[Foundation-l] Simple Wikipedia: different projects

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Wed Jun 22 15:10:09 UTC 2011

On 06/21/2011 04:35 PM, Lodewijk wrote:
> Lets try to approach this from another angle.
> Perhaps simple Wikipedia should not be considered as a different language,
> but rather as a different project - a simplified Wikipedia. Because the
> purpose of simple wikipedia's can be debated of course, but one potential is
> to give more people understandable access to the contents. Then the
> simplified version might not just be about simpler language, but also
> simpler explanations (no long mathematical equations, but only that
> introduction in a way that someone can understand the basics - in simple
> understandable English). I would find it wonderful if I could let my little
> nephew or sister read on a "simple" project without worrying they will panic
> over the complexities. Partially for learning the language, partially for
> getting the knowledge.
> When approached like that, this would not really be a matter for the
> language committee, and every language with enough potential community (!)
> could get their own simple project.
> Another option along the same lines could be a Simple namespace within
> Wikipedia, if there would be an interface allowing you easily to focus on
> just that namespace.
> That way, we don't have to come up with artificial routes and explanations
> to allow our communities the creation of such wonderful projects.

There are at least three serious issues in creation of such projects, if
they are not defined strictly linguistically:
* Scope. Which age do we cover, approximately? Any valid theory would be
useful, but it should be defined. According to Piaget, less than 15 [in
Northern France]; according to the age when we could be sure that child
knows to read, more than 7 or 8. Which knowledge is appropriate for that
range of age? What's appropriate for one 8-years old and what's
appropriate for one 14-years old?
* Didactic methods. They have to be reasonably well defined before the
first such project starts.
* Ideological questions. Does human 12 years old need sexual education?
I would say yes and I have serious scientific background for that claim.
However, adherents of many ideologies say opposite, most notably
Christians, Muslims and Jews.

There is serious difference between giving adult people choice and
taking responsibility for minors' education. And, according to the
present state of Wikipedias, I don't have any confidence that it would
be done well out of a couple of languages with large number of speakers
and a couple more North European ones. I have no doubts that it would
just a question of time when strong part of the smaller communities
would require religious education to be introduced in such project;
after which I would require introduction of teaching how to prepare
Molotov cocktails, as they are more useful in real world and less dangerous.

In response to Erik's idea, I would say that we should just take care
about the present guidelines and possible to make small corrections.
I've took a look at the article Acceleration [1]. The article is quite
good for any level of knowledge (although more advanced issues could be
addressed more). It has introduction with the simple description and
just after that it covers more complex definitions. Maybe we should have
the first section inside of every article named "Introduction", where
all basic concepts would be described.

But, anyway, the most important quality of one encyclopedia is to give
introduction into the matter in a readable language, while referring to
the other articles if a person doesn't understand needed concepts. And I
think that English Wikipedia is quite good in that.

What is more appropriate for one person who wants to be introduced
slowly and didactically into some matter -- is not an encyclopedia, but
schoolbook. The fact that Wikipedia is much better than Wikibooks
doesn't mean that we shouldn't work on Wikibooks to make them really
useful, like Wikipedia is.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceleration

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