Monday, February 28, 2011

Narayam supports #Hindi and #Kannada

The Narayam extension provides a global replacement for keyboard method functionality that exists locally an several Wikipedias. This process is straight forward; it is a matter of isolating the keyboard method adding messages for a language and it is done.

The Kannada and Hindi Wikipedia have such local functionality and it has been incorporated in Narayam. This means that is now better able to support its localisers for Hindi and Kannada.

As Narayam is getting ready to be used on projects like Commons, it is important that this functionality is tested. This can be done by localising the messages for Narayam or any of the other MediaWiki messages.

We hope to learn from you that it works in the same way as it does in the local solution. We also hope to see your appreciation and enthusiasm for the efforts to make localisation at as easy as we can make it.

#Okawix will support #openZIM

Okawix will support openZIM. #Wikipedia off line reading is done best when a localised interface is important to you. It is the only application that can be localised that will support openZIM.

With the support of openZIM, Okawix supports two formats for texts; their original one  Zeno and openZIM which is more efficient in compressing text. The installed base of Okawix includes smart phones like Android and iPhone. As Android does not yet support lzma2 compression, Okawix will move to the openZIM format when this support is available.

Okawix can be localised at and with zeno it is a tool that not only displays the content of your wiki but also can also have a user interface in your language.

Supporting #mobile phones in #India

When you look at the distribution of traffic for #Wikipedia on the mobile phone, it is quite obvious. The "other" languages of India are not on the map. With not even one megabyte of traffic they hardly register.

As the Wikimedia Foundation has partnerships with Telecom organisations like Orange, asking them to help us promote our "other" Wikipedias is so obvious. Obvious because so far it was hard to come up with an argument explaining such a partnership.

The traffic by mobiles is so low, that this request to the Indian readers of my blog will actually register in the statistics. Click for instance here. A more interesting result will be had by clicking here. Some communities need to invest some effort to enable the mobile interface for their language.

So what can these Telecom giants do for us. They can provide a service to the people in India will show these languages flawlessly. If they want to do even more, they can make the browsing of mobile Wikipedia really cheap or even free.

Giving context to a friend in a social network

In #Wikipedia the call to be nice to newbies is an old one. The arguments for and against are pretty much well established and, these positions do not move. With a decline in the number of editors that stay with us, a different approach is sought.

When people make their first edit, they may be new to our community but chances are that they have friends who are well established. These friends are the most likely people willing to help when the first steps by a newbie are a bit wobbly. The trick is to engage these friends and to do that, it helps when a social network enables us to signal them.

It is really efficient to have social relations deal with the mess people make when they are new. Social control coming from friends is more appreciated then the templated instructions coming from someone who flies by. When someone is known to have social relations, the modus operandi of the people checking new articles can change; in stead of barking to the newbie they yell for a friend.

Wikipedia so far does not consider its role as a social network but it already is. People are invited to IRC for help, people establish wiki relations in social networks, they can be found on mailing lists. These relations while real are informal and cannot yet be leveraged.

When a social network is established for our context we have gained an approach to the newbies that come to us as friends.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Say hello to the magic of gender in #Wikipedia

The notion I had about #privacy was that it should not be possible to get information about a person like his or her gender. I was wrong; it says clearly in the preferences that gender is observable.

It is even better, "gender" is a magic word that allows you to make a sentence and will retrieve the gender of a user and, it will allow insert one of three strings depending on the result.

Hello {{gender:Maria|Mr|Mrs|whatever}} [[User:Maria|]], gender is a ''magic word''. Greetings, {{gender:GerardM|Mr|Mrs|whatever}} [[User:GerardM|]]

This same mechanism is used in the localisation of MediaWiki at with the exception that the user is the logged in user by default and does not need to be identified.

What this clearly demonstrates is that setting your gender is observable and it can be used in templates and in texts wherever it is appropriate.

The joy of growing up is growing up. It is bursting at the seams and again, it needs to size up to fit its activity. With all the new applications supported, applications that bring their own activity and people. With the ever growing number of localisers and localisation translatewiki sometimes breaks.

We have a wonderful host in netcup because they have been supporting translatewiki not only for its present activity but also for its growth. This is already the third time they have given us the facility we need to continue our growth.

As we manage our service at netcup, we can run on the bleeding edge of the MediaWiki development. This isolation allows us to catch many of the less then perfect revisions before they make it onto the Wikimedia servers. It allows us to test functionality like Narayam, functionality that enables people to test and work on their localisation at the same time.

We are really happy to be hosted by netcup and, we are happy to tell the world.

