Talk:Proposed policy for wikis in new languages

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I disagree with the first point of this policy. We have seen how one or two dedicated users can really get a wiki off the ground. Danny 00:48, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I suggest

  • that any contact person be essentially an ambassador (like the ones we already have).
  • that well-defined criteria be available that would terminate the need for monthly reports. I cannot support a policy mandating never-ending paperwork.
  • that inactivity be operationally defined, unless there's good reason not to.

A-giâu 09:21, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've said in the past that I think creation of new wikis should be something the Board can make policy about. To make this happen, someone just needs to put the necessary structures in place -- basically a policy page (rewrite How to start a new Wikipedia?) and a request template. I'll go along with it. -- Tim Starling 14:10, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Separating "significant" and "minority" languages[edit]

I suggest using:

  • 0. If the language is an official language of a (real) country, the requirements are one active editor who needs to be available for contact, and no further requirements.

Reason: We should support "significant" languages by all means, and prevent blocking them from birth. The stricter requirements should be applied to non-official (or minority) languages. I strongly believe that if a language is official, it is significant. --grin 17:32, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Defining 'pledged to start up'[edit]

It might be useful to quantify 'pledged to start up' as applied to users. Otherwise it would be easy for someone to say "well, so-and-so said they would write but they didn't". Perhaps 25 new articles above a certain length within the first 30 days since the wikipedia was created? --Saforrest 19:19, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Rather than imposing criteria on individual users, we could just make a group requirement, e.g. 100 articles within the first month. --Saforrest 19:20, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Policy should depend on size of existing speaking population[edit]

I suspect that the 'minimum number of pledged users' was chosen at least partly to serve as an obstacle for very obscure or extinct languages to overcome before being supported. To me this is reasonable: we should not waste resources on a Hittite wikipedia if only a couple individuals want it.

But I think the policy ought to take into account (which is does not now) the size of the current speaking population in making these choices. That is, whatever the minimum number of pledged users needs to be, it should be lower for languages like Tumbuka than for, say, Hittite, because the greater size of the existing speaking population implies a greater payoff for Wikipedia in supporting the language. --Saforrest


Support for a new wiki language is based on three criteria

1. Probable viability of contribution.

2. Existence of a written form.

3. Probable user base.

Each of these criteria are can be met flexibly:

The first requires evidence of editors who can perform the necessary administrative features, protect against vandalism, and grow the wiki base. For those wiki languages where there is doubt over the viability of the editor base, a contact individual and monthly reports may be required during the establishing phase of the wikipedia. For small native or conlangs, evidence of a sufficient number of editors fluent in the language may be required. Previous track record as a consistent editor will be weighed, as will outside evidence of being able to write in the target language.

The second of these requires a reasonable coherent written form which is generally recognized by speakers, or a set of sources where disputes over usage can be referred to. Languages which do not have obvious written standardization should start a Wiktionary first.

The third of these should be determined by the existence on the internet of a user community in that language, which generates original material for their own use. These do not have to be native speakers, but there does have to be signs of activity prior to starting a wikipedia. 00:17, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

ISO 639-1 code sufficient[edit]

Problems with current policy[edit]

In certain cases, a small language or dialect Wikipedia was contributed almost exclusively by a handful of the regulars only. An outsider may take it as a good sign that this Wikipedia is functioning pretty well, but it could be otherwise.

An one-man-band Wikipedia is surely not a justifiable project. It takes numerous regular, occasional and anonymous contributors to create a healthy wiki project because you need article modifiers, proof-readers and janitors of various backgrounds to keep the Wikipedia generally-correct, unbiased and up-to-date. Wikipedia is not the 1768 Encyclopedia Britannica that was mostly written by one man only.

I propose to strictly tighten the open-door and close-door policy. If a proposal failed to answer some basic questions, do not allow it. If a project cannot justify its existence, close it. Wikipedia is not a free-for-all buffet. Nor is it a language preservation lab. We are not a tool used by language-right extremists. We need to ask these essential questions:

New language proposal[edit]

  • Is that a language?
  • Is that language used in various aspects of life?
    • Some languages and dialects are almost only used for non-educational purposes. By education, I do not mean teaching people how to hunt and sing and dance. The well-educated speakers do not use it to exchange more-advanced knowledge.
  • Is the writing system used by many of its speakers?
    • Many speakers do not or simply cannot write.
    • Many of them are highly educated in another language. They can freely express their ideas using major languages and they do.
  • Do they use other major languages fluently as well?
  • How do you attract users and contributors?
  • Are there any public domain resources in that language? Do you know how to use them?
    • Without the CIA World Facts, Project Gutenberg, 1911 EB, U.S. government works, you cannot do so many articles so easily.
  • Are there any copyrighted materials you may consult other than a concise dictionary, the Bible and a few textbooks?
    • Is there an acceptable vocabulary for essential science and humanity subjects?
      • You may find these speakers would rather use a major language in this case.
    • If not, are you going to translate everything from another language to your language? Will your people be happy if you control the language and knowledge?
      • In many cases, they just use another major language and don't know anything about this one-man-band Wikipedia.
  • Can you and your contributors provide at least stubs that make sense for the List of articles all languages should have in three years?
    • You may setup goals: 30% in six months, 50% in one year, 80% in two years, ... .
  • Can you just forget about this hopeless and miserable project and contribute to the Wiktionary?
    • You must tell them the truth in advance. Free culture does not guarantee any success. There have been too many failures.

