Wikipedia:Contributing to articles outside your native language
Many of us wish at times to contribute to articles in a language in which we are less than fluent. For the sake of simplicity, the following assumes that you are trying to contribute to the English-language Wikipedia, but the issues are the same for other editions.
There are a lot of ways this can be accomplished. In any event, don't let your lack of command of the language stop you from contributing; other people will be able to help with grammar, spelling, and so on, but the information that you provide is the important starting point. Wikipedia with no content but perfect syntax would be of little use to anyone.
- If you are fluent or near-fluent, or simply if you read English well but it is not your native language, consider that one of the most useful things you can do is to get involved in translation efforts. You might want to have a look at Wikipedia:Pages needing translation into English and Wikipedia:Translation into English, and possibly add them to your watchlist. You might want to add your own name at Wikipedia:Translators available, or maybe at the equivalent for another language.
- If you are slightly less than fluent, just go ahead and edit like anyone else. There are plenty of topics where the majority of the contributors are non-native. Again, someone can fix your grammar, spelling, and so on; it helps if your comment includes something like "please check my grammar and spelling".
- If you are further from fluent, or are otherwise unsure about the correctness of your writing, it might help to place your work first on the Discussion page associated with the article on which you're working, rather than directly into the article itself. You can then ask for help there, or post a more public request on this page (see below).
- If you can write well in another language that is liable to be understood by a lot of people—for example, if you can write in French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hebrew, Romanian, etc.—you might consider trying to make your remarks on the talk page both in English and in the language that you write well. If you haven't expressed yourself clearly in English, someone is still likely to understand you and be able to explain.
- On some topics, you can probably get away with just making your remarks on the talk page in some other language. For example, if the article is about Poland, it is likely that at least some of the people involved in editing it can read Polish. Leave your remarks, with a note in English requesting translation, and someone will most likely translate them. A clear note to this effect would be "Please, could somebody translate my remarks into English?"
- N.B. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you always explain what you're doing in the language of the Wikipedia to which you're contributing; some users are unhappy when Talk pages contain material in foreign languages.
- Edit summaries are helpful. If you are doing something “mechanical” (adding an interwiki or a template), even an edit summary in another language is probably more useful than nothing. If you are leaving a foreign language remark, it helps to say something like “comment in Spanish, translation needed”.
- A useful place to look is Wikipedia:Translators available. If you have a genuinely important contribution to make, you might try contacting one of these people and asking for translation help (but please realize that they are under no obligation to get involved). It's easy to get help with a word you don't know; it's much harder to ask someone to translate eight paragraphs.
- You can always add your information to a different-language Wikipedia and then submit a request at Wikipedia:Translation into English.
- If you read English well, but aren't so good at writing it, consider the possibility that you might be most effective by translating existing English-language material into your stronger language(s).
- Another task that is possible for people who are only moderately comfortable in English is to add appropriate Interlanguage links, connecting existing, corresponding articles in different languages.
Requests for assistance
Please add your request to the top of the list. Give the location of the material with which you want help, and if possible why you're worried. If you can leave your request in English, great. If not, try to leave it in languages that a reasonable number of English-speakers are likely to be able to read. Always remember to sign your request with ~~~~, so that the person helping can contact you for information: