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;-)
--- Stirling Newberry <stirling.newberry(a)xigenics.net> wrote:
> On Mar 9, 2005, at 7:52 PM, Mark Williamson wrote:
> > What about people who speak Hopi as their first language and would
> > like to read about Milwaukee?
> What about the vast majority of our readers who have needs that are
> being ignored while certain individuals ride their private hobby
Er, that is what I do already by writing about the things I find to be
interesting. That is the hobby horse I ride. Why is this wrong?
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Requests have recently been made to the Board asking for verification
that a user is sockpuppeting on one of the larger Wikipedias. At least
two of the developers felt this was a matter for the Board or for an
arbitration committee (although that Wikipedia doesn't have an
arbcom), and were therefore not happy to give out details about the IP
address of this user. Checking IPs is no longer a developer-only task
since a new feature allows sockpuppet checks.
[[Special:CheckUser]] allows a user with "checkuser" permissions to
find all the IP addresses used by a particular logged in user, and to
show all the contributions from a given IP address, including those
made by logged in users.
Currently the only people with the necessary permissions to use
CheckUser are Tim Starling (who wrote the code for this) and David
Gerard (who uses it on behalf of the English Wikipedia Arbitration
This data is only stored for one week, so edits made prior to that
will not be shown via CheckUser. A log is kept of who has made which
queries with the tool. This log is available to those with the
I would personally like to see this feature be made available to more
communities than just the English Wikipedia, but I am concerned about
potential misuse of it, and the violation of privacy for users who
have not been disruptive. I would appreciate any comments about this
feature, and answers to the questions below, either here or on on Meta
Do you think this feature should be made more widely available?
If so, who should be given access to it?
Should it be limited to stewards, or to wikis with arbitration committees?
<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Privacy_policy> need be adjusted to
allow the use of this feature?
This is a brief report from the FLOSS Conference in South Africa that
Erik and I attended this week. A more detailed version is on Meta at
so please read that one instead if you have time.
I was invited to give a presentation about the Wikimedia projects at
the international "Free/Libre and Open Source Software" (FLOSS) and
Free Knowledge workshop in Pretoria, South Africa. Erik was given the
opportunity to hold a workshop there about wiki technology. The byline
for the conference was "Knowledge for all, Education for all", so the
Wikimedia projects fitted in perfectly.
The first day was made up of formal presentations. A list of these is
on Meta. My talk was part of a "Digital Commons" panel. Much of the
second day was divided into two workshops, including Erik's. The theme
of Free Knowledge Communities was discussed on day 3, and there were
many areas in which Wikimedia projects could collaborate with existing
initiatives, and new ideas for using Wikimedia content:
* Spoken Wikipedia by cell phone. Many areas of Africa have high
cell phone coverage with access to SMS. Teemu Leinonen of the
University of Art and Design Helsinki is working on a project to allow
a user to send an SMS with the article title to a phone number. A few
seconds later, they get a call on their cell phone with a (usually
machine-generated) spoken version of the article they requested.
* Wikipedia in schools. Static HTML dumps on DVD, offline
applications that allow editing, and update feeds like rsync to
maintain offline copies, were all requested by people working on
getting Wikipedia into schools. Where people were interested in print
projects, they wanted to focus on printing out particular topics,
rather than having a copy of the entire encyclopedia.
* Wiktionary. There is a need for a repository of legal
terminology in the 11 official languages of South Africa since courts
often rely on untrained interpreters who need a reference guide for
dealing with unfamiliar terminology from any of the languages they
were not native speakers of.
* Wikibooks/Wikiversity/E-learning. With the price of textbooks
much higher in South Africa than in developed countriesfree textbooks
are of extreme importance, and Wikibooks could provide the content
needed for initiatives to deliver this. We discussed our existing and
potential future projects at length and talked to proponents of
various e-learning initiatives.
Again, see http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Conference_reports/FLOSS%2C_South_Africa_2005
for details on any of these issues.
On the evening of the third day, the first African meetup as held in
"Cafe 41". Four Wikipedians from South Africa participated: Laurens,
Alias, Renier Maritz and Andy Rabagliati. Renier's wife also joined
us, along with some people from the conference. We discussed ways to
promote the Afrikaans Wikipedia, methods to distribute Wikipedia to
Africa, localization of the interface, and possibilities for
Several upcoming conferences were mentioned as being of possible
interest to Wikimedia. Most notable of these are WSIS
(<http://www.itu.int/wsis/>;), which I believe Jimmy and Yann may be
attending, and the World Conference on Computers in Education
(<http://www.sbs.co.za/wcce2005/>;), for which no Wikimedia attendance
is currently planned.
Unfortunately, we did not see much of South Africa beyond the
conference centre. Nevertheless, the visit was very productive and led
to many new contacts and insights. We aim to follow up on the
discussions, and turn some of the ideas above into reality soon.
I was wondering if it were possible to have a user account
setting where I set the date to either mm-dd-yyyy or dd/mm/yyyy, and the
dates within articles show up that way across the wiki. Some prefer one
way, others prefer the other way.
Larry Sanger has again written at length about the history of Wikipedia
in two articles posted on Slashdot.
Part I : http://features.slashdot.org/features/05/04/18/164213.shtml?tid=95
Part II :
Some blogworld commentary is at
- including a follow-up by Sanger, giving his take on the "was he or
wasn't he the co-founder" debate, in particular
"I was virtually always referred to as a co-founder until last year.
What has changed?
Wikipedia was my idea (in the very robust sense explained in my memoir),
its main founding principles were in large part mine and enforced by me,
and I did more than anyone to organize it. It simply would not have
existed if I had started it, indeed while being employed by Jimmy. It
was on that basis that I was for several years credibly and repeatedly
called "co-founder" of the project.
The fact that I was Jimmy's employee, which I freely admit, does not
mean I was not also a co-founder of the project.
Until last year, again, this was my honorific, and until this year,
nobody has bothered questioning it. I wonder why."
I know many irresponsible users try to upload copyrighted material in
Wikipedia. What do you do to find which material is copyrighted and how do
you handle the situation?