We should start a wikipedia weather forecast.
Mudslinging Weasels Into Online History
By SARAH BOXER
Published: November 10, 2004
about NPOV: "But each one has a different view of that job. And that is
where the fun begins."
about protecting pages: "Thus Senator Kerry and President Bush took
their places next to the other untouchables in the Wikipedia: Ariel
Sharon, Osama bin Laden, Rush Limbaugh and Salvador Allende."
about foreign admins: "One administrator, a German computer programmer,
wrote, "Hopefully once the elections are over this article won't be the
prime vandalism target anymore.""
about the election: "one Wikipedia administrator humbly proposed an
addition to the Bush page "We should probably go ahead and add something
about him winning the election, with or without mentioning the help of
Diebold Electronics and ESS,""
A recent suggestion to resolve this conflict has been put forward by Lars Alvik
(user:Profoss) on the debate on no:, and I think it is a very honorable
1. Bokmål stays at no: for these reasons:
* Interwiki-links will otherwise need to be corrected
* Other active links (e.g. Google) will be rendered dead
* www.wikipedia.org points to en.wikipedia.org, which is the major language
2. The interwiki-name is changed. "Norsk" is changed to "Norsk (bokmål)" and
"Nynorsk" is changed to "Norsk (nynorsk)".
3. Both Bokmål and Nynorsk wikis make sure to prominently "advertise" each other
on the respective main pages.
4. Bokmål and riksmål will be recognised languages on the Bokmål Wiki, using
similar guidelines in regards to editing as American vs British English on en:
Other arguments for keeping no: has been
* It is the better-known name as it equates with the top-level domain .no
* Less work
I am happy to see that we may come close to an agreement and I agree with
everything, but unless a few conditions are fulfilled I don't agree with
point 1. My argument is outlined in my response to Lars Aronsson's post to the
Lars Aronsson wrote:
> Are there really any no.wikipedia contributors who want this? I mean,
> outside of those who prefer the nn.wikipedia? Is this a "we should
> change our name" or "they should change their name" kind of issue?
> Or, if someone supports this change, how do we know they are among the
> "we" people and not covert nn.wikipedia supporters?
I think you're right. All contributors to the debate so far who are active on
both nn: and no: have been biased towards the "nb:" solution, while those who
are only active on no: are for keeping this code (at least 3 of the more than
100 active users who have spoken out as yet, I am worried others may be
deterred by comments like "we've had this discussion before" and "I'm tired of
this debate" from several administrators).
This is not in any way covert - I am quite open about my preference towards nn:,
but I also look at myself as eligible for an opinion about what should happen
at no: through being a user there, and through being more likely to help future
work on BOTH if I think the situation is fair.
I personally don't think it is right that the language with the greatest amount
of users gets to use our common (umbrella if you like) ISO code "no:" and
mistakable with the top-level domain ".no" when there already is a perfectly
good code, nb. It is interesting to note also that Swedish uses its ISO-code
(sv:), as does the Danish Wiki (da:) despite their respective top-level domains
of .se and .dk.
> I'm Swedish and not contributing to any of no or nn, even though I
> have no problem in reading and understanding them. As much as I
> appreciate the efforts made to support dialects and small languages
> such as Icelandic and written Nynorsk, I think it would be a pity to
> abandon no.wikipedia and "Norwegian" as the name for it. To most
> non-Norwegians, and I think also for many Norwegians, the concept of
> the "Norwegian" language (written and spoken) is easy to understand
> and unambigious, with Nynorsk being little more than a written
> dialect, such as we all have spoken dialects in various parts of our
> countries. We also have no problem with American English being called
> "English" or Hochdeutsch being called "German", despite their
> separation from England and Plattdeutsch (Low Saxon). Some 10--15
> percent of Norwegians write in Nynorsk, about twice the population of
> Iceland. The no.wikipedia currently has 10 times more articles than
> nn.wikipedia. Even if the gap is closing, it seems likely that
> no.wikipedia will continue to be the larger one by a factor of 2 or
The concept of "Norwegian" language (written and spoken) is easy to understand
and unambiguous for non-Norwegians you say. I think this debate has proven the
opposite. It is hard even for us! The concept of "Norwegian" language has been
an inflamed issue for hundreds of years, and despite many bokmål users attempts
at trying to call they're own language for "norsk" and my preferred language for
"nynorsk" this is far from the definition recognised by any authority, whether
reference works or the Norwegian government. I wouldn't exactly call a language
with a user base of 400,000-800,000 a small language either, on a Scandinavian
scale, although it is the minor of the four.
