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

phoebe ayers phoebe.wiki at gmail.com
Fri Jun 25 17:11:41 UTC 2010

On Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 3:37 AM, Milos Rancic <millosh at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 1:51 AM, Samuel Klein <meta.sj at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Yes.  We should definitely lay the groundwork well, as Ziko says.  But
>> there are good projects underway today and doing this, in spanish,
>> french, and dutch.  Some of the organizers of those projects have
>> contributed to the Wikikids proposal on meta.  We can start by
>> directing energies there, finding out what Vikidia has learned running
>> projects in French and Spanish, what their standards for
>> project-creation are, and how we can help them.
> If we want to go this way, our task will be complex. I don't think
> that we should be afraid of it, but I think that the most of
> participants are underestimating its complexity.
> There are a number of important questions to be answered before start
> of such project:
> * Do we have a consistent pedagogical platform for creating such project?
> * How can we be sure that we will have enough relevant pedagogues per
> project? Would we pay them? Or would we create projects with other
> organizations to have them payed?
> * Who will be the main editors of the project? Children of any age? Or
> parents? If parents, I am deeply concerned which social and
> ideological groups we would attract.
> * Is it possible to have such Wikipedia-like project, where
> communities are doing self-regulation? My assumption, based on 6.5
> years of Wikimedian work, is that it is not possible. (To be more
> precise: Project per se could be successful in gathering editors, but
> it will end as Simple English Wikipedia or as Conservapedia.)
> * Would it be better to find volunteers or hire someone to create a
> project similar to the printed edition of German Wikipedia? First to
> create "illustrated Wikipedia for children", then to create Wikipedias
> for every age of cognitive development.
> * Do we have any clue how crowd sourcing will work with ages between 8
> and 15? Even though it would be regulated by pedagogues.
> * How group dynamics would look like inside of the project with 8
> years old and 15 years old?
> * How many pedagogues are able to drive this kind of project? In our
> civilization, pedagogues are product of Industrial Age education and
> they are doing Industrial Age teaching, which is in collision with
> open culture. I think that the right time for relatively open, mass
> collaboration project will be when those born in 1995, generation
> grown up on Wikipedia and open culture, become pedagogues. Around
> 2020. (I am not saying that there are no pedagogues able to do this.
> However, we don't need a couple of pedagogues, we need strong
> pedagogical basis to have possibility to create such kind of project.)
> * etc.
> We are all amateurs in cognitive development. My two exams in this
> field makes me an expert on this list. And we don't need just
> professionals, but extraordinary professionals. And those
> professionals have to be introduced well in Wikimedia culture.
>> But the teachers there also asked for a simpler-language project in
>> Spanish, and a simple project in English to help students with
>> language learning.
> In Serbian we say "you are mixing grandmothers and frogs" :)
> I would add one more important implementation of simple-like project:
> Controlled language [1] project. It would allow much easier
> translation between languages.
> But, those are three different implementations. We would need
> "Wikimedia for children", "Wikimedia for learning languages" and
> "Wikimedia for machine translation".

Milos, I think these are all good and valuable questions to ask; any
new project should be put through such rigorous analysis, especially
if it is to succeed. As Birgette says, it's hard to build a wiki and
harder still to build a successful one.

But, to be fair, do we ask such questions of our other projects? I do
not recall being asked if I was a trained encyclopedia writer or a
trained journalist when I joined Wikimedia :) Perhaps we should ask
these kinds of hard questions of a new project, but also realize that
we may not be able to predict all of the answers ahead of time.

All of our projects have taken as their primary model some standard
type of work: the encyclopedia, the book of quotations, the dictionary
-- and then we have gone above and beyond any previous example of the
genre with each of our projects, through our technological and social
abilities. There is, similarly, lots of precedent in the world for
children's encyclopedias and reference works for children -- the need
and the model are both clearly present in the world -- and I think we
can fairly consider taking that type of work as a model for a new type
of wikimedia project, while expecting that we would similarly be able
to go above and beyond previous examples.

-- phoebe

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