Existing language[edit]

  • Are you working on it?
  • Are there any other people working on it?
  • Are there a steady stream of new users come and go?
  • Do they modify, make corrections or contribute?
  • Are you and your people make and improve the "List of articles all languages should have" articles seriously.

Setting up a new encyclopedia is not for the one or two die-hard activists. It has to serve common good. You will not be proud to have hundreds of unverified articles sitting on this website. -- Toytoy 04:26, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

5 editors[edit]

Additional points I would like to see on the page

1. There needs to be at least 5 users pledged to start up the wiki.

These five users should all be able to speak the language well enough to be able to be reasonably considered editors in that language
If the language already exist in another Wikimedia project, at least 3 of these 5 editors should be regular in one of these projects. Regular means here, at least 3 months of presence and at least 200 edits.
If the language does not exist in any project, at least 3 of these 5 editors should be regular in at least an equivalent type Wikimedia project in another language (at least 3 months as editors and at least 200 edits)

These are to prevent

  • people voting to start a project but being unable to work on it.
  • people very willing to start but knowing nothing of wikipedia and other project concept.

To my opinion, these rules are stupid, but if we are really going to play with rules all along, this will prevent wikis being set by people who know nothing of the project, or who are not able to speak the language.


Just make is super simple: Wikimedia-wide vote (all projects, all languages) and board approval to start a new project. Then have language-specific polls to set up language versions for the approved project (of those, a certain threshold will need to promise to contribute to the project). --Daniel Mayer 02:47, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I'm not convinced just having people willing to work on a language is sufficient to allow it to be created. It wouldn't be hard to find 3 out of 5 people who edit somewhere who say they'll support a bork bork bork wiki or something ridiculous. Additional control over which languages are added is needed, such as the feelings of the communities related to the proposed language (e.g. comments from en if someone proposed a Norfolk dialect wiki), the number of writers that language has, whether the language has an ISO code, and, for dialects, whether it is really different enough from another language to need its own wiki. Angela 12:23, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I think Ant is primarily talking about languages which already exist in the Wikimedia world. For completely new ones, surely we need different requirements.--Eloquence 14:45, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Coming to a conclusion[edit]

This page seems to claim that one need only ask a developer to set up a new language Wikipedia. There are many Requests for new languages that have been long-unfulfilled, however -- can someone explain precisely what needs to be done now? Should we continue discussing setting up a policy on new languages? The request for an Ossetian wikipedia seems to have everything that would be necessary by anybody's proposed rules, for example, but has gone uncreated thus far. TUF-KAT 21:37, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Ah, I see, the mailing list request appears to be the most important part. Ossetian was created just a few hours before I posted my comment. Voro also appears to meet all requirements, however, and should be created assuming the lack of a three-letter code issue has been worked out. Perhaps I will re-tool requests for new languages to make it more apparent what needs to be done.
On a related note, is there any ongoing discussion on Chinese dialect Wikipedias? Any conclusions? Maybe I'll track down a zh ambassador. TUF-KAT 21:44, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I have rewritten the requests for new languages page to reflect a mixture of what appears to be current procedure; where the current procedure is unclear, I have prescribed what seems like a logical way to do it, so feel free to change things, bring stuff up on the talk page, etc. My rewrite includes a FAQ on dead/artificial languages, choosing non-ISO codes and what languages/dialects are acceptable. Input is welcome, especially from a developer. I have made e-mailing the mailing list the last step, since it wasn't clear if this was supposed to be first or not -- and because I think the general Wikimedia rule is that consensus should be reached on a wiki and not on a list. Does anybody know which mailing list is most appropriate for this? Could a developer check over the whole procedure to make sure it reflects the most efficient way to do this? TUF-KAT 01:16, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I think this proposal is a waste of time. If the Wiki is active, so be it, regardless of the number of contributor. But if the Wiki is not active for 3 years or more, may be it can be consider for..... But then, this may mean loss of knowledge and experience. Anyway, the voting decision to delete or not to delete should be done at high level and after laying out the policy beforehand.Yosri 11:34, 29 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Problems with previous policy[edit]

  1. Takes up developer resources.
    • But "Adding new languages is certainly a strain on developers. It certainly will be that this project will grow slowly (it would be wiser perhaps to work mostly on Wiktionary rather than wikipedia to start with), but I do not think we should on purpose limit the existence of small projects on the motive there will be few editors to work on. It's not that much of a strain. I actually added this to the language list as soon as I saw the post, thinking that since it has an ISO 639-2 code, it would be uncontroversial." (Tim Starling, in a message to Wikipedia-l on Dec. 3; italic text is from Anthere on Dec. 3)
  2. Invites vandalism to inactive Wikipedias
  3. Takes up too much server space
    • Actually, individual Wikipedias, especially small ones, take up relatively little server space, especially if Commons is used for all media.
    • Thank goodness for Commons. Hopefully ALL media will move to Commons some day, with localized names for the individual languages.

Further reading:[edit]

WikiSource's Language domain proposal has a huge amount of information and opinion on multilingualism and language-domains within Wikimedia. It is also a tragic example of what can happen when there is no clear policy in place for multilingualism. Also see the links listed at Background and sources.

