All about the Diaspora* social network
Posted by on August 12th, 2011 in Articles, Features, Tutorials

Bill Murray wishes he understood what his friends on Diaspora were talking about.

If you’ve been on Diaspora much this past summer, you’ve probably noticed a bustling international community speaking all sorts of languages. Don’t you wish you knew what was going on? Well, now you can, thanks to a sexy Greasemonkey script.

First, what you need: (i) Firefox or Chrome, (ii) a Google account, and (iii) be running off diasp.org, joindiaspora.com or geraspora.de (though the code is easily modifiable for other pods).

To get it working:

  1. Install both Greasemonkey and the Diaspora Translate and Security check script. Click here for a how-to on installing Greasemonkey on Chrome.
  2. Create an API key, enable Services → Translate API, copy key from API Access.
  3. In your browser, select Menu → Tools → Greasemonkey → “Manage User Scripts” → right-click “Diaspora Translate” → “Edit”. Replace the key in line 32 with your key from step no. 2 above.

And presto! Now, whenever you click “translate”, all foreign-language texts will automatically be translated into the default language of your browser. You can watch it in action here (though the newest release lacks the large, grey “Translate” button up top; it is now moved to between “profile” and “settings” in the menu on the upper, right-hand corner of your screen). Caveat: Translations will not be perfect since they rely on the Google machine, but they should be good enough to convey at least a rough sense of meaning. Caveat no. 2: There are talks that Google will be disabling its API translate service these next few months, but that still leaves you with at least a season of playing with it.

Thanks to Aldo Giambelluca for proposing the idea and David Morley for implementing it (original post here).

Please feel free to contact the author about anything Diaspora-related, or to suggest a topic for a future post.

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14 Responses to Seamless Translation



  2. Although it’s neat to be able to read what others are writing about in different languages, I’m not enthusiastic about sending limited (non-public) posts and comments to G. for translation. The YouTube video from the original post is demonstrating that.

    • True say, Joe. I’m not much of a fan of passing information through a middleman either, but this is a great start to cross-cultural discourse. As with all things, I’m sure this feature will only get refined over time.

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  4. I believe Google is discontinuing the Translation API as a free service on Dec 1, 2011. I hope we can find a more long-term solution.

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  6. Translate API
    Courtesy limit: 0 characters/day
    “Daily Limit Exceeded”

    I’m giving “Google Translator Tooltip”, another Greasemonkey script, a test drive.