Monday, February 21, 2011

If you wish to be a man, do nothing

For eight months #MediaWiki bug:24156 is waiting for action It is tied in with two other bugs and together they are a nice little project. They bring gender into the MediaWiki log files.

In some languages the translation messages will be different depending on the gender of the person doing it and / or on the person acted upon. The bug was opened for Slavic languages but when a word like "he" is used, it becomes relevant for the English language as well.

An example from yet another language:
  • Usuário:João mudou os direitos da Usuária:Maria de revisora para revisora e reversora
  • Usuária:Maria mudou os direitos de Usuário:João de revisor para revisor e reverso
The constructs needed to have genderless messages in Hebrew are quite unnatural. Many languages from India need gender support when women are to be addressed respectfully.

This US Navy recruitment poster is from the first world war. At that time women were not welcome to join its ranks. Nowadays women are welcome, one of my favourite female Wikimedians is a Navy veteran.

The Wikimedia Foundation wants to recruit women. There is a category on Meta on the subject, there was an article in the New York Times about it and now there is a mailing list on the subject. Treating women right is the most obvious thing to do. It should start with enabling MediaWiki to address men and women properly. What follows is for localisers and their communities to implement respect for both sexes in the language they use for the MediaWiki user interface.
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