- Bèrto 'd Sèra
10 November 2007 22:49
There is an ongoing issue about the weird situation of mo.wikipedia.org and since I hate secret diplomacy I’d rather have the following discussion happening in public and being recorded on the public archive. I’m not reading Foundation-l, so I came to know about this only by casual talks. After a number of exchanges we realized that there was no point in keeping this in the ranks of a private discussion, because if a decision is to be made it must be made in a regular way, so here we are. I will copy the interested parties outside LangCom, so we can have a full-fledged discussion. What follows is but MY OWN POV, and everyone is welcome and required in adding their position, in order to reach consensus.
The situation of mo.wikipedia is definitely not sustainable, for two reasons:
1) the decision of freezing it was taking unilaterally, based on organized political pressure from one side of a civil war (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transdnistria ), namely, the moldavian right-wings
2) a “freeze” state doesn’t give Transdnistrian speakers any chance of working on their language
Now, a proposal was made on Foudation-l to close the wiki. The problem is hardly to remain in the bounds of a simple administrative decision, because of the political implications it brings about: yesterday some 400 people were hurt in disorders between Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, in Crimea. Once we set such a precedent, nothing will stop the Ukrainian and Russian nationalists to ask to drop a Crimean Tatar wiki based mostly on the same issues and with the same numeric results, because very little Crimean Tatars are connected to the net, so the result of mob-voting is quite obvious. Fights are going on in all the Caucasian area, mostly officially based on cultural/linguistic/religious differences (in practice on oil, money and power, but that's another story). Tomorrow any of the Georgian area languages may be requested for deletion by inflated mobs based on the same issues. So, it is absolutely vital that we keep politics well away from this issue while granting equal rights to all.
On the other hand we also have a difficult administrative situation. The traffic on this wiki is low and it can hardly be expected to grow. I quote from this document ( <http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/6514/NGOs_CSOs_Moldova.pdf> http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/6514/NGOs_CSOs_Moldova.pdf ) “NGOs and civic organizations in rural areas are highly isolated and lack access to information. Many rural areas have very little access to television or newspapers.” Okay, this was 2001, but this also was about Moldova, the situation in Transdnistria could only be worse and it cannot have got much better. Meeting people from Transdnistria on the net is still quite rare (no matter their political/linguistic views). The reason is clear if you see these prices: http://isp.idknet.com/index.php?option=com_content <http://isp.idknet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=45> &task=view&id=19&Itemid=45 for a simple slooow dial-up. 2$ for 5 hours may seem little money, but NOT in a place where most people make 50$-100$/mo. It would be unrealistic to expect a quick growth in native traffic, no matter the political views of the locals.
Jon has been suggesting a solution that *might* work, if we can organize it well and keep it under close control. He says that since the Cyrillic and the Latin version of Rumenian can be transliterated both ways, it makes sense to revive the mo.wiki domain as a transliterated version of ro.wiki. I put a number of condition concerning parity of rights and the answer to which we seem to get is that:
1) Latin user shall NOT be able to tell on which edition an edit was made
2) The work of the Latin admins must be monitored to make sure that there is NO political ban and content coming from the Transdnistrian side (if any) doesn’t get rolled back. Jon identifies a Rumenian stewart (Romihaitza) as a possible candidate to verify that no such violation is performed. I don’t know this person, so I will avoid saying an immediate yes/no on the subject, but I’d rather have someone being able to read rumenien while NOT being him/herself from any of the two involved sides of the conflict.
The immediate advantages of this solution would be that we:
1) let the legal ISO code MO live, as it is its due right, according to the policies
2) deliver an immediate huge amount of content in mo.wiki, which may make it interesting and help attracting traffic
3) start to push the two communities towards a peaceful coexistence
4) say it clear that organizing nationalistic pogroms on meta doesn’t lead anyone to any success
5) solve the problem of lacking human horse power for mo.wiki
6) have a fully localized mo-cyr UI straight away.
Now…this is but an idea, and this does request everybody’s thought to become a formal proposal.
