Tone of the documentation (specifically the FAQ)


Hey everyone,

I just translated the FAQ to German. Because other pages use the polite form “Sie” (which I guess would be the “vouz” form in French), I kept using polite, professional language. However, some remarks about choosing Debian and choosing not to use .deb packaging feel inappropriately snarky in the polite form. Like this:

:uk: If you still think deb packages can be hacked to do this, see previous answers.

:fr: Si vous restez persuadé que l’on peut néanmoins bricoler les paquets .deb pour gérer tout cela, voir les réponses précédentes.

:de: Wenn Sie immer noch denken, man kann deb Pakete dazu bringen, all dies zu leisten, berücksichtigen Sie bitte die vorherige Antwort.

With an undefined pronoun, it feels a bit less directed at the reader, but still like a unusually formal burn.

:de: Wer trotzdem glaubt, man könne deb Pakete dazu bringen, all dies zu leisten, möge sich die vorherige Antwort anschauen.

While I think it’s okay that the language around an open source project can occasionally be humorous or sarcastic, it feels a bit passive aggressive when using “Sie”. I saw the French version uses vouz, but maybe it has a different feel in French.

Has there been a discussion and decision about what feeling the website and the documentation should convey (and if we even go for a different tone in different languages)?

  1. Business professional
  2. Mostly professional, but with occasional warm and informal moments and positive humor. Like this:

Apps were packaged in .deb in the past. It was a nightmare. We’re happy now ;).

  1. Informal with occasional sarcasm

I think there are reasons for each tone. A more informal tone could feel more homely to private users and the contributors. A more professional tone could make the project more interesting for businesses.

To get back to my initial dilemma: I don’t think the current tone of the FAQ page works very well in polite German. It feels like it should be the informal “Du” if we want to keep the snark. But then most other translations so far use “Sie”. What should I do? Defuse the sarcastic jabs in German?

I know this is not an urgent matter in any way, it just slowed down my translation speed immensely, wondering about what I should go for.


Eh sorry about all that :confused: To clarify : I think you refer to a piece of documentation I wrote at some point when I was clearly fed up with some people trying to discuss this with us and they were, how to say, lacking some pragmatism :wink: … I was rethinking about this whole thing the other day and just thought that we should delete this whole mess (or keep a concise version). It’s mainly there because I had a need to rant somewhere @.@


Haha I totally understand that feeling. I picked the FAQ because it was one of my first touch-points with the project. Gonna do whatsyunohost next.

What do I do with links specifically linking to an “_en” document? Do I just leave them like that? Will they load the German page anyway once they exist?


Ah that’s a good question. My understanding is that you should change foo_en to just foo. Then it shall try to fetch the page for the current language you’re using, and if it doesn’t exist it shall fallback to foo_en.

(If you keep foo_en it shall force to go to the english version, and if you put foo_de it’ll go to the german page and say it doesn’t exist (yet)… so foo is what you want to use :wink:)


Thank you! So I will not only translate, but also change foo_en to just foo whenever I see it in the original.