(Ive used an analogy here – imagine you scan “La Jaconde” (the Mona Lisa) in the Louvre with an English phone and there is no “Mona Lisa” article on the English Wikipedia)
We started off QRpedia with just doing a 404 page when it could find not article, but I thought the near optimal solution (we moved onto) of doing a search for “Mona Lisa” when you could not find an article called “Mona Lisa” was the best we would find. The reason why I thought this was a near optimal solution was because it is the solution that Wikipedia itself uses when you cannot find an article. And they have been improving it for 10 years or so. If you are lucky Wikipedia finds you “Mona Lisa” in the “Louvre” article or “Mona Lisa” in the “Leonardo da Vinci” article and thats a fair solution.
However in the QRpedia case we actually have more information available to do the search than you when you use Wikipedia. When you search Wikipedia for “Mona Lisa” then the search engine has just the 9 characters in the phrase “Mona Lisa” to do a search. It can be quite a silly solution as if it wasn’t for other stuff that we add then it would throw up “Mona Lisa ( the film) etc”.
In the case of a QRpedia search however for “Mona Lisa” we actually know which object we are talking about because we know that the QR code points at Mona Lisa/La Joconde which is a painting. There is no doubt we are actually defining a particular object and a particular article…. in this case that article is missing.
Therefore I think that automated translation is the best solution assuming we can label it as being as not being the genuine article. It also means that you can tour around a museum where there are few (or even no) articles in your language. It could be said that QRpedia in this case is adding very little if there are no articles in say Vietnamese and we are always doing an auto translate. However the QRpedia code is not telling you that this item has the name “Mona Lisa/La Jaconde”. Because the QRpedia code is linked to a particular object on a particular wikipedia then we know that this translation relates precisely to this particular object, The QRpedia code will ensure that you never get “Mona Lisa the film” but you get an article that refers to the object in front of you.
I suspect Ive lost most people with this analogy. In sumnary. I think auto translation is the best solution if we label it as such. With skill we can leave the auto translate article so it still has links in the article that allows the visitor to click to the “Louvre” or the “Leonardo da Vinci” article from the auto translation. What we ensure with this solution, is that we do not offer articles that are merely spelt the same but options that relate to that precise object. I think this is a surprising advantage that I never anticipated would be possible.