Interproject Babel template standardization (proposal)

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User language templates were later standardized using the #babel extension.


This is a proposed policy or guideline for (re)standardizing the Babel template system across different Wikimedia projects. It is being proposed here on Meta since it affects multiple projects.

This proposal is not open for voting yet. Feel free to edit this page, but please keep discussions on the talk page.

NOTE: This proposal needs input from all the projects using the Babel templates. Please check to see if your local project has been notified, and add a link here from the appropriate talk page if not. Translations of this proposal are also welcome.

If you disagree with these proposals, feel free to add counterproposals.

Background[edit]

The Babel template system for indicating user proficiency in different languages originated at Wikimedia Commons and has since been adopted by a number of Wikimedia projects. The original system consisted of three levels of proficiency, 1–3, described as basic, intermediate and advanced. On various projects, a number of additions have since been implemented and adopted by some projects.

  • An additional unmarked or N level, distinct from level 3, for native speakers.
  • Level 0, for people who do not understand a language.
  • Level 4, for non-native speakers with near-native proficiency.
  • level 5, controversially named professional proficiency

The overuse of level 0 has been advised against.

The current system has been unsatisfactory to numerous users asking for additional templates on talk pages, especially on the bottom of the scale (especially between 0 and 1) as well as some dissatisfaction with the top levels: users within advanced having a wide variety of abilities.

Thus, a fifth-level template, User en-5, was created on en.wiki.

It was nominated for deletion along with numerous other so-called user-templates at this time. The reason for the deletion proposition was given as "arrogant, non-standard". The reasoning of posters on this list brought about that numerous users believed that foreign language wikipedians on en.wiki should be satisfied with levels one to three. The deletion proposal for en-5 was closed as "no consensus, wait for babel policy" (with a not quite 2/3 majority in favor of deletion). At the same time the German language template de-5 was proposed for deletion and deleted by an overwhelming majority of users without any knowledge of German. It is thus to be considered to reword Babel templates for all language in the language of the specific Wikipedia it is used on. The deletion debate for en-5 though was closed with an explicit request for a policy.

Notes[edit]

Table of existing systems[edit]

The following is a table of existing systems at some projects, according to their Babel pages, regardless of which templates actually exist at that project. For example, {{babel-1|en-3}} uses the Template:Babel-1 container and Template:User en-3 level 3. Note that many projects changed level N to some other name, such as level M (for "mother tongue" or "Muttersprache", etc): this is shown as "N*".

Project Babel page Levels Templates of container Substituted Additional comments
Commons:Project:Babel 1 - 3, N 1 - 18 yes
Meta:Babel templates 1 - 3, N undocumented
OldWikisource:Project:Babel 1 - 3, N undocumented
Wikibooks:en:Project:Babel 0 - 4, N see comment no Using Template:User language mirrored from Meta's system.
Wikipedia:de:Project:Babel 0 - 4, N* 1 - ? yes
Wikipedia:en:Project:Babel 0 - 5, N 1 - ?
Wikipedia:fr:Project:Babel 0 - 4, N* 1 - 15
Wikipedia:nl:Project:Babel 0 - 4, N* 1 - ?
Wikipedia:ru:Project:Вавилон 1 - 4, N 1 - ?
Wikipedia:zh:Project:巴別 0 - 4, N* 1 - ?
Wikiquote:en:Project:Babel 0 - 5, N 1 - ?
Wiktionary:en:Project:Babel 1 - 4, N 1 - ?
Wikipedia:el:Project:Βαβέλ 1 - 3, Ν 1 - 10 no No discussion has ever taken place about the # of levels, substitution and the # of containers; all of them are left on personal choice. Most existing template levels are 1-3; some are missing. En-4, en-5, de-4 and de-5 exist, but they were created recently (approx. August & September 2006) by one user, with yet no concensus on the matter. Subst is not used by habit. --Dead3y3 01:36, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Proposals concerning the number of levels[edit]

Proposals are listed below by number of levels.