Rewrite, September 05[edit]

I've rewritten this, taking into account comments on this talk page and on the Artificial languages equal rights poll. Without a real policy, there are many wikis that should be created waiting at Requests for new languages for weeks because no developer knows whether or not it is acceptable to make the wiki. This policy needs to be adopted to make the process of applying for new wikis simpler. I suggest therefore, that this be moved from Proposed policy for wikis in new languages to policy for wikis in new languages and translations made of it. Angela 10:34, 2 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I certainly don't support it for a few reasons:
  1. First of all, many Wikipedias which are successful today started with a single dedicated user. For this reason, I think it would be better to require two native speakers (for ANY language, regardless of official status or lack thereof), or one native speaker and a test wiki which has passed some milestone which demonstrates the level of commitment.
  2. It promotes discrimination (languages which are the official language of a country, and those which aren't). Also, what is the definition of "country"? Would it include Abkhazia, South Ossetia, CNO...? And what is the definition of "official language"? Do you realise that in many countries, the primary language has no official status? For example, English is not the official language of the US, as there is no law at the federal level declaring it as such. It is usually considered the national language, but what is or isn't a national language is often a very fuzzy area.
  3. It discriminates against artificial languages (and ancient languages), despite the results of the ALER poll.
  4. It does not state clearly that it can't be used as precedent for a proposal to close existing Wikis that do not meet these criteria, by not stating explicitly that since they were created prior to this proposed policy, they have been effectively "grandfathered in", and requests to close any Wiki should be considered on an individual basis rather than a set of criteria to judge all.
  5. It does not clearly define a written language. There are languages which some would define as "unwritten" due to an extremely low literacy rate (say, .1%), but others would consider them "written" due to the fact that they have been committed to the written medium before. And what sort of writing system is acceptable? Some languages use writing systems which some people would argue do not represent the language independently, while other people may argue that they do.
  6. It does not define "consensus" clearly.
  7. It does not mention the possibilities of conversion. While Serbian Latin and Serbian Cyrillic are certainly very different in their written forms, a perfect lossless conversion can be performed between the two. Similarly, while not quite perfect or lossless, conversion can also be performed between Simplified and Traditional Chinese, or some other "languages" which may differ only in regular orthographic differences from a language which already has a Wikipedia.
  8. The criteria which I think developers should follow are: 1) Are there more than 5 supporters are there for the proposal? 2) Is there any opposition? 3) Is there an existing test Wikipedia, and if so does it have more than just a handful of substubs? 4) Has the request been around for more than a month? ... if the answer is "yes" to all of these questions except the 2nd (the answer there should be "no"), then I think it's safe to create the Wikipedia. If not, I think the language needs to be further considered and its creation should be explicitly OK'd by some pre-determined party or a more complex set of criteria. --Node ue 08:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think I support it. This policy would prohibit ancient languages, apparently (since it requires two native speakers) -- see Requests for new languages/Ancient. FTR, according to this policy, the following wikis would be accepted: Waray-Waray, Ladino, Murcian, Bavarian, Neapolitan, Cantonese and Wu (the last two kinda depend on how you read consensus, but it looks like it to me). Tuf-Kat 08:42, 3 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The content now is simpler and clear than it was. But one problem remains. What does the consensus mean?
It looks good! (And it is certainly needed.) I think ancient languages should be mentioned, either in section 2 (if they are to be prohibited): "No more fictional or extinct languages..."; or in a separate section giving some conditions (if they are to be allowed). I don't know what the general feeling is on this issue, but I think if they are to be allowed the conditions should be quite strict (large attested vocabulary, some contemporary use, and of course community consensus). --Chamdarae 16:29, 15 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have a suggestion about the 1st rule to have a better criterion for the "significantly different":

  • If Language B is excluded from A wiki, we can say that language B and A are significantly different. (of course, B should be a language or dialect naturally used by a group of people and not invented by private person etc).

If language B is very much similar to language A and is also used by a group of people. The wiki of language A have no reason to exclude language B from it.The situation should be the same as that in English wiki where English of American, England and Australian etc. are all allowed.