Bèrto ‘d Sèra
Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2007 8:52 PM
To: Berto 'd Sera
Subject: Fwd: [Foundation-l] Moldovan Wikipedia
<this text is quoted from a user who has not agreed to public archival.>
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Johannes Rohr <email address censored>
Date: Nov 8, 2007 5:48 PM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Moldovan Wikipedia
To: foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
Cc: wikipedia-l at lists.wikimedia.org
the Moldovan Wikipedia at http://mo.wikipedia.org has now been locked for
almost a year (last modification of the main page is dated 16 November
2006). When you hit alt+shift+e, you are presented a message saying, this
Wikipedia is locked "for now". The main page has no explanation
whatsoever why this wiki is locked, it doesn't even say /that/ it is.
In 2006, community members proposed the closure of this wiki for a number
of reasons, the discussion is available at
To sum up the reasons presented by the proposers:
- Moldovan is identical with Romanian, it is just a different name for
the same language;
- The Moldovan Wikipedia is in the Cyrillic script, which is not used
in Moldova, except for the breakaway republic of Transnistria, where it
is used in schools, but only because it is forcibly imposed by the
Russian-speaking government. (see
- The Moldovan Wikipedia contains almost no original content, most
articles are transliterations from the Romanian edition,
- While it was active, it had virtually no native contributors, the main
author wrote in dictionary-aided broken Romanian.
Now, what we have since the database was locked a year ago is an
uneditable project with several thousand pages. This is quite obviously
not a good thing, not least because it makes interwiki conflicts
I feel that this situation is not sustainable and should be resolved in
one way or another.
Personally I am in favour of starting a formal proposal for the deletion
of this wiki, similar to the one regarding the Siberian Wikipedia (see
If there are any other opionions or suggestions, I am looking forward to
- Johannes Rohr guest
10 December 2007 23:07
2007/11/10, Berto 'd Sera <email address censored>:
> Hi all,
Hello and sorry for the delay in responding. I must confess that after a
short and heated argument I started to loose interest in this topic and my
time for Wiki[p,m]edia is very limited. Basically, most arguments have been
exchanged, I am afraid I will not be able to make any new substantial
points, but still, I like the opportunity to deliver a direct response to
The situation of mo.wikipedia is definitely not sustainable, for two
1) the decision of freezing it was taking unilaterally, based on
organized political pressure from one side of a civil war (See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transdnistria ), namely, the moldavian
Reading the closure debate, I fail to see evidence for a strong dominance of
"moldanivian right-wingers" among those who support closure. And even if it
were so, I cannot see how this should play any role in the decision making
process which should be independent of such external factors.
2) a "freeze" state doesn't give Transdnistrian speakers any chance of
working on their language
Firstly, there is no such thing as a "Transnistrian language". Nobody
seriously disputes that "Moldovan" is merely an alias for "Romanian". Nobody
is attempting to ban a language from Wikimedia's servers. The whole row is
1. a writing system
2. how the language is called
No Transnistrian is barred from participating in the Romanian Wikipedia. So
there cannot be any talk about "not having any chance of working on their
language". What they might be deprived of is the chance to use the writing
system which the authorities of the breakaway territory want them to use. I
doubt that you will find any Transnistrian who seriously regrets this.
I may have overlooked something, but through the entire discussion pages, I
haven't seen a single statement saying "I am Transnistrian, my mother tongue
is Moldovan and I prefer Cyrillic script". Frankly, I believe that there is
zero demand for this and I presume, without knowing for sure, that, outside
those institutions in Transnistria, where Moldovan/Romanian speakers are
coerced to use Cyrillic, very few people use it. If I can trust Wikipedia,
there are virtually no printed newspapers or other current publications in
Now, a proposal was made on Foudation-l to close the wiki. The problem is
> hardly to remain in the bounds of a simple administrative decision, because
> of the political implications it brings about: yesterday some 400 people
> were hurt in disorders between Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, in
> Crimea. Once we set such a precedent, nothing will stop the Ukrainian and
> Russian nationalists to ask to drop a Crimean Tatar wiki based mostly on the
> same issues and with the same numeric results, because very little Crimean
> Tatars are connected to the net, so the result of mob-voting is quite
You are comparing apples and oranges.
