Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wikimania 2008 ... where is it going to be?

Well, these days many of us talk privately about it ... no, I am not going to tell you what others say, I am going to tell you where I would "feel" it right.


A place where cultures and people meet, it is somewhat a central point when it comes to connecting the modern with the ancient world. It holds the biggest library of the ancient world, a place where wisdom is collected ... wisdom that now reaches up to our days.

Isn't this a perfect merge? The antique world of knowledge combined with free knowledge for all?

The antique centre of wisdom meets the centre of wisdom of the present and future ... I find it unique. And besides many other facts that also are advantageous for Alexandria, this is my main point ... it can and probably will take us to the next level.

No well, one other thing is probably really relevant, besides the "feeling": Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria can attract people from the Middle Orient and can also contribute to peace when people start to co-operate on projects about knowledge. The wiki world is a very particuar one and I believe that many of you will agree when I say: it can change a live and how people think since we all feel or felt it ourselves.

I personally favour Alexandria for Wikimania 2008.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wikimedian of the hour ....

Well, it is not about being the best, the biggest, the whatever ... it is about contributing actively to the fundraiser ... a test-feature that shows a photo of the Wikimedian of the hour is running on two wikipedias for now - the Piemontese and Neapolitan Wikipedias. Besides that we decided that it made sense to have the donation page in our languages as well. Piemontese is already there ... Neapolitan still needs translation and then proof reading.

Now let's come to the point: the sense of this exercise is to get more people look at the donation page during the fundraiser period. We all know that a picture or graphic attracts our eyes more than just a written line. The Wikimedia Foundation will need more and more funds since it is continuously growing exponentially. This means we need and want to reach user groups that before were not reached and there are plenty of them. Of course we cannot do everything "right now" since the time left to the next fundraiser is short, but at least we should start to do something. Showing pictures of the community creates a different feeling of "being part of real people". It welcomes people in a different way.

These "Wkimedian of the hour" pictures can be used anywhere - also in the village pumps for example. Well, I would like to see you ... yes, you who are reading ... among us as well. You are a Wikimedian, so you should be there. Of course, those who want to remain anonymous can send me their picture and I will simply upload it without information about who it is. Pictures I receive by e-mail for publication on commons and flickr are released under cc-by-sa 3.0 and GFDL license.

If you don't know how to get that picture of yourself, well you can do a collage or just a screenshot like the one included in this blog.

The picture cycle gets updated regularly substituting the actual pictures with a bot, that is when some new pictures are added.

If you are on one of the projects that would already like to have the Wikimedian of the hour online, please let me know. I can pass you the file for the upload or eventually upload it with my bot.

I believe that for small projects (not only Wikipedia, but also Wiktionaries, Wikisource etc.) it will not only have fundraising effect, but will eventually also attract more people looking and hopefully contributing to these projects.

You can reach me by e-mail at scretella (at) wikimedia (dot) org

So I hope to see your picture online soon or have it in my mailbox. :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Two who love wikimedia projects ....

... and regularly contribute were on holiday on the Amalfi Coast in Maiori ... it was great to meet them after such a long time knowing each other from various projects. It was funny to listen to French and understand it and to answer in German or just talk German :-). This is also the way on how my twins got their "Zuckertüte". I suppose they had fun here on the coast and they visited a place where I never have been: the top of mount Vesuvius ...
When we went to Positano to have a look at the shops, the particular way the houses are built and where I, this time, had the chance to meet a well known artist from the Amalfi Coast (who after the fundraiser will get its article on nap.wikipedia) we met with Michele Cinque in a bar and so I took the chance to take some pictures ... of course also for our WikiLove campaign.

What? You don't know what that is? Well we are trying to get pictures of many people who love our projects to be used for driving more attention to the upcoming fundraiser. There is a flickr group and a category on Commons. Well, yes ... it still needs to grow and I wanted to take my photo today, but again my husband is not here to take it ... and really one in pyjama when I wake up when he comes home after work would not give the best impression ;-)
And what about you??? Is your picture already there? No? .... So what about adding it on Commons or flickr? So many will be able to see you during the fundraiser period ...

Have fun!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wikimedia Foundation and China ... Beijing and Fundraiser ...

Really this is something I was already playing with for some days now and now it happened that Karl Siu added me as a friend on Facebook and so I saw his question: "Should XXIX Olympic Games in Beijing be boycottet?" ... My first answer is no - by boycotting them you don't reach anything, just some more problems are created. Instead of boycotting we should support them.

And what does this have to do with the Wikimedia Foundation and the Fundraiser? At a first glance nothing ... at a second: it can make a huge difference, depending on how we bring the message over and how our community would like to adopt such a message.

What do journalists very likely anywhere in the world use to find background information on the news? Wikipedia, right? Which kind of information will reporters from anywhere in the world need? Well: all that is in some way connected to the Olympic games ....

Now what would happen, if we start a project now, making it public to the press, that is about creating background information on the Beijing Olympic Games? That is making Wikipedia the most relevant information resource for background information for that event? What if we actively ask journalists to tell us which kind of information they would like to see and that the improvement on the articles and new articles are based on these questions?

