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