- There is no doubt about the eligibility of Crimean Tatar as a
language (even though it is fairly close to Turkish, I have Crimean Tatar
friends, who have absolutely no problems communicating with Turks from
Turkey with each side using their respective mother tongues). At the same
time, there is no serious doubt, that "Moldovan" is not a separate language
- While Crimean Tatars are undoubtedly marginalized and fight hard to
preserve their language and culture in a dominantly russophone environment
on Crimea, the cultural integrity of Transnistrian Molodovan speakers is
obviously not threatened by "right-wing Moldovans". The only records of
linguistic conflict in Moldova I have are about the non-recognition of the
Latin script by the Transnistrian authorities.
- Following closure discussions, I have observed that when the
linguistic status of a language is beyond doubt, the "mob" you cite did not
show up. E.g. when the Chechen Wikipedia was nominated for closure.
Many Russians unequivocally said that it must not be closed, even though we
know that in Russia xenophobia and racism against Caucasians are rife.
Fights are going on in all the Caucasian area, mostly officially based on
> cultural/linguistic/religious differences (in practice on oil, money and
> power, but that's another story). Tomorrow any of the Georgian area
> languages may be requested for deletion by inflated mobs based on the same
> issues. So, it is absolutely vital that we keep politics well away from this
> issue while granting equal rights to all.
The difference being that there is absolutely now doubt about the existence
of a Georgian language and script. The other difference being that, while
Georgia is in conflict with some of its own minorities and with Russia,
there is no such thing as a conflict between Moldova and ethnic Moldovans in
Transnistria, but there is a conflict between Moldova and the breakaway
government which is dominated by ethnic Russians. Which means that the
conflict you refer to simply does not exist in this case.
On the other hand we also have a difficult administrative situation. The
> traffic on this wiki is low and it can hardly be expected to grow. I quote
> from this document (
> http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/6514/NGOs_CSOs_Moldova.pdf )
> "NGOs and civic organizations in rural areas are highly isolated and lack
> access to information. Many rural areas have very little access to
> television or newspapers." Okay, this was 2001, but this also was about
> Moldova, the situation in Transdnistria could only be worse and it cannot
> have got much better. Meeting people from Transdnistria on the net is still
> quite rare (no matter their political/linguistic views). The reason is
> clear if you see these prices:
> http://isp.idknet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=45for a simple slooow dial-up. 2$ for 5 hours may seem little money, but NOT
> in a place where most people make 50$-100$/mo. It would be unrealistic to
> expect a quick growth in native traffic, no matter the political views of
> the locals.
I spent some time looking for any signs of life of a Transnistrian online
community using Cyrillic Romanian/Moldovan. I did this by searching for the
string "молдовеняскэ" which is both sufficiently unique and sufficiently
likely to be used on Cyrillic Moldovan sites.
I found a single site, which was the Moldovan section of the official
website of the breakaway republic. Apart from that, all other hits were
Russian language websites, which made bibliographic reference to
publications from the Soviet era.
The complete absense of Moldovan Cyrillic from the Web cannot be fully
explained by the high cost of Internet access. I cannot but conclude that
the main reason is that usage of Cyrillic for Romanian/Moldovan in
Transnistria is a matter of coercion and not something which people would be
doing as a matter of choice. Therefore I would not expect them to cue up to
volunteer for a Cyrillic Moldovan Wikipedia.
Caveat: Some of what I am writing is based on speculation. I am always ready
to change my mind if presented with compelling facts, such as, say, two
Transnistrians expressing their demand for a Cyrillic Moldovan Wikipedia
edition. However, I severely doubt that this is going to happen.