According to this,if one person asserts that A and B are so similar that wikipedia of B should not be allowed, but excludes B from A wiki,it is so contradictionany that it might contain the discrimination of B language.--Ffaarr 15:48, 3 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Those seem good criteria. Can you try to work this into the policy in some way? Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I had tried to work it into the policy.If there's anything immproper.Please fix it.--Ffaarr 06:09, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  1. First of all, many Wikipedias which are successful today started with a single dedicated user. For this reason, I think it would be better to require two native speakers (for ANY language, regardless of official status or lack thereof), or one native speaker and a test wiki which has passed some milestone which demonstrates the level of commitment.
    If we have a policy, we don't really need a test wiki. Just because other wikis have started well with one user doesn't mean we should continue to do this. There are many many dead wikis that might have been more active if we had required there be more than one person to start them. Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I think that the purpose of a test-wiki would be to demonstrate the viability of a new project prior to its creation. I don't think this should be required of languages with more than one or two native speakers, though.
    I agree with Node here - test-wikis have a useful purpose. I think having a test-wiki is the best way to be sure a new wikipedia won't languish in the "0 articles" category for months or years. But I think there needs to consensus *before* a test-wiki can be started. This would avoid the situation that, for example, Banyumasan is now in, where there is a very large test-wiki, but a lack of clear support on the requests page. --Chamdarae 08:43, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. It promotes discrimination (languages which are the official language of a country, and those which aren't).
    The idea is that official languages shouldn't be controversial to start. It doesn't mean non-official ones can't start - just that they need some other way of proving their worth. Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, but it still promotes discrimination. Languages such as Gilbertese and Palauan are only spoken by some thousands of people despite the fact that they are official languages of "real countries" (ie, recognised by the UN as sovreign nations). On the other hand, languages with millions of speakers, such as Hmong, Isan, Western Armenian, Meithei, Ilocano, Bicolano, and many others, are not official in any country. Also, some languages which are official might be extremely controversial, such as Moldovan, or Rusin (official in parts of Serbia, claimed by some to be a Slovak dialect, by others to be a Ukrainian dialect), etc.
    I would suggest removing #5 and treating all languages equally regardless of any official status, since official status is itself a potentially controversial issue. There are only a few "national languages" without wikipedias, but many with wikipedias that aren't doing very well. --Chamdarae 08:43, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. It discriminates against artificial languages (and ancient languages), despite the results of the ALER poll.
    Yes, it does. Many people don't think we should have any more artificial languages and I don't believe that poll asked the right questions. It is mainly the artificial ones that have caused controversy (with Klingon and toki pona being closed). Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I don't think it should so bluntly exclude the possibility of Wikipedias in these languages; rather, I think it should set the bar considerably higher. I think it would be a mistake to disallow Wikipedias in languages such as Ancient Greek (and yes, it is very different from modern Greek), Classical Chinese, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic, and other ancient languages which are still used in religious or scholarly pursuits. Ancient Greek and Classical Chinese are still used as a medium for international academic communication to a certain extent (although Ancient Greek has been largely replaced by Latin, and more recently English, German, and French, and Classical Chinese is slowly falling out of academic currency), and in some of these languages encyclopedias already exist (such as Classical Chinese, and probably Ancient Greek).
  4. It does not state clearly that it can't be used as precedent for a proposal to close existing Wikis that do not meet these criteria, by not stating explicitly that since they were created prior to this proposed policy, they have been effectively "grandfathered in", and requests to close any Wiki should be considered on an individual basis rather than a set of criteria to judge all.
    Fixed. Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. It does not clearly define a written language.
    Perhaps that issue can be discussed if and when it arises. Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  6. It does not define "consensus" clearly.
    It's probably best it doesn't to avoid instruction creep. It could perhaps link to en:Wikipedia:Consensus if people need a definition. Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I think the link is a good idea.
  7. It does not mention the possibilities of conversion.
    Fixed. Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  8. ...If not, I think the language needs to be further considered and its creation should be explicitly OK'd by some pre-determined party or a more complex set of criteria. --Node ue 08:17, 18 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Also, there are other questions which have come up with many proposals: Is the language often used in formal written situations? Some languages with existing Wikipedias, such as Sicilian, Lingala, Minnan, and to a certain extent Asturian, Sardinian, Aragonese, Basque, and Galician (which, although they are official in some capacity, are in practice not used in scientific and tertiary educational environments very much), are "no"s, yet some people seem to feel this should mean languages can't have a Wiki (this would exclude recent requests like Lombard and Cantonese). Are most of the users of the language also highly literate in a language which already has a Wikipedia? Again, the answer would be unfavourable to some existing Wikipedias, except this time it would include much larger ones like Catalan, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Nynorsk, Frisian, Walon, Galician, Aragonese... but obviously some people do feel that this is a consideration. --Node ue 03:38, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I don't think these issues need to be mentioned in the policy. These are the kinds of issues people might raise on the "New Requests" page, but I think the policy shouldn't openly endorse or exclude languages which haven't been widely used for technical writing in the past. They should be discussed on a case-by-case basis. In these cases a test-wiki could be particularly useful. --Chamdarae 08:43, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Who is the pre-determined party? Angela 02:18, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Although I can't say who should do this, I think there must be a way of deciding whether or not a proposed language meets the conditions if there is any uncertainty. Three new wikipedias have been launched over the weekend, but several other proposals seem to satisfy the policy. So who ultimately decides if Cantonese, Ripuarian, Murcian, or other languages can be officially "approved"? (This would also give some protection to the developers, who don't want to be blamed for starting potentially controversial wikis.) --Chamdarae 08:43, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Full support for making this policy official now.
("Hey Arbeo, not a single objection? You must kiddin'!" - "No, I ain't. I mean I could easily come up with at least as many concerns as Node did - but so could everyone. That way, we'd end up with another 10 months of endless discussion and stagnation. But we really need a policy now and this one is 90% OK.) Arbeo 10:17, 26 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." (George S. Patton)

My view on the subject[edit]

I've been reading through this "controversy" and I'm not completely sure that I agree with the direction of this proposal and policy distinction. I'm making this a seperate section because I don't even know where to begin on the specifics mentioned above. As far as "artificial languages" being prohibited, I think that is itself an artificial distinction that is silly to mention by itself. Frankly, I like the Klingon wikipedia, and I find it neat that it exists. On the other hand, you can suggest from a certain school of thought that all languages are human constructs. Some languages, notably written German, Russian, and English can be traced to specific individuals who created those languages and put them into fixed written form. Why are the Grimm Brothers any different from Tolkein or Okrand in this respect? In defense of the Grimm Brothers, they did have an existing culture to draw upon when they put together the German syllabary, as opposed to Tolkein who made up his languages for fictional purposes alone. However Tolkein was a linguist who drew up his language from Nordic cultures and a rich linguistic heritage that predated "The Lord of the Rings" by several millenia.

