[Foundation-l] Wikikids

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Mon May 28 22:11:49 UTC 2007

mathias.damour wrote:
> not a Wikipedia-like project, and being hosted on the
> wikibooks wiki makes impossible several feature of Wikipedia.
> For example you can't make easy internal wikilinks : wikilink
> to "Aluminum" is not [[Aluminum]] but [[Wikijunior The
> Elements/Aluminum]]. The "oxygen" page:
> http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior_The_Elements/Oxygen
> should only tell about the element, not the dioxygen gas. (it
> does indeed, and doesn't make it clear between one and the
> other) and it doesn't make it easy to create another page
> about the gas, since this wikibooks is about the elements.
Part of the complaint here falls in the "SOFIXIT" reply, but I would 
like to point out that you *can* provide links using Wiki markup to 
things like Aluminum like this:  [[Wikijunior The 
Elements/Aluminum|Aluminum]].  It isn't quite so pretty looking or 
intuitive, but this is something that nearly everything on Wikibooks has 
to deal with.  Certainly as a full blown Wikimedia sister project this 
wouldn't be as big of a problem, but it would be a problem even if you 
were using the Wikimedia incubator.  I'm just trying to suggest an 
alternative that is already in development by individuals who are trying 
to develop content explicitly written for children.
> Another point is that Wikijunior "only" aims to produce and
> offer content for children whereas Wikikids.nl and Vikidia
> want children to be involved in building this content. We want
> to let them be active with knowledge for pedagogical interest.
> See this article : http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Writing-to-learn
I have serious doubts about the ability of children to get involved in 
this process, other than to the extent that they already are involved 
with Wikimedia projects.  There are minors (including some that have 
administrator access... as discussed in some earlier threads) who are 
involved with Wikipedia content (and a few I suspected on Wikibooks as 
well), but these tend to be kids that are exceptionally motivated.  And 
they participate on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects as peers to 
everybody else who is a contributor, with no special distinction.  While 
the idea of having kids write for kids sounds appealing on paper, a 
bunch of 4th graders write like... well... a bunch of 4th graders.  They 
are still trying to learn the basic mechanics of writing, and ought to 
be learning how to write from those who have already mastered the skill, 
not from those who are still apprentices in the subject.  I digress if 
you think some contributors on Wikipedia don't know how to write, but 
that more or less proves my point as well.
> I don't think that "fragmenting community and leaders" is a
> real danger now that several Wikipedia have reached such a
> huge size both in articles and in editors.
> Some people have had the idea to make either special articles
> or a special wiki for children of each grade, or even for each
> grade AND each school. (because you would have to explain in a
> different way to a 9 years old child than to a 12 years old)
> see this discusion:
> http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Talk:Wikis_for_children) I feel that
> it would be "fragmenting community" and that one single
> encyclopedic wiki for 8 to 13 year old children and for one
> language is a fair middle.
What I'm trying to point out is that those who are involved with 
Wikijunior were not even contacted about this idea in the first place 
when the idea was originally brought up on Meta, and suggestions on Meta 
to look at the Wikijunior project as perhaps something to work with were 
met with incredible hostility by those suggesting this Wikikids 
project.  This doesn't have to be an either-or situation, as I believe 
the sum is healthier than the individual parts alone.  It is the 
leadership and communications that I'm talking about, for a very diffuse 
community that has shown some struggles in the past.
> Wikijunior is clearly a wikibooks project. I mean that it is
>> As for the health of Wikijunior books, many of them have reached
>> "featured book" status as some of the "best of..."
> Do you tell about this attempt ?
> http://editthis.info/wikikidsen/Main_Page I didn't look at it
> closely, but I am afraid that it wasn't lead in a proper way.
> Another think is that there is "simple english wikipedia",
> whom no other equivalent have been created in any other
> language. I guess that it would make less easy to create a
> wikikids in english, as it would be partly similar to simple,
> and I would also say that the fact that this wiki is not so
> big and hasn't been created in other language may show that
> its aim would not be so clear, mobilizing and justifying.
That is not really fair for the Simple English community, and attempts 
have been made to create similar groups for other major languages, with 
Simple Spanish as one I've seen proposed on Meta as well.  I would agree 
that your goals are quite a bit different than the Simple English 
community, as they are explicitly trying to write for adults who don't 
have a grasp of the English Language due to the fact that they are still 
learning the language.  This is similar to adult literacy vs. child 
literacy teaching methods.  I don't think they are quite so different in 
the end, but this is approaching the subject (simplified content) from 
very different directions.
> The idea to seed from wikijunior could be good, so as the idea
> to create such wiki on the Vikidia and Wikikids.nl model.
> I can't say about Wikikids.nl, but if by chance they would be
> some encyclopedic wikis dedicated to children to open in other
> language, Vikidia (in french) would rather become a wikimedia
> project and work on it together than see them created by
> isolated groups in each language.
> Hope to hear from you,
> Mathias Damour
> Créez votre adresse électronique prenom.nom at laposte.net 
> 1 Go d'espace de stockage, anti-spam et anti-virus intégrés.

I hope that you have been to see the French Wikijunior project 
(http://fr.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior), while not as complete as the 
English Wikijunior, does have some content that can be used on Vikidia.  
And that is part of what I'm trying to suggest here is that there are 
content developers with Wikibooks (working on the French Language 
edition of Wikijunior) that aren't even aware of Vikidia.  This is 
something that can and should change.

I am presuming that you are writing about this because you want to seek 
input from the Wikimedia community, and would like to enlist support for 
those who might want to get involved with a project of this nature.  I'm 
merely suggesting here that there are individuals who may want to join 
in this sort of project, and you should try to join with these efforts.  
There have been some attempts in the past to move Wikijunior to a 
completely separate project and domain name, including forming 
Wikijunior as a completely independent Wikimedia sister project.  One of 
these proposals, and not rejected by the Wikijunior community, was to 
move to a more Wikipedia-like format of articles rather than the themed 
collections organized into books such as currently exist on Wikibooks.  
Please ask those involved with the development of Wikijunior to at least 
comment on your ideas.  For English Wikijunior, the best place is at 

What all this concept is lacking is a very motivated leader who is 
willing to take the next step and demonstrate that there is a large 
concensus among those want to go this route.  And unlike the problems 
that existed with Wikiversity on Wikibooks, there is virtually nobody 
who wants to see Wikijunior "kicked off" of Wikibooks.  Wikijunior 
enjoys a nearly independent existence without having to worry about the 
project overhead of maintaining a separate group of admins, and a 
strongly symbiotic relationship exists as well between Wikibooks and 
Wikijunior to bring new users and contributors to both projects.  I 
think that Wikijunior would struggle with a great many issues if it had 
an independent existence at the moment that it doesn't have to worry 
about right now.

Robert Horning

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