A friend in social software is a "friend" without much context

#Facebook, #LinkedIn, #Plaxo, #Twitter, they all urge you to connect to your friends and, that it is even to their benefit. Now that the software scene is maturing, many lost their advantages as they lost their focus.

The duplication is overwhelming and the noise is deafening. Often functionality is not where you want it. Plaxo was about sharing addresses with people. With all the additional hoopla its purpose is diluted. With the barrage of invites to garden or Mafia wars, Facebook became a playground but not mine and while LinkedIn is still a bit serious, it is not without its problems.

The bulk of the people who reach out to me are Wikimedians. Many of them are my "friend" in many places and, several of them I consider as real friends. The easiest and most obvious solution; another social network offering but one with a twist.

The twist would be that it accepts comments from other social networks and is happy to post messages on all these other networks. There are two fundamental problems:
  • for many Wikimedians Wikipedia is not a social media
  • will the other social media allow for this
The rebuttal for the first one is simple; time moves on and as we need new contributors badly. We should be willing to reach out and make good use of what social media has to offer. We can give game like qualities to many of our activities and in this way our Wikimedia activities become more attractive.

The second one is simpler; when our messages are not shared, the point to those social networks becomes even less. Our investment in the Facebooks, Twitters of this world is at most an emotional one. When the message and the involvement is elsewhere, would you miss it ?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Women Make the News 2011

The relevance for #Wikipedia of this #UNESCO project becomes evident when you read more about it. Initially the impression is that it is about women in conventional news organisations, but when you read further it becomes apparent that it is about "media and information systems".

What we do in our projects is exactly that.

This years aim is to "highlight good practices in this area and emphasize the importance of fostering media and information literate societies as a way to improve the understanding of women and men about gender perspectives in media and information systems".

To do this they are seeking best practices for addressing gender related issues. Contributions can be submitted until 30 March 2011.

Narayam is a framework introducing #Sanskrit

At we want more people localising. When a solution like the Narayam extension comes along, we embrace it because it makes life easy on the communities that is supported by Narayam.

Software has to be tested and, as translatewiki is living on the edge, there is no better place to test the latest languages that are supported by Narayam. two days ago the software was enabled and now a new language is supported.

The localisation of Sanskrit is not that great and its keyboard mapping needs to be tested. So what comes more natural then to test new functionality in an environment where even doodles can be serious business.

In two days a lot has happened, the most visible difference is that the option to choose a keyboard method is only available when you localise in a language or when the language selected in your preferences support an input method. When you combine this with the other improvements provided by Roan, it comes ever closer to being introduced on a Wikimedia project.

The #Sygma collection needs a refuge

When you google for the Corbis Sygma collection, you find amazing things, for instance this YouTube video shot in better times. It has Bill Gates say that this archive was about to fall apart and has been rescued.

Sadly, the news is that the rescue by Corbis proved to be temporary. Even worse, the news is that the liquidators are about to truly liquidate the collection. When you immerse yourself into what the Sygma collection represents, you will find that it is not only of immense importance to the cultural heritage of France, but also of global importance.

Director David Lynch, Cannes, May 2001

The Sygma collection is known for its portrait photography, it has news photography covering wars, important events, it has it all. It is not often that I agree with Bill Gates but this is a collection worth saving.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Supporting #Unicode in #MediaWiki

MediaWiki does store its texts in Unicode. Every #Wikipedia has to have Unicode support in its fonts on a device to be properly displayed on a screen or to be printed on paper. Never mind what input methods are used, they have to insert the right Unicode characters in the database.

There are languages where many input methods are used to generate text. Some of them are associated with a particular incompatible font or writing systems like Zawgyi. When its input method is used, the characters will have to be converted to proper Unicode. As a consequence the characters will not be properly visible for a Zawgyi user. This can be remedied by displaying text using a web-font.

For many input methods, it is not that problematic. Here people are accustomed to the characters being in "their" place on the keyboard and they see the resulting text properly. These are where the early gains are for the Narayam extension. This is a complete solution when the appropriate fonts are available on the system.

Having proper fonts on a system is an assumption and for all scripts, including the Latin script, it cannot be relied on. It would be good when a user can indicate if he can read a Wikipedia properly. When there is an issue, we should provide web fonts.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

At, #Mifos had an infusion of all the messages of all its old modules. To provide the best possible support, localising only the latest software is not an option. The complete package has to be localised for it to work properly.

This sounds obvious and easy and yes, it is obvious but easy it is not. The existing messages are in a different format and had to be converted. Many messages did not pass the quality checks at so they needed to be fixed or ignored.

The statistics of the lines of code give a good impression; the green line is the new code and, its messages were already available for localisation and the red line is the old code and its messages have just been added. The plan is to replace all the old code .

