Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The 10 suggestions

Triggered to name the top #MediaWiki challenges, the rule of not more then 8 paragraphs in a blog post is going to be broken in order to bring to you the top 10 from my point of view.

1 - All development is done to support MediaWiki projects 
MediaWiki projects are collaborative projects aimed at sharing knowledge with a global public. This dictates MediaWiki's functionality and the need for usability for a world audience.

2 - Thou shalt conform to Standards
As Wikimedians can be quite argumentative, one way to prevent fruitless natter is by insisting on standards and best practices. This has the added benefit that we build on the shoulders of giants and make it easier for others to understand what we are on about.

3  - All scripts and languages are equal in our eyes
When the first chapter of the MediaWiki book was written, Unicode and not ASCII was chosen to represent text. This resulted in over 270 languages with active Wikimedia projects. All scripts can do with TLC but improved infrastructure support for scripts results in benefits for many if not most languages.

4 - Internationalisation and localisation are key to fulfil our prime objective
As our projects are to be edited and read by a global audience the totality of the functionality offered needs to be, at a minimum, be internationalised. The linguistic requirements can be quite daunting and we have in translatewiki.net a MediaWiki project that provides a service that is only limited by its developer resources. Localisation itself is left to the language communities.

5 - Thou shalt address men and women with equal respect
The user interface of MediaWiki is for people, men and women, it is them we address. The language should be personal, proper and not stilted. Great texts and great localisations appropriate for a language are a gift to our public and our communities.

6 - Thou shalt use the best technology wherever it comes from
Around MediaWiki a whole ecosystem of extensions and websites evolved. The least they do is function as a proof of concept. Often conceptualising in directions we have feared to tread. Much of this software has awesome potential at it can enable a Wikimedia movement, eg the Wikia social software, the OpenID functionality and last but not least Translate.

7 - Thou shalt know developments by its numbers
Numbers indicate developments of the MediaWiki projects. While MediaWiki is open source, the numbers game is not as open. With a more open structure numbers relevant to our partners can be included and a localised interface will broaden its appeal.

8 - Thou shalt know our craftsmen by their tools
While MediaWiki provides a specialised editing environment, for some of us even more tools help do their job. Some of these tools are highly personal, but many tools have the potential to raise the skill level in our communities. To achieve this, these tools need to gain the attributes of Open Source and be optimised for more general usage.

9 - What you do for the least of us, you do to further the good cause
Never mind how skilled you are, never mind how sublime your tools, there is a limit to what you can do. Only by sharing your experience, your skills and tricks will we realise our goal. Supporting this with newbie incubators and outreach tools we can do more.

10 - Our journey is leading us towards universal information
To make it universal, we have to grow both our traffic and our reach. MediaWiki is our bus, it enables us to move together. It moves easily through the pipes of the Internet and is preparing to make its way with dead wood technology and mobile technology; sneaker net and phones. Our tools open up the new frontiers where our information may help knowledge grow.
Thanks,
      GerardM
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