[Foundation-l] LangCom meeting report

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Tue May 17 13:31:39 UTC 2011

On 05/17/2011 02:21 PM, Ziko van Dijk wrote:
> Thank you for the exhaustive report. May I react to one specific
> point? I did not totally understand the rules about "simple"
> languages. It reads as if the concept of simple language versions has
> only to do with lingua francas, so that the benefittors are people who
> are no native speakers. I believe that the concept is in fact larger,
> the benefittors are also young people, people who have difficulties to
> read, people who are handicapped in any way. So also small or
> regionally confined languages such as Hungarian would benefit from
> such a Wikipedia.

Your point is a good one. My position is that the rules of which
language could be accepted for which Wikimedia project will be changing
through the time by being broader.

There are two separate questions related to incorporation of languages:
(1) having appropriate infrastructure and (2) having relevant
foundations for the project.

The first one is not related to the technical infrastructure, at least
in this moment of time. New MediaWiki instance is very cheap and if
nobody uses it -- it costs nothing; if many people are using it -- it is

The question of infrastructure is much more related to our
organizational power. And, again, it is not so related to keeping small
projects clean of vandalism -- as it is not so complex task -- but to
the need to create successful projects.

So, at the time when there are languages of millions of speakers without
Wikipedia and our organizational resources are still very limited, we
should spend resources to fulfill needs of larger populations. That
includes the fact that the languages with the most of speakers would get
simple projects, no matter of the initial reason.

During the next one or two years Incubator will be strongly impacted by
the present set of changes. It is likely that it will become the second
most important Wikimedia project, after English Wikipedia. After that,
we shall see would be there enough people willing to handle Incubator
and would we be able to handle more classes of projects; most of them
likely inside of the Incubator.

My ultimate position is: if we have enough of resources, I see no reason
to deny to someone to write news in Sumerian.

The other question is having relevant foundations for the project. Our
goal is to spread educational materials and other kinds of free
information. Broadly speaking, even Wikibooks in Klingon and Wikinews in
Sumerian are about that. The first one could be interpreted as spreading
knowledge through the channel which is more interesting to younger
people. The second one is about learning and exploring one classical

But, we need to have some relevant foundations for that. In the case of
Klingon and Sumerian, there are reliable descriptions of their
structures. In the case of simple language, there should be reliable
description of what does that simple language means to avoid OR inside
of the project's foundations. (For example, I haven't heard for such
definition of Serbian (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian), which means
that it is not likely that such definition exists for Hungarian.
However, I may be wrong, of course.)

So, if there is no such definition, it could be created and after that
interested persons should apply for simple project.

> If I interpret it right, Germans can come to the incubator and build
> up a Wikipedia in Simple German? With a reasonable chance to become
> later recognized?

Wait for 10 days to make this issue clear. The logic behind this
approval is related to non-native speakers. And it has its own problems.
My bottom line (which doesn't mean that it is the bottom line of other
members of LangCom) is: if we use some language as fallback one in
MediaWiki localization, then it should have possibility to have simple

Among such languages is, for example, Dutch. However, there are
languages with equal or more people who speak them as the second
language. German and Swahili are among them; Persian and Hindustani are,
too. So, logically, they should be included.

In other words, I would say that the project can have its simple version
if there is significant number of L2 speakers.

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