What if these articles then are translated (or written) in as many languages as possible?

I believe that we have enough people who can help with such a giant project ... I believe that we have such a great community that has enough of that knowledge or is able to research the needed bits and pieces ... and that will save journalists loads of time, right?

Now ... do you believe that journalists who are going to save quite some time would also help us in some way? I would say: the likelyhood is very high. So what could they do for us? Well: help us to talk to people ... that's their job ... they can help us in different ways by telling the world that such a project is starting (now?) ...

1) they can and will attract readers and writers
2) they can talk about the fundraiser and ask people to remember that (donations) - don't forget: these people know how to get messages over ... so they could do it ... right?
3) the newspapers could grant some space to get our message in
4) people who read Wikipedia and follow the project that should then be very active during the fundraiser eventually (and hopefully) will see that the fundraiser is on and they donate ...

So: it is, in the end, all connected.

Maybe this is the way to involve a huge part of our community indirectly in the fundraiser?

And: it could also be a good opportunity to open a formal contact with the Chinese Olympic Committee ...

Btw. the press agency for Bejing will also follow the Earthrace - an event that wants to make biodiesel more attractive by tempting the world record of the world circumnavigation. There are some youtube videos around ... I also saw a presentation video a good week ago ... don't find the link right now - just search for Earthrace on youtube and you will find it ... it's quite interesting.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fundraiser 2007 - Responsiveness of Community

Many of you eventually know that I am dealing with the Fundraiser 2007 of the Wikimedia Foundation ... well ... there is one thing I feel a bit strange about: it seems as if general messages in village pumps and mailing lists where we ask for help simply don't go through ... or people simply don't read ... now there is a last attempt to be made and this is contact people one by one ... that is going through the projects and ask active people for help. In some way it makes me feel like spamming around and I don't feel actually comfortable with that, but on the other hand it seems to be the only chance we have ... uhmmm ... will go and do that now ... don't know if this translation of a saying is correct in English: when the prophet does not come to the mountain, take the mountain to the prophet ... have a great Sunday!

p.s. and yes, I already added a fundraiser button to my blog ;-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sardininan - Sassarese languages or language and dialect?

Well, there is a nice website that can help us with that question ... and that is from the institution that cares about this officially - the Region of Sardinia.

When it comes to the Limba Sarda Comuna used on the actual Sardinian wikipedia there is no doubt that the language exists, but we must appreciate that it is an artificial language that was created out of the living languages of Sardinia. The website of the Region of Sardinia states:

Limba sarda comuna: una lingua realmente esistente: Sa Limba sarda comuna è naturale per il 92,8 per cento, è in posizione mediana rispetto a tutti i dialetti del sardo e può ancora essere migliorata per farla diventare la lingua ufficiale dei sardi.

Limba sarda comuna: a language that in fact exists: Sa Limba sarda comuna is natural be 92,8 per cent, it is in an intermediate position compared to all Sardinian dialects and can still be improved to have it become the official language of the Sardinian people

So they still want to improve the language ... nice ... 92,8 per cent of it is natural that means 7,2 percent is not natural. If I consider these percentages to what translators work with every day, that is the "matches" we get in our CAT tools, then 92,8 percent is a low percentage of being "natural". It seems to be high, but in fact it is not ...

Let's say I translate any kind of text (a sentence for example) and my analysis software tells me that the text is up to 93% percent equal to another sentence I translated before, this means that I cannot leave the sentence as is, because I will need to change at least one word in the sentence to make it a proper translation of what is there.

Just to give you an example:
The house on the hill is green - that is what was translated before. Now I get such a 92,8 per cent match with a sentence like: the tree on the hill is green. If I left it as is: it would state something completely different.

You can also look at it like this:
The house on the hill is nice and green. - that is 100% English
The house on the hill is nice and vert. - that is approx. 89 % English + 11% French
(it is just a matter of playing with the amount of words to get the 92,8%)

So what these 92,8% tell us: even if a huge part of it is considered to be built out of the "natural language part" it is still an artificial language.

But what is a language and what is a dialect? Well: that very much depends from which POV you look at things. But ISO determined some rules to understand what a language is and what not. That is, before you can get an ISO 639 code for a language you need to prove that this languabe complies to the standard. Of course there are living languages that don't have an ISO code, because up to now nobody cared for them - I am just thinking about Griko Salentino, a language spoken and written in Italy - but if people care about that language, they will ask for it.

What is a dialect ...

a) a language without an army
b) a way of expressing orally that developed out of a language and that has some differences , for example in pronunciation, some expressions etc, even having the same basics when it comes to grammar (just to mention one example)

So could
Campidanese (ISO 639-3: sro)
Gallurese (ISO 639-3: sdn)
Logudorese (ISO 639-3: src)
Sassarese (ISO 639-3: sdc)
be dialects of the Common Sardinian Language? Well ... only from a logical POV this is not possible, because they were there long before the Common Sardinian Language was created ...

By having their ISO 639 code, when they requested that code, they complied to the requests of the International Standardisation Organisation and therefore, on an international level they are considered to be languages even with an ISO code.

