Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Localisation of MediaWiki

There is a policy for new languages in the Wikimedia Foundation. One of the key things is that we want to prevent new abominations of projects where the language is not what is advertised. We have seen these in the past; one of the worst in this is what is called the Belarus Wikipedia; the people in control of this project prevent the use of the Belarus language as it is used in Belarus. This is a really awful situation and the language commission has asked the board repeatedly to act on this.

What we want to achieve is that new projects will promote cooperation in stead of establish division. Even though linguistically there is a substantial difference between the different forms of English, it is generally accepted that there will be only one English Wikipedia. This means that when the differences between two languages are less than for the different forms of English, the language committee is not likely to approve a new project.

When there is merit for a project in a new language, the people promoting this language have to show their commitment in the Incubator. This is where the environment in that language for the requested project is set up. What is expected, is that there will be a number of well written articles about different types of subjects, there should be a main page and, the most visible parts of the user interface should be localised.

The sad thing is that the aspiring projects cannot conform yet to the requirements; when a new Incubator project is set up, the message file for the new language is not created. What is needed is for one of the developers to create the necessary files so that the localisation can start.

For many languages in the past, there is no message files either; it means that the localisation is done locally and that this effort does not lead to the localisation of the MediaWiki software.
I am really pleased that for one language, Marathi, many of the messages have been imported into SVN by Nikerabbit. In a few days Marathi will be supported in all WMF projects. :)

I would welcome it when the Wikimedia Foundation gives the support of the minor projects a priority. At this moment it has none. The creation of message files in the Incubator for all languages and, when a language becomes a project, the inclusion of the first localisation into the MediaWiki software is the bare minimum. When we boast that we have localisations in some 250 languages, it should be a verifiable truth.

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