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]]
A wikipedian asked me recently if I could allow him to join the
Wikipedia network on Facebook. This network requires to have a valid
email address from Wikipedia (whatever that might be... wikimedia.org
does not constitute a valid address).
Any idea who created that network ?
On the Italian Wikipedia we have an ongoing discussion about relaxing
our policy on suspect copyright violations, making it more similar to
the English Wikipedia one. If someone reads Italian, the page is
At the moment, whenever a copyright violation is found, our policy is to
completely get rid of it, deleting all edits that contain copyvios from
the article's history. One problem is that such a procedure is quite
lengthy since if you want to delete one revision of an article with 500,
you need to delete the article and restore the 499 good ones; if other
revisions had been deleted previously, one has to remember which ones
before deleting the article, otherwise they cannot be easily recognised.
However, notwhitstanding the pain in the ass of this procedure, we've
always done so because we ideally do not want illegal material on the
wiki, and if it is in the history everyone can easily access it. There
are also issues with the legal systems, AFAIK under US law if someone
sues wikipedia for copyvio and the copyvio is taken down, than that's
it, while under Italian law we would still be responsible (at least
that's an argument emerging in the discussion). What is the experience
in other projects? Any good arguments for/against relaxing our policy?
On Dutch TV on 7th April there was a 50 minute documentary by IJsbrand Van
Veeren about our own favorite cult of amateurs - Wikipedia.
The film has been uploaded to Youtube
I personally think that it is inspirational about how the project was
conceived and how we move forward without losing our original aims.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jay Walsh <jwalsh(a)wikimedia.org>
Date: Fri, Apr 11, 2008 at 8:56 PM
Subject: [Foundation-l] Wikimedia Blog is live
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
We are pleased to notify you that today we flipped the switch on the Wikimedia
Foundation's official blog! Wikimedia Blog can be found at
Some background info: this will be a space for WMF staff to post news and
information about the work we're engaged in. We'll also bring in guest
contributors, board members etc to post. Comments are pre-moderated
for the time
being, and we're hoping for lots of civility. Comments will be moderated by
several volunteer moderators and staff as necessary.
We have some basic posting guidelines (generally short, fairly simple english,
conversational etc) so we can keep it reader friendly and useful. We expect a
wide audience - media, public, users, you name it! And we'll work
hard to keep it
interesting - and regular (hopefully posts every other business day).
Always welcome your views, and your understanding about our work-in-progress :)
Hope you enjoy! Looking forward to hearing your views.
Head of Communications
+1 (415) 839 6885 x 609
foundation-l mailing list
Note: This e-mail address is used for mailing lists. Personal emails sent to
this address will probably get lost.
In the Hebrew Wikipedia we have a pretty thorough project to add
relevant interwiki links to as many pages as possible.
We have made a pretty good progress in it in the last few monhs, and i
would like to share our experience.
Interwiki links is an area which lacks proper inter-project
cooperation, or at least that's the impression that i get. I am pretty
sure that at least some of the Wikipedias in foreign languages have
similar projects, but i couldn't find any relevant links to such local
projects on Meta or at [[en:Help:Interlanguage links]] and i can't
read that many languages. I strongly believe that positive cooperation
in interwiki matters will be beneficial to all Wikimedia projects.
Here's a link to an explanation in English about our project:
(It's a redirect through my userpage, to avoid possible problems with
Hebrew characters in the URL.)
Be bold! Any questions, corrections and suggestions are welcome. It is
quite possible that after reading what we wrote there you'll say that
we've got it all wrong - we want to hear it, too!
I'll appreciate it, if you would post this to your local "village
pump" / "cafeteria" / "taverna" / "discussion board" or whatever you
call it. Don't hesitate to ask me for any assistance if you run into
problems with Hebrew characters or anything else.
Thanks for your attention.
Amir Elisha Aharoni
English - http://aharoni.wordpress.com
Hebrew - http://haharoni.wordpress.com
"We're living in pieces,
I want to live in peace." - T. Moore
Gerard is absolutely correct here. It may be the job of the WMF to create a
record of all languages living and dead, but it is not the job of the WMF to
create living languages from dead ones.
In a message dated 4/2/2008 1:58:03 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
You do not discover about a language when in the process you change it
beyond recognition. The correct word for such an endeavour is called
reconstruction. When we tell people we have a Wikipedia in a language and
people turn to it in order to learn that language, we do them a disservice.
This is quit against what the Wikimedia Foundation stands for because in
this way we do not provide valid information.
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