The point I'm trying to make is get rid of the "artificial" or "fiction" language distinction completely. Simply make this a policy about what languages can be created at all. What needs to happen when creating a language community is that you need to form that "community" somehow. That implies that it will not be the "one-man band", regardless of how culturally significant the language may be (like an ancient Persian or Latin Wikipedia, for instance).

I also think that creating "sister projects" for new languages should be linked to the success of other related projects in that same language. Starting a Tongan Wikibooks should be related to the success of the Tongan Wikipedia. I use this as an example of a major language that clearly is "non-controvercial" in terms of getting its own project started, has an ancient culture behind it for linguistic origins, and is an "official" languages of a UN member nation (to show more credibility for its inclusion as a seperate language wiki). Check out to.wikipedia to see just how many articles have been written. Not many. In fact, the official stats list only 5 articles for the whole Wikipedia. The New Pages list shows only seven pages, of which 3 articles appear to be written in either English or some other new user vandalism. Indeed, Klingon has much better written articles than anything on this wiki. Before starting a new Tongan Wiki-project, speakers of that language should be encouraged to come together and help develop the projects that are currently active. I see nothing in the current policy that even suggests that this is an issue or something that should be considered.

As far as what "sister project" should be the "seed" to start out all other projects in that language, I'm not even sure if there is a good answer there, although wikipedia is a good choice for a number of reasons. Mainly that it is easier to write a short topical article than write a whole book or organize a whole grammar system (Wiktionary, for example).

The native language requirement simply must go. I don't see how a Latin Wikipedia should not be started, or should be closed merely because there are no native speakers of the language. Certainly a Latin Wikisource would be invaluable for a huge number of reasons, and there is considerable material that could be put into that sort of project that would be invaluable to the Wikimedia community as a whole. Yes this seems to be an exception that would be granted anyway regardless of the "policy", but it is an example of how the native speaker requirement can be taken to an extreme.

Getting to the point: If you want to start a new project wiki, wheither for a new language or for a new project, you need to have a sufficient kernel of participants to keep everything running smoothly, to weed out the vandals, and to keep fresh content coming. I'll be the first to suggest that the bar should be much higher for creating a whole new project in English than for a Tongan Wikinews, but the creation of Tongan Wikinews should still have plenty of participants to keep new content coming.

That is also another point to be made: Each kind of "sister" project has different needs, and in some ways should have a slightly different criteria for its creation. Wikisource, for instance, doesn't need necessarily native speakers but it should be somehow demonstrated that there is a body of literature that can be converted over, scanned or otherwise, to be included in the project. Wikinews, on the other hand, should have a much higher bar placed on creating a new language project in terms of participants simply because it is going to be the target of vandalism. It also requires regular contributors to keep the "news" fresh and updated. Wikipedia is somewhat in the middle between these two extremes, but still needs a viable community. The real question is then how do you determine if the community is viable? That is the real debate that should be happening here. --Roberth 12:16, 28 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clarify "official language"[edit]

The current request for Kinaray-a, a language of the Philippines, meets these requirements only if "official language of a real country" means "a language that is official in a real country", because Kinaray-a is only official in part of the Philippines. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Tuf-Kat 20:50, 30 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the answer is "no" (unfortunately) - I think the wording is intended to imply nationwide official status. Otherwise Udmurt would also meet the requirements. To be honest, I think that line should be removed and all languages should be treated equally, regardless of their official status or lack thereof. --Chamdarae 03:42, 1 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let's simply make two native speakers a general requirement, no matter "how official" a language is. After all, if there's only one editor who knows the language he or she will always have a hard time starting the encyclopedia all alone (And if that one editor loses interest the wiki will immediately fall into inactivity. This has happened here before). Arbeo 11:54, 1 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My changes[edit]

