[Wikimedia-l] Glossary vs. Glossaries

Guillaume Paumier gpaumier at wikimedia.org
Fri Mar 22 13:27:44 UTC 2013


Last November, I started to clean up on the Glossary page on meta, as
an attempt to revive it and expand it to include many technical terms,
notably related to Wikimedia Engineering (see e-mail below).

There were (and are) already many glossaries spread around the wikis:
* one for MediaWiki: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Glossary
* one for Wikidata: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Glossary
* one for Labs: https://wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Help:Terminology
* two for the English Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Glossary &
* etc.

My thinking at the time was that it would be better to include tech
terms in meta's glossary, because fragmentation isn't a good thing for
glossaries: The user probably doesn't want to search a term through a
dozen glossaries (that they know of), and it would be easier if they
could just search in one place.

The fact is, though, that we're not going to merge all the existing
glossaries into one anytime soon, so overlap and duplication will
remain anyway. Also, it feels weird to have tech content on meta, and
the glossary is getting very long (and possibly more difficult to
maintain). Therefore, I'm now reconsidering the decision of mixing
tech terms and general movement terms on meta.

Below are the current solutions I'm seeing to move forward; I'd love
to get some feedback as to what people think would be the best way to

* Status quo: We keep the current glossaries as they are, even if they
overlap and duplicate work. We'll manage.

* Wikidata: If Wikidata could be used to host terms and definitions
(in various languages), and wikis could pull this data using
templates/Lua, it would be a sane way to reduce duplication, while
still allowing local wikis to complement it with their own terms. For
example, "administrator" is a generic term across Wikimedia sites
(even MediaWiki sites), so it would go into the general glossary
repository on Wikidata; but "DYK" could be local to the English
Wikipedia. With proper templates, the integration between remote and
local terms could be seamless. It seems to me, however, that this
would require significant development work.

* Google custom search: Waldir recently used Google Custom Search to
created a search tool to find technical information across many pages
and sites where information is currently fragmented:
. We could set up a similar tool (or a floss alternative) that would
include all glossaries. By advertising the tool prominently on
existing glossary pages (so that users know it exists), this could
allow us to curate more specific glossaries, while keeping them all
searchable with one tool.

Right now, I'm inclined to go with the "custom search" solution,
because it looks like the easiest and fastest to implement, while
reducing maintenance costs and remaining flexible. That said, I'd love
to hear feedback and opinions about this before implementing anything.



On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 7:55 PM, Guillaume Paumier
<gpaumier at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> Hi,
> The use of jargon, acronyms and other abbreviations throughout the
> Wikimedia movement is a major source of communication issues, and
> barriers to comprehension and involvement.
> The recent thread on this list about "What is Product?" is an example
> of this, as are initialisms that have long been known to be a barrier
> for Wikipedia newcomers.
> A way to bridge people and communities with different vocabularies is
> to write and maintain a glossary that explains jargon in plain English
> terms. We've been lacking a good and up-to-date glossary for Wikimedia
> "stuff" (Foundation, chapter, movement, technology, etc.).
> Therefore, I've started to clean up and expand the outdated Glossary
> on meta, but it's a lot of work, and I don't have all the answers
> myself either. I'll continue to work on it, but I'd love to get some
> help on this and to make it a collaborative effort.
> If you have a few minutes to spare, please consider helping your
> (current and future) fellow Wikimedians by writing a few definitions
> if there are terms that you can explain in plain English. Additions of
> new terms are much welcome as well:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Glossary
> Some caveats:
> * As part of my work, I'm mostly interested in a glossary from a
> technical perspective, so the list currently has a technical bias. I'm
> hoping that by sending this message to a wider audience, people from
> the whole movement will contribute to the glossary and balance it out.
> * Also, I've started to clean up the glossary, but it still contains
> dated terms and definitions from a few years ago (like the FundCom),
> so boldly edit/remove obsolete content.

Guillaume Paumier
Technical Communications Manager — Wikimedia Foundation

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