Celtic Knot Conference 2020/Submissions/How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Maltese-language Wikipedia?/Discussions

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Welcome to the note-taking pad of one of the Celtic Knot Conference 2020 sessions! This space is dedicated to collaborative note-taking, comments and questions to the speaker(s). You can edit this document directly, and use the chat feature in the bottom-side corner.

✨⏯️ Session details[edit]

💬❓ Questions[edit]

Feel free to add questions here, while or after watching the session. Please add your (user)name in bracket after the question. The host of the session will pick a few questions to ask them during the livestream. The speaker or other participants will answer on this pad (asynchronously: the answer may come in a few hours or days).

  • Is Maltese the official educational language? Is it used in schools?
    • Maltese is the national language. English is an official language of Malta along with Maltese. Maltese is taught in schools and it is used to teach some (but not most) subjects.
    • So... you should use this fact to convince *someone* to build an education program, based on what students need.
  • What is the government's policy towards the language? Could them be helpful?
    • If you want help with how to do an education program, write User:Theklan, please.
  • Have you tried adding labels to Wikidata in Maltese? That might allow you to leverage the tools discussed elsewhere to improve content in mtwiki.
    • Yes, we're working on that. Progress has been slow but we're looking into ways to ramp things up in the foreseeable future.
  • Philip: Is this more a challenge than a problem? What kind of solutions do you see for this challenge/problem? Do you see the EU (since it's an official language) being part of the solution here?
    • We used the work problem as a play on words....it's from a song from a popular musical called The Sound of Music - the song is called How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? And to answer your question directly, yes we see the EU as part of the solution. However, we need to get a solid case in place to present to for institutional consideration rather than barrels of good will and great ideas, which is mostly akk we've had over the past few years.
  • Has the community used translation in any way to address the issue of 'missing basic content'?
    • Yes. And it's an ongoing strategy.
  • Philip: Something that probably also affects many other small Wikipedias: What is your view on non-native speakers writing articles about their part of the world based on a set of lingusitic building blocks or prescribed text?
    • There are mixed feelings about this in the community. The ones against it feel that it creates more pages that need copyediting, which is a scarce resource on a small wiki like mt.wikipedia.
  • Is it common that people use laptops and smartphones with Maltese as the interface language? (User:Amire80)
    • This is not very common. There are a few who do but it's a very small percentage.
  • In Malta, when people google for things, do they do it in Maltese, in Italian, or in English? (User:Amire80)
    • Mostly in English....predominantly in English.
  • Facebook banner and "about" page - why have you (Toni or Neville), who are admins, not fixed these?
    • We don't have access to the Facebook account and we're still trying to get it so as not to cut off the existing followers of that page. The "about" page is a matter of priorities. Your question has helped vote it up on our list of priorities. Thank you!
  • UI appears in part-Italian because Italian is the fallback language for Maltese in MediaWiki. There are two solutions for this:
  • Are you reaching out to the expatirate MT community in UK, US & elsewhere?
    • Yes...but not as much as we could. We will do better on this once we've addressed some of the interface issues Neville spoke about during the presentation.
  • How can we, who are not mt-speakers, help you?
    • Please start by attending one of our Thursday evening at 4pm UTC online meetups. These take place every other Thursday. We had one during CKC2020 so the next one will be two weeks after CKC2020. You can also check out http://www.wikimalta.org for the latest updates - in English! :-)

🖊️🔗 Collaborative note-taking[edit]

Feel free to take notes about the session here, add some useful links, etc.


  • This is an interesting challenge for a Wikipedian language community. It's a community with a national language [1] with ~500,000 native speakers and is an official language of the European Union.


