A newer look at the interlanguage link

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(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

The interlanguage link is intended to link articles in the different languages together. It is one of the more important ways to link the different projects together. Additional information can be found in the articles about the interlanguage links.

Much of what is proposed here can now be done with Wikidata.

The problems[edit]

New articles[edit]

Interlanguage links between all languages
Old situation:
interwiki links
between all languages
=> proposed links of all languages to one central point
New situation:
links of all languages
to one central point
(finally implemented
on Wikidata (2013)!)

As the Wikimedia projects grow, more articles are written about the same subject in different languages. When one interlanguage link is added in one project it will eventually be added to the other as well. This is most often done by the interwiki.py bot.

In the case where 20 languages have an article on the same subject, each article should link to 19 other languages, so there are 20*19=380 links to edit and maintain. In case of 100 languages, the number of interlanguage links will amount to nearly 10,000. With currently 250 editable Wikipedias, we can have up to 62,250 individual interlanguage links per lemma.

Articles that are disambiguated[edit]

When an article is disambiguated, or split into parts, the existing interlanguage links need to be changed on all projects. This is either done by hand or by the interwiki.py bot. It takes a human decision to correct this situation and the consequence is that these kind of errors can be persistent.

One change of an article name will lead to 19 edits on other languages in case of 20 languages, and 99 edits in case of 100 languages.

Articles with multiple "translations"[edit]

Sometimes an article that refers to a specific concept may correspond to two or more articles in another language. It is not just a problem of translations but of differences in culture, habits, laws, implementations. In such cases it is necessary to disambiguate when moving from a Wikipedia to another. A central hub would help, working as a disambiguation page.

The solution[edit]

A central wiki, for example, interlanguage.wikimedia.org (now wikidata.org). On the central wiki, interlanguage links are maintained the same way they are on a current project.

On the projects, the Interlanguage Extension is installed. Interlanguage links could now be added by writing {{interlanguage:article name}}, which will fetch all the interlanguage links from the central wiki page "article name".

Article names on the central wiki will probably typically be names of the articles in the language in which the first article on the subject was written.

When a new interlanguage link is added to the central wiki, articles on the projects need to be purged in order to update their interlanguage links. This could be done automatically by a bot.

Use cases[edit]

New articles[edit]

When a new article is created, the editor needs to make the interlanguage link to the central wiki in the article, and the interlanguage link on the central wiki to the new article. The latter could be done by a bot.

Articles that are disambiguated[edit]

When an article is disambiguated, the interlanguage link on the central wiki is changed as appropriate, and a new page is made with interlanguage link to the newly disambiguated pages.

Articles that refer to a different level of information[edit]

There are two solutions. One, in such cases interlanguage links could continue to be used as they are now. Two, the central wiki could have separate pages about each level of information. There are multiple ways this could be done.

Interlanguage featured article templates[edit]

Interlanguage featured article templates (such as en:Template:Link FA) work without any changes. If less work is spent on maintaining interlanguage links, probably more work will be spent on maintaining the templates, and new templates could be introduced (for example, templates for good articles, or even simply long articles would too be useful).

Eventually, this information could too be moved onto the central wiki when it becomes technically possible.

Various projects[edit]

Different projects could have different central wikis, or different namespaces on the single central wiki.

What would it look like?[edit]

See an example Wikidata item.