Hi Wouter !
Thank you for taking the time to consider my arguments and for your comprehensive
response. I agree with most of what you are writing and I am well aware that your request
for Saterlandic is far more mature then many other pending Wikipedia language requests.
You're right, we might have slightly different ideas on what Wikipedia is all about.
Let me briefly explain what it is to me.
Its main goal is, of course, providing freely editable
information. A second aim is to create encyclopaedias in as many languages
I certainly agree with you there. And so does Wikipedia's claim "The Free
But what is an encyclopia supposed to be? Me, I think any encyclopedia - printed or online
- should serve as a _comprehensive_and_reliable_ source of information. Otherwhise
it's useless. Imagine you go about looking up something in a printed encyclopedia only
to find out it lacks some article it definetly ought to contain. I'd probably throw
that book into the nearest trash can. Now how many articles does an encyclopedia need to
be useful for the reader? I suppose the world's most renowned encyclopedias all
contain 100,000+ articles. More compact versions do exist, but I seriously doubt that any
book with less than 10,000 articles could ever provide a useful amount of information from
all fields of knowledge. Moreover, I guess it could not even be called an encyclopedia in
that case. My point is that when we set up a new language edition of Wikipedia, it should
at least have a chance to became a "real encyclopia" one day. But then again,
other people might have different !
ideas of what an encyclopedia is supposed to be. That's perfectly fine.
As you might have noticed already my concerns are not so much about your Saterlandic
proposal in particular but rather about wikipedias for lesser used languages and their
pros and cons in general. You correctly emphasize - and so did Mark - that the number of
speakers is not the only and maybe not even the key factor in a Wikipedia's success or
failure. If that was the case, Bengali with more than 100 million native speakers would be
a huge thing, which obviously isn't so. No, it's far more complex than that (think
about literacy, social prestige of the language, national/regional identity, literary
tradition as opposed to mere oral usage, internet access, and so forth).
Still I think you just need minimum number of people with knowledge in various fields of
knowledge to asure quality as well as quantity. Printed encyclopedias usually are the work
of hundreds of editors. Paid, professional, full-time editors, nota bene! Can we really
expect to succeed with far _fewer_ editors when they contribute on a volunteer basis in
their short free time?
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