet even within mod and admin training it has now become part of the list of things to limit, mute, and even ban for, due to the fact there is no rule for it, disrupting general chat usually being the reasoning, which is very concerning as it has placed label of disruptive on any languages other than english on an international server, although sidelined making it an official rule, which would make it clear that we are no longer an international server space. on the topic of our rules when you limit speakers of other languages or at times only language native to their country it can come off bigoted and thats enforced by the enfocrment of english only in general chat, even if unintentional and due to easement of moderation tasks it still has the effect of either silencing or segregating speech of other nations, again which makes me question our international server status, and it also draws my attention to this rule: 

image.png.19ea0b23a2c24b0c93e093e534b06ab2.png

the reasoning we have this rule is fairly clear due to what we have always been about, an equality based and concerned server that is tolerant and welcoming of all players including but not limited to listed above in our rules, when it comes to the express concerned that people may be using other languages to use a rule break within the rule above, we have always been able to find out if thats happening and act on it, which was an example given by a staff member to myself as to why both arguments have weight, however as being nerd.nu we should always put equality first, to be tolerant, and welcoming to players of non english speaking backgrounds.

image.png

Edited by shanty_sniper
double paste & spelling error
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Anyways, there's just lots of problems here with solution #1, and none that I can think of with solution #2, so I would rather focus on that, try that out, and then go from there. 

OK yeah i'm with you there, lets work on solutions. It really does put a hamper on the vibe in chat when some of our community leaders are big sad about foreign words.

The thing i want to clarify though is 1) the effort to moderate non-english chat would be minimal and so 2) there's no need to enforce this as a rule, or even have it as a rule. As previously mentioned, there is an /ignore command, and non-english speakers will eventually realize that they are self-isolating by not speaking in a way that others can understand in gen chat. There is no need, for example, for someone to be told "they ought to know better than to speak other than english in general". THat's not friendly behavior and will ultimately limit our ability to raise funds for the server and for charity. I would further argue that the small cost to make certain admins feel better about moderating international chat is worth it if it enables additional income long-term.

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On a practical level, it is honestly a very rare occurrence where people start holding full conversations in another language (especially more than 2 players at a time). Most of the time, it's a quick greeting, a sentence or two, and then they either swap to English when they see people talking, or things just kind of taper off. That's why, for the longest time, we never had an official written policy about languages at all; we'd just encourage people to switch to English if their conversation was filling the chat. And by "we", I mean the players in general that happened to be online at the time, staff or not.

Somehow, as the years went on and different admins came and went, and trained different mod teams, we ended up with each member of staff understanding things slightly differently. People should not be (and as of our most recent staff meeting 2 days ago, will not be) yelled at by staff for what amounts to a few lines of introductions/greetings. Foreign languages are not disruptive. Spam is disruptive. Sending angry PMs in other languages for the sole purpose of harassment is disruptive. Starting riots in chat is disruptive. But nobody has ever been, nor will anyone ever be, banned for simply speaking another language.

That being said, we are a community whose rules/website/genchat/Discord are primarily in English. While many of our players do speak a second language, there's no other language that we all have in common. We do welcome players from all over the world, but we also encourage players to take longer conversations to either a clanchat, or /msg.

 

As Cailin has already mentioned, translating everything is not exactly tech feasible, but it is easy enough to set up clanchats for other languages. That's something I can crank out after work tonight. Hit me up with any additions you'd want to make to this list; I've just written the ones I've personally seen people speak here. (note: diacritics like ñ are removed for ease of typing in-game; native speakers please correct me on this if it's easier for you guys than using an alt code every time. It's why I haven't put Japanese, Russian, Cantonese, etc on the list yet, because they use completely different alphabets)

Deutsch

Espanol

Francais

Gaelige

Italiano

Norsk

Portugues

Svenska

Suomi

 

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We do welcome players from all over the world, but we also encourage players to take longer conversations to either a clanchat, or /msg.

As long as that is encouraging and friendly, i see no problem here. This is great, tonewise. However, i have seen some really anti-social behavior from some users in this domain, and utter silence from the admins, even at my request for correction. Let me be clear: I want you to pursue technical solutions *for you* so that admins aren't contributing to the negative vibe around other languages. I know i've got a target on my back for being aligned with Shanty on this issue, but lets be clear, i saw this happen on multiple occasions that have nothing to do with shanty.

You should feel good about **enabling international users to find each other**. Take it from someone who has worked in computer security: enforcement breeds resentment. If you are anything less than helpful to multi-lingual or non-english speakers, you're shooting yourselves in the foot. Until you ban all the teenagers from Germany, they deserve all the respect that point one talks about on this page.