  1. I clarified the awkard wording about how to tell if languages are separate, and added more.
  2. I modified the part about artificial languages. I don't see the point of a concrete restriction on fictional languages. If they're really not good, proposals for them will be consistently rejected, as they have been in the past (with the possible exception of Quenya, which got some support). So now it's more of a warning than a restriction.
  3. I added a note about Unicode -- currently a Lepcha Wikipedia would be a disaster
  4. I have removed the thing about "official language of a real country". In addition to being ambiguous (and, arguably, discriminatory), there's not much need for it anyhow since with the exception of perhaps Tetum, all official languages of real countries already have Wikipedias. If it is considered in the other definition suggested by Tuf-Kat, ie languages which are official some place in real countries, there are many exclusions: Shan, Kinray-a, Manipuri, Amis, Udmurt, most former USSR langs... --Node ue 07:59, 2 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with these changes, but I think there are still a few points that could be improved.
  • Ancient languages should be mentioned along with artificial languages.
  • Not only artificial and ancient languages but *all* languages need to have consensus before they can be created. There are examples such as sign languages, secret languages, whistled languages, and many others that could be equally controversial. Section 2 could be written something like:
2. All languages proposed need to gain consensus.... Let the proposer be warned that most artificial languages, especially fictional languages, as well as most ancient languages, are unlikely to be created.
I don't agree this. Sign languages, secret languages, whistled languages etc. are not thought as natural languages and almost no native speakers, so we should treat them as ancient or artificial languages.
Actually, they are considered natural languages (in most cases -- not all are natural, for example Gestuno, SEE, Soreso, are all conlangs).
But for natural languages.I think that if there will be any other possible reasons to oppose one natural language,we should try to list in the policy.If all languages should be decided by "consensus", some promblem and controvercies will not be solved by this policy.--Ffaarr 02:40, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A workable option could be to require consensus for artificial and ancient languages but (only) a majority of supporters for natural languages. Arbeo 21:00, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually I still think consensus is important for all proposed wikis. There doesn't need to be unanimity, but general consensus. Clearly natural languages with millions of speakers and official status somewhere shouldn't be controversial, so they should get that consensus much more easily than languages like Toki-Pona or Klingon.
Saying "consensus is needed for all languages" makes the rule simple, effective and non-discrimatory. With a note adding that "most natural languages should have little trouble gaining consensus, but many artificial languages, especially fictional languages, and ancient languages are unlikely to be gain enough support to start a wikipedia" the message is still clear. And I don't think it's reasonable to ask a developer to start a wiki that is highly unpopular or controversial.
(In a worst-case scenario I guess we could say a vote with, say, a two-thirds majority would be sufficient.) --Chamdarae 01:56, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that we should not start a wikipedia opposed by majority.My point is: One natural language(significantly different from other languages and with enough possible contributors) will be unpopular or controvercial for ceatain reasons. We may try to list the possible reasons in the proposed policy. It helps to prevent the possible future controvercy. --Ffaarr 02:31, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • It should be made clear if "support" means "willing to work on" or "agree in principle" (ie. the opposite of "oppose"). These are quite separate issues, and both of them are important.
  • Codes and the written form to be used need to be agreed on before a language can be approved. It might seem obvious, but I think it should be mentioned somewhere. There have been cases of debates on new wikis about how the language should be written and even what language is to be used (eg on the Nahuatl wiki).
  • Finally, I think test-wikis should be mentioned. They still serve a useful purpose, and wikipedias which started as test-wikis are more likely to grow quickly early on. And I think test-wikis should not be started unless there is already consensus that the language is appropriate for wikipedia.
But in some situations, test-wp will be a good way to persaude consensus. (For example, the presentation of the written form of of one language)--Ffaarr 02:40, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that test-wikis (which don't necessarily have to be hosted here on Meta) should be mentioned in some way without making them mandatory. What about writing something like: "Proposers can emphasize the feasibility of their proposals by presenting sample content to the community"? Arbeo 21:00, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK. That sounds all right. Let's add a line like that, and maybe we could revise it at a later date. --Chamdarae 01:56, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's good idea.--Ffaarr 02:31, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I may add some of these points to the proposed policy in the next day or two. --Chamdarae 18:08, 3 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ahh, and if nobody has any objections, what would the next step be towards making this an official policy? --Node ue 08:00, 2 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • I support it wholeheartedly, but I'm not sure what to do to make it policy. I do note that if we're going to treat ancient languages the same as fictional languages, we should note that explicitly on the page. I think I would support a somewhat looser policy on ancient languages with no native speakers (there's been rumblings about Old Church Slavonic and Classical Chinese, for example), but since I imagine it will be easier to find the community consensus for these languages (I predict), there may not need to be any actual change in policy. Tuf-Kat 05:54, 3 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • Just a note: either I misunderstand the list of official languages on en, or there are many such without Wikipedias, including Romany, Kiribati, Chuukese, Ponapean, Kosraean, Yapese, Ulithian, Capeverdean Crioulo, Ndebele, Tuvaluan and Comorian. Tuf-Kat 04:15, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
        • Most of these are official languages of 'real' countries (but not Romany, as far as I know). But I personally don't think they're any more significant than languages like Cantonese, Ilokano, or Acehnese. --Chamdarae 01:56, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I support the policy. Thanks Node ue for clarifiying my words.Now it seems a few people notice this.Dose making an announcement in wikipedia-I help?--Ffaarr 08:24, 3 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Natural languages[edit]

Response to some of the comments above:

Natural languages should require no vote. If there are "supporters" - i.e. people who speak that language and are willing to work on the wiki - then that is enough. Period.

It is an illusion to say that "most natural languages should have little trouble gaining consensus." This has simply not been true in the history of the various projects. There have been lots of objections, which nearly always fell in the end, but caused a lot of aggravation along the way! Usually the objection was something well-meaning, such as: "We would rather people just work on Wikipedia, we don't have enough people for another project in this language."

The fallacy in the above argument is that contributors to a wiki work on what they are interested in. If a person wants to work on Wikiquote in his native language, then it doesn't matter if the Wikipedians in that language want more manpower. Setting up a new wiki in a recognized Wikimedia language should be automatically approved when there are people willing to work on it.Dovi 03:08, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I fully agree that for languages which already have one project, setting up a new project in that language should be automatically approved if there are people to work on it. However, I think for starting projects in languages that don't already have at least one wikimedia project, the process is more complex. Simply having enough supporters to work on a proposal is not necessarily enough. There does (IMO) need to be some sense of agreement that a new language is reasonable to have a wikipedia (or other wikimedia project) in, and it's clear that some of the proposals that have been made recently are not. I doubt there is anyone who would really want wikipedias in all the languages and language varieties being suggested. So what we need is some clear way of distinguishing between proposals that are reasonable, and those that are not. This is just as important as how many supporters the project has. --Chamdarae 18:35, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A revised proposal[edit]