Proficiency level 0, for users who do not understand the language, might be included as an optional part of the standard. Projects should include a level 0 template at least for the official project language, and possibly others. Users should be advised to only use the level 0 templates for languages they might be reasonably expected to understand (for example, if it is the language of that particular wiki).

Proposal to standardize to three levels (plus 0 and N)[edit]

This would essentially restore the original Babel system from Commons with the addition of a level 0. A category for native speakers would be included, but would be clearly marked as being a subset of level 3.

  • xx-0 if they do not understand the language they might be reasonably expected to understand.
  • xx-1 for basic ability - enough to understand written material or simple questions in this language.
  • xx-2 for intermediate ability - enough for editing or discussions.
  • xx-3 for advanced level
  • xx-N for native speakers

Proposal to standardise to four levels (plus 0 and N)[edit]

  • xx-0 if they do not understand the language they might be reasonably expected to understand.
  • xx-1 for basic ability – enough to understand written material or simple questions in this language.
  • xx-2 for intermediate ability – enough for editing or discussions.
  • xx-3 for advanced level – though you can write in this language with no problem, some small errors might occur.
  • xx-4 for 'near-native' level – although it's not your first language from birth, your ability is something like that of a native speaker.
  • xx-N for native speakers

Proposal to standardize to five levels (plus 0 and N)[edit]

  • xx-0 if you don't understand the language at all. Don't use it for every language you don't know; only when there is some reason why you might be expected to know it.
  • xx-1 for basic ability - enough to understand written material or simple questions in this language.
  • xx-2 for intermediate ability - enough for editing or discussions.
  • xx-3 for advanced level - though you can write in this language with no problem, some small errors might occur.
  • xx-4 for working fluency
  • xx-5 for 'near-native' level - although it's not your first language from birth, your ability is something like that of a native speaker.
  • xx-N for natives

Proposal to standardize to six levels (plus 0 and N)[edit]

This accomodates people who are asking for some level between 0 and 1 to indicate that they are willing to learn the language but are still clueless newbies. The additional template is especially useful for Asian languages, where much depends on the acquisition of a new set of characters for writing.

  • xx-0 if you don't understand the language at all. Don't use it for every language you don't know; only when there is some reason why you might be expected to know it.
  • xx-1 for learners with a vocabulary of less than 500 words or learners of an Asian language who still have a very limited knowledge of Chinese characters or none at all
  • xx-2 for basic ability - enough to understand written material or simple questions in this language.
  • xx-3 for intermediate ability - enough for editing or discussions.
  • xx-4 for advanced level - though you can write in this language with no problem, some small errors might occur.
  • xx-5 for working fluency
  • xx-6 for 'near-native' level - although it's not your first language from birth, your ability is something like that of a native speaker.
  • xx-N for natives

Proposal for a continumm of levels based on ILR levels[edit]

  • xx-0 No knowledge whatsoever
  • xx-1 ILR Level 1 - Elementary proficiency
  • xx-2 ILR Level 2 - Limited working proficiency
  • xx-3 ILR Level 3 - Professional working proficiency
  • xx-4 ILR Level 4 - Full professional proficiency
  • xx-5 ILR Level 5 - Native or bilingual proficiency

Clearly while people could then put 'En-1.37 should they so desire, it would be (more than) acceptble to round to the nearest integer up or down. See en:ILR scale and es:Escala ILR.

Proposals concerning level N[edit]

These proposals concern a level N for the native speakers of each language.

Level N is separate from the numbered hierarchy[edit]

A separate level for native speakers of a language should be included outside the numbered hierarchy.

Level N is a subcategory of the highest-numbered level[edit]

The templates and associated categories for native speakers should be worded to make it explicit that the "native" category is a subset of the highest standard level (advanced or near-native). On projects where the Babel templates automatically include category links, the "native" templates should place their users in the highest standard numbered category as well as in their own category.