The size of the localisation opportunity that Mifos provides shows best in the number of modules and the number of messages per module. There are now so many of them that they no longer fit on a screen.

For the people who localise, this list provides the best illustration and to get this illustration, this old dog had to learn how to stitch several screen shots together. Luckily there are people in our community who are happy to teach me such operations using the GIMP.

When localisation is not your thing, you may want to consider this. You can help the users of Mifos and thereby the beneficiaries of microfinance by localising here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The time for Babel is coming

At we ask people to localise the Babel extension. It is used on almost all the user pages of our community. There are localisations in 202 languages and it is complete in 117.

As Roan mentioned that the Babel extension is on his list to review, this is the perfect time to call upon the Wikimedia community to check if there language is properly supported.

The appreciation for Babel will be greatest by the smallest and the latest communities. They will not have to build the endless templates that would otherwise be needed.

As this is the time to make an concerted effort to get all our languages included, Siebrand will provide us with daily statistics that show our progress. Many of the languages that have a Wikipedia are not supported yet. Languages that do not have a Wikipedia yet are. This functionality will help in the Incubator as well.

There are not that many messages and, you can find them here.

Narayam is running on

When you run #MediaWiki head, there are plenty opportunities to experiment with code being on the bleeding edge of its software development. The Narayam extension provides the input methods for languages where entering text can be an issue.

The current functionality is not yet ready for use on projects of the Wikimedia Foundation its looks have to be improved. It should for instance only show when there are input methods available for the selected language. The code has to make use of the ResourceLoader and there are probably things that need doing that I do not know yet.

Narayam is running already on for one simple reason: we want it to be available to our localisers. We try to make it easy for our community to localise for their language. I understand that it should be possible to provide support for Kannada soon, there is a request for support for Sinhala and there is interest for an input method for Hebrew.

When the code is ready for prime time we expect that it will invigorate the projects that we know can do better and, in the mean time there is this.

The #Russian #Wikipedia treats its newbies right

When you are new to Wikipedia, you are expected to comply with a baffling array of policies and practices starting with your very first article. To top it off, the ease of use of MediaWiki is another stumbling block.

To make things worse, there is the perennial issue of newbies that get bitten by bots and hurried admins. As we want to not only grow our editor community but also want to have more women and minorities suggestions for improvement are welcome.

The Russian Wikipedia has a practice in place that is working really well for them; they have their incubator for new Wikipedians. They have a subspace called the Incubator, this is a place for beginning editors. They usually get spotted and are invited to move with their first article to the Incubator.  They can quietly learn the policies and practices without having to protect their articles from speedy deletion and other annoyances.

A dedicated team of people who are mostly active in Incubator help the newbies. The first generation of users who went through the Incubator have had their articles moved to the main space, and some of these became featured articles...

This proven method of welcoming newbies is paying off; the Russian Wikipedia is the top 5 in traffic and it has an annual growth in traffic of 62%. They are great at welcoming women, they even built templates to fix the localisation where gender is not yet supported in the software.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The #Internet as a battle field

It is not only #Anonymous who is campaigning on the Internet even countries like Iran are engaged in making the Internet in their image. The activities of Anonymous are illegal and the activities of Iran are illegal under the same laws. However the Iranians are unlikely to suffer the consequences under those laws.

With the turmoil in the Arabic world, the Internet is a tool that enables or denies people to be informed, to communicate and to organise. In countries like Australia and New Zealand much of the infrastructure is broken because of natural causes and the results are not dissimilar.

Iranian propaganda .. its language is a joke
When the Internet is broken, connectivity to essential resources cannot be relied upon. In Egypt and Libya the infrastructure was switched off while in Australia and New Zealand much of the infrastructure is broken.

When the Internet consists of mesh networks, software in such networks can pick up the slack. This means that the software from will continue to work while twitter will be dead.

When Eben Moglen promotes the FreedomBox, he does not address this utility. The FreedomBox will be useful to organise and communicate whenever a disaster strikes and they work optimally with mesh enabled functionality.

One million #Geograph pictures on #Commons

After technical delays, the upload of Geograph pictures has resumed. As the bot is uploading the pictures that give a wonderful overview of Great Britain and Ireland, the millionth picture finds its way to Commons.

One way of experiencing the flood of new pictures is a Toolserver tool that shows the latest files that have been uploaded.

Multichil hopes in two weeks to have uploaded all the 1,8 million pictures that we received from the Geograph community. Many of these pictures are exquisite and come with elaborate annotations.

