Monday, May 05, 2008


Several years I have run as a service the function of the pywikipedia bot software on all the Wiktionaries. I had up to six instances of the bot running concurrently on different projects. The principle behind it was simple; when a word in one project is exactly the same, a link is to be created. This function was created by Andre Engels and he helped me out a considerable number of times.

I stopped running the bot when people started to question the algorithm used by the bot. As I run it as a service, I was interested in changing it only when good arguments were provided why it should be changed. These arguments were never forthcoming, the reason why I stopped the running of the bot was because I was told that it is now ran from the tool server.

Yesterday, I learned that the tool server functionality although maybe really clever and efficient is only used to update the English language Wiktionary. Yesterday I was asked by Spacebirdy to run the bot again because there is a need for it. So I asked on IRC if there was a problem and I was told there was not.

Today I was told to change the algorithm because the English Wiktionary wants to create interwiki links to redirect pages and as it is a "community policy" I was told to abide by it. I asked for arguments why this made sense and no good arguments were forthcomming. It was even conceded that it would be best to discuss this in the village pump.

There are good reasons why a redirect should not be referred to by interwiki links:
  • Wiktionary aims to include all words in all languages. A word spelled incorrectly in one language can be correct in another
  • The specific word does not exist yet in the other project
  • The notion of homonymy is ignored
  • There are a substantial number of redirects that exist as a result of a conversion
Interwiki links are one of the few things that connect the different Wiktionary projects. It is essential to consider its use in the scope of the whole of Wiktionary and not within the narrow understanding of single projects. As more Wiktionaries became isolationist in their point of view it became increasingly time consuming and frustrating for me to run the bot. Given that I have in OmegaWiki the perfect solution for the need for interwiki links, I have no need for this functionality in the first place.

What I find disappointing is that the quality of service that I provided is no longer there. It is another fine problem that a community / project council could deal with.
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