Wikitravel's language version policy requires three things to start a new language version:
- Three (3) people with accounts on English Wikitravel who agree to work on the new version.
- A translated MediaWiki language file.
- A go-between to be the first admin for the new wiki.
There are tasks you can and should do before the new language version is launched.
- Check if somebody has already started an expedition at Language Expeditions.
- You can create a new language expedition page using the Language Version Expedition template. Just copy-and-paste the code from the template onto the new page.
- Acting as the go-between for a language version is mostly a chore. If you are starting an expedition, please feel free to put your name in as go-between; it is not immodest or rude. Don't bother with voting or an election unless more than one person wants the job.
- Don't sit back and wait for other users to sign up for the expedition; go out and recruit them. The language's Wikipedia version, Slashdot-like sites, blogs in the language, or Web forums are good places to recruit expedition members.
- If the new language uses formal speech, decide whether to address the authors/readers in formal or informal speech.
- If the new language has regional or country-by-country variations (like English, French, and German do), work out how you're going to deal with them.
- Make a translation list of all Wikitravel-specific vocabulary.
- Make a translation list of all article names in the Wikitravel: namespace. If every translator translates the linked article names on his own idea, it will become very hard to fix broken links after all. (This experience has been made at the start of de:) en:Wikitravel:Namespace index is a good place to start.
- Make a translation list for all headers used in the article templates. Think twice for good translations. Very hard to change later.
- Translate. If you are impatient enough to begin your translations on en: before launching the new version, all your links will be broken since you cannot write the translations into the en:Wikitravel: namespace. Thus, there is no control for misspelled links. Do not try to link to already translated articles in some user's sandbox, because after transferring them to the newly launched wiki, you will have a big mess to adapt them.
Note: the LanguageXX.php files used by old versions of MediaWiki are not used anymore, so please do not waste your time translating them. The basic interface for all major languages is built-in, but they can be customized online after launch by accessing MediaWiki:Allmessages (administrators only).
The CIA World Factbook is a good source of basic information for countries. All country flags and maps in the Factbook have already been uploaded to Wikitravel Shared and can be used immediately, all you need to do is figure out the country code: for example, Afghanistan is at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/af.html, so its flag is Image:af-flag.png and its map is Image:af-map.png.
- Make a translation list for all country names from English to your language.
- Use some script to build skeletons with headers and basic factbook information for each country. This you'll have to build by yourself.
- Upload the skeletons with a bot. One choice is post.py (see documentation), which uses the Pywikipediabot script framework.
- Hope for contributors and advertise the new wiki.