Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales wrote:
It's important for all of us to all remember that
we are all
volunteers, and "I don't feel like it" is always a valid reason for
not doing anything at all.
I know that that has a lot to do with what I do or don't do. Our
richness in things to do goes beyond imagination. For as much as I may
do I still leave many of my own projects incomplete. I can't say that
I'm proud of that personal shortcoming, but it is heartening when
someone takes up an idea of mine and develops it far beyond what I ever
could have done. Being aware of that makes me a little more tolerant of
the failings of others, but not less frustrated.
I share Tim's concerns about small wikis, and some
more besides. For
example, we don't have a big problem with wiki spam on large busy
wikis, but it is a problem that is only going to grow worse, and small
wikis without active communities will be ripe targets.
The one big advantage they still have on the smaller wikis is that the
"Recent changes" remains at a manageable size. That makes it easier for
the regulars to spot something out of the ordinary like spam or vandalism.
There was a time when we tended to say yes
(accidentally or otherwise)
to just about every proposed language. But the simple fact of the
matter is that we've already done all the easy cases of general
interest, and the languages that we don't have are all going to need
The audience should be one factor in any decision. Without an audience
what's the point? There are still some significant languages without a
wiki, and with a population that could be helped. (Singhalese, Hausa,
Navajo, Quechua are examples from four different continents.) These
might even be encouraged if there were an inkling of desire to participate.
I express no opinion on Gothic; I simply don't know
enough to know.
But I do make these observations... (1) while there appear to be
somewhere between several hundred and several thousand speakers, to my
knowledge *none* of those speakers use Gothic as their primary
language or would have difficulty finding encyclopedia information in
a language that they do understand (2) therefore, this is more of a
linguistic research matter, so I wonder if perhaps what is really
wanted is a wikibook type of place where speakers can share texts in
the language, write texts in the language, write textbooks to help
others learn the language, etc.
The community that speaks a dead or artificial language needs to exist
beyond the walls of academia or Hollywood. There is plenty in the
various existing projects to accomodate these languages: Grammar guides
in Wikibooks, ancient texts in Wikisource, vocabulary entries in
Wiktionary. It's difficult to justify a whole encyclopedia for a dead
or constructed language that has done none of these. In the early days
such a language proposal could be viewed more favorably because none of
these other projects existed.
Scaling the overall project involves balancing two extremes. If a
project is too big it bureaucratizes itself. Rules and rule-making
become ends in themselves for some parts of the community. The average
contributor can't keep up with it in any kind of informed way. There
are frequent votes to decide questions that only affect part of the
community, and an old-timer who has gone off to deal with topics on
another part of the pedia comes back to his old topic to find that it
has been flooded with rules that make no sense to him. It becomes very
difficult to re-open the debate in the face of a rule-bound opposition.
New projects can offer new ways of looking at a situation; this is why I
was moderately supportive of the new Wikispecies project. The way
things are done on a new project where contributors can take the risks
necessary for original development, with a reasonable chance of
defending those risks is what will keep the wiki complex alive and in a
state of dynamic growth. Proposals that impose a certain regimentation
on an entire family of projects need to be resisted; such would be the
case with any insistance that all Wiktionaries follow the same format
The other extreme that scaling must face is the premature development of
small projects, or ones with extremely limited growth potential. The
idea of a separate project to deal with the chemical elements had
limited growth potential because on a practical level the number of
elements is finite. In theory that list could be expanded infinitely,
but such a prospect within our lifetimes is not at all realistic. There
also appear to be some efforts to create some communities based on an
absence of effort by a small number of individuals to work together with
others. The recent debate over separate traditional and simplified
chinese wikipedias is a good example of this. Although the zh-tw
Wikipedia was set up in error, the debate that followed did show us how
incredibly difficult it can be to get the genie back in the bottle.
Similar proposals have been made for separate German and Hebrew language
Wikisources. I can understand where in the absence of technical
expertise the request for a separate project for an RTL language would
be sensible. The arguments for German, however, seem to focus on the
concept of being able to work better in an environment in their own
language. True as that may be it reflects an unwillingness to seek
solutions to how to work together in a multilingual environment. The
underlying texts in whatever language are stable, and the difficulties
relate to meta-matters about how we discuss the treatment of those
texts. How do we make the texts of one language more available to the
readers of another? To me that is one of the fundamental questions that
Wikisource should seek to address. Wikisource currently has a little
less than 4,000 articles of which maybe 100 are German language texts.
Considering that number is affected by having Bible and Book of Mormon
entries on a one chapter = one article basis reduces the 4,000
significantly for independant articles.
Synchrinized side-by-side edit boxes still remain just a dream.