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Requests for comment/Start allowing ancient languages/Appendix IV: Developing Ancient Language support

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This page does not form part of the proposal, but details particular issues identified in the process



A clear theme in the RFC comments is a lack of trust from some sides in the existing Ancient Language projects to deliver the mission of Wikipedia and Wikimedia, and also for the projects to protect themselves from abuse. The RFC has raised important points about the challenges of maintaining high standards of language and writing in such projects.

Helping this kind of support to develop is within the scope of LangCom, whose Charter's scope includes: "The development and maintenance of … support and coordination for cross-language projects, helping smaller communities share resources and maximize their results".

These themes are mentioned in the proposed study, however, in parallel it seems a good idea to consider how Ancient Language Wiki projects are organised how they should be supported. Currently, that support is minimal and does not exist in a structured form.

Short term needs

  1. The most obvious need is to change the existing language policy to allow languages such as Latin and Sanskrit to be eligible for further Wiki projects should they be developed, and to make it clear that the current ALW's are not regarded by the Wikimedia Board as an accident of poor planning associated with the early years of the project.
  2. Such a change would also clarify that funding routes within the Wikimedia family for specific project needs should be given the same status as others.
  3. The most pressing needs identified by the policy process so far seem to:
    1. Ensuring the projects deliver the Wikimedia mission, especially by developing compelling and specialist content
    2. Ensuring that the ALWs have a high standard of language, and have processes to reduce errors and poor writing
    3. Assessing the practices for language formation used by current ALWs
    4. Ensuring that the ALWs are able to spot any risks of abuse of their sites and deal with this effectively
    5. Ensuring that local Wikimedia Chapters with a particular interest in the language (for instance, Italy, Netherlands, Germany for Latin; India for Pali and Sanskrit) try to develop a relationship with the particular Wikis
    6. Increasing communication and problem solving between the different ALW projects

Support roles




LangCom should oversee and feed into support plans, working with the ALWs directly. They need not be involved in the delivery but should take an active interest in the way the programme develops and the way it responds to problems it identifies.

User group


We suggest that the ALWs form a User group with an Advisory Committee appointed to work with LangCom to start to address the questions above, and to think about how these can be addressed through some short term project funding. Ideally the User Group would receive some support either from Chapters or the Board and of course should include involvement and receive help from LangCom.

Medium term options


Wikimedia provides many opportunities to fund small projects. Some broad themes could include:

  1. Projects aimed at ensuring there is sufficient support and development of the existing ALWs to deliver WM / WP's mission, through
    1. Identifying problematic content
    2. Improving quality control processes
    3. Ensuring externally credible language policies are in place
    4. Identifying and inducting editors
    5. Content planning and prioritisations
    6. Audience development
  2. Projects to increase collaboration and content development between ALWs and
    1. linguistic centres of excellence
    2. researchers that use the ancient language
    3. other external communities that use the Ancient Language
  3. Projects that develop the ALW's audience, such as
    1. Work with educationalists
    2. Work with specific groups using the language

Long term options


If collaboration work between ALWs progresses, there could be a case to create a thematic organization, given that the relevance and importance of these projects is often global rather than local or specific to one country or region, and there is frequently a commonlity of interest between the different ancient languages, in terms of needs, research and study areas, and linguistic competency.

Alternatively, a thematic organization could cover the work of ancient and minority languages, as many of the issues both face are similar.