Also forgot to tell you. My college uses ONLY systems with Windows XP
and Internet Explorer 6. Most students are from a Tamil background,
and they read Tamil websites, Wikipedia very often.

On 12/13/11, Srikanth Lakshmanan <> wrote:
> Hi all,
> Pardon for a long mail, just unavoidable.
> We have seen the WebFonts roll out[0] last night to most Indic wikis except
> Malayalam and Tamil. We in Tamil Community felt WebFonts extension is just
> not ready for us. We would like to share on why we in Tamil community didnt
> chose webfonts and also what could work better in future for Indic
> communities during technology adoption.
> 1. *Unavailability of "Quality Free fonts"* :-
> During the development, our request for not setting the default font as a
> lower quality font was rejected citing "it will defeat the purpose of
> extension".[1] The available fonts had issues and deploying the extension
> with those low quality fonts to everyone would not only defeat the purpose
> of extension, but also gives Tamil Wikipedia a bad image when people just
> cant read the fonts even though they had better fonts in system. (Just like
> how i18n team says people who see boxes will just simply close the window,
> we say giving these poor fonts will also lead to same thing and not help
> the cause, instead will also hurt those who have better fonts.).
> 2. *Quality of User Experience* :-
> We are a smaller wiki, we have a smaller reader base, but still we are
> ranked 7th most visited website in Tamil according to alexa[2]. Just like
> how no-nonsense / no-mediocrity is tolerated in any code that enters WMF
> cluster, any change which will affect the site's look and feel, user
> experience will have to be of highest standards and must be accepted by
> community. WebFonts were just not ready to enter Wikipedia, since it
> changes the UX for all the readers to help a potentially lower number of
> users who dont have Tamil fonts than the current existing reader base.
> *What we feel was wrong in WebFonts deployment*
> We have also been seeing the wikis where they have been rolled out and
> reporting issues. We ourselves are reporting issues inspite of not taking
> WebFonts, with the hope software just gets better and some day we can
> deploy them. Dont get us wrong, we are not against technology, we just need
> it in better form and are not in any urgency. (After all we at Ta wiki
> initiated an RFC and asked Webfonts even before the announcement was made).
> We would also like to mention some points which we feel i18n team could
> have done better for a smoother launch.
> 1. *Font Testing* :-
> The point of language support team is that the people who are aware of
> language give feedback to make any software better supported for the
> language. We are not sure if Font-Testing was ever done at all for those
> languages where the WebFonts were deployed. The hinting issue which was a
> concern and made us raise against deployment in Tamil is also present in
> Hindi,Sanskrit,Telugu(atleast till we saw) and gave the same worst
> readability. The i18n team did font assessment[3], testing only 1 word to
> test the font. Can any font be tested with just rendering of 4 characters /
> 1 word? For Tamil,we did a test in little more comprehensive way(We would
> not say its complete)[4]. This should have been a *must* to see rendering /
> font issues with chosen default font especially since the fonts are being
> set default to every single user to the site. Sadly community was involved
> the least, a note was posted in Village pumps and we dont think community
> involved itself in any testing and poor quality was eventually pushed
> without proper testing.
> 2. *Real world testing* :-
> Though cross browser testing was done, there was a severe lack of real
> world testing and as a result we are seeing a host of issues being
> discovered post launch. Average PC in India might have 1 GB RAM, Firefox 3
> / 4, worse IE 5.5 / IE6 on 100 Kbps semi-broadband connection. We cannot
> tell them move to latest or ignore them. More care should have been taken
> especially since the webfonts is bound to set a default font.
> With only a few hours of testing serious issues have been found -  in IE 8
> where webfonts might be rolled back [5], IE 7.0 (where webfonts dont work)
> [6] ,  ubuntu + Firefox (fixed now) [7] and Win+Firefox 5.0,  [8]. We are
> still testing for other browsers and usecases and dont know how many issues
> we will discover. In short - This code is not ready to go live, especially
> when it is being made default compulsorily for everyone. There are serious
> performance issues for typical Indian internet connections as well.[9]
> 3. *Communication and Community Engagement* :-
> Most of the above things could have solved earlier if there was more
> communication and community engagement. We asked for more information,
> engagement on this very list. There was no reply to the mail on increasing
> community engagement for i18n projects[10]. Most communities know WebFonts
> is coming on Dec 12, didnt know what was coming, any further details.
> Worse, Even Indic Consultant was not having clear information. Why this
> lack of transparency? Community is more than willing to help, if only they
> are informed. Even though we did not take up WebFonts, we have spent time
> to help making it better.
>  And the end users in the wikis dont know where to report and follow up
> issues. (Not everyone is aware of and familiar with the Bugzilla process).
> The request we raised to have a visible bug reporting link has not been
> acted upon [11]. There might be a lot of issues going unreported, because
> people dont know whom to report to. When a change of this scale is being
> done, Community admins must be advised to run Sitenotice campaigns to
> inform the users about the change with some solid newbie oriented
> documentation. Infact this must be done for RFC itself, so as to make an
> informed decision. We did the same for RFC in Tamil[12].
> *Proposal for Future i18n / any special deployments to Indic wikiprojects*:-
> The WebFonts deployment is a classic example of making deployment without
> enough community engagement. Can this done in any of English / German /
> Russian wikipedia which have a strong community? The fact that Tamil /
> Malayalam resisted was because the community had concerns over the
> solution. Till an hour before deployment yesterday, we did not know if Ta
> wiki projects will get webfonts despite our objections.  We had been
> pursuing Siebrand and Gerard across forums - facebook, twitter, meta talk
> pages, village pumps, gmail chat etc looking for answers. But till the
> deployment happened, we had no clue what we would be getting. This method
> of deploying in silence *must* stop ASAP. Any deployment to any Indic wiki
> must go through the community (language support teams) informed of the
> change with Indic Consultant kept in loop. We suggest Shiju Alex to work on
> a policy and put it in place regarding this. If there is problem
> identifying community members to help, we are sure Shiju will help
> connecting.
> Irrespective of that happening Tamil Wiki Projects will follow this process.
> 1. Test any deployment on translatewiki
> 2. File Bugs and verify in translatewiki till it reaches acceptable level.
> 3. Language support team member will make a RFC page explaining the merits
> / demerits of the technology in simple terms with use of screenshots /
> external links
> 4. Reverify / Ask for deployment in largely-inactive Wikiprojects like
> WikiQuote / WikiBooks *post community concensus*
> 5. Test again / File Bugs
> 6. Reverify / Ask for deployment Wikiprojects next in line in terms of
> activity ( Wiktionary / Wikinews/ Wikisource)
> 7. Test again / File Bugs
> 8. Only after ironing out all issues, any deployment will be allowed in
> Tamil Wikipedia.
> We had burnt our fingers during Narayam deployment already once and
> community was so resistive of Narayam itself and was asking to go back to
> older javascript solution. After that we followed the above process for
> bringing back Narayam on all Tamil Wikiprojects.
> We suggest the other communities adopt something similar. We sincerely hope
> that the community engagement is improved, not just before deployment, even
> from start of development.
> [0]
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]
> [5]
> [6]
> [7]
> [8]
> [9]
> [10]
> [11]
> [12]
> --
> Regards
> Bala Jeyaraman & Srikanth.L

Srikanth Ramakrishnan.
Wikipedia Coimbatore Meetup on December 10th.

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