[Foundation-l] Introduction to the internal workings of the language subcommittee

Yaroslav M. Blanter putevod at mccme.ru
Mon Apr 14 17:59:51 UTC 2008

Thanks for the illuminating text. Why do not you put it to the
subcommittee meta page, this would answer some unasked questions.


> Hello,
> Several people in the recent discussions, most recently Brian and
> Dovi, have asked about how the subcommittee reaches decisions and
> whether they can join to present their viewpoint. Here's a brief view
> into the wonderful world of the language subcommittee. Being a
> productive member of the subcommittee requires a very large investment
> of continuous time and effort.
> The language subcommittee operates by consensus. This means that most
> proposed decisions are discussed at length, and many tend to be
> compromises. Virtually every aspect of the approval policy is a
> compromise between very different positions in the subcommittee.
> Although it's possible to make a decision over the objections of one
> member, this requires lengthy discussion to attempt a consensus, and a
> complete consensus of the rest of the participating members. This is a
> very time-consuming and stressful process, so that a single member can
> block a decision for a long time. However, it ensures that all
> viewpoints are heard and fairly represented.
> The members of the subcommittee hold some significantly different
> opinions on several issues, and have significantly different
> priorities. As such, monthly discussion frequently outstrips many
> public mailing lists, and is sometimes heated. Discussion in January
> alone totaled some 20000 words.
> Many discussions can be very technical, particularly those concerning
> language code classification and technical accommodations for
> particular languages (like sign languages). This requires research and
> a good understanding of the subject at hand, and is a further drain on
> time and effort.
> Furthermore, after investing so much of your free time and effort on
> this, you must then defend yourself from public criticism for being
> slow, lazy, corrupt, arbitrary, and a sekrit cabal. When you're done
> with that, you then spend more of your free time answering requesters'
> questions and queries.
> New members are chosen by consensus as well. Interested users tend to
> desist when I explain how much fun it will be. A number of our members
> are inactive; I want to ensure that new members know what they're
> getting into, and won't freak out and vanish when they're approved.
> All this is why GerardM said "When the only reason to become a member
> of the LC is to argue a case, it makes little difference ;we can
> discuss on this list as effectively". Being a member of the
> subcommittee involves more than simply arguing your favourite subject.
> If all that sounds fun to you, you're welcome to apply.
> --
> Yours cordially,
> Jesse Plamondon-Willard (Pathoschild)
> On Sun, Apr 13, 2008 at 4:59 AM, Dovi Jacobs <dovijacobs at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>  >"Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
>> the
>>  >sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment." The best way to inform
>> is by
>>  >using the mother tongue of people.
>>  Mother tongues are the best, but providing information in one of
>>  the great classical languages of Western civilization is also
>>  a lovely idea for sharing the "sum of all knowledge." Probably
>>  more useful than a few of the current European languages that
>>  are hardly spoken as first languages anymore (not that I have
>>  any objection to those either).
>>  You do not need "native speakers" (mother tongue) to set up a
>>  project. I had the pleasure of getting the Hebrew Wikisource
>>  up and running, currently with many active contributors
>>  and over 4,000 texts. Hebrew is not my "native" (mother) tongue
>>  but I can contribute on a professional level. Same might be
>>  said for contributors in many languages. What you need are
>>  active, competent contributors, not native speakers or "mother"
>>  tongue.
>>  Gerard, you repeat your arguments about neologisms at length,
>>  adding nothing new, and then conclude:
>>  >The arguments the language committee uses are clear. They are
>> published and
>>  >they are objective. You may not like them, but they are the arguments
>> we
>>  >use. When people have issues, the arguments have to be convincing to
>> make a
>>  >difference.
>>  No, Gerard. Your arguments are indeed published, but they are
>>  not objective. It is *you* who have to convince the community
>>  at large that your arguments are correct.
>>  >We use the ISO-639-3 as a reference. You are
>>  >welcome to apply for a label for reconstructed Old Greek.
>>  No need, "grc" will do just fine!
>>  I would like to add that I have no personal interest whatsoever
>>  in grc.wikipedia.org (my Greek is rudimentary). But I do have great
>>  respect for the fine contributions by others that I saw. And
>>  I think that the way the arguments have been made and the process
>>  has been handled need improvement.
>>  I again repeat my request for information about the language
>>  committee. I would like to see more voices and greater diversity
>>  of opinion on it. How is its membership determined?
>>  Dovi
> On Sun, Apr 13, 2008 at 5:10 AM, Gerard Meijssen
> <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hoi,
>>  In the language committee things are done by consensus. If you want to
>>  become a member of the committee, you will find that there are things
>> that
>>  are at best a compromise. When the only reason to become a member of
>> the LC
>>  is to argue a case, it makes little difference ;we can discuss on this
>> list
>>  as effectively.
>>  If you are interested in doing the work that we do in the LC, you will
>> want
>>  to know about all the esoterica that are part of understanding how
>> languages
>>  are dealt with technically, its different standards and their
>> interaction.
>>  If you do not care for that, you can implement the procedures as they
>> are.
>>  Thanks,
>>      GerardM
> On Sun, Apr 13, 2008 at 9:41 AM, Brian McNeil
> <brian.mcneil at wikinewsie.org> wrote:
>> Congratulations on responding without answering any of the points or
>>  questions raised... Again.
>>  This, Gerard, is you, and you alone. I am not aware of the language
>>  committee appointing you as a spokesperson and you do a fine
>> impersonation
>>  of Ian Paisley as "Dr. No". I've never seen you concede a point or
>> accept
>>  anyone other than yourself has a valid argument. You assert that the
>> basis
>>  for your position is the unstated guidelines to which the language
>> committee
>>  allegedly works.
>>  There was one clear and unambiguous question in the email you responded
>> to;
>>  it came in two parts, and was a repeat of an earlier query. It would be
>> most
>>  civilised to answer the question and not assert that the discussion
>> should
>>  simply continue here. The option you offer is a complete and utter
>> waste of
>>  time for everyone else on the list. I am none the wiser about how the
>>  language committee operates than I was nearly a year ago when I signed
>> up,
>>  but by golly! Have I had to read a lot of messages from you that tell
>> other
>>  people they're not qualified to give input.
>>  Brian McNeil
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