Please let me repeat: there are languages that don't have one, but these can request a code ...

When it comes to the language committee we had to draw a line somewhere and this line should not come from us, that is: it is NOT up to the members of the language committee to decide what a language is or not. We needed some kind of standard to apply and the clearest one was and still is the ISO standard. So if somebody wants to complain and say that the four languages above are in fact dialects of Sardinian and not languages, we should kindly invite them to create their papers and contact ISO directly to have the ISO 639-3 language code taken away ... it is NOT up to the language committee to take such decisions.

Another thing people should then also consider to do: also UNESCO states that these four languages are languages and they are in the red book of endangered languages - so if whoever states that they are not languages and he/she is so sure about it: they should also contact UNESCO. It is NOT up to the language committee to take such decisions as to delete four languages out of the endangered languages list ...

Sorry for me being so ironical, but: when such discussions about what is and what is not a language come up ... well: before you come to us, please go to the INTERNATIONAL bodies that deal with the question.

We are only normal people that base their decisions on standards and can tell people where to go to request their code, but we can nor create that code, nor influence what is recognised on an international level. (Nor do we want to do that).

Now to the question of sc.wikipedia ... I remember that, at the beginning, sc.wikipedia tried to host all of the Sardinian languages, then someone came up and decided to make sc.wikipedia a Limba Sarda Comune wikipedia only. Well: the Limba Sarda Comune is being used by Sardinian Authorities to facilitate their work.

In any case the code "sc" stands for the macro language Sardinian and not for the Limba Sarda Comune, so there is no reason why it should have the right to claim that code for the language. That is the Limba Sarda Comune, like any other language in the world that wants recognition by ISO must request an own ISO 639 code. It is not an option to simply say: now let's take that one since it is there ... well the one that is there stands for something else.

The question of the actual sc.wikipedia came up because of people telling us that Sassarese is not a language, but a dialect of Sardinian and that the Limba Sarda Comune (Common Sardinian Language) is the only "right language" of Sardinia.

Well again: it is not us who is going to decide on Sassarese and the other three being or not being a language - we rely on ISO 639-3 codes since we had to draw a line and avoid to simply assert things. It is not us who is going to decide if the Limba Sarda Comune is going to get an ISO 639 code. If you, who read this, are interested in this matter, it is up to you to get things on their way.

See: the decision to base whatever we do on ISO 639-3 was one of the wisest decisions ever taken within the language committee ... imagine which fights (almost all political based) we would have if we did not do this.

Just to make things clear - I repeat it again:

a) we do NOT decide if something is a language or not
b) we base our decisions on ISO 639-3
c) we actually need a solution for various scripts used for one language
d) we would love to see Multilingual Mediawiki there since it could be used to create easily sustainable communities
e) we are not going to go ahead on discussing if Sassarese is a language or not (it has a code)
f) we will need to find a solution for Limba Sarda Comune which does NOT have an ISO 639 code and is using the sc code in an improper way.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fundraiser 2007 - communication with projects

Well, dealing with the Fundraiser 2007 I am trying to involve the whole of the communities. But that seems easier that it really is ... one thinks: oh well, there are the village pumps and you just go around them ... or you go through the mailing lists (but not all projects have one) ... or in the worst case you use the various chat rooms ... well no, it does not really work ... a really well structured communication in this specific moment is not possible - and in some way we should think about a solution.

Village pumps:

I am getting step by step to them - there is no all comprehensive page - but even if there was there is one huge problem: they are structured very different from one project to the other. Often I posted "somewhere" without even understanding if it was the right place ... some have extra pages for messages written in a different language from theirs (but then again: there you don't reach a maximum number of people who maybe would help). Some have different sectors for different themes ... but again: there you don't reach all potential people, just the part of them that goes to the "general" village pump page. Uhmmmmmm ...... not sure how to sort this out ... and no: I would be agains a page for special "foundation information" since again it would be read by only a part of the users/editors and these would probably be more or less the same ones who read foundation list ....

Now I asked for a bot that can help us to add new sections to specific pages within the pywikipediabot framework - this would at least make one part of it easier, not having to go around all projects, but still the "how to communicate effectively" problem remains ....

For now, until we maybe get a better solution, I would like to ask people from the various projects to check the page where I list the village pumps and change the links I have there to the page where they want to have the messages added - for all projects please - this will help all of us to live an easier wiki-life. During the next days I will then make another round around the various Village Pumps asking people to correct the link on the page above if necessary.

I am sorry, but for now I don't see a different way to get this on the way.

And please: all links to all projects are needed - also the smallest ones ... they all have the same relevance.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Buttons and Banners for Wikimedia Fundraiser 2007

Yes, I am going to tell you also here :-)

We are organising the fundraiser 2007 and we will need quite a bunch of help to get things on their way. So one of the first things we are doing is to care about buttons and banners that we can then add to our blogs, websites, user profiles wherever so that people anywhere in the world see it and can help.

So if you like creating buttons and banners and wish to help with the translations of the buttons and banners, have a look at meta:


First examples and translations:

Thanks and have a great day!

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