[Foundation-l] LangCom meeting report

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Tue May 17 11:21:45 UTC 2011

As you should know, thanks to Wikimedia Germany, Language committee had
its first real-life meeting from May 13th to May 15th during the
Hackathon in Berlin [1].

The meeting was very successful. We've made numerous conclusions. They
need to be verified by LangCom members who didn't participate, but I
don't expect substantial changes.

LangCom members who participated are: Amir E. Aharoni, Antony D. Green,
Gerard Meijssen, Michael Everson, Miloš Rančić, Oliver Stegen (via
Skype), Robin Pepermans, Santhosh Thottingal.

Below is the short report from the meeting. Many of the items inside of
the list below require longer description or even creation of documents.
You will be informed after the creation of every document.

A number of the conclusions below assumes that Language proposal policy
[2] will be changed. (I'll make the proposal to LangCom, then LangCom
will discuss and decide, then it will be sent to the Board for approval.)

The report is by order of importance for the community. (Or at least as
I see what is the most important.) All of the issues below are general.
We've discussed about some particular issues and you can see them at the
page [1].

== Incubator extension and redirects ==

We will soon have implemented Incubator extension on Incubator. The
extensions is written by Robin Pepermans (a LangCom member and Incubator
admin) and it will make Incubator more useful for those who create new

In relation to this issue, Incubator projects will get their own virtual
codes. For example, http://xyz.wikisource.org/ will be a redirect to

If technically possible (I'll send the list of the codes to Mark and he
will discuss with other admins is it possible to implement without
problems), all ISO 639-3 codes will get such redirect to the Incubator
page which would have the text similar to "Wikipedia in this language
doesn't exist. If you speak this language, feel free to start it!"

This will be implemented in a couple of steps. I'll write the proposal
at Meta, inform you here and after fixing issues if any, that will be
implemented step by step.

The final product will be Incubator with all small projects, but with
virtually all infrastructure needed to see that project as normal
Wikimedia project.

The main goal of that is to allow many languages to have their own
projects, although they don't have enough manpower to keep the whole
project in function (many of their technical needs would be covered by
Incubator admins).

I've got a number of the same questions in relation to this issue: If
they have virtually everything, why would they create new articles to
become independent project? I answered with the question: Why you create
new articles on your own projects?

The point is that it is not likely to expect that a language with less
than 100,000 speakers will every have sufficient number of people
interested in Wikipedia projects to become a separate one. At the other
side, of course, we still have many possible projects which could be
separate at some point of time.

== Observers ==

Language committee has introduced observers. Anyone who wants to see
what Language committee members are discussing on their list are able to
be ask LangCom for that. It is not likely that any member of this list
wouldn't get such access.

Sj is our first observer.

== Monthly reports ==

Robin Pepermans said that he will write monthly reports of LangCom's
work to inform Wikimedia community.

== Macrolanguages ==

There are a couple of cases in which macrolanguages need to get their
own project. It could be about very small population which wants to have
common Wikisource, let's say; or it could be about a kind of unified
orthography used by a couple of closely related languages.

In all cases communities have to want that. All cases will be handled on
case by case basis.

In other words: While it changes Language proposal policy, this is not a
general rule, but making a field to cover some specific cases in which
macrolanguage project is the most sensible solution.

== Simple projects ==

While some Simple English projects have no reason to exist (Wikiquote,
for example), LPP will be changed to allow other simple language
projects to exist if necessary requirements exist.

We haven't finished this discussion, but at least the rules are:
* Language should be the world language.
* There is a reliable published specification of "simple" (or
equivalent) language.

Under present rules, counting that both languages have reliable
published specification, French would get simple project, while German
wouldn't because French is used as world language. However, we haven't
finished this discussion yet and I think that we should cover regional
lingua francas (or cultural, technical etc. languages used not just by
native speakers) as well (if so, German and Swahili would qualify).

However, the second rule won't be discussed. Proposers of simple
projects have to present reliable and published specification of
"simple" or equivalent language, as English has.

== Proposals for closing projects ==

Robin has made Proposal for closing projects [3]. We discussed briefly
and in general we agreed about the next:

* Anyone can propose project closure.
* A member of Language committee who wants to deal with it (we'll mark
it inside of the "Task" column of the members table at Language
committee page on Meta [4]) brings that on discussion to Language committee.
* Language committee won't vote about it. Recommendation to the Board
will be sent by the LangCom member which is interested in that issue.
* Board will make final decision; likely the same as recommendation
would be.

Before implementing the full Incubator extension and redirects it is not
likely that we would react in the cases of inactive projects. After
that, it is likely that we would send back all of inactive projects to

== Change of Board decisions ==

Board approval will move from the "approval" point to the "eligibility"
point. That has two important consequences:

* If Board really doesn't want some language on Wikimedia servers
because of political reasons, it could block it at the right time, not
after contributors made significant efforts to create the project.
* All projects with previously approved project[s] will be [almost]
automatically approved. ("Almost" in the sense that, for example, Old
Church Slavonic won't get Wikinews, as well as Belorussian will get just
one Wikisource, after communities of two existing Wikipedias agree to
work together.)

== Asking LangCom for opinion ==

Board will be able to get formal *private* answer from LangCom if
necessary. As LangCom's opinion is likely to have significant influence
on Board, LangCom doesn't want to be publicly responsible for random

Community is able to ask members of LangCom for anything relevant on
"Talk:Language committee" page [5], as it always was.

== Membership in LangCom ==

Some kind of yearly confirmations should be introduced; actually, yearly
verification that members are willing to continue to stay for another
year on board. However, we didn't discuss it enough, as we didn't have
time for that. It will continue on list.

The other issue is that we (or at least I) will ask two to four times
per year for new members. However, you should note that we don't need
any new member, but new members which are able to have substantial
contribution to LangCom.

== Renaming wikis ==

There are a number of wikis to be renamed, as they don't have proper
codes. They should be renamed with some exceptions. For example:

* Alemannisch Wikipedia, with the code "als" should be renamed to "gsw"
(or split into single languages, as Alemannic German is a
macrolanguage). If moved, it will keep "als" for a couple of years and
then the code will be virtually transferred to Albanian Wikipedia, as
"als" is ISO 639-3 code for Tosk Albanian, which is the standard
Albanian, also.
* Min Nan Chinese presently has code "zh-min-nan". Its ISO 639-3 code is
"nan". As "zh-min-nan" is not used by any Wikimedia project, Min Nan
Wikimedia projects will be able to keep virtual code "zh-min-nan" forever.

== Languages support issues ==

* Thanks to Santhosh, Gerard and others, we have webfonts in MediaWiki.
That basically means that if someone wants to read some page, usually in
a language which doesn't have proper support on contemporary operating
systems, MediaWiki would be able to give needed font to the browser.
Thanks to Siebrand, this will be implemented on Translatewiki [6] soon
as a step to prepare it for WMF servers deployment.
* Amir should make report on two issues:
** problems in RTL/LTR support; and
** problems with sorting in Hebrew, Arabic and Myanmar.

== Other issues ==

There are a couple of other issues discussed during the meeting about
which I would like not to talk before they happen. All of them are about
improving language related issues on Wikimedia projects.

== Your input ==

Feel free to suggest anything relevant here or at our talk page [5].
While some things need time to be changed, good ideas are always welcome.

Other members of LangCom and others who participated in our discussions
can add here what they think that is relevant and I forgot to say.

[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_committee/May_2011_meeting
[2] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_proposal_policy
[3] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposals_for_closing_projects
[4] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_committee
[5] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Language_committee
[6] http://translatewiki.net/

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