I agree, it could be argued that Nynorsk, is like a "written dialect" if you
want, but is no more so than the three other written languages of Scandinavian
language, Swedish, Danish and Bokmål. From a linguistic point of view, these
languages are not true languages as they are all mutually intelligible but
rather strong dialects (each with theire won contiunuae of dialects). Only
history and political borders have defined them as languages (cf the situation
with Chinese languages, which is kind of the reverse). In fact, Nynorsk and
Swedish lies roughly equally far away from Bokmål.
About your final point about nynorsk always being smaller, that is possibly
true, and may be predicted since we are the smaller group. It must be pointed
out, however, that we have grown to a size of 10% of a 3 year old wiki within 2
months. I have no doubts that we will have a much higher production of articles
in proportion to our user base than any of the other Scandinavian languages -
very many people are excited about this first Nynorsk reference work in 40
years, and new contributors arrive regularly.
The conditions that will make me agree with Profoss' suggestion about retaining
no: for bokmål are proposed below:
1. This is a temporary solution until its contributors feel ready to switch to
nb:, something which should happen within, say, a year.
2. We state explicitly on the front pages of both nn: and no: why Bokmål is
erronously situated on no: and that we are actively working towards a common
Scandinavian wikipedia where UI-language can be customized, there is a common
search function, common login, parallel texts and a common URI. (Maybe the
Scandinavian wikis can be a testing ground for developers with the aim of
implementing a similar system Wikipedia-wide?).
Finally I would like to say that I think that if having bokmål on no: is
recognised as not entirely correct, there should be no poll. If it is a
mistake, it doesn't really matter whether the majority would like to keep this
Bjarte Sørensen, Sydney, Australia
At 20:35 06/11/2004 +0000, Lars Alvik wrote:
>Ok, there are some basic facts, that the request didn't provide.
>1. Most of the articles on no: is on either bokmål or riksmål.
>2. The debate started on nn:, and is probably an attempt to claim (or deny
>the other part use of the no; domain)
>3. A split (practicaly a move) would give bokmål (the dominant language) a
Hello Lars & everyone else,
As an active Nynorsk / Norsk Bokmål / Swedish Wikipedia writer,
I find your list of "basic facts" a bit skewed, Lars.
I can assure you that there is no conspiracy to claim the no: domain
for another non-exclusive language of Norway (be it Nynorsk,
Norsk Bokmål, Norsk Riksmål, Høgnorsk, Sámegiella (Northern Sami),
other Sami languages, languages of national minorities or whichever).
As for the no: articles being mostly in Norsk Bokmål/Riksmål (and
near 100% of the user interface), that is true -- and you seem to wish
to use this argumentatively against the Nynorsk Wikipedia people.
The logical consequence of that would in fact be to also admit that
the use of no: as a language code for our Norsk (mainly Bokmål)
Wikipedia is linguistically inappropriate.
Here is an alternative list of "basic facts", for the case of balancing
1. "Either Bokmål or Riksmål" makes little sense,
since the two are part of one orthographic/morphologic
continuum officially (but not amongst the Riksmål proponents)
known as "Bokmål" -- a continuum with a difference magnitude
roughly equivalent to the difference between UK and US English,
minus (!) the clarity of norms.
2. The Bokmål name is unfamiliar partially because its proponents
prefer, for political reasons, to call it (incorrectly) simply "Norsk"
3. The majority of the Norwegian population write Bokmål
but speak dialects that are closer to Nynorsk than Bokmål.
4. The Nynorsk Wikipedia people are definitely not interested
in taking over the no: domain.
(Rebuttal of your "basic fact" #2 -- which I find suspicious
that you included in a "basic facts" list at all....)
5. The discussion most likely takes place on Nynorsk
because the debate culture there is easier on its participants
than the one on no:.
6. The logical name for a nb: Wikipedia would probably be
"Norsk Bokmål" rather than simply "Bokmål".
That is what the code nb: stands for anyway --
and it is as familiar as Norsk, but more precise.
(Rebuttal of your "basic fact" #2.)
7. The domain name no: as such transcedes: nb or nn:,
and should, logically speaking, be a common site with
contents and/or links reflecting both Nynorsk and Bokmål.
