There is a request for a Wikipedia in Ancient Greek. This request has so far
been denied. A lot of words have been used about it. Many people maintain
their positions and do not for whatever reason consider the arguments of
In my opinion their are a few roadblocks.
- Ancient Greek is an ancient language - the policy does not allow for
- Text in ancient Greek written today about contemporary subjects
require the reconstruction of Ancient Greek.
- it requires the use of existing words for concepts that did
not exist at the time when the language was alive
- neologisms will be needed to describe things that did not
exist at the time when the language was alive
- modern texts will not represent the language as it used to be
- Constructed and by inference reconstructed languages are effectively
We can change the policy if there are sufficient arguments, when we agree on
When a text is written in reconstructed ancient Greek, and when it is
clearly stated that it is NOT the ancient Greek of bygone days, it can be
obvious that it is a great tool to learn skills to read and write ancient
Greek but that it is in itself not Ancient Greek. Ancient Greek as a
language is ancient. I have had a word with people who are involved in the
working group that deals with the ISO-639, I have had a word with someone
from SIL and it is clear that a proposal for a code for "Ancient Greek
reconstructed" will be considered for the ISO-639-3. For the ISO-639-6 a
code is likely to be given because a clear use for this code can be given.
We can apply for a code and as it has a use bigger then Wikipedia alone it
clearly has merit.
With modern texts clearly labelled as distinct from the original language,
it will be obvious that innovations a writers needs for his writing are
This leaves the fact that constructed and reconstructed languages are not
permitted because of the notion that mother tongue users are required. In my
opinion, this has always been only a gesture to those people who are dead
set against any and all constructed languages. In the policies there is
something vague "*it must have a reasonable degree of recognition as
determined by discussion (this requirement is being discussed by the language
subcommittee <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_subcommittee>)."* It
is vague because even though the policy talks about a discussion, it is
killed off immediately by stating "The proposal has a sufficient number of
living native speakers to form a viable community and audience." In my
opinion, this discussion for criteria for the acceptance of constructed or
reconstructed languages has not happened. Proposals for objective criteria
have been ignored.
In essence, to be clear about it:
- We can get a code for reconstructed languages.
- We need to change the policy to allow for reconstructed and
We need to do both in order to move forward.
The proposal for objective criteria for constructed and reconstructed
languages is in a nutshell:
- The language must have an ISO-639-3 code
- We need full WMF localisation from the start
- The language must be sufficiently expressive for writing a modern
- The Incubator project must have sufficiently large articles that
demonstrate both the language and its ability to write about a wide range of
- A sufficiently large group of editors must be part of the Incubator
To avoid further disrupting discussion of interlanguage links and
usability, I'll address the cultural problems separately now. I must
admit, though, that in a discussion where we seemed to have agreed
(rightfully so) that a 1% click rate was significant enough to warrant
serious consideration, I was disappointed that someone could then be so
callous about the need for cultural sensitivity because it most directly
impacts "only 0.55% of the world population" in this case. There is no
meaningful difference in order of magnitude there.
We have significant distortions in the makeup of our community that
affect our culture. There are quite a few groups that are seriously
underrepresented, in part because our culture comes across as unfriendly
to them at best. I talked about African-Americans because it's what was
applicable in that particular situation and I happen to have some
familiarity with the issues. It could just as well have been Australian
Aborigines or another cultural group that has issues with our community.
I'm not as prepared to explain those concerns, but I would welcome
people who can educate us about such problems. It's legitimate to be
wary of things that promote American cultural hegemony, which is another
distortion, but that's not really warranted when the concern relates to
a minority culture in the US.
Some people seem to have gotten hung up on the issue of intent. I didn't
say there was any intent, by the community or individuals, to exclude
certain groups or to create a hostile environment for them. I actually
tried to be as careful as possible not to say that. The point is that
even in the absence of intent, it's possible for our culture to appear
hostile to such groups. We didn't have any intent to be hostile toward
living people, either, yet we've had a long struggle to cope with the
consequences of that impression created by our culture.
Consider the principle of not "biting" newcomers, which relates to a
similar problem. It's not about the intent of the person doing the
"biting", it's about the impact on those who encounter it. We need to be
more welcoming to people, and striving for more cultural awareness is
part of that.
The 2010-11 Annual Plan and Questions and Answers have just been posted
to the Foundation website
The plan was approved by the Board last week.
The 2010-11 plan differs from previous years in that this plan is rooted
in the five-year (2010-2015) Wikimedia Strategy which has been developed
collaboratively over the past year. In 2010-11, we have planned
continued growth over previous years reflecting continued and increased
investments to serve our mission and increase our impact.
The 2009-10 year is projected to exceed revenue targets and to be
underspent in expenses primarily due to underspending in the first
quarter of the 2009-10 fiscal year.
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News from the front.
