Language proposal policy

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Policies and guidelines Language proposal policy
This page outlines the policy that governs proposals to open new language subdomains of existing projects, as defined by the language committee. This policy was most recently updated on 13 June 2019 (UTC).
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Please review the full text of this page before submitting a proposal.

The language committee processes requests in accordance with the application procedure and prior experience with requests and projects. The committee can skip steps in the procedure if they consider a request to have already met the objectives of those steps. Proposals for projects in a language that already has a well-established project may be fast-tracked in this way.

Application procedure

Requisites

The following requirements must be met by requests before they can be approved; although they can be met at any time before or after a request, we recommend fulfilling the basic requirements before making a request. If you need any help or have questions, please ask a committee member.

Projects that existed before the initial version of this policy was adopted (November 2006) do not have to meet these requirements. Please do not use them as an argument that your project should be ruled "eligible". The fact that such projects exist, even when they do not meet the eligibility requirements below, is completely irrelevant to current eligibility discussions.

Requisites for eligibility

  1. The proposal is to open a new language edition of an existing Wikimedia project that does not already exist (see the complete list of Wikimedia projects or the SiteMatrix).
    (The appropriate place to go if you are proposing a completely new project is Proposals for new projects.)
  2. The language must ordinarily have a valid ISO 639 1–3 code (search).
    • If there is no valid ISO 639 code, you must try to obtain one.[1] The Wikimedia Foundation does not seek to develop new linguistic entities; there must be an extensive body of works in that language. The information that distinguishes this language from another must ordinarily be sufficient to convince standards organizations to create an ISO 639 code.
    • Under very unusual circumstances, and provided there has first been an effort to obtain an ISO 639–3 code, the Language Committee may be willing to consider projects in languages having a valid BCP 47 language tag. Languages having neither an ISO 639 code nor a BCP 47 tag will not be considered under any circumstances.
  3. The language must be sufficiently unique that it could not coexist on a more general wiki. In most cases, this excludes regional dialects and different written forms of the same language.
    • The degree of difference required is considered on a case-by-case basis. The committee does not consider political differences, since the Wikimedia Foundation's goal is to give every single person free, unbiased access to the sum of all human knowledge, rather than information from the viewpoint of individual political communities.
    • Projects coded as macrolanguages in ISO 639–3 are possible in some cases. New projects with a macrolanguage code are generally allowed if other projects with the identical code already exist in Wikimedia. In all other cases, these are decided on a case-by-case basis. There must be a reason why the project should be in the macrolanguage and not in one of the languages within the macrolanguage.
    • Codes for collections of languages are part of ISO 639–2, not ISO 639–3. These are no longer valid codes for new Wikimedia projects. A few existing projects continue to use such codes, though the plan is to move them all.
  4. The language of the proposal has a sufficient number of fluent users to form a viable contributor community and an audience for the content.
    • Wikisource wikis are allowed in languages with no native speakers, although these should be on a wiki for the modern form of the language, when possible.
    • If the proposal is for an artificial language such as Esperanto, it must have a reasonable degree of recognition as determined by discussion. (Some recognition criteria include, but are not limited to: independently proved number of speakers, use as an auxiliary language outside of online communities created solely for the purpose, usage outside of Wikimedia, publication of works in the language for general sale.) Notwithstanding the existence of an ISO 639–3 code, fictional languages (link) are not eligible for projects. Proto-language reconstructions are not eligible for ISO 639-3 codes,[2] so are not eligible for projects.

Requisites for final approval

  1. There is an active test project on the Multilingual Wikisource (Wikisource only), Beta Wikiversity (Wikiversity only), or the Incubator (all other projects).
    • A project must start on one of these wikis. This will demonstrate that there is sufficient community to build the project.
  2. There is a continuing effort to translate the MediaWiki interface into that language so that nobody is excluded from participating if they do not understand the English-language user interface. As a baseline, it is recommended that you begin by translating the "most used MediaWiki messages". These are the messages that are of highest importance to our readers and users. If a Wikimedia project in your language already exists and these messages have already been translated, we ask that you show evidence that localisation is continuing to be improved and maintained at a reasonable pace.
    • We ask that all localisation work be coordinated on translatewiki.net, so that the localisation will be available on all Wikimedia Foundation projects, not just the one you're active on. Another benefit is that MediaWiki as a product will provide better functionality for users of MediaWiki outside the Wikimedia Foundation. It is for this reason that we suggest that you translate the non-WMF extensions as well.
    • Localisation statistics are available which describe the current availability of translations for the MediaWiki interface into different languages. The group statistics at translatewiki.net have more detailed information.
    • Note that exporting of MediaWiki translations from translatewiki.net and consequently their availability on Wikimedia wikis only starts when 13% of the whole MediaWiki core messages are translated.

Initial proposal

Discussion

Users are encouraged to discuss whether it is a good idea to open the new language. However, this is not a vote. The project will be assessed on its linguistic merits and chances of flourishing. Even if there is strong support, the proposal may be denied if there are strong arguments against its creation and insufficiently strong arguments in support as judged by the language committee.

Verification

If the requirements for eligibility are met, the language committee should verify it as "eligible". This means that the committee can proceed with final approval at the point when the activity and localization requirements are met. The respective request page contains links to track progress on this.

The users should begin writing a test project on the Incubator wiki, the Multilingual Wikisource or the Beta Wikiversity (as the case may be) now, if they haven't already. At least five active users must edit that language regularly before a test project will be considered successful. You are encouraged to search for interested contributors yourself, as this may speed up the process considerably. Note that a project may be closed if there is little or no activity after it is created.

Final approval

If all requirements have been met and a detailed investigation finds no unresolved problems, the language committee will notify the whole community of pending approval by adding a notice to Talk:Language committee. If no further problems come up, the request will be approved and developers will be asked to create the wiki.

The number of users that support or oppose the project is irrelevant.

Users are strongly encouraged to continue developing the test project while they are waiting for the wiki to be opened. This may accelerate the process. For Wikipedia proposals, the list of articles every Wikipedia should have may be useful. All pages developed as part of a test wiki will be transferred to the actual wiki when it is opened.

Specific issues

Ancient or historical languages
Only Wikisource wikis in ancient or historical languages are accepted, because resources in such languages continue to be important to the world, even in the absence of native, living speakers of those languages. Where possible, such languages should be bundled with the modern equivalent Wikisource project (such as Old English with English), though that is not required.
Artificial languages
Yes, there can be wikis in artificial languages. There are already wikis available in Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, Interlingue, Lojban, Volapük, Novial and Lingua Franca Nova. See the relevant note under the prerequisites concerning fictional languages and reconstructed proto-languages.
Number of speakers necessary
There should be enough speakers to form a viable community and audience. Whether a particular language qualifies depends on discussion.
Test projects
Anyone can create a test project at any time. For more information, see the Incubator wiki's main page and its manual.
Unicode encoding
Strictly speaking, Unicode encoding is not required by policy in order for a project to be approved. In practice, however, it may be impossible to ensure that the Wikimedia servers serve the project correctly if the language and script do not have a standard Unicode encoding.

See also

Footnotes

  1. See SIL's website for details as to how to do this.
  2. See SIL's website for details.