2014-04-20 6:46 GMT+03:00 Milos Rancic <mill...@gmail.com>: > There is the question: Why should we do that? The answer is clear to > me: Because we can.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a lot of people who support the general idea more than I do, but precisely because of that I believe that we must be optimistic-but-realistic. Not realistic in the sense of "all is lost, and at best we can save a few dozens of languages". Realistic in the sense of "we can actually save quite a lot of them, but we cannot do it by ourselves". What can we do? We have software that is very friendly to Unicode, internationalization and localization. We have rather good translation tools. We have pretty stable and accessible servers. We have a good brand. The Foundation has some money and will to spend it on focused and data-driven projects. Obviously, the only remaining problem is the motivation of the people who would write in these small languages. Small not in the number of speakers, but in the online presence. The successful projects are not successful by themselves. For the most part they are successful because these languages are successful online outside of Wikipedia. I'll be the devil's advocate and I'll argue that the Hebrew Wikipedia is successful in number of articles per speaker not so much because of the outstanding motivation of the Hebrew Wikipedia editing community, but because Hebrew was pretty successful online before Wikipedia appeared. Millions of people were writing emails and Word documents and browsing forums and news sites in Hebrew before the Wikipedia in this language started in 2003. There were Linux clubs all over Israel at that time. It was possible to read printed encyclopedias in Hebrew (these days you can easily find these multi-volume sets in the trash around here), and to get complete school and university education in it. The Hebrew Wikipedia was just a natural outgrowth of that. A successful Wikipedia in a language that doesn't have these starting condition would be an extremely rare exception. Sure, we could say that Wikipedia already succeeded at reversing things. We had astounding success at reversing the process of publishing, which was established for centuries: for us "publish first, revise later" is a usual thing. But can we succeed at "write Wikipedia first, establish Internet culture and public education later"? I'm doubtful. "Publish first, revise later" worked because reasonably educated people in first-world countries realized that writing is not such a big deal. They had plenty of books to read in their languages to learn how it's done. Can it work for languages in which there are hardly any modern books, or any books at all? Languages that completely rely on textbooks in foreign languages - English, French, Spanish, Russian, Indonesian? Again, I doubt. Well there even be any motivation to want to *have* an encyclopedia in a language you *speak*, when the language in which you learn in school is different? Israeli, Russian and Dutch children google for homework solutions in their languages. Indian children google for homework solutions in English. I repeatedly hear Indians complaining that learning in high school in your own language rather than in English is one of the worst things to have on your CV. A lot of chicken-and-egg here. Back to the original question: Can Wikipedia save these languages? Not by itself. Wikipedia is only a part of a language's online presence; an important part, but I'm not sure that it's natural for it to be its first part. I'd say - get these people to write emails and Facebook statuses in their languages first. It will be much easier for a Wikipedia to come after that. And please don't let this email be Stop Energy - I'd love to be proven wrong. -- Amir Elisha Aharoni · אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי http://aharoni.wordpress.com “We're living in pieces, I want to live in peace.” – T. Moore _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>