Manual:$wgUseDatabaseMessages

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Language, regional and character encoding settings: $wgUseDatabaseMessages
Translation using MediaWiki: namespace.
Introduced in version:1.1.0
Removed in version:still in use
Allowed values:(boolean)
Default value:true (1.2+)
false (1.1)

Details

This variable determines whether the MediaWiki namespace is used to modify language files. If true, then the wiki's interface is editable by those with editinterface privileges; if false, then the wiki's interface is determined directly from the internationalized message file specified in $wgLanguageCode .

Setting this variable to true will cause all interface messages to be retrieved from the database, which will increase load times by 25-60% (unless memcached is installed, in which case messages will be retrieved from the cache, which is a lot quicker). For performance reasons, it is recommended that you disable this setting if you do not have memcached.