Language committee/Archives/2006-09

For a summary of discussions, see the archives index.

First proposal (03 July 2006)


Email to the Special projects committee sent on 03 July 2006. This message is also available in the mailing list archives (where?).

Hi all  :-)

I hope you are having a great day. Well, since there were no more comments on this
text for the proposal I would like to re-send it to all of you as the definite one
- the one to be proposed to the special project's committee and the board.

Ascander, you are already a member of the Special Projects Committee - could you 
please forward this concept to the SPC and the Board?

Thank you!!!

Ciao, Sabine

Berto schrieb:
> ============================================================================
> A sub committee for languages
> As any functional committee, a Project committee for language related
> problems must start with a clear definition of the scope of its competence.
> One of the tasks the Special Project committee has is to establish how to
> deal with issues that are raised about languages. In the discussion this has
> been mainly seen as something to do with the start of new projects. Yet,
> language problems are very often mixed with political issues, sometimes even
> with civil wars, so any decision regardin languages unavoidably becomes
> "political". None of the SPC members is particularly eager to receive such a
> poisoned chalice, yet we all agree that we have to state some clear
> behaviour criteria for the people to talk about facts, and not about their
> own emotions (cfr the current moldovian issue, just to name one).
> The current democratic approach can work only if we manage to provide clear
> NPOV data for voters to make an NPOV decision, instead of the current flow
> of
> overexcited speeches. The main problem is that people looking for NPOV
> situations often simply stay away from such flaming discussions, leaving the
> decisional process in the hands of those who like such an atmosphere. No
> matter who will be competent to address the problem, it's self-evident that
> such dynamics can only damage WMF's external image and inner cooperation
> level.
> Obviously, we do not expect any miracle. Such events periodically occur in
> human history, much huger powers than wmf have since long time proved
> uncapable to solve them and we cannot assume to find any magic wand. Yet, we
> do think that user dynamics may be carefully addressed and progressivly
> pushed towards a more functional status. Although this really is an urgent
> issue, SPC members do not wish to become a "language police". This is not
> desirable for us as individuals neither it would help in managing the
> process. We all acknowledge that some of the more extremistical behaviours
> may eventually call for disciplinary action, but we also believe that good
> rules are not those that are feared, but those that help people in working
> better. Any SPC can only gain respect (and authority) within the user
> community by offering productive work and practical support for everyday
> activities. This SPC needs a way for it to gain respect, too. We ask to add
> to our tasks some means for us to achieve this target.
> Our primary task should be the continued effort needed to support the ever
> growing language set. Until the advent of the Betawiki, it has been very
> much left to our communities to do indipendent localisations. This generated
> project specific settings that sometimes became an obstacle for MediaWiki's
> evolution. With Betawiki, an effort is underway to bring the best
> localisation in one place and to use software to check the quality of the
> localization. The result will  be that all MediaWiki projects will benefit
> from this effort.
> Betawiki also brought to general attention that a perceived quality of the
> MediaWiki software only exists in relation to internationalization and
> localisation efforts of other software. There are still many issues that
> need to be addressed and many languages to localise. By making these issues
> part of what the committee for language is about, people may learn that the
> WMF does care about these issues.
> Starting new language projects should be very much a predictable process
> based on objective criteria. Nowadays it is not, which is what is bringing a
> lot of "political" feel in the discussions. Sabine wrote on Meta what we
> consider a first step towards a more predictable process. The best a new
> committee can do is come up with recommendations. When these recommendations
> are accepted by the board and in practice, it will help give the
> sub-committee some authority. Without this there is no point in addressing
> these issues.
> We rate that one of our operating principles should really be no politics
> but limiting the discussion to linguistic and practical arguments. This
> means setting some standard evaluation criteria for people to present claims
> based on clear verifiable data. We also believe that if each new language
> will receive practical guidance and an immediate integration in the
> international community (as it happens within the Betawiki environment) most
> situations may be shifted towards a more technically oriented state of mind.
> What we aim to achieve is a situation in which people working on languages
> will perceive that "we all have the same problems" and will focus on finding
> common solutions.
> Once the language sub-committee has the necessary authority,
> it may also address issues in the current projects. Yet, this can only
> happen once it is given a status similar to an arbitration committee by
> receiving a formal mandate from the Board for it to address these issues.
> Such interventions will be extremely risky in any case, but in the absence
> of an explicit mandate they would only pour more gasoline on fire, no matter
> what we do.
> Currently the sub-committee consists of:
> * Ascander (special projects committee)
> * Berto d'Sera
> * Jhs
> * GerardM
> * SabineCretella

Second proposal (16 September 2006)


Second email sent to spcommittee-l when the first email was not received (see archived thread).

Since there were no further proposed changes by the Subcom members I am
forwarding this now to the spcommittee-l for your approval.


Subcommittee for languages: scope of action

The subcommittee is in charge of providing:

  1. A clear and objective (based on quantitative indicators)
     step-by-step policy for evaluating the feasibility of new language
     wikies, that is a clear and automated procedure for projects to be
     released<br />
  2. Support and policy-making for script and localization related
  3. How-to guides to support new language communities towards a stable
     growth rate
  4. Support and co-ordination for cross-language projects, helping
     small communities into sharing resources and maximizing their results
  5. Support and co-ordination to maintain compatibility among the
     different mediawiki instances, in order to reduce the amount of
     development needed to upgrade the program base, as long as
     localization is concerned

The goals of the subcommittee are:

  1. Minimizing the political aspects connected to the release of new
     projects, moving the focus towards purely quantitative decision
  2. Minimizing the need of localization-related funding and
     development by providing a common shared policy (in this field the
     SPC acts in conjunction with…from which it receives detailed
     technical targets)
  3. Maximizing the reuse of proven marketing techniques among
     different editions
  4. Maximizing the co-operation level among different language
     communities by providing common fields of activity
  5. Achieving the widest possible localization level for mediawiki at
     the lowest cost, in order to maintain and improve it's leading
     role as an open source content manager

SPC for language and the Community:

  1. The whole set of activities of the SPC Language Subcommittee is
     PUBLIC, and any advice to the SPC Language Subcommittee from the
     community is welcome.
  2. The SPC Language Subcommittee values the fact that wikipedias are
     a property of the single editors who make it and considers users'
     necessities as the primary source for policy
  3. the SPC Language Subcommittee is especially interested in hearing
     those who proposed a new wiki in the past and got either refused
     or approved