 

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At the risk of beating a dead horse here, i want to push back against this notion:

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So, the only workable way to do this then is to always print out both the original and translated, if we end up detecting non-english, which would just make actual non-English in genchat even more obnoxious.

Firstly, I am suggesting that the moderated feed only be used by admins when they feel overwhelmed. Users have access to the requested /ignore command. Although i am sensitive to your argument - it would certainly help if Mojang had some built-in utilities in this area. However, we all know what to expect from Mojang.

Personally, i think if admins aren't focused on customer service, that's a larger concern about staffing.

Secondly, i am an avid participant in the Twitch community, particularly in the Music and Makers communities. There are two streams that come to mind as a contrafactual to your idea that multilingual general is "obnoxious":

1. GoldeNose is a polish DJ who plays a wide variety of house and trance music. You will notice immediately that he is controlling his DJ station with his nose, because of the disability detailed in his bio. I personally find his relentless tenacity to make music inspiring, and the tunes go great with programming since he doesn't talk during his stream. The chat stream is multi-lingual. I can talk to the streamer in english, but others may converse in polish, and with eachother in any language that suits. This causes no complaints or problems.

2. RyotaMaekawa is a japanese modular synthesizer player. He largely speaks japanese, but all messages are translated by api robot so that japanese text is presented in english, and our english chat is presented to the streamer in japanese, exactly as proposed. It does double the chat, but it means a lot to the community to have the interaction because we are small and niche.

In the spirit of conversation and curiosity, may i ask you directly why the presence of non-english in chat is worth the description of obnoxious? You did say "even more" obnoxious after all.

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Perhaps "obnoxious" is too strong a word. But if non-english genchat is not intelligible for 90% of the players, I think it's fair to tell folks (nicely) to move that to a specific clanchat that was designed specifically for that purpose, and to keep it out of genchat as a general rule. We welcome international players, but we still require that players at minimum be able to read English, as that's what the server rules, etc, are written in, and if there is a problem, what language they will be communicated with by staff, so I think it's also fair to keep genchat English only, while still being respectful of people's native language by providing built-in avenues for them to use that language primarily. I work for an international company in Norway, and I'm required to use English, not Norwegian, and while I am not a native Norwegian, as far as I'm aware, none of the Norwegians feel slighted by the fact that anyone in a meeting can ask that the meeting be conducted in English. This isn't a slight against Norwegian, it's a pragmatic acknowledgement that the least common denominator language spoken by people in the company is English. Same principal applies here.

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I think it's fair to tell folks (nicely) to move

okay and hear me out here, what if we just don't? What if we just greet people and talk to them in the language that we understand?  If there are 30 users online, and 5 of them want to speak German in genchat, 2 want to speak Ukrainian, and 3 want to speak Spanish, that really shouldn't be a problem. Let them give base tours, comment on builds, grieve, etc. If the German speakers really want to get their hands on some spare sugarcane, they'll know to ask in English. CONNECTING them with each other via a clanchat (that will provide a list of users that are offline right now) is a good thing. SEGREGATING languages is a bad thing.

Most of the rules that exist on this server are thoughtfully created to reduce player friction and enhance the gameplay experience. What exactly is enhanced by enforcing english in genchat? From my observation, it's a bad rule that breeds resentment, and anything other than a full rejection is, as I said earlier, a hindrance to paying the bills and/or raising money for charity. This experience, being chided about the subtle rule that's not a rule, is something that will happen EARLY in a players stay on nerd.nu, and gracefully navigating it will be key to retaining the player.

In the US, we're familiar with stories of prejudice and discrimination based on visible "race", but in other parts of the world, speaking the wrong language in public can have serious negative consequences: It could mean being passed over for promotion, or it might attract attention from law enforcement. We can sidestep that entire issue by relying on the tried-and-true reliability of our existing rules around being actually disruptive, spammy, threatening/hateful, sexual, etc. I will concede that we also need to remind users not to use their language to intentionally exclude others: Clanchats, DMs, and mail do exist to facilitate private communication.

Here's what i'm asking the staff to do: Please no more shaming, or pleas for staff sympathy about foreign languages. Let's treat all users like guests in our neighborhood. The reactions that you have publicly are contagious - you are leaders in our community after all. We need to see you building bridges out there, not telling people to love it or leave it. MANY community voices have been raised against the idea of an official English designation for genchat. The last post from Fazaden is still in concurrence.

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Foreign languages are not disruptive

 

 

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