Content translation/Machine Translation/Matxin

Machine translation support for Content Translation has now been further extended. In addition to Apertium, Yandex and Youdao, we are now adding Matxin to the list of machine translation (MT) systems available for users of Content Translation. This will result in additional machine translation support for a few languages.

Matxin is provided by a team from the University of Basque Country, in collaboration with the Elhuyar Foundation. This machine translation system was created by this team primarily for their own use for writing Wikipedia articles in Basque, and Spanish. Various teams inside Wikimedia Foundation have collaborated with the Matxin team to work out an agreement that will allow the use of Matxin without compromising Wikipedia's policy of attribution of rights, privacy of our users, and brand representation. Matxin is an open source software. For ease of use we are using the more convenient machine translation API to access the service hosted by the team. Please find more details of the agreement below and we are happy to hear any questions you may have about this service.

Key features

  • No personal information is sent to Matxin. The MT system will be accessed via an API key. Article content (freely licensed) is sent to the Matxin server from Wikimedia Foundation servers. No direct communication is happening between the user and external services and no personal information (IP, username) is sent to the Matxin service. The client contacting Matxin is open source and you can check it here. No part of Matxin’s service or code will be part of Wikimedia infrastructure or Content Translation codebase. Please also see a diagram of this technical setup at the end of the section.
  • Information is returned from Matxin under a free license. When Matxin is used, a translated version of Wikipedia content under a free license is obtained. Users can modify it and publish it as part of Wikipedia without conflicts with existing policies. The resulting content translated by Matxin and the user modifications will be available under the same license that is used for the rest of the articles in Wikipedia.
  • Benefits the wider open source translation community. Translations obtained from Matxin and user modifications will be publicly available. The post-edited translations are of special interest for the translation research community (including the Matxin team) who can use this resource to create new translation services to support languages for which open source machine translation is not available yet. This will help developers create and improve machine translation systems.
  • Users can disable it. Automatic translation is an optional tool in Content Translation. Users have an option to disable it if they don't find it useful for some reason. Although many Content Translation users have requested for this translation service, each individual user eventually decides whether they would like to use it or not.


Summary of our agreement with Matxin

Matxin's obligations

  • To allow for free use of their machine translation API key to the Wikimedia Foundation to allow volunteers on Wikimedia sites to translate articles and supporting at least 10 million characters of translation content per day.

Wikimedia Foundation's obligations

  • To provide the volunteer-edited versions of the text translated by the translation tool so that Matxin can improve their tool
  • No personal data of translators will be shared.
  • Just the original content to translate, its language, and translation target language will be sent in the request to Matxin.
  • The translations published by translators, with or without the help of machine translation services, will be provided in the form of parallel corpora by the Content Translation APIs. These APIs will be developed incrementally and results will be freely available for everyone, not just Matxin.

Important notes

  • All content will remain licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Matxin is not requiring any "branding" on Wikimedia Sites outside of listing Matxin as a translation tool option in the translation interface drop-down menu
  • There is no exchange of personal information of volunteers
  • The agreement is limited to 1 year, at which time we can reevaluate our needs
  • We are free to terminate the agreement for any reason, at any time (with 30 days notice)
  • Agreement is governed by US law

Questions about this service

We have addressed some immediate questions about Matxin in this section. This is also available in the Content Translation FAQ page.

What languages are being handled by Matxin? Are there plans to add more?

Matxin can be used to translate from Spanish to Basque. As more languages are added to the service by the developers of the Matxin team, we will include them.

How is using Matxin different than using other machine translation services?

As a user of Content Translation you will not feel any difference on the translation interface as Matxin will display the translated content in the same way other services currently do for the supported language pairs.

How is the machine translation being done if I choose Matxin?

Matxin provides an API key that allows websites and other services to use their translation system. Content Translation also uses that unique API key to access Matxin. When a user starts translating an article, the HTML content of each section of the source article is sent to Matxin and a translated version is obtained and displayed on the respective translation column of Content Translation. Links and references are adapted as usual and users can modify the content as required.

This process continues for all the sections of the article being translated. For better performance, the translations for consecutive sections are pre-fetched. The user can save the unpublished translation (to work on it again at a later time) or publish the article in the usual manner. The article is published on Wikipedia like any other normal article with appropriate attribution and licenses.

Here’s a diagram of the process.

Is Matxin based on open source software?

Yes! It is an open source software, similar to Apertium. It has been developed by a small team from the University of Basque country who developed this tool for their own need to translate Wikipedia articles. They are very much part of the Wikimedia community and we are happy to partner with them.

Should I be worried about my personal information when using Matxin?

Irrespective of the service being used, you can be assured that only Wikipedia content from existing articles is sent and only freely licensed content will be added back to the translation. No personal information is sent and communication with those services happen at the server side, so they are isolated from the user device. Please refer to this diagram for more details.

What if Matxin is the only machine translation tool available and I don't want to use it?

Machine Translation is an optional feature in Content Translation that you can easily disable at will. If more machine translation systems are added for your languages, you can choose to enable MT again and select the MT service of your choice.

Will the content translated by Matxin be free for use in Wikipedia?

Yes. The content received from Matxin is otherwise freely available on the web translation platform. It is an open source software. For ease of use Content Translation receives it via an API key to make it seamlessly available on the translation interface. This content can be modified by the users (if necessary) and used in Wikipedia articles under free licenses.

Can this content be used for improving machine translation systems in general?

Yes. Translations made in Content Translation are saved in our database. This information will be made publicly available for anyone to use as translation examples to improve their translation services (from University research groups, open source projects to commercial companies, anyone!). The content can be accessed via the Content Translation API. Please note, only information related to translated text is publicly available. This includes – source and translated text, source and target language information and an identifier for the segment of text.