Verbatim is probably one of the least known and at the same time one of the biggest L10n tools at Mozilla. If you see localized text on one of the mozilla.org sites or Mozilla campaigns, chances are it was localized with Verbatim. Hundreds of localizers are registered for the various sites and languages that are managed by Verbatim.
Registration was always open at Verbatim, but to commit any localized text, you had to file a bug, print out the committers agreement, sign it and send it back by fax or traditional mail. That’s quite a barrier, if all you want is just to help localize a mozilla campaign. Some time ago we made that easier by allowing contributors to take a picture of the contributor agreement and email the signature. But still, the agreement had to be processed by someone at Mozilla and only after closing the bug we’d be able to assign you commit rights.
Last week we went one step further and removed the necessity for the contributor agreement altogether. Now we ask you to accept our license agreement upon registration, and locale leaders can request commit access for any registered user. This will reduce the overhead for contributors and Mozilla staff significantly, and it will hopefully lead to more contributions in 2012 and happier localizers overall. Of course we are not done yet, you can see our immediate plans for Verbatim on the Verbatim planning page. One of the next steps now is to allow the management of contributors by locale leaders instead of the Verbatim admins.
Another feature we added last week is acknowledgment of contributors on Verbatim. We now have a page linked from the Verbatim footer that shows each languages with its supported projects and the contributors to each project. The next step for this is to allow individual sites to credit their localizers directly on the sites. And hopefully we can crosslink the names to Mozillians sometime soon, to make it even easier for new contributors to get in touch with our established localizers.
Implementing bureaucratic overhead is usually rather simple, but reducing it is an order of magnitude harder. Especially as organizations grow and people change, it sometimes becomes unclear why a process was put in place and sometimes the process stays even as the world changes and the need for it goes away. That makes it all the more important for each and every one in an organization to constantly re-evaluate existing processes to simplify them and to eliminate the ones that are no longer needed.
In the case of Verbatim registrations several teams at Mozilla helped to lower the bureaucratic overhead needed to contribute as a localizer. I’d like to thank Seth Bindernagel who agreed to start the discussion about that with me, and Gerv, who drove the change to allow camera-pictures as contributor agreements last year; Chris Hofmann and the L10n team, who helped to drive the main discussion on Verbatim and localizer tools forward, the legal team for reviewing our processes and giving us the green light; Mike Morgan and Laura Thompson for assigning the necessary web developer resources to make those changes happen, Peter Bengtsson for the fantastic implementation and finally Stas Malolepszy for his continued support throughout the whole process.