An update on the Google translated articles issue in Tamil Wiki.
We exchanged few emails with the Google team and had a conference call once
and the progress so far has been:
* Google gets our approval on article topics before translating.
* Some of the software issues have been promised to be addressed (too many
red links etc.,)
* One or two co-coordinators from the translation team are checking the talk
page discussions and making needed changes. But if there are no talk page
suggestions the articles are virtually unattended.
However, a majority of the Tamil Wiki community is showing stiff resistance
for this operation. Besides the quality of translation we are concerned
about this on a philosophical note.
We would like to seek the opinion of the larger Indian Wiki community on a
philosophical angle in this issue. It will be definitely helpful before we
decide the next step:
1. Is Paid editing against Wikipedia principles or spirit?
2. Besides the article count etc., Wiki is first of all a vibrant and
healthy community of like minded individuals interacting on a friendly note.
This is very important in a small community especially. But this operation
creates a divide like regular Wikipedians Vs Google Translators. User - >
User interaction has changed to User - > Google - > Translation team
coordinator interaction. From friendly reminders we have reached a
Is this good for the community in the long run?
3. Who benefits more from this operation? Google or Wiki? Even if it is
assumed that it will serve the language ultimately, who has the control in
this operation? Of course, the Wiki communities have the control but they
haven't exercised yet.
This can hardly be considered partnership or collaboration. Google has not
been transparent on this so far.
4. Wikipedia is a volunteer project and Wikipedians contribute out of free
will. Is this free will ensured for the Google Translators? (choice of
articles, translation style, work load, tool for translation etc.,)
5. Use of Google translation kit is not wrong per se. But the Kit is partly
responsible for many of the issues. Is it right to continue using this
without cleaning up existing articles?
6. Not all en wiki articles are the best. Some have factual errors and some
have bias. Especially, articles on culture, politics etc., Is it good to
translate them as it is? A paid translator can hardly be expected or allowed
to correct them.
7. Style of English and Style of Indian languages are quite different. Since
the translation is done through the kit, we can see literal translations
resulting in a dry or artificial style in the local language. This can harm
the nature of the local language in long run. Translation is OK but not
everywhere and as it is.
8. IS THE WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION AWARE OF THIS OPERATION ? WHAT IS ITS VIEW?
Its view need not be binding on the local community. Nevertheless it will be
interesting to know.
9. WHY HASN'T GOOGLE ANNOUNCED ABOUT THIS PROJECT OPENLY YET? Google has
emphasized many times that it doesn't create information but only organizes
it. Whenever it showed hints of creating information, it was highly noted
with concern. This operation is a clear move towards information creation.
On the outset, this looks like a good gesture from Google to Indian language
Wikis. But it should also be noted in the context Google and Wikmedia are
both powerful entities in the Internet and one's effect on another should be