Joomla is Multi-lingual but is it International
This is a question that I've pondered for a long time and this is about the fourth time I have sat down to write.
Joomla is rightly very proud of the number of languages that it is available in, there cannot be many Open source projects that offer the same range, almost 60 at the last count.
Yet joomla.org is exclusively in English.
Does this matter?
There are support forums available in most languages but for various reasons, some of them cultural, many of these take place away from joomla.org
This is neither a good or a bad thing. As long as there is a forum where people can support each other it really shouldn't matter if it takes place at http://forum.joomla.org or http://forum.joomla.fr.
The questions we should really be asking are
does the first time user know the correct web site to visit to find the most relevant information and support on joomla? Will they be able to easily find information about joomla in their native language.
If the first hit on google for "joomla" is to www.joomla.org and they only find information in English will they be able to find even basic "What is joomla" in their own language? Will they even realise that joomla is available in their own language?
It would be a mammoth task to translate, and keep up to date, the entirety of information available at joomla.org in all 60 supported languages and perhaps one that could not be achieved.
There are alternatives
As far as I am aware all the official joomla announcements are provided in advance to the translation teams.
Surely all of these could be, and should be, available on the only official joomla web site. Ideally of course there would also be links to the appropriate regional or lingual site, or sites, for further information and community support.
I recently came across another open source "publishing system for the Internet" called SPIP. If you visit their website (www.spip.net) the first thing you are asked is which language you require information in.
You can also quickly see if there is even more information available in a language that you might have some other knowledge in.
This is one approach, another would be to identify the site visitor by either their geoip or their default browser language.
This way site visitors, especially newcomers, would first be presented with information in their own language and can then be directed to the most appropriate places.
Joomla and OpenSourceMatters do not own every single country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for joomla.* it is not safe or desirable to just allow users to type www.joomla.ccTLD.
We have already seen unfortunate circumstances where the ccTLD has been taken by someone who wishes to use the domain for their own purposes and not to the general benefit of that community.
Surely now that Joomla is 4 years old it is time to revisit the "English only" nature of joomla.org
UPDATE after writing this blog post I went to www.joomla.org to find the correct link to the list of available translations. I even used the hidden search to locate the joomla version for the truly international language of Esperanto. I found it eventually can you?