What Rob describes is correct but sadly he misses the point of the dispute. Indeed there are people working on internationalisation and I will be the first to acknowledge that Nikerabbit does a lot of great work. I singled him out when I mentioned that because of him there is currently support for Marathi and Lingala in MediaWiki.

The issue is that people should be able to start the localisation in the Incubator. For that to be possible someone has to create the relevant message files in the Incubator. When a new project is created such a file needs to be created anyway. When a sufficient number of messages are translated, the patch for MediaWiki has to be dealt with no doubt along the lines Rob mentioned.

For the Kabyle language work on the localisation has started. When one of the developers decides that sufficient messages have been translated in the BetaWiki to perform what Rob describes, then they can create the Kabyle wikipedia. with the blessing of the language committee.


Betawiki's Kabyle messages:

On 4/2/07, Rob Church <robchur@gmail.com> wrote:
Hello, bon jour, guten tag, saluton, etc.

I can't greet everyone fairly, because I don't speak 200-odd languages.

Unfortunately, MediaWiki doesn't, either, and that's what this email's
all about.

I'm well aware that foundation-l has had a recent, er, "heated
discussion" about internationalising the software with respect to
starting new wikis, and I'd rather not stir up a beehive with regards
to that.

We've got some fantastic people working on the internationalisation
front for MediaWiki; credit must go to Niklas Laxström for his
patient, unending work in this field. I'd also like to mention Rotem
Liss, who has been providing updates for the Hebrew language for a
long period, now, as well as our volunteers giving us updates in
German, Russian, Chinese and Japanese; a big, firm "thanks" is in

The problem is that we don't have all the bases covered; there are
vast numbers of languages not being maintained, and that's a bit of a
problem for a software product that's supporting an organisation with
international goals in mind.

While individual communities can and do perform translations in their
MediaWiki namespaces, reliance on this means that each new wiki we
launch needs to perform this step, as opposed to having the interface
available in their language, from the fore. I believe that not having
software that speaks to you in your language is an immense barrier to

I'd therefore like to rally a call to arms; we need translators!
Thanks to (again, what an i18n legend this dude is) Nikerabbit's work
on Betawiki (http://nike.users.idler.fi/betawiki/) means we will (I
hope) soon have a clean extension on the Wikimedia Incubator which
will make this stuff easier; it's the same process as editing the
MediaWiki namespace now, except what we get out of it allows us to
tweak and bundle up the translations into the right form for MediaWiki
to use.

Of course, if you're able to get to grips with our message file format
and you can work a Subversion client, you are more than welcome to
update the localisation for your language, or indeed, any other
language you feel you can contribute to, and submit patches. If you
submit on a consistent and regular basis, then commit access is also
forthcoming - we're grateful for people who can speak languages we
can't, who can help us out in a major area.

Contributions to MediaWiki internationalisation fall under the GNU
GPL, which is for all intents and purposes, ideologically similar to
the GNU FDL. If you are the maintainer of a language, you will be
credited for it, and you *will* have our immense respect and
gratitude, as well as that of all our users.

There's a guide to getting started with internationalisation at
http://nike.users.idler.fi/betawiki/Translating:Intro, and anyone
interested in helping out is strongly recommended to contact (look,
shall we just make him the official i18n co-ordinator?) Nikerabbit;
who can often be found on IRC (#mediawiki, irc.freenode.net).

Thank you for your attention, and I apologise for cross-posting,

Rob Church
MediaWiki developer
Mediawiki-i18n mailing list