A very bad and unfair unbalance of power was established in favor of
English on Wikimedia Commons in 2005-2006, requiring people from the
world to work for the benefit of the English language community.
In that ocean of unfairness, there was a small island where you could
find comfort and grace : biological taxa: the names of animals and
plants. For centuries the scientific community had been used to using
latin, creating a space where scientists from the world are nearer to
being equals, everybody needing to leave her/his native tongue and use
a foreign language. Wikimedia Commons had decided to name categories
I have discovered a few days ago that someone, probably in good faith
and unaware of this language policy, created [[:Category:Animals by
common named groups]] which is a container for English-named
biological taxa, at the end of 2008.
Now I find people pushing for this container and English named wild
animal species. So the front line is broken.
More reading at :
Recently there has been a controversy on Wikipedia in German about
extra articles in simple language. Authors of its medical group wanted
to create sub pages suitable for children, believing in an urgent
In the discussion, the question of creating a Wikipedia in simple
German came up.
As we know, to-day Wikimedia language committee policies prohibit a
new Wikipedia in a language that already has a Wikipedia. The
existence of a Wikipedia in simple English refers to the fact that it
had been created before that policy of 2006.
There are a number of ideas and initiatives to create online
encyclopedias in "simple language", in and outside the Wikimedia
world. Wouldn't it be suitable to reconsider and try to give those
initiatives a place? Who else is more capable to create and support
such encyclopedias than we are?
Ziko van Dijk
Ziko van Dijk
I posted this yesterday at wikitech-l and was told to ask this
question here at foundation-l.
I'm a member of the German language Wikipedia community and have a
question that no-one could give me a definite answer to so far. I hope
someone here can answer it, or point me to where I should go to get a
The question is, what level of self-determination do the 260 language
versions of Wikipedia have as to the design of their user interfaces
(skins)? Can individual wikis choose independently modifications of
their skins, and which of the available skins to use as the default
for unregistered users, or is this controlled centrally by the
For backgrund, this question arose after the German language Wikipedia
(de.wikipedia.org) was switched from Monobook to Vector as the default
skin on the 10th of June 2010, resulting in considerable criticism
from the community. On the more sober side of the debate, it was asked
whether it would be theoretically possible to return to Monobook as
the default skin, at least for some time until the biggest known
issues with Vector have been fixed. Under the theoretical scenario
that a majority voted for a return to Monobook as the default skin,
would it be possible at all to switch it back? Or would the Foundation
not permit that?
The question seems to be a very fundamental one and I would also
appreciate insights into the big picture. How independent are the
language versions? To what degree can they govern themselves and to
what degree are they bound by decisions made centrally by the
A couple of months ago, we was approached by an artist group which
idea is to raise cultural awareness by putting at billboards stylized
photos of (not so) famous  cultural and scientific persons from the
history of Serbia. They wanted to incorporate their art project into
Wikimedia Serbia projects and we've found that it is a great idea. The
project's site is likilink.org .
The project has been done without money. The main company which deals
with billboards in Serbia, Alma Quatro  is giving to us not used
billboards for free. "Not used" means, for example, if some billboard
campaign is lasting up to 15th of some month -- as they are renting
space on monthly basis -- the rest of the month is our. So, it is not
about bad locations; contrary, locations are top.
But, it was their initial idea, they will work on that, but, it is up
to Wikimedians to choose who will be the next persons on billboards
all over Serbia.
So, after the first couple of writers, the rest is up to them.
The first person on billboards is Radoje Domanovic , Serbian
satirist with Orwellian motives. Those billboards are presently at ~20
places in Belgrade, including large billboards at the highway entrance
The second group will be 5 persons with 30 billboards each:
* Two will be Serbian writers.
* One will be a female inventor from our previous, but not yet
finished project ("Female inventors") in cooperation with another
* One will be Richard Stallman.
* One will be Jimmy Wales.
Yes, Jimmy will get 30 billboards in Belgrade for one month :)
 - Famous, but not so as Nikola Tesla or Vuk Karadzic are.
 - "Lik i link" means "face/figure and link".
 - The billboards are designed as the image from the site, but with
link to the project's site and
 - Please, don't ask my why I've put just a JPEG with <map> >:| It
will be fixed today or tomorrow.
 - http://www.aqyu.com/
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radoje_Domanovic
Did anyone ever consider completely migrating WMF projects to
three-letter language codes? Currently two-letter ISO 639-1 code are
used whenever possible and three-letter ISO 639-2 or ISO 639-3 codes
are used when a two-letter code is not available.
Among the three-letter codes currently having Wikipedias are Sicilian
(scn), Kashubian (csb), Nahuatl (nah), Udmurt (udm) and Mari (mhr).
Using three-letter codes for all languages seems to me like a more
Two-letter URL's must, of course, be kept as redirects.
Can anyone think about any problems with this?
אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי
Amir Elisha Aharoni
"We're living in pieces,
I want to live in peace." - T. Moore