Since there still seems to be a lot of debate about some of the points that are or could be included in the policy, I decided to offer the following version. Most of the points here have been taken directly from the current proposal, or from suggestions on the talk page. My own additions are: 1) Some criteria for deciding on languages that are closely related to other languages that already have wikis - this really seems to be the most controversial issue now, more so than artificial languages; 2) I put "users willing to contribute" rather than supporters; 3) I added a line saying that opposition to a proposal shouldn't be based around the problem of losing supporters from an existing project (some people have talked about this issue here); 4) I added a line about codes, orthography and so on needing to be agreed on; 5) I changed "two weeks" to "two to four weeks"; 6) I made a suggestion that proposals with a successful test-wiki, but not enough supporters, could be approved based on the test-wiki. --Chamdarae 19:15, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • And I also changed "native speakers" to "native or fluent speakers". --Chamdarae 04:52, 7 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Linguistic issues[edit]

  1. If the language is already used in other Wikimedia projects then it should automatically be considered suitable, and the other points in this section do not apply.
No. A dictionary in an ancient dead language is useful. An encyclopedia or text books in this same language are useless. Yann 10:41, 23 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  1. If the language is not a natural language with a modern community of speakers (for example an artificial language or an ancient language), it will need to gain consensus within the Wikimedia community before any project can be created. Let the proposer be warned that for most artificial languages, and especially fictional languages, wikis are unlikely to be created.
  2. If the language is closely related to another language which already has a wiki, or is sometimes considered to be a regional variety of such a language, it must be sufficiently different, in its written form (taking into account the possibility of automatic conversion between different forms when lossless conversion is possible), from that language (see the complete list of Wikimedia projects). One possible test is: If contributions in Language A are not accepted in any Wikipedia as-is (ie, the language will be changed), then it may be considered separate. In addition, it must either:
    • have official recognition at a national, regional or local level (including languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages);
    • have a well-established written tradition;
    • or be listed as a distinct language in some source that can be regarded as authoritative. One such source could be Ethnologue (but note that it is not always accepted as authoritative).
    Disagree with the "in addition, it must either". We should not have it.
    I'm not sure how you want to change this part. I think we do need to have some criteria for determining what is a distinct language, or most requests for "regional languages" will be doomed from the start. We need to be able to distinguish them from mere "dialects" (which pass the first test, but which many people think shouldn't have separate wikis). If some language variety meets these criteria (whatever they are), then I think it can be called a "language", but the criteria need to be fairly clear or there will never be agreement. This "language" vs "dialect" question is one of the crucial issues that I think needs to be addressed in this policy. --Chamdarae 19:52, 3 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. The proposed language must exist in a written form, preferrably one supported by the latest version of the Unicode standard.
  4. There is no minimum number of speakers necessary for natural languages.
  5. Proposed languages must be presented on Meta according to the guidelines at Requests for new languages#Procedure

Practical issues[edit]

  1. There should be at least 5 users willing to contribute, including at least 2 native or fluent speakers of the language, and at least one member of an existing Wikimedia project
  2. Opposition based on having a shortage of editors to work on existing projects may not be accepted as a valid reason to block new projects.
  3. The fear of censorship against Wikimedia project(s) is not a valid reason to prevent the creation of a wiki in a certain language, as long as there are people willing to contribute to that wiki despite such fears. (new)
  4. There must be general agreement on the language varieties to be permitted, and the orthography (or orthographies) to be used, before a wiki can be approved.
  5. If there is an official ISO code for the language, that should be used for the domain. If there is no official ISO code, codes of the form "mis-abc" will be accepted. (new)
  6. Proposers can emphasize the feasibility of their proposals by presenting sample content to the community, especially in the form of a test-wiki, but this is not mandatory. (Note also that a test-wiki does not guarantee that a request will be approved.)
  7. If there is a consensus on requests for new languages after two to four weeks of the initial listing that the language meets these requirements, a message should be sent to wikitech-l, asking a developer to set up the wiki.
  8. If there is a lack of consensus after two to four weeks, it is up to the requester to find this consensus, be it through discussion, polling, etc.
  9. If the language has fewer than 5 users willing to contribute, or only one native speaker, but otherwise there is consensus that it is suitable, a successful test-wiki may be accepted as evidence that the proposal is feasible and the wiki may be set up.

And that's it. Feel free to add your own views and suggestions. --Chamdarae 19:15, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good job!! I support this revised proposal.I just made a tiny modification on orthography because maybe some wiki will agree on multi-orthography(as in Kurdish wiki)--Ffaarr 02:27, 7 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks! Actually we allow more than one orthography in the Cornish wiki too, so that was my oversight. --Chamdarae 04:45, 7 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I made some additions: 1. I added a line about codes, which I think needs to be mentioned, because it has held up some proposals. (Actually this is already mentioned on the requests page anyway.) 2. I added the line about censorship not being a reason to block a new wiki (see below). --Chamdarae 20:07, 3 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Political censorship[edit]

I just realized that a central issue is completely absent in this policy proposal, namely the issue of denying wikis is certain languages because of the fear of political censorship.

For those who are not aware, there has been very strong support from numerous potential contributors for a Chinese Wikinews for the better part of a year, but it has not been set up because of fears of government censorship. This despite the fact that tens of millions of Chinese speakers don’t even live in mainland China.

For more information, see:

Keep in mind that there are still many countries – not just China – that censor the internet. Should we prevent wikis from being set up in the languages of those countries as well? It is not just a question of Chinese, but should be part of general policy. This policy is the place for a clear statement on the issue.