- Bèrto 'd Sèra
11 December 2007 09:51
Anyway, as I previously stated for the OTA issue, I won't accept
"speculations" as data. All of us have our own speculations, but that's no
grounds to make any decision. There IS one place on earth where this
language (no matter how far from/close to standard Rumanian it can be) is
used with Cyrillic script in schools. This language has a valid ISO code and
it is labeled as "living". This IS official data. The rest is our
impressions and in the absence of official data to support them they simply
Let's be VERY clear. We speak about a translit, not about an independent
edition. It's a two way access to a single repository. It will be the
Rumanians/Moldavians/Transdnistrians/Pridnestrovians (or whatever people
want to call themselves) managing it, all of them together. No matter what
script they like better, since they will have no way to know who is writing
in which one.
When a potential "living" public exists we are bound to give them all the
content we can give and in this peculiar situation a translit is a wonderful
way to achieve the result while cutting the war short at the very same time.
A publisher who can distribute two editions with the same money it takes to
make one would be a fairly stupid publisher if he lost the chance. I haven't
seen THIS in the discussion on meta, although it should have been quite an
obvious logical outcome given that "they are the same language with just a
different script". I have to conclude that the discussion was either wasted
by silly politics or stupid (in strict industrial terms).
- Mark Williamson (node ue) guest
11 December 2007 02:33
Alright Johannes, if it can't be explained by the high cost of
internet access, where are all the pages in Latin letters by
Transnistrian Moldovans? Oh wait, there aren't any of those either!
This has been hashed and rehashed and the simple fact here is you are
wrong in most of your arguments.
- Johannes Rohr guest
11 December 2007 02:54
2007/12/11, Mark Williamson <<email address censored>>:
> Alright Johannes, if it can't be explained by the high cost of
> internet access, where are all the pages in Latin letters by
> Transnistrian Moldovans? Oh wait, there aren't any of those either!
Who says so? How did you determine that?
- Johannes Rohr guest
11 December 2007 12:27
Berto 'd Sera schrieb:
> Duly noted.
> Anyway, as I previously stated for the OTA issue, I won’t accept
> “speculations” as data. All of us have our own speculations, but
> that’s no grounds to make any decision.
I disagree that what I wrote was entirely speculative. That there is no
Cyrillic-Moldovan online community is can be, as I pointed out earlier,
stated with very high confidence. Further it is factual that I have not
seen any expressions of consumer demand for a Cyrillic Moldovan
Wikipedia edition. And no participant in the debate has provided any
> There IS one place on earth where this language (no matter how far
> from/close to standard Rumanian it can be) is used with Cyrillic
> script in schools. This language has a valid ISO code and it is
> labeled as “living”. This IS official data. The rest is our
> impressions and in the absence of official data to support them they
> simply don’t count.
I don't think that ISO codes should be used as a substitute for
elementary logic. Let's have look at the above and at the following
> Let’s be VERY clear. We speak about a translit, not about an
> independent edition.
... So here we have two contradictory statements, which cannot be true
at the same time:
- Moldovan /is/ a distinct language. In this case it deserves its own,
separate Wiki and translation, not transliteration is required; or
- it is /not/ a distinct language and simply an alias for Romanian. Only
in this case a transliteration will deliver meaningful results.
If the latter is true, the fact that there is an ISO code has no
significance. Btw: ethnologue.com has mapped mo to rum, i.e. they
clearly state that Moldavian (the language, not the dialect) is
identical to Romanian.
So if you take the policy of obeying to official sources serious,
mo.wikipedia.org should redirect to ro.
> It’s a two way access to a single repository. It will be the
> Rumanians/Moldavians/Transdnistrians/Pridnestrovians (or whatever
> people want to call themselves) managing it, all of them together. No
> matter what script they like better, since they will have no way to
> know who is writing in which one.
> When a potential “living” public exists we are bound to give them all
> the content we can give and in this peculiar situation a translit is a
> wonderful way to achieve the result while cutting the war short at the
> very same time. A publisher who can distribute two editions with the
> same money it takes to make one would be a fairly stupid publisher if
> he lost the chance.
