Due to my ongoing wikihiatus, I haven't followed much of discussions in this
list. But, I'm interested in this issue because I was following and supporting
the original request filed by User:SanthoshGuru asking for such a support in
2005. While I welcome the recent energy in building and launching solutions
for Indic languages by WMF. However, like Srikanth and Bala have mentioned, we
should ensure that we don't break the experience of thousands of readers
visiting the wikis everyday. The situation is very different now than in 2005.
So, let us take care to test every new launch tested out in translatewiki
before rolling out. We can perhaps create a rollout routine to include a
thumbs-up from some community volunteers.
 - https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=2361
"That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for
the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted."
- George Boole, quoted in Iverson's Turing Award Lecture
> From: Srikanth Lakshmanan <srik....@gmail.com>
>To: Discussion list on Indian language projects of Wikimedia.
>Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 9:17 PM
>Subject: [Wikimediaindia-l] Webfonts deployment on Indic Wikiprojects
>Pardon for a long mail, just unavoidable.
>We have seen the WebFonts roll out 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". 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. 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, 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). 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 , IE 7.0 (where webfonts dont work) 
>, ubuntu + Firefox (fixed now)  and Win+Firefox 5.0, . 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.
>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. 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
>. 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.
>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
>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
>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
>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.
>Bala Jeyaraman & Srikanth.L
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