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 complaining stage.
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 watched.