Is my impression completely wrong that you have made this a matter of
principle? I think we are all aware that a Cyrillic Moldovan "mirror"
will have no practical value, as it will have neither an audience nor
contributors. Therefore I feel that the man hours required to get such a
solution up and running should be better invested elsewhere. When it
even takes ages to have a simple new Wiki without and addional bells and
whistles set up (still waiting for the Lower Sorbian Wiki to be
created), I don't think that it is justified to waste this precious
resource just to make a point. Also, I feel that the language
subcommittee could use their precious time in a more useful way,
including faster processing of requests for new language. E.g. Low Saxon
Wikisource, which has already accumulated a plethora of source text and
has full localisation, but is still waiting for conditional approval
after many months.
- Bèrto 'd Sèra
11 December 2007 22:32
According to ISO it IS a distinct language, according to policy (which is automatic on ISO codes) it has the right to have a wiki. This is the letter of the law. You may not like the policy, but that's not in discussion. It's your POV and you are welcome to have it, yet it's no grounds for a decision.
As always in the past, if and when people do not like industrial standards they are welcome to apply for a modification in proper places. I find it ridiculous that local networks should have a 192.168.x.x IP or that local domains should be called WWW.EXAMPLE instead of "WWW.INTERNAL-ONLY". Yet this doesn't give me the power to invent new codes on my own, if I want to remain consistent with the rest of the planet. Standards are not synonym for perfection, they simply are standards. If they are wrong, anyone should go where standards are ruled and ask for a modification (i.e. NOT HERE).
In industrial terms, we have a way to deliver two wikies from the same set of human resources, which is what is being proposed. The WMF sells content in exchange for volunteer funding, we get funding because we are BIG, so the bigger we are, the better for the WMF wallet, as long as this growth is sustainable.
Give me one valid reason why it would be wrong in industrial terms to publish one more wiki that would immediately managed with existing human resources and no increase in HR needs and also filled up with content since the very beginning.
That's unless you think that content on ro.wiki is bad in principle and shouldn't be given more exposition than it has at the moment. Such a view would need an NPOV motivation, though.
- Johannes Rohr guest
11 December 2007 23:21
2007/12/11, Berto 'd Sera <<email address censored>>:
> According to ISO it IS a distinct language, according to policy (which is
> automatic on ISO codes) it has the right to have a wiki. This is the letter
> of the law. You may not like the policy, but that's not in discussion. It's
> your POV and you are welcome to have it, yet it's no grounds for a decision.
What you call "your POV" is simply the scholarly consensus on the topic.
Even the Moldovan Academy of Sciences does not dispute that Moldovan is
Romanian (despite the fact that Moldovan lawmakers have always upheld the
different name). Anyway, this would be a ridiculous thing to dispute the
identity of Romanian and Moldavian when you use the same vocabulary and
grammar. And as I noted before, Ethnologue.com has acknowledged this and
mapped the mo code to Romanian.
Furthermore, as noted earlier, if is was a distinct language, you would need
translation, not transliteration. What is your response to this?
Please provide links to the ISO information. I cannot find it.
After all, I do not care too much about this topic. I'm just struck by
surprise by the fact that several members of langcom appear determined to
invest considerable time into a project, which has no community and no
audience, while failing to process an ever larger pile of requests from real
communities which generate real and valuable original content.
- Sabine Cretella
17 December 2007 20:34
As you please might note http://sil.org is the official maintainer of
the ISO 639-3 standard.
Further information on Moldovan can be found here:
If scolary consenus is as you state, of course you may go ahead and ask for changes with http://sil.org
The 2007 series of change requests is now closed and by the middle of January we will know which changes will apply.
Further information on the how-to and deadlines can be found here:
I hope this helps.
- Jon Harald Søby
18 December 2007 05:15
Be aware that it also is SIL that operates Ethnologue. And if you see here,
Ethnologue edition 15 has
Moldovan, while edition 14 unambiguously states that is
is the same <http://www.ethnologue.com/14/show_language.asp?code=RUM> as