I suggest we add the following sentence to our proposed policy:

"The fear of censorship against Wikimedia project(s) is not a valid reason to prevent the creation of a wiki in a certain language, as long as there are people willing to contribute to that wiki despite such fears."

I welcome feedback on this. But please do not respond: "That should be a board decision." The board has made it very clear numerous times that the wiki in question has not been created precisely because there was no clear, strong demand from the community for the creation of Chinese Wikinews. So let’s see if there is a place for a clear policy here.Dovi 07:05, 10 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

PS. In order to remove the sting of controversy, it should be noted that the above sentence regarding censorship, just like the whole rest of this proposed policy, would not be retroactive. In other words, it would have no official ramifications for Chinese Wikinews; its only clear relevance would be for future wikis.Dovi 08:15, 10 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I approve the sentiment, but I'm not convinced it needs to go in this policy. There are many many things that are not valid reasons to prevent the creation of a wiki, but listing them would just be instruction creep. I'd rather keep to what things are reasons to prevent creation. Angela 02:13, 9 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Angela, there are exactly two sentences describing non-valid reasons for opposing a wiki, and both of them are things that created a great deal of trouble in the past for people who wanted to set up wikis in the past. That is hardly instruction creep.
Rather, this policy proposal is an attempt to learn from the problems in the past, and both of these things have been major problems. Plus, the fact that zh.wikinews still does not exist shows that the censorship issue is something with a clear need for an overall policy. Dovi 11:21, 9 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Can we have a vote on this?? I'd start one, but the last Meta vote I started led Jimbo to accuse me of rigging it. So. --Node ue 22:49, 9 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, but what exactly are we voting on (i.e. what text)? Dovi 04:24, 10 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Don't vote on everything. Can't we just come to a consensus here about it? Changes can be made if objections are brought up in future. Angela 21:07, 13 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This proposed policy is referred to at requests for new languages as though it was official policy. As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty much de facto proof that there is, in fact, consensus. If people treat it like policy, we might as well remove the word "proposed" from the title and let the wiki-way do what it does so well. Tuf-Kat 05:47, 14 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it needs some changes before it becomes official, especially giving some kind of working distinction between "languages" and "dialects", since that's obviously the most controversial issue on the request page at the moment. I made some suggestions above. One way would be to require any language requested to "be listed as a distinct language in some credible linguistic source" (or something like that). There's linguistic information available somewhere for pretty much every known language (except for a few unwritten langauges in New Guinea, the Amazon basin, etc, which are unlikely to be requested any time soon). If no well-known linguist, or linguistic publication (even Ethnologue), lists something as a distinct language, I think we can safely ignore it. If they do, I think we should treat it as distinct and ignore opposition claiming that it's a dialect. There are other points that probably should be mentioned, but I think this is the most important, since it would help solve most of the disputes on the request page. --Chamdarae 19:03, 17 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. Arbeo 16:22, 2 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Disagreed on Ethnologue. It lacks a vast percentage of living languages according to their own introductory statements. True as far as I can say. (I've just seen that they do not have some of East/North/West Fresian, languages recently having been published in ISO 369-2) Often when looking something up, I cannot find it in Ethnologue. Linguashpere is more comprehensive, yet full of errors in detail, at least in the (little) areas, I can tell. There is no good register of all languages I knew of. Since scholarly research is slow and time consuming, there hardly will be in the near future, so I assume. Sorry to say that. -- Purodha Blissenbach 19:11, 19 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Natural languages[edit]

Currently, the policy says:

  1. For any natural language, at least 2 native speakers and an additional 3 users of any existing Wikimedia project must support the request publicly.
  2. There is no minimum number of native or fluent speakers or readers for natural languages.

Isn't this a contradiction? Also, is there any reason to keep the wording as "native" rather than "(near) native level of fluency"? The idea is to make sure they are people able to contribute to the wiki, not to disclude languages which rarely have native speakers. Angela 21:07, 13 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the intent is that the second one means it doesn't matter how many total speakers there. I guess it's slightly contradictory since there has to be at least two, but the point is that it doesn't matter if the only two speakers in the world are also the two supporters. Change the second one to The number of people worldwide who speak the proposed language is irrelevant for natural languages or something similar to make it more clear (assuming I'm correct on the intent. Tuf-Kat 05:44, 14 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think you are. -- Purodha Blissenbach 19:13, 19 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lingua Franca Nova[edit]

Lingua Franca Nova isn't the main IAL that I support (that would be Ido), but I think it has potential and I help out every once in a while when I have the time. They have just moved their wiki over to one that uses MediaWiki software, and are using it both as a general wiki for the language itself but also to create a number of articles from the list of articles every wikipedia should have plus anything else. I have been watching how constructed languages are treated here for some time and overall it seems to be fair, not all the time but 80% or so of the time (the other 20% would be how the Ido Wiktionary has been in 4th place and 5th place since early summer and despite numerous requests will not be included on the search bar that other smaller wiktionaries are on, that sort of thing). I am of the opinion that if LFN is able to create some 400+ articles of a good length that can be moved over to Wikipedia as is, that it would pass the nomination. Any thoughts on that? Apparently this is their goal for 2006 so it will not be next week or next month, but sometime in the somewhat near future. I've seen a lot of failed nominations here so I've made sure to tell them to get good and ready before they decide to, and since it's an incredibly easy language I'll know how to write it by then too. Mithridates 05:51, 27 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]