[Foundation-l] Promoting non-en Wikipedias (was In defence of Google)

GerardM gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sun Jan 21 16:32:36 UTC 2007

The first thing we can do is not compare it to the English language
Wikipedia. The en.wikipedia.org is what the other projects can aspire to if
that is what they want. If we are serious about making these other projects
successful, we have to give them a priority that they currently do not get
and give them the room to develop.

The first thing that we can do is to make sure that the localisation is done
as efficiently as possible. Practically it means that the Incubator can be
used like the BetaWiki used to be used for. By making Incubator the place
where we do our localisation, we will need to do this only once and, this is
an improvement from the laborious way it is done on for instance the Marathi
projects. It however means that this software needs to be accepted by Brion
and for him it currently does not have the required priority.

In order to get living and breathing language projects there are several
things that help. Localisation is one. With a quality localisation we not
only support one project, we allow MediaWiki to be used as a tool. This will
increase the number of people that can easily help us out. A minimal amount
of content for a project is the next. There have been successful projects to
translate basic information that provides some infrastructure to a project.
The Neapolitan Wikipedia for instance has pioneered the use of CAT or
Computer Translation Tools for the creation of static content.

There are organisations that share the wish with us to provide quality
information in particular languages.

I have had the privilege to learn first hand how this can be done in a pilot
project. In this project Wikimedians were in charge of a translation project
where English featured articles were translated in Persian. The list of
articles that were to be translated was presented before the work started to
prevent the notion that an American POV was pushed out. Several articles
were removed as a result. We have learned a lot from this project and, are
now able to do a similar project where a mix of translation and original
articles can be written.

Important is that the articles selected are the ones that will have
relevance. This is why a theme of "background articles to the news" was
extremely valid. It is these articles that are found to be most read; the
Gerald Ford article was read a lot after his death. By consistently focusing
on the background information to the news, you create the relevance that
will attract other people to enrich the project with other content. Things
that are in the news have a tendency to get back into the news... :)

Having a mix of translations and new articles is better also because the
English featured articles are overdeveloped. It is much better for the
creation of a community to create a tapestry of linked articles that provide
a start. Many people have a fear of starting articles. There are with some
regularity opportunities for projects like this. Of importance is that they
are managed well and that the core values of our projects are respected this
can be ensured by having established Wikimedians play a role in this.

PS This is not to say that the small projects are the only projects that
could benefit from a paid for project. When projects have a bias that exists
because of an under representation of specific information, it would be one
way of addressing it effectively.

PS There is room for the development of content in many more languages that
we are exploring.


On 1/21/07, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 21/01/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> > There is also the fact that Wikipedia is not well known in many
> > countries. When our articles are found positively in search engines, it
> > will slowly but surely help us get to the tipping point where Wikipedia
> > is a household name. It is not even well known in countries like Italy.
> > We need good relations to get us where we will be a well established
> > movement outside of the English language as well. It helps when we have
> > friends like Google.
> On a slight variation on this topic:
> What can we do for countries where people routinely use the English
> wikipedia and ignore their own language Wikipedia? I try to push local
> Wikipedias when talking to the press (and far too many  seem to be
> unaware of their own language Wikipedia) and mention the international
> character talking to the English-language press. That hopefully does a
> little, but not enough.
> One factor appears to be that en:wp has achieved usefulness. (If
> Wikipedias weren't actually useful, wikipedia.org wouldn't be a top 10
> site on Alexa.) I think this is two things:
> 1. Incredible breadth of coverage - journalists LOVE en:wp because
> it's the universal backgrounding resource on any subject, if
> approached with due caution.
> 2.Very up-to-date.
> Britannica may have more consistent writing quality and more
> consistent fact-checking, but it's not there on people's desks and
> it's not kept obsessively up-to-date.
> So what can small Wikipedias (say, under 100,000 articles) do to
> achieve these effects - breadth and being up-to-date - as well? Are
> there other tacks they should try taking to achieve greater public
> awareness?
> [cc: to wikien-l for further ideas]
> - d.
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