[Foundation-l] Reconsidering the policy "one language - one Wikipedia"

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Thu Jun 24 18:28:43 UTC 2010

On Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 2:41 PM, Ziko van Dijk <zvandijk at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
> Recently there has been a controversy on Wikipedia in German about
> extra articles in simple language. Authors of its medical group wanted
> to create sub pages suitable for children, believing in an urgent
> need. [1]
> In the discussion, the question of creating a Wikipedia in simple
> German came up.
> As we know, to-day Wikimedia language committee policies prohibit a
> new Wikipedia in a language that already has a Wikipedia. The
> existence of a Wikipedia in simple English refers to the fact that it
> had been created before that policy of 2006.
> There are a number of ideas and initiatives to create online
> encyclopedias in "simple language", in and outside the Wikimedia
> world. Wouldn't it be suitable to reconsider and try to give those
> initiatives a place? Who else is more capable to create and support
> such encyclopedias than we are?


Writing dumb articles because of thinking that children are dumb is
dumb. And not just dumb, but deeply ageist and discriminatory.

Considering, for example, Piaget's [1] theory, timeline of cognitive
development is:
* The earliest usual learning of writing is around 5.
* At around 8 children are able to read without problems.
* At around 10 children cognitive system is almost the same as adult.
* Between 13 and 15, depending on climate, life conditions and
culture, and not counting extremes, cognitively there are no children
anymore, there are young adults. Cognitively, the only difference
between them and 10-20 years older humans is in experience and

That means that the target for writing "simple" Wikipedia is for
children between 8 and 10.

So, I would like to see scientific background *before* mentioning
"simple" or "junior" or whatever project: For which age should be,
let's say, Junior Wikipedia? For all minors? For primary school
minors? One article for those old 7 and 15 years? Considering Simple
English Wikipedia, this is purely pseudoscientific attempt. Wishful
thinking of creating family friendly project with dumb language.

But, I am not trying to say that WikiMedia Junior won't be useful.
Yes, it will be very useful if it would be driven well. However, I am
deeply skeptical about crowd sourcing of such thing. It will finish as
Simple Wikipedia, which main purpose is having fun by reading random
articles on parties -- at the best. At the worst, it will finish like
Conservapedia with dumb language. Actually, with many dumb languages.

If we really want to go this way, the only relevant approach is by
finding relevant pedagogues who would lead child contributors. Such
project has to be very well structured, with year or two of relevant
work before going online. However, I see this as very unrealistic at
this moment.

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget

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