Proposal against level N[edit]

No additional level for native speakers should be included. Native speakers should use the appropriate (usually the highest) numbered level. One reason is that your native language is not always your best: if, for example, you hardly ever used it after reaching school age or earlier, as happens to millions of people, the use of level N could be quite misleading and of no value for the purpose of the Babel system.

Merge level N with highest numbered level[edit]

Similar to "Level N is a subcategory of the highest-numbered level" but making it clear that it's "native or professional" level. For those that have a native language but with a fluency that is worst than professional, then that language must be categorized on a level that is useful for wikimedians/wikipedias/w-e. It's then acceptable to have more (because professional is also considered "highest possible") or less (ie: someone that learned a language as child, but had or wanted to migrate, and is starting to learn a different language as "default or most used" one -without the highest proficiency possible) than one "native" languages, because it's considered part of professional.

For highest level templates, we can added a sub-template that says from where did the user learned the language. For example, if I've spanish, italian and english at its highest levels, to add some credibility I've to say at least from where I learned 2 of the 3 (n - 1; because it's very possible that the language with no "professional legitimacy" is native or practiced mostly... ie: the default language used in communication). To further add context, this place, school, institution or even international certifications (italian: PLIDA; english: TOEFL, TOEIC) should link to a wikipedia article on the same language as the "host one".

Another sub-template can be used to translate from the language that is being used in each user-language template to the language of the "host" wikiproject (ie: if it's spanish, all the templates minus the spanish one are translated to spanish), and this can be user-defined (if a user has a lot of userboxes, he/she can decided to use the "terse template"; with no translations). If a user does NOT define the level of proficiency of the "host language", then it's assumed that it's the lowest possible (ie: 0).

In this way, we all can know the level of proficiency of each user, because by default there is no (arguably unclear) "native" level (nor near-native for that matter; unless it's also merged, for example as "intermediate or near-native").

Basically the levels will be (each skill only fluently on the level on which it is named):

  1. writting system, pronunciation and grammar
  2. read and vocabulary
  3. listen
  4. write
  5. speak

Proposals concerning the language codes[edit]

use ISO 639-3[edit]

use en:ISO 639-3 where possible. Never use three letter for things other than ISO 639-3.

use ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2 mixture[edit]

like RFC 3066

Other proposals[edit]

Rename the project to "Anti-Babel"[edit]

Rename the project "Anti-Babel" to avoid the connotation that these templates are useless.

Proposal to translate Babel templates into the local language[edit]

ru-1 начального уровня на русском языке.
Basic level of Russian.

Translate all templates into the local language to avoid future deletions by people who cannot read the templates. (This proposal does not apply to multilingual projects such as Commons, Meta, and Multilingual Wikisource.)

Proposal for one single container only[edit]

Drop the various {{Babel-1}}{{Babel-21}} container templates in favour of one only, such as used by w:eo and w:ksh, respecively. It can be fed with a list of any number of parameters, like {{Babel| la-1 | en-2 | it-3 }}, or pairs of parameters, such as {{Babel| ar|0 lb|1 | es|3 | he|2 | ilo|3 }}, whichever is implemented saving server ressources better.

Proposal for retention of nonstandard Babel templates[edit]

Babel templates not corresponding to the standard levels (proposed above) should be treated like any other custom userboxes, subject to local project policy. Projects are not expected to delete existing Babel templates that fail to conform to this standard. Such templates should not, however, be described as being part of the standard Babel system.

Proposal against interproject Babel template standardization[edit]

Do not standardise Babel templates between projects, and allow each project to autonomously maintain its own templates.

This means that the number of levels of Babel templates will be inconsistent between projects. One project might have 0 to 3 and N, while another has 0 to 6 and N. However, no project will have a system of Babel templates other than its own preferred system.

As long as the standarization is opt-in... and anyone can create a similar template... I see no problem.