Most of you would be aware of some of the discussions that have occurred
around Wikipedia in the Norwegian languages. Since the last round of
discussions on this list, there has been a lot of internal debate, as
well as what seems to be a fairly widely accepted agreement following
This e-mail intends to, after a brief recap on Norwegian language and
wikipedia issues, take those interested through the latest development
and will stake out the road ahead. It is also intended to inform the
international community about the current agreement on no.wikipedia, so
as to prevent misunderstandings in the future.
Finally, we will mention an unfortunate reaction to the vote by a small
number of users at the Norwegian Bokmål/Riksmål (no:) wikipedia who want
to disregard the result of the voting and are planning to create a
_third_ Norwegian wikipedia with the sole mission of mixing the contents
of the two current Norwegian versions.
== A short language history of Norway ==
Spoken Norwegian ("norsk") (ISO 639-2 alpha-2 code "no") is in a fairly
unique situation compared to most other languages of the world in that
it has two widely accepted written standards, Bokmål (ISO 639-2 alpha-2
code "nb") and Nynorsk (ISO 639-2 alpha-2 code "nn"). By national
legislation they are both regarded as official written forms of
Norwegian. In addition, many people still make a distinction between
Bokmål and its precursor which still is in use, Riksmål.
Briefly speaking, Bokmål and Riksmål are descendants of the Danish
written language. Until the 1800s, Danish was the only widely used
written language in Norway as a result of four centuries of union with
Denmark. With increasing independence came a wish to norwegianise the
Danish standard, with Knud Knudsen at the forefront for changing parts
of the vocabulary and orthographics. Thus, Riksmål, and later Bokmål,
resulted. These forms together are today probably used by about 90% of
Norway's population, or somewhere around 3,500,000 people.
Parallel to this development, a new written standard was created by Ivar
Aasen. He travelled extensively throughout Norway, and based his new
language, landsmål, on the grammar and vocabulary of dialect samples
from around the country. This was later renamed Nynorsk. Modern Nynorsk
differs significantly from modern Bokmål, and may be linguistically
looked upon as as different (or as similar if you like) as Swedish is to
Danish. For English or Dutch/German speakers, the differences may be
likened to those between (Lowland) Scots and English or Low German and
Dutch. Today it is estimated that about 500,000-600,000 people have
Nynorsk as their first written language.
More information about the Norwegian language history can be found in
English, German, French, Spanish or Portuguese on the website of the
Norwegian Language Council:
== A short history of Wikipedia in Norwegian ==
The first Norwegian wikipedia started 26 November 2001 on the subdomain
no.wikipedia.org. As most wikipedias, its contributor and article count
started really picking up around the end of 2003. At the time, it
accepted all written standards of Norwegian, although the amount of
Nynorsk was minimal. There were already several debates about the
feasibilty and appropriateness of keeping the two languages united on
one Wikipedia. On 31 July 2004 a Wikipedia for Nynorsk was created.
The creation of nn:, however, split the community at no: wikipedia. Many
felt that given that Nynorsk now had its own wikipedia, no: should
become a Bokmål/Riksmål Wikipedia only. Others disapproved and claimed
that there was no need to change and that it should continue its
language policy of accepting all and keep its interwiki link name of
Nynorsk Wikipedia soon proved a success, as it within the next few
months gathered several people who had felt uncomfortable in the
(mainly) Bokmål environment at no:. The name displayed in interwiki
links became "Norsk (nynorsk)" (languages are not spelt with upper case
in Norwegian). To date it continues to be one of the fastest growing
wikipedias, with a steady article increase, now at over 6000 articles
and >50 editors with more than 10 edits since arrival.
== Votes ==
The issue of no:'s language policy has come up time and again, and a
vote was held in March ([[:no:Wikipedia:Målform]]) as to which policy to
adapt. Independent of the method of the tally (whether or not to include
new contributors etc.) there was a majority for switching to a
Bokmål/Riksmål only language policy (50% for Bokmål/Riksmål, 43.2% for
Bokmål/Riksmål/Nynorsk/Høgnorsk, and 6.8% for the official variants
Following this result, there is now going to be a vote on which
interwiki link name will most appropriately reflect the current language
policy of no:. The result of this vote will most likely be either "Norsk
(bokmål)" or "Norsk (bokmål/riksmål)".
