Tremendous Wiktionary User Group/First Lustrum Appraisal
This page in a nutshell:The Tremendous Wiktionary User Group was created in September 2016, so it's time to do a first lustrum appraisal. A what? A lustrum is a period of five years. It is a bizarre word for a bizarre project about words, Wiktionaries.
This page is for all the members of the group, to give your opinion about it. To say what you expected, your joys and deceptions, your experience with the group and so on. Feel free to be straight and direct. This page is an open space to share ideas and feedbacks in order to imagine a better future.
First lustrum appraisals by the members
This is a list of member in the order of registration. You a welcome to fill your section :) If you are not a member, there is a second section for you.
- I hope you receive a notification and you'll be interested to take part in this process. A membership to a group is a kind of commitment. And now, after five years, it's time to say something to the group, to be part of it. I'll hope you'll be plenty to answer to this call.
Well, here is my own appraisal:
This collective was a disappointment on several level:
- Promotion of Wiktionaries: We barely maintained a list of academic publication about Wiktionaries but we have not succeed to produce our own material. On the Wikimedia Store, there is still nothing to display our love for Wiktionaries. We have made a lot of talks and workshops but mostly in French and the slides were not that much re-use by other members of the group. A global advertisement campaign could still be a good idea, to produce basic material that any contributor could use for his own project, like banners, posters, short films, flyers, etc. but I think it can't be managed by a group of volunteers. It is a task that require skills in communication and a liaison with a lot of communities in plenty languages. Two people with at least a six month full-time commitment seems a minimal to see this happening.
- Inter-Wiktionaries communication: The fail of Wikimedia Space forum was a disaster on this aspect. At first, I spent a lot of time to write and translate info and data to several communities, but it was not a good way to make this group active. MediaWiki is not the best tool for that, and a chat like IRC or Discord is not a good option neither for a multilingual community, because it cost a lot for non-native speakers to write in English in a rapid conversation, and it could exclude them off. So, a forum was a great option. I felt sad when it was shut down. I felt short of options and I have no idea on how to make it better in the future. People may have heard of the TWUG in some ways but there is still no communication between members for a lack of appropriate space for it and it's deceptive. Also, writing annual report but receiving zero feedback from any community nor by the Wikimedia Foundation is demotivating.
- Technical improvements: I think we progressed at describing our technical needs to the Community Wishlist and with Phabricator tickets but also nothing had changed. A good part was the Growth functionality to encourage new users, but it is not available for every Wiktionaries and the functionality is not really made for Wiktionary, some part are just for Wikipedias. The peak was the top #5 position for a proposal in 2020 and the trough was the very demotivating conclusion a year after, when the Community Team gave up on us and admit they will not do it. This small improvement was not made and it seems impossible to have any improvement in the future this way or by any other mean. The situation is still stuck, despite huge efforts by a large amount of people. In a way, it is maybe worst than in 2016 for the community. Back then, Wikidata Lexeme project was promising. It was presented as a way to help Wiktionaries (remember the name Wikidata:Wiktionary?). Now, we know that it is made to help Wikidata itself and there is nothing made or planed to improve Wiktionaries. To be fair, the WMDE team made a nice Cognate extension, but it is not related with Wikidata. For some people now, there is a vision of Wiktionaries future with a Wikibase, but that do not include a cooperation with Wikidata at any point.
- Shared activities: At first, I started with something small, LexiSession. I suggested a theme each month to gather vocabulary and look at the way other communities could do a similar task. It was more or less successful, and when I said I will stop it, no one took over. Then, for some large operation such as WikiForHumanRights, our participation was not that much acknowledge. It is hard to connect and share our process and challenges. I think now a dedicate liaison is needed to do so. Maybe I haven't say that clearly before: I never received any money for my work for the TWUG or any action I made for Wikimedia projects and this was never full-time. A different profile may be needed to energize communities.
- Meetings: We took part at plenty global meetings and talked about Wiktionaries: Wikimania, Wikiconvention francophone, Wiki Indaba, Wikimedia Summit, Celtic Knot and so on. We have not succeed to organize an event only dedicated to Wiktionaries, or something about Wiktionaries+Wikisources=❤.
