Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obstacles to participating in WMF projects

Sue wrote in her "Report to the board August 2008" about an initiative about an article on Meta called "New contributor objections".  It is a great initiative and it took me little time to find that this article addresses the objections for people who have a problem contributing to the BIG Wikipedias. I have added some big hurdles that people have to overcome who might be active on the smaller projects:

  • People are not aware of the existence of Wikipedia / the existence of a Wikipedia in their language
  • An insufficient localisation of the software for their language
  • A Commons that is essentially English only
Most people that are engrossed in their Wikipedia forget that other Wikipedias exist. It makes sense because the creation of an encyclopaedia is an immense task and it takes a lot of dedication. The problem I find is that the WMF activities make the biggest projects bigger while hardly any attention is given to the smaller projects.

When you want to extend the reach of what we do, you have to make sure that people know about us. You have to reach out to where we are weak. The key focus should be on the people that can strenghten the projects that we already have.

When you look at localisation, you will find that Betawiki is a best effort project where volunteers localise MediaWiki. But it is already hard to maintain the existing localisation. With more and more programmers working on MediaWiki, it will be become increasingly difficult to maintain the support for all our languages.

While Commons is a great project, it is hardly useable for people who do not read English. Consequently Commons is not used as a resource by many projects to upload the images that reflect their world. This means that Commons is biased to a western point of view.

What I would love to learn from the WMF is how they want to address these issues because these issues is what prevents us from being what we aim to be.
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