Field on slopes of Cosdon Hill

The annotation for this random picture is wonderful:
Field on slopes of Cosdon Hill A view from the same spot as 989690, looking more to the left across a scarcely-improved field with rocks and gorse. The remains of a copper mine on the lower edge of Ramsley Hill is across the junction of four squares; the bracken-covered slopes on its right are in SX6592 and SX6593, while South Zeal village is largely in the latter square. The church tower is in South Tawton, in SX6594.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A #portrait of Ronald #Reagan

Mr Reagan is known for two things; he was a movie actor and he was the president of the United States of America. This portrait of Mr Reagan has been digitally restored by Peter Weis and it shows Mr Reagan in a way that refers to both careers. It is also a picture that is likely to appeal to his fan-base.

In the Netherlands we joke about many of our politicians as being world famous in the Netherlands. We can safely say that Mr Reagan is world famous. As this picture is a featured picture candidate, it will be interesting to see what argumentation will be used and compare this with the argumentation used for featured picture candidates of the most senior politicians of other countries.

An easy #usability win for #Wikipedia

Franklin typewriter
#Wikimedia projects where people edit in their own Indian language will benefit hugely from the Narayam extension. It provides input methods for Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Sanskrit, and Bengali. Bengali is special in that it will give our editors three options.

Typing on the Franklin typewriter may seem daunting, but it still has a QWERTY layout. Now suppose that it has an AZERTY layout as well and you are to type blind with ten fingers ... that gives only an easy approximation of the problem.

With an extension in SVN, with Roan having had a look at it, with a developer and many communities eager to get it in production and extend it to other languages as a matter of urgency, the next step should be obvious.

What we should not do is have perfection be the enemy of the good. The first step does not need to be in core and it does not have to include all the other languages immediately. It would be great to hear continued buzz on the India mailing list about the next steps when the first step is taken.

Please get this extension into production as soon as possible.

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.

#Breton, a language alive and well in #France

#Wikipedia is a wonderful way of giving a language a foothold on the Internet. It takes a lot of tender loving care to cover the subjects important to you comprehensively and, to enthuse people to become part of the editing community takes determination and perseverance.

The Breton Wikipedia is a great example of what can be done when people care and work hard. One aspect that is awesome is the work done to ensure that the Breton experience is complete. The team effort that goes into the localisation for Breton is excellent.

Fulup Jakez
This effort did begin with MediaWiki and its extensions but other software like OpenStreetMap gets the same tender loving care. The formula of really helps; this is what Fulup has to say about it:

OK, I don't know anything about formats and computer languages, I'm just a translator trying to get more softwares translated into my language and as a translator I appreciate Translatewiki services a lot because here I don't need to worry about Gettext, XML or whatever it is. I can concentrate only on my translation.

This was in a discussion about the possibility of supporting Notepad++ and WordPress on translatewiki as well. When you read the instructions on localisation for WordPress it becomes quite clear what the benefits are for the localisers; all the technical bits are taken care off, it is just a matter of what comes easy. The community of developers and localisers work together well with everyone doing what they do best.

Now to convince the people of WordPress or Notepad++ and we may support even more applications.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"#Rape" is not the same as "making love"

In movies, showing a sexual act is deemed to be more or less ok when it is important for the story line. The result is that many "sex scenes" are stomach wrenching awful. Consensual sex between two adults is rarely seen even though this is what good sex typically is about.

Nothing new here, except when the notion of rape and making love gets conflated and a rape in a movie gets reduced to making love in a Wikipedia article. The word rape has a clear meaning and reducing it to something else is quite contrary to what a "neutral point of view" is about.

Rape is sex forced upon someone.

There is no single argument I can come up with why Wikipedia should reduce rape to anything less. When we want women to feel secure being a Wikimedian, the rationalisation that rape can be reduced to "making love" is unacceptable.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A message from the #MediaWiki #bugmeister; HELP is welcome

The role of bugmeister has been filled at the Wikimedia Foundation and, he certainly means business. There have been mails with suggestions and discussions on improving the process and now there is a call for all you MediaWiki developers to get involved in the sprint to make release 1.17 ready for release.

The impression this gives is wonderful. Wonderful because it invites people to get involved and stay involved. It gives the impression that contributions are welcome and that there is even someone ready to leverage the power of the many developers who do not yet have commit access as well.

What is also shiny is that by using terminology like "sprint" notions of agile project development come into focus. I am not advocating a new MediaWiki release every four weeks, but having four or more releases a year will be less stressful then the current waterfall of functionality that is in release 1.17.

So check out the list of open bugs and help us get properly ready for the next release. There is one fringe benefit for a good relation with the bugmeister... your JavaScript has to be upgraded next. You might as well get your feet wet now.