Understandably, there has also been a debate as to whether the subdomain
should change from "no" to "nb", as this is the correct representation
of Bokmål according to ISO 639-2. However, there is some resentment
towards such a move and currently a general acceptance in letting the
Bokmål wikipedia stay at "no". The alternative some have suggested is a
server-side redirect from "no" to "nb", in the same way that "nb" today
is a server-side redirect to the equivalent page on "no".
== Summary of the problem ==
Unfortunately, a small group of users (who all write Bokmål/Riksmål) are
ignoring the results from the vote, and are claiming they want to
re-establish a wikipedia for all written standards of Norwegian. They
claim they have been in touch with people centrally in Wikimedia
(developers? stewards?) and that they have so far received positive
comments. With this email, we would like to state the fact that there
have been no official decisions about creating a third Norwegian
wikipedia containing both Bokmål and Nynorsk, it is merely an unofficial
initiative from a small group of users which started a sign-on list at
[[:no:Bruker:Norsk_Wikipedia]]. A spontaneous list with signatures
against this activity was immediately created at
[[:no:Wikipedia-diskusjon:Fellesnorsk]]. The process of creating a third
Norwegian wikipedia has not gone through a voting process in any of the
two existing Norwegian wikipedias (no: and nn:) and can not be
considered as a decision by the Norwegian Wikipedia community.
We believe the creation of a third wikipedia under the Wikimedia
foundation would have a serious and unfortunate impact on the existing
wikipedias in Norwegian, no: and nn:, and would undermine Wikipedia's
reputation in Norway. This being said, we are all for extensive co-
operation between the four Scandinavian language wikipedias (including
Swedish and Danish), as evident by the recent creation of
[[:meta:Skanwiki]], the Scandinavian meta-pages, and the use of featured
articles from neighbour wikipedias.
== Conclusion ==
Hopefully, this letter will help people better understand the
complicated language situation of the Norwegian Wikipedia community, so
as to give a background on which discussion can take place on this list
in the future, such as the inevitable debate following a possible
request for a re-establishment of the common (and third!) Norwegian
>From the community of no.wikipedia.org and nn.wikipedia.org,
Bjarte Sørensen [[:meta:User:BjarteSorensen]] (Administrator/bureaucrat on nn:)
Lars Alvik [[:no:User:Profoss]] (Administrator/bureaucrat on no:)
Øyvind A. Holm [[:no:User:Sunny256]] (Administrator on no:)
Onar Vikingstad [[:no:User:Vikingstad]] (Administrator on no:)
Jon Harald Søby [[:no:User:Jhs]] (Administrator on no:)
Chris Nyborg [[:no:User:Cnyborg]] (Administrator on no:)
Guttorm Flatabø [[:no:User:Dittaeva]] (Administrator on nn:)
Gunleiv Hadland [[:meta:User:Gunnernett]] (Administrator on nn:)
Jarle Fagerheim [[:nn:User:Jarle]] (Administrator on nn:)
Øyvind Jo Heimdal Eik [[:en:User:Pladask]] (Administrator on nn: and no:)
Kristian André Gallis [[:nn:User:Kristaga]]
Vegard Wærp [[:no:User:Vegardw]]
Nina Aldin Thune [[:no:User:Nina]]
Thor-Rune Hansen [[:no:User:ThorRune]]
Claes Tande [[:no:User:Ctande]]
Arnt-Erik Krokaa [[:no:User:AEK]]
Rune Sattler [[:no:User:Shauni]]
So, it seems (if I interpret Jimbo's mail on wikitech and the discussion
here correctly) that most of us would like *some kind* of category
scheme in wikipedia. I do, too! But, we seem to differ on the details
So far, I saw three concepts:
1. Simple categories like "Person", "Event", etc.; about a dozen total.
2. Categories and subcategories, like
"Science/Biology/Biochemistry/Proteomics", which can be "scaled down" to
#1 as well ("Humankind/Person" or something)
3. Complex object structures with machine-readable meta-knowledge
encoded into the articles, which would allow for quite complex
queries/summaries, like "biologists born after 1860".