  • We think the problem is more language-based than Wikipedia-based. You can look for Maltese and it's below the 200th entry, with fewer than 4,000 articles. Comparing with languages of similar numbers of speakers (Welsh: 700k, Icelandic 360k) you'll see the Maltese Wikipedia https://mt.wikipedia.org/ is substantially smaller in scale.
  • [Jimmy Wales quote in slide]. There are other languages overshadowed by a larger neighbour (Welsh → English, Basque and Catalan → Spanish).
  • Comparing with the Welsh-language Wikipedia https://cy.wikipedia.org and the organisational milestones, the disparity is very clear — 16 years after the mtwiki was created they still do not have 4,000 articles
  • Differences and similarites:
  • How do we move further into the problem space? They have voluntary org since 2015 and a registered User Group since 2016, with no employees (because it's a UG)
  • There's a problem separate from the Wikipedia, events (Wiki Loves Monuments [2] and Wiki Loves Art Art+Feminism [3]) have been popular, but it's only with CEE [4] that there's been engagement with the Maltese-language Wikipedia.
  • Looking at numbers of uploads and participants in Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM), for example, they are quite healthy, but they do not represent engagement with the Maltese-language Wikipedia. Wiki Loves Art also has great engagement — but with articles on Maltese artists on the English-language Wikipedia. Same for Art+Feminism.

Looking at CEE Spring, we had better engagement with mtwiki, with 112 mtwiki articles edited by 11 editors.


  • Newest project: QRpedia [5] taking place across Valetta. Trying to combine the engagement from WLM and CEE Spring, raising the profile of mtwiki.
  • The state of play of mtwiki [table in slide deck], 3,596 articles, 33 active users (0.19% of the 17,134 registered). (Compare Icelandic 131 = 0.17%, Welsh 0.19% = 121). 4 administrators (2 of whom are delivering this presentation) and 7 new registered users in May 2020, the highest rate since December 2018.
  • Looking at the growth of content [graph in slide deck], there was continual growth until ~2013, with a peak in March 2013 with ~2000 articles edited that month and a spike in April (>4k articles) but diminishing returns since then. Looking at the last 2 years, we see it being relatively stable, averaging 145 pages/month, with a spike in April (coinciding with CEE Spring) and more recently.
  • Looking at projects worked on. For the top 10 photos in WLM each year — of 40 photos, 38 articles in enwiki, 17 articles in mtwiki. (Many of these 17 are more related to the locality of the monument rather than the figure itself.) Looking at image use, 8 used in enwiki but 0 in mtwiki — we haven't succeeded in turning engagement with WLM into engagement with mtwiki.
  • Looking at WIki Loves Arts, several artists don't have articles in Maltese, despite having articles in other languages. For those that do, the mtwiki articles are shorter and, presumably, of lower quality than in other language Wikipedias.
  • For CEE Spring, we've had a number of translations to other languages, but the Maltese pages for the sites do not exit.
  • Main issues with mtwiki that "need" work:
    • Content
      • Redlinks on the homepage are a daily feature, outnumbering bluelinks. It is far more common to find missing content than content you're looking for.
      • A lot of very basic content is missing — Ingilterra (England) is a redirect to Renju Unit (UK), Wales doesn't have a page
      • Content is often haphazard, based on people's interests — Liverpool and Manchester lack pages, but Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC do have articles
      • Articles are often poor quality, often lacking citations and with inappropriate tone, often failing on NPOV and wikification. Over half the articles are under 4,000 bytes.
    • Interface issues
      • Many issues here. A central banner invites you to join the mtwiki Facebook page — which has been moribund since 2017. The About page does not exist, which sums up the lack of content quite nicely
      • Linguistic inconsistency. A lot of the UI is built in a mixture of Maltese and Italian. [Slide shows Italian UI components highlighted on an otherwise Maltese page]
      • Poor basic infrastructure: lack of help pages, basic templates and tools are missing, categorisation is disorganised — HotCat was only recently introduced, for example.
    • Administration
      • 4 admins, 1 of which is no longer active
    • Capacity building and engagement
      • [Ran out of time]
    • How can we improve
      • [Refer to slide; OwenBlacker will update this later if nobody beats him to it]

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