8. In the hypothetical event of a separate Norsk Bokmål Wikipedia,
the no: domain could either
a) remain as a mixed entity, as it is to some degree now
(which is a basic assumption within the nn: discussion);
b) be used as a common portal to nb: and nn:,
and possibly also the national minority languages of Norway;
c) or be a disambiguation link page.
9. The reasons for the wish of a separate Norsk Bokmål Wikipedia
may vary for the various users. My personal view is that a
separate Norsk Bokmål Wikipedia may be a better strategy for
the work towards a future common-Scandinavian interface
with parallel articles in the four main written forms of Scandinavian
(defining Bokmål and Riksmål as one, since there is no single
definite linguistical trait that defines these as separate codes
rather than a socio-linguistic continuum).
10.I know that the sometimes fiercely high-profile POV from
some central people on no: serves to scare some people away.
This has already been referred to in the wikipedia-l debate
as part of the reason why some people who wish to keep
writing in Norsk Bokmål may wish a separate Wikipedia
as a way to "come clean".
I personally do not have a strong preference either way,
but I do think that it is important to try to keep the discussion
on a factual level.
A user on no: (I don't know whether he is active here on wikipedia-l or
not, since he is only known through his pseudonym) has pointed out two main
problems with starting to use nb: rather than no: for the mainly nb (i.e.,
Norsk Bokmål/Riksmål(/samnorsk)) wikipedia:
1) The interwiki links to articles on no: might not work anymore.
2) The search engine hits through Google and Yahoo might not work anymore.
Both Andre's and Mark's suggestions seem to take care of this problem.
I have another question, though:
Is it -- as yet -- possible to configure a Wiipedia in such a way that one
can use the general search box so search in more than one language version?
In other words: Could the parameters for the Scandinavian wikipedias
(no-nn-sv-da) be set so that hits from all four wikipedias show up when
clicking the "search" link? And, even better, can this be done for the
"Search" function only, thus giving only a local hit when searching for a
term using the "Go" button IF there is a local page with that name?
1) In da:, you enter "København" and click "Gå til" (Go). You get the
Danish page "København".
2) In da:, you enter "København" and click "Søg" (Search). You get a list
of hits, with the da: and no: articles and the Swedish København redirect
to Köpenhamn. You do not yet get a nn: hit, since that article is not yet
created. Alternatively (or additionally), you get the Swedish "Köpenhamn"
page directly because of the interwiki links to "da:København" and
3) In da:, you enter "Gamvik" in the search box and hit "Søg" (Search). You
get, hypothetically, the no: and the nn: hit, since there is no da: page
with this name.
4) In nn: you enter "København" and click "Gå" (Go). Since there is no page
with that name yet in this still quite new Wikipedia, it defaults to a
Scandinavian search and comes up with the no:, da: and sv: pages on top of
the search result page. You also, obviously, get the usual question whether
you want to create a "København" page in Nynorsk.
This option should probably be set as default. It should also be possible
for logged-in users to unselect this option.
This would be a great enhancement; it would be a way of for all four (as
yet) Scandinavian-language wikipedias to effectively provide more
comprehensive contents, for the benefit of all its users; — and it
would be a great incitement for each of the four groups to write lots of
articles to make sure that there is an article for a direct hit in their
own language as often as possible.
Other similar language clusters, like Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian (with some
tweaking of the Alphabet issue), Czech/Slovak,
Bulgarian/Macedonian(/Serbian), Finnish/Estonian, German/Plattdüütsch/etc.,
and maybe Faeroese/Icelandic (or the latter could join the Scandinavian
cluster for this purpose if they so desire), may also benefit from such a
Regardless of whether no: stays or moves to / gets joined by nb:, I think
this would be a solution to consider for the best of all four Scandinavian
I have recently been accused by Danny of using machine translation to
create new articles on the Tibetan Wikipedia.
While I have been trying to cut back on the number of e-mails I send
to wikipedia-l nowadays, I think this is fairly important.
I would like to make a few points:
1. TTBOMK, there currently exists no machine translator which will
translate to or from Tibetan.
2. I personally recognise that current machine translation technology
is generally unreliable, although it is improving a little, and would
under no circumstances write an article using the unedited output of a
machine translator, for any language. Nor would I use a word-by-word
translation from a dictionary as that is even more unreliable.
3. All the content there contributed with my username is written by
me. I am not fluent in Tibetan, but I know a little. I did not go
beyond what I am comfortable with writing, and I believe it is all
correct and if it is not, that there is much less error than if it
were a machine translation. (the exception being my userpage, where I
just wrote about myself, which I'm pretty sure is a bit wacky but
hopefully not completely incomprehensible). The individual words in
the table of contents on the Main Page, I used a dictionary for (after
all, they *are* individual words).
Even if I made some mistakes, that would be even more encouraging to a
fluent speaker to edit it and fix it than if it had no mistakes, and
that might lead to more editing.
In addition, apparently the problem with "spam" on Wikipedias is, at
least according to Danny, generally quickly cleaned up every time it
occurs, with the exception of squatting.
If squatting is the problem here, locking Wikis surely is not the solution:
If I wanted to squat on a Wiki, I could almost as easily "show
interest" and ask for it to be unlocked and start my squatting as if
it weren't locked at all - the squatters on the Nauruan Wikipedia were
committed enough to squatting that they asked a developer to change
the name of the language on interwiki links to "Nauroese", and (I'm
not sure about this second part, I didn't check) request adminship.
Requiring a minimum number of committed contributors won't help
either, as if somebody wants to use a Wikipedia for a conlang not
likely to be approved for a new Wikipedia, there is a good chance they
can find 4 other people to support them and contribute (especially if
the conlang has fans or supporters, as do for example the Rosenfelder
There are three solutions to the (perceived; so far it has only for
sure occured once on any Wikipedia, perhaps twice) problem of
1. Verify in some way that the content people write is in the language
they claim it's in, which does not nessecitate locking.
2. Erase all inactive Wikipedias, and never create any new ones.
3. Continue the way things were before, where people patrolled such
inactive Wikipedias. This has until now been 100% effective against
squatting - I caught the only known case, and another suspected case
(the suspected case being relatively soon after it was edited). If
there are other cases already, I have not caught them, so I guess the
100% statistic is invalid as if a case is not caught, it cannot be
counted as "not caught".
In addition, Danny has suggested that I do not in fact check inactive
Wikipedias on a regular basis. I, as well as a few other users, do
actually check inactive Wikipedias on a regular basis. Some have
expressed the feeling that if such Wikis could simply be locked
instead, then it would save them the trouble of having to monitor
them. However, I (and undoubtedly at least a couple of others) do it
for different reasons than these people, and actually enjoy performing
Another solution to a supposed problem of inactive Wikis is to
actively recruit people to contribute. So far, I have done this on a
very small scale with a small degree of success, and I have
commitments from people to contribute to a Wikipedia once they finish
something they're in the middle of. Presumably, if it were on a more
official level and from an e-mail address not from a free email
provider (I've begun to suspect that some ISPs block gmail addresses,
after I've found that I get one reply per 10 or so languages, even
though the number of failure notices I get is extremely low), the
response would be greater.
In addition, I have personally found so far that there are at least a
few Wikipedias where we already have Wikipedians who are fluent in the
language but do not contribute to it because they either don't know of
its existance or are busier with another Wikipedia. This is true with
some of the Wikipedias in South African languages (people contribute
instead to the English or Afrikaans Wikipedias), some of the
Wikipedias in Indic languages (people mostly contribute to hi: and ur:
instead of their local language with the major exceptions being ta:,
kn:, and ks: and to a smaller degree a couple of others), European
minority languages (I have a strong suspicion that there are at least
a couple of speakers of French minority languages on the French
Wikipedia who do not contribute to that Wikipedia, same with Russian
and Italian minority languages, and with Saami speakers on
Scandinavian-language Wikipedias). The problem of simple lack of
awareness would be fairly easy to remedy, but if somebody doesn't want
to work on a Wikipedia in their own language, there is no forcing
Inactive wikis, with few articles, very sporadic edits, no community
and no users dedicated to editing them, accumulate spam and vandalism
and waste much time of those users who check these small wikis for
It is possible for a steward to lock an inactive wiki to prevent it
from being edited whilst not removing any existing content. Locking a
wiki is not permanent and can be undone by a steward at any time.
I would like to see whether there are any objections to this being
done for the inactive Wikipedias, and other projects. I have proposed
a procedure for this at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Inactive_wikis
and would appreciate any comments on it.
To see the message that would be shown when someone tries to edit a
locked wiki, please see
Per Danny request, due to rupture of an agreement for node not to edit
under Akka Akka name, I blocked Akka Akka on ks project for 24 hours.
I have a neutral position with regards to this matter. Any one may
revert the block if there is a problem.