Saturday, January 14, 2006

Presenting: the Commission

WiktionaryZ is a big project. It is becoming bigger. It is an innovation on the Wiktionaries, as such it is a continuation of these projects. It requires innovation in the MediaWiki code, the first software is about to be merged into and become available in all MediaWiki wikis. There is the first alpha version of the WiktionaryZ software, and it hosts the GEMET data. We are talking with several relevant organizations that share the dream that still is WiktionaryZ.

There is one issue; people think that the problem with this project is that it is run by one person; me. It was once put to me was that that I represented a "truck factor" for the project. From my perspective, WiktionaryZ is certainly my dream, but it has never been my dream alone. I have worked hard to make WiktionaryZ happen, but I am not the only one that worked hard to make it happen this far. I came up with many ideas that made WiktionaryZ what it is, but not all ideas have been mine, all the ideas became WiktionaryZ because of the many conversations, e-mails and IRC chats about them.

From my perspective, there is this issue that I do not scale. There are things that amount to policy and it needs to be expressed because policy dictates technological choices and we are building the technology for WiktionaryZ. This implies that some policies have been set but it also implies that more questions will raise their head that do require an answer and require an answer quickly because we are building the software, the network, the connections now.

I did discuss this issue with Jimmy Wales, and he came up with the great idea to have a commission for projects like Wiktionary. This commission could have several funtions; it can act in a similar way as the chapters do for countries for projects. One role of the commission would be that the policies of a project would be consistent with the aims, the policies of the Wikimedia Foundation. Another equally important part would be to represent the community that will make WiktionaryZ its own. To do all this, members of such a commission have to be part of the discussions about the developing Wikidata and WiktionaryZ.

I like the idea and, I have asked several people to become part of an initial commission. They are all Wiktionarians (with one exception), they represent many Wiktionary projects and they are and have to be communicative; they do use Skype/VOIP and often can be found on IRC.

The commission:
Including Sabine Cretella is obvious. Sabine developed WiktionaryZ with me from the start. WiktionaryZ is a dream she has fostered for a long long time. Sabine is active on the Italian Wiktionary and is one of the initiators of the Neapolitan Wikipedia. Sabine is a professional translator and is known in this world as an evangelist of Open Source and Open Content.

Of all the Wiktionaries, English is the most relevant. Dvortygirl has been active there for a long time. Like me, she is an admin and she is well liked and respected for her work.

Gangleri is active on many wiktionaries. The thing I really appreciate is his involvement with right to left languages like Yiddish. On the Internet, these languages have their own issues, Gangleri is active in the Mozilla organisations to address several of these.

Yann, is active on the French, Hindi and Gujarati Wiktionary. He is also the treasurer of the French chapter. One of Yann's challenges is to help us get more people interested in the languages from India.

Erik
is the one who is not into Wiktionary. The reason why he is invited is because he is the architect and realiser of Wikidata. This is the enabling technology for WiktionaryZ. Erik is also the realiser for WiktionaryZ. Wikidata has in WiktionaryZ its first application. As this is a truly big and complex project, many of the things that would hit Wikidata eventually, need to be addressed from the start. Erik is also important as a linking pin to the Mediawiki developers.

GerardM, if I need an introduction I invite you to read this blog.

Some policies or, a glossary of our policies:
Availability: "our data is to be made available through open standards and in a non-discriminatory manner"
Data design: "WiktionaryZ is implemented as a relational database. When information that is relevant in the context of WiktionaryZ cannot be added, we will try to ammend the design."
Full functionality: "WiktionaryZ needs to be able to include the information that is available in the Wiktionaries"
Partner: "a partner is an organisation that collaborates with us in the realisation of what we intend with WiktionaryZ"
Sponsor: "a person or organisation that donates money or content to the project or to the Foundation"
Success: "success is when people find an application for the WiktionaryZ data that we did not think off."
User Interface: "the interface should be in any language. We want this both for the Mediawiki and the WiktionaryZ user interface"
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