- Attractiveness: I think Wiktionaries are more known in the Wikimedia community and by the readers in general. I think it is mostly thanks to our efforts in contributing to the quality and coverage of vocabulary in the different projects. For the French edition, we did so much more, but we haven't succeed to export it to facilitate reproduction. We continue and improve our monthly newsletters, we had a contributor that did live sessions on Youtube about Wiktionary, we had a Wiktionarian in residence, I gave a class in a Master degree in lexicography to explain Wiktionary (in 2018 and 2020!), a publisher had printed a paper version of Wiktionary called Le Dico and finally the ministry of Culture of France recruited a contributor to build a dictionary displaying Wiktionnaire's content next to other lexical resources. So, Wiktionnaire is popular and trendy. For the other editions, not that much and the growth is still slow. Most of the communities do not have a critical number of contributors, but there is also no communication at all by the Wikimedia Foundation about the great content of Wiktionaries, nor any help to obtain published resources that could be integrated into the Wiktionaries (like picture from museum for Wikimedia Commons, old DP dictionaries could be integrated into Wiktionaries).
- Advocacy: I think, this is the part we failed the most. We still haven't convinced the Wikimedia Foundation that Wiktionaries are interesting projects. The TWUG is not a trade union, it's a coalition of volunteers gathered to share our realities and help us structure our thoughts about Wiktionaries. We never went into politics, I mean elections, but tried to emphasize Wiktionaries qualities and advocate for an acknowledgment of the content and of the communities. The rebranding fiasco was exhausting and demotivating but it helped to fix our position collectively. We cope with it with a humorous light trolling in French, writing a fake 2030 Strategy to rebrand as The Wiktionary Foundation and an open letter against this fake strategy by the same people the following April First (yes we have a certain sense of humor). There is really true stuff in it, beyond the joke. To clarify: we pointed or insult no one. I consider no one as my adversaries in this discussion. People have visions, conceptions, misconceptions and inconceptions. For Wiktionaries, I still consider a lot of people have never considered the project potentialities and the needs it fulfill, mostly for lesser documented languages and oral communities for which an encyclopedia is not a priority but a deposit of media and a dictionary could be more important. This could change, but it take time... a lot of time, it appears.
There is a lot to say, and it is painful to write it. I am one of the founders, and I judge my own actions severely. I may have made more, spend more time translating and meeting people. Going upper in the hierarchy to become the herald of Wiktionary. But it is not who I am, not the way I want to be considered. I am here to support people and not to spoke on their behalf. I am not a representative nor an emissary, I am a maker and an organizer. I am committed to my communities and I have a great vision of what Wiktionaries could become, so I am enthusiastic about it. But, I think this User Group may not be the better way to channel this energy, and to gather the good will of the others. It may have appears mostly as "my" initiative rather than a collective one despite all my efforts. So, I hope it will be more collective or of a different nature for the next five years Noé (talk) 15:45, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
Here a list of possibilities about how we could improve wiktionaries’ code. Until now, the Foundation haven’t made a dedicated development for them and we know how they need it. Only big projects have done some hacks in order to solve some Mediawiki’s inadaptions.
- To fork in an other project.
- To be adopted by a local chapter [Some external projects have access to financial help from Chapters and they will have a better code (Vikidia and Lingua Libre from WMFR; Wikimini and Dicoado from WMCH; Wikidata from WMDE)].
- To transform this user group in a affiliate association capable to finance some improvements directly.
- To launch a wikicode contest in association with one or more chapters in order to create some more hacks (or help other wiktionnaries to adapt existing).
- To make some conditions when we give during the fundraising.
- To ask to the fundraising team that all income received from wiktionaries goes to the wiktionaries.
- To ask to the Foundation the nomination of a person as a mediator of wiktionaries
Allies, friends and supporters
You know and love our User Group despite not be listed above: you are also welcome to comment on this five-years appraisal. Please open a new section with your name and speak with an open mind!
As I'm going through the activities listed on the TWUG main page, I can see what the user group was meant to be :
- a lobby for Wiktionary interests.
- a hub to collect resources about Wiktionaries on an international scale.
- an occasion to create a collective emulation
Basically, a space for teamwork.
However, I see a few obstacles on this projects :
- people have to find a balance between time spent working on the content of Wiktionaries and time spent working on the organization and the collaboration of Wiktionaries.
- documentation is a tedious task by itself.
- working as a multilingual team means lots of time spent on translation, so that improvement can reach each language community.
- Wiktionary tools development does not seem to be a priority for the Wikimedia Foundation.
It is part of the movement strategy to work on knowledge management in the community so I guess there's still hope. I'll find some time to reorganize some documentation on Meta so there'll probably be some time spent on Wiktionaries topics. Assassas77 (talk) 23:20, 12 February 2022 (UTC)