[Foundation-l] English Wikipedia ethnocentric policy affects other communities

Neil Harris usenet at tonal.clara.co.uk
Wed Dec 20 17:44:34 UTC 2006

Gerard Meijssen wrote:
> Neil Harris schreef:
>> Gerard Meijssen wrote:
>>> Neil Harris schreef:
>>>> Gerard,
>>>> The problem does indeed occur symmetrically, and while I phrased my 
>>>> reply in terms of making non-Latin names unambiguous on 
>>>> native-Latin-script Wikipedia editions, you might want to re-read my 
>>>> comment, and notice the bit that said:
>>>>> Of course, to avoid any appearance of linguistic imperialism, the same 
>>>>> facility should be available for users with Latin-script names to add 
>>>>> transliterations in other scripts.
>>>> -- Neil
>>> I can only say that I disagree.
>>> Thanks,
>>>       *ゲラルド・メイセン*
>> Gerard,
>> Given that you disagree with both of my suggestions of possible 
>> solutions for the script-incomprehensibility problem, perhaps you could 
>> suggest a better solution to the problem, preferably one that does not 
>> involve the users of every Wikipedia learning to be literate in every 
>> writing system supported by Wikipedia?
>> -- ኒለ ሃሪሰ
> Hoi,
> There is no solution that suits both of us. I disagree with the stance 
> that people have to change their name in order to accommodate. When 
> people are happy to do that it is ok. When they are forced to do this it 
> is not ok. The key is that the user uses ONE script and is allowed to be 
> him or herself. Given the amount of people around there is no chance for 
> you to know if someone is ok even in Latin. You will have to check their 
> talk page and/or edits. This applies here as much.
> I did not react to the number game because I utterly dislike it. 
> Remember, this is the Wikimedia Foundation where people are allowed to 
> edit anonymously, and you propose to reduce people to numbers.. :( We 
> are talking here about people from other projects. These people that 
> also go to the English language wikipedia should be treated with respect 
> and not with suspicion.
> When you need a signalling system that someone is probably ok, then you 
> can think of all kinds of metrics that could be applied. Reducing people 
> to a number is ugly, requiring people to change their name is ugly. 
> Creating a system with metrics is ugly. To me it is the best of a bad 
> bunch. The saving grace of metrics is that it can be applied to everyone 
> with equal justification.
> Thanks,
>     GerardM

I'd be interested in the opinions of some of the native-language users 
of non-Latin scripts on this list about this idea, rather than having 
Gerard imagining what they might think.

I'm not asking the (fictional) Takeshi to change his name, just to make 
it intelligible for others. If he's participating on en:, he is 
presumably able to read/write English. By extension, I'd like to be able 
to extend the same courtesy to others were I to participate on ar:, he:, 
zh:, ko: or jp:, rather than just assuming they could read English, and 
again I would hope that I would bother to learn to read/write 
Arabic/Hebrew/Chinese/Korean/Japanese respectively at at least an 
elementary level, before trying to make any non-trivial edit to those 

For example, on ar: or am:, I'd rather that people didn't think of my 
own Latin-script name as "bunch of funny Latin letters I can't read and 
can't tell apart". Likewise, if my name was 武, I believe I'd much 
rather have other, non-Japanese-literate people on en: (ie. nearly all 
of them) think of me as "Takeshi", rather than as "yet another 
unintelligible squiggle".

And again: nothing I'm proposing involves hiding anybody hiding their 
own, preferred spelling of their username in the script of the choice, 
just adding an extra tag to let others be able to read, pronounce and 
remember it. In effect, my proposal offers each user more personal 
choice, not less, since it offers them the ability to choose their 
preferred name in each script, without hiding their true, single, chosen 
unified username.

Incidentally, a possible third option, instead of numeric tags, would be 
offer by default a machine-transliterated version of their name, if they 
don't choose their own: but this might be ugly, and providing machine 
transliteration code/tables for all script/language combinations will 
probably be too much to expect.

It may be that my ideas are completely wrong; but not having a solution 
to the name-confusability problem is not an option because of the 
vandalism problem. Can anyone come up with a better solution?

-- Neil

More information about the foundation-l mailing list