What more should we talk about

In Berlin, in parallel to the #MediaWiki hackathon, members of the language committee of the Wikimedia Foundation will meet for a first time in real life.

As I read the roster of the people who may attend, I am amazed at their qualifications. All people are involved in their Wikipedias in the Incubator, they are linguists, standard people, a script expert, Wikimedians.

The first line of our business will be to evaluate what we do. We will get to know each other better and we will talk endlessly about language, Wikipedia and what not.

You can help us be more focused by suggesting topics to our agenda. Anything goes and when we understand the issue raised, we will attempt to formulate an opinion. When such an opinion is actionable, we will raise it with the people that can make a difference.

The topics may be all over the map and they do not need to be confined to the language policy or the Wikimedia Foundation. When there are issues in MediaWiki, we may pop over to the people at the Hackathon and ask their opinion.

International Mother Language Day 2011

The program of this years event, is interesting. I am sure that interesting things will be said and, it is absolutely vital that they are said again. To have a vital language it is essential for them to make optimal use of the infrastructure that the Internet provides.

Understanding the technical components needed for a language to exist and do well is different from what it takes to get a lot of content in a language on the Internet. The two are however loosely connected.

  • is the script supported in Unicode
  • does Unicode support all the characters for the language
  • is the language recognised in the standards
  • is information about the language available in the CLDR
  • do applications know the language and register its use
  • are Unicode fonts, complete for the language, readily available
  • is support for the script mature
  • have people access to computers, the Internet
  • do applications that produce documents and pdf support the script
  • is there OCR support for the script
  • can you effectively google for that language
  • is there a Wikipedia for that language
The International Mother Language Day is a great initiative as it expresses the wish to bring languages into the modern age and with it the people and the culture they represent. It does take not that much effort or money to ensure that the technical bits and bobs are provided for. If there is a problem, it is a lack of coordination and ownership of the problem. As it is it has to be organised for a language, a script at a time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A #GLAM is born

Germany is famous for its beer, sauerkraut and sausage. Germany is also famous in the Wiki world because our GLAM projects started with the cooperation with the Bundesarchiv in 2008. Sadly the news from the Bundesarchiv could be better and they have never provided high resolution material to be digitally restored.

The cooperation with the hamburgmuseum will be  different. Like with the Tropenmuseum, it will start small and evolve over time.

The hamburgmuseum in 1930 - from the Bundesarchiv

About the project:
The hamburgmuseum runs an exhibition called "Wachgeküsst" about the restoration of a neo-classical country house of the 1830's - the "Villa Rücker". Some 200 pictures of this country house; paintings, photographs, floorplans, watercolour paintings and several images depicting the workflow of the restoration will be made available. A handful images will be provided in the highest resolution to be digitally restored and nominated as featured pictures. Wikipedians from Hamburg and elsewhere are invited to contribute their knowledge by improving articles related to the museum and the culture of Hamburg in general. This first project is about the Hanseatics of Hamburg and it will introduce the hamburgmuseum in the Wiki world.

The music room of the Villa Rücker

About the tasks:
A GLAM page will be established, categories created, images uploaded, descriptions written and articles improved. The biggest hurdle will be the upload of 200 images and adding information templates to them. I hope to learn this from Multichill who has developed this into an artform. The images will be selected by the hamburgmuseum and represent a cross section of what is available in the museum's archives on the "Villa Rücker". Statistics and figures will help us understand how things develop for the hamburgmuseum and for the wiki community.

Analog restoration at the hamburgmuseum

About the speciality:
With this first pilot project we start small but the quality will be high. Finding a GLAM partner in Germany who is willing to provide such material and some of that in high resolution is a first time occasion for me. I'm happy to tell the story of Germany's cultural heritage and help the hamburgmuseum share its content with the world.
     Peter Weis

In memoriam Keith Stribley

Keith was the obvious person to invite to the conference on the Myanmar Wikipedia. In his soft spoken, unassuming way he has a reputation as a "can do" man for supporting the Myanmar script and all the languages that rely on it.

When you check out his website, you will be impressed with the relevance and the breath of his work for the Myanmar language.
Keith will be sorely missed. I can only hope that his legacy will inspire people to continue the important work he is known for.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The #MediaWiki 1.17 shake down has started

All #Wikipedias and all other #Wikimedia projects have been upgraded to the new 1.17 release. We are now at the stage where the release does not kill the Wikimedia clusters any more.

Now that we are in the 1.17 shake down phase, it is time to find more bugs, improve performance, get the last localisations in and help people to fix the many JavaScript issues.

Roan reported on a change in one line that