[Foundation-l] Simple Wikipedia: different projects

Lodewijk lodewijk at effeietsanders.org
Fri Jun 24 11:42:15 UTC 2011

Hi Milos,

First of all, in my opinion this should not be a discussion about language
but rather about viability. Like Ray explained, if you try to define
everything into detail ("we cannot allow...") then you might kill the idea
before it is born. Let us first think about whether we /want/ to have such
projects before we dive into details about specific definitions etc. That is
also the reason why I personally think this should not be an issue for the
Language Committee in the first place.

Now your concerns about whether a simple Dutch community would be viable are
reasonable ones, and I agree it would worry me too. Not because of Wikinews
(because that just has little interest) but because of the diversity of
goals etc. So that is why a significant group of editors should be a
prerequisite - then that worry has been taken away - or it should be part of
existing structures (namespaces etc). I agree with Rupert that it would be
great to see which technical developments would be needed to make this
possible (although I personally am no big fan of many different
age-projects. But also there: as long as there is a viable community... why

If it is technically viable, I would love to see some way to create such
projects (standalone or not) - although I am not sure if incubator would be
the best option for that. After all, in the case of simple Dutch, the Dutch
Wikipedia community would be much better equipped to nourish such a new
initiative than incubator.



2011/6/24 Milos Rancic <millosh at gmail.com>

> On 06/24/2011 11:40 AM, Ray Saintonge wrote:
> > On 06/22/11 1:46 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
> >> I have a friendly advice for you (and I hope that Michael and Gerard
> >> wouldn't kill me because of that): If you are able to create really
> >> valid community and your language is not considered as a world one (as
> >> the case with Dutch is), and you really want to create Wikipedia in
> >> simple language: (1) Create it inside of the main Wikipedia's
> >> namespace. (2) Ask developers to install Incubator Extension when it
> >> becomes a bit more mature. (3) Ask IETF for the language subtag
> >> (something like "nl-simpel" or "nl-eenvoudige" or whatever you think
> >> it is appropriate). (4) Ask Language committee for redirect.
> >>
> >> I suppose that we would need a year or two to full implementation of
> >> the Incubator Extension and redirects. I also think that no one from
> >> LangCom would object such arrangement. Having the whole nl.wp
> >> community behind such project is one thing, having a separate
> >> community is another. If supported by nl.wp community, I wouldn't have
> >> anything against not having scientific basis.
> >
> > By attaching enough bureaucratic requirements to an idea you can insure
> > that anything fails.  What is this scientific basis? No other Wikipedia
> > has had to face that challenge.  Leave it up to the people involved in a
> > simple project to develop their specifications as they go along.
> > Demanding that before they start is an effective way of blocking the
> > project before it starts. Wikipedia as a whole never achieved its
> > success by imposing such barriers on editing.
> >
> > Simple writing is more difficult than writing for a general audience. If
> > there is a small group of Dutch speakers ready to put something of the
> > sort together, preferably with a couple of educators among them, let's
> > encourage them to get on to it sooner rather than later.  If such a
> > project dies from neglect that's no big deal.  If language educators see
> > this as a viable model it may be just the thing that draws them.
> The main difference between simple and natural languages is that simple
> languages are not natural. They are constructed (or, more precisely,
> controlled) languages with particular purpose.
> So, the logical questions are: is that a valid constructed language (a
> reliable and published definition is needed) and what's the purpose of
> that language? Basic English and French definitions sound good (have to
> check other) as the basis, and it is possible to write an encyclopedia
> in those languages.
> Because of the same reason why we are not able to allow encyclopedia in
> pidgin languages (not to be confused with creole languages with the word
> "pidgin" in their names), we are not able to allow writing encyclopedia
> in COBOL, no matter how it looks like a natural language: it is not
> possible to create encyclopedia in those languages. Similar would be
> applied to any controlled language which doesn't have possibility to
> express the full variety of contemporary knowledge. Because of the same
> reason, encyclopedias in historical languages are not possible. [1]
> Humans are intelligent enough to develop any language into fully
> functional one. That's not a question. I am curious enough to see
> encyclopedia written in COBOL, as well as contributors of Classical
> Chinese and Old Church Slavonic are doing that interesting task whenever
> they try to explain a thing which didn't exist in the time when those
> languages were used.
> I agree that there is significant difference between COBOL, Classical
> Chinese and Old Church Slavonic at one side and any simple language at
> the other. Encyclopedia written in the first three is of questionable
> value, while the last one could be very useful.
> Because of that LangCom didn't change its position in relation to the
> historical languages, but in relation to the simple languages.
> We could be sure that efforts for creation a project are valid if a
> language could be recognized as a valid one by relevant linguist or by
> community of speakers. In the case of simple language projects, there is
> no community of speakers of that language as-is.
> Note, also, that the project with the main purpose to be used by
> children and not fully literate people is not, by its nature, an open
> wiki, like any Wikimedia content project is, because: (1) they are not
> likely to be able to write good definitions and good content according
> to the prescribed rules; and when they are able (2) all of them tend to
> develop full language. Lingua franca usage is completely other issue:
> literate adult people are able to find a common ground to understand
> each other and they are able to work according to the basic principles.
> Then, who are the editors of our projects? Any organized group of
> professionals around? I don't remember one. Simple English Wikipedia has
> been built by the same volunteers of various backgrounds and inside of
> the set of rules which are regularly treated as not welcoming by
> professionals. The best future for a separate project in a simple
> language with less than approximately 100M of speakers is to be started
> by a group of teachers and then abandoned. And if we are talking about
> Dutch, I would remind you that Dutch community doesn't have enough
> manpower to drive Wikinews, which is hard to maintain, but it is more
> general project than one intended to be driven by specific group of
> professionals.
> Because of those reasons, I've given a straight-forward path for
> creation of Simple Wikipedia in non-world-languages: Please, be
> supported by your community, do the job and then we'll do the best to
> meet your needs. Incubator Extension will be more and more useful for
> such cases. If you followed a couple of previous discussions, that
> extension is intended to be a full substitute for a full project, when
> project has small community: anyone who comes to
> "nl-simple.wikipedia.org" would see Simple Dutch Wikipedia as it is the
> only project under that domain. I think that it is not about making
> unreasonable bureaucratic requirements, but a fair offer.
> Besides all of the things above, I am sure that Wikimedia Netherlands is
> able to create a wiki not editable by the Internet to support a group of
> teachers to create an encyclopedia in Simple Dutch; something like
> "simple.wikipedia.nl" (or whatever) would be good enough. BTW, we have
> similar issue because of different reasons for Native Australian
> languages: It is likely that the only option for the most of those
> languages is to create a set of private wikis hosted by WM AU. Wikimedia
> Serbia has offered its domain and hosting for one Papuan language
> (Alekano; they would get gah.wikipedia.rs) to omit regular requirements
> by LangCom for the initial time and allow those people to "have their
> own Wikipedia".
> Bottom line is that I would personally host such projects, if no one
> else is willing.
> [1] That's, of course, about the present situation. When we conclude
> that we've reasonably covered the most of natural languages, I would say
> that we could experiment by allowing Wikimedia projects in other types
> of languages, including the historical ones.
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