1. Easy to edit (the wiki way!)
2. Still easy to edit, but making wikipedia browseable by category,
fine-tune Recent Changes, etc.
3. Strong improvement in search functions, meta-knowledge available for
1. Not much of a help...
2. We'd need to agree on a category scheme, and maintenance might get a
3. Quite complex to edit (e.g., "<category type='person'
occupation='biologist' birth_month='5' birth_day='24' birth_year='1874'
For a wikipedia I'd have to write myself, I'd choose #3, but with
respect to the wiki way, #2 seems more likely to achieve consensus (if
there is such a thing;-)
I usually don't read the postings of Mark Williamson (only the answers
to his) but now I accidentally saw that he has forwarded the private
email of another wikipedian to the list. Add to this the frequent
flame-wars and attacks on people... Watching the list degrade into
endless fights about absurd language proposals, in my opinion it's
enough. I switched his account to moderated now.
Dear Wiki*edians & especially polyglots :
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, being thankful as ever for these
polylingual projects (I just won a bet with a Chilean about his home
town, referencing spanish wp articles :), I would like to propose a
new one (gasp!) : an all-language wiki devoted to language overviews,
language proposals, interface localization (text, images, &c), and
translations of core Wikimedia and MediaWiki messages. Similar
proposals have been floated before, with little discussion; here is
another attempt on the theme.
* Name : babel.wikimedia.org ?
* Main Page : a list of languages by, say, # of native
speakers/readers , with prominent links to other views (by
language-cluster, by geographic region, by article-count, by reader
popularity...), information on translators & translation, and language
* Content : All localizable MediaWiki strings, in 200+ languages .
Portals for each language, describing work being done to develop that
language, with portal-content in a few core language + the lang in
question. All localizable custom strings for Wikimedia projects, in
those languages. Key strings and messages (such as site-wide notice
templates) which are used regularly and needed in every language.
Policy and discussion pages about new language creation.
** Optional content : Other translation efforts, such as global press
releases, which work through a high volume of content (thousands of
edits in dozens of languages) in a short period of time.
** Related project : a specific "interface-translation wiki" for the
latest MediaWiki installation, which auto-updates the localizable
strings in the latest MW version.
Please comment or indicate support for the idea on meta:
 Not just readers; if there's no written language, audio output and
input are excellent ways to transfer information... we've been doing
that for eons longer than we've been passing around printed bytes
 % completion of interface translation; # of self-identified
'translators' in and out of the lang; full list of wikimedia projects
in that lang w/origin-dates, article and active-editor counts; links
to key pages on target wikis
 Eventually significantly more than 200.
[3'] It may be useful to have one template/page per string per
language, to facilitate automatic conversion from wiki to other
formats; multiple views of l10n strings (e.g., 2 langs side-by-side on
one page as in Special:Allmessages). ~200 languages x (200 custom
strings x 5 Wikimedia Projects + 1000 standard strings) = O(500K)
pages, worth its own project.
 These ideas could be merged; or that project (say, at
language.mediawiki.org) could offer ways to pull content from the
appropriate section of the Babel wiki (and more security safeguards).
i know this topic keeps reoccuring and so my point may not be very
it has been said that wikipedia is "work in progress" and will probably
continue to to so. on the other hand it ails from the fact that at no
given point in time you can be certain to have a 1. consistent , 2.
unvandalized and 3. correct throughout wikipedia. (compared to those
three points the shortcoming of non-completeness dwindles to almost
let me draw your attention to the fact that the construction plans for
roads to stability - or at least local optima - have long been laid out
by physics. heat a dynamic system quickly then let it cool down in a
slower and controlled fashion, allowing less and less dramatic changes
to take place as time passes. simulated annealing
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_annealing) is the magic spell
that might work for wikixyzs in a way similar to that in the real world.
the rationale behind my suggestion is of course that articles that have
matured over time are statistically speaking less likely to improve when
large modifications are made than relatively new ones. some of the
articles have reached a stage where well-meant editing effectively mucks
up the inner structure and logic. what i think reasonable is to lift the
threshold for substantial edits, maybe not by limiting access but by
asking for more substantial background information from the authors
(references, printed, electronic,...) than the simple comment line.
there is to much unproven and partially unprovable information in the
wp. that could have been prevented long ago by obliging the authors to
give references for their information. besides, this task would make it
successively harder to simply put established statements upside down.
whereas scientific journals have peer review, wp only offers the weak
weapons of discussion pages and reverts - by others, mostly admins, i
guess. why not confer a little bit more of responsibility to the
authors? he/she could be aided by predefined lists, checkboxes,
comboboxes (for ref. type, etc.)
i find myself increasingly involved in hunting down vandals and their
work - partly due to the ease of use wp offers for non-serious edits,
too, and i can't help feeling that a larger and larger part of wp keeps
a larger and larger part of the community busy with just keeping up the
On 11/28/05, Steve Block <steve.block(a)myrealbox.com> wrote:
> In it Jimbo seems to argue that the addition of fair use images does not
> mean that the images become GFDL, but rather that the usage of the
> specific images in such a way become compliant with the GFDL. At least
> that is my reading of the comments.
By the way, this sentence contains at least one common misconception
about copyleft. Images only "become GFDL" if they are released by
their copyright holder under the GFDL. They don't automatically
become released under the GFDL.
On 11/25/05, Justin Cormack <justin(a)specialbusservice.com> wrote:
> On Fri, 2005-11-25 at 15:19 +0100, Uwe Brauer wrote:
> > Hello
> > I just found the following image
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:RFJesus.jpg
> > which seems to be under a different sort of license, if I am not
> > mistaken.
> > I would like to include that image, in the corresponding German
> > wikipedia article, however so far people hesitated since they believe
> > that this license as expressed in the above url, would/could violate
> > the GDL. I find it odd that different wikipedias have different
> > standards concerning the license politics.
> > What can be done? May the simplest solution would be to contact the
> > artist (if he/she can be find) and ask for explicit permission.
> > Any comments, suggestions?
> This is typical of en-w's "flexible" approach to licensing.
> Someone is pretending that because it was printed in some
> newspapers under terms that we know nothing about somehow this
> gives us permission to use it under some unknown terms even though
> we dont accept pictures where we are explicitly given permission
> any more.
> Currently its not worth trying to get rid of these pictures from en
> as there are still thousands of more dubious ones (no source for
> example). It might get picked up at some point in the fair use
> You cant use it in de: only real free images, sensible policy.
Is this really how it works in the German Wikipedia (and other
non-English Wikipedias)? I assume you must allow some form of fair
dealing, as it's difficult to think of a photo of the real world that
doesn't contain *some* copyrighted materials incidently. Does the
German Wikipedia have many pictures of celebrities and big events? Do
you find that not allowing non-free images detracts significantly from
the encyclopedia (ignoring, if you can, the benefits of the images
I think a big part of the hesitation of really embracing being a free
encyclopedia is the fear that the encyclopedia would be so much less
useful without fair use images. I guess I can get a rough idea of the
answers to these questions just browsing the sites on my own, and
maybe looking at some statistics if I can find them, but it'd be nice
to hear from the perspective of someone who really spends a lot of
time on those Wikipedias.
I just added this proposal:
I assume that's the best place to discuss it, but if it's more appropriate for
this list, let me know and I can redirect.
* I've built a software package called nym which could be used to allow users
of anonymizing networks and shared-IP networks like schools to edit Wikipedia.
Privacy would be preserved, yet admins would still be able to block IPs of
* The software includes patches to WikiMedia, which I have submitted to
MediaWiki's patch-review system.
* Wikipedia needs to decide whether to accept my proposal and patches. The
patches are small and easy to implement; mainly it's a question of whether the
admins are willing to try it out.
At 10:04 29/11/2005, Stephen Forrest <stephen.forrest(a)gmail.com> wrote:
>while I find Mark's posting history to be, shall we say, voluminous,
>his language posts bring important subjects to a wider audience, and
>I have always gotten the impression that he is acting in good
>faith. I haven't received the same impression from some of his detractors.
That is exactly my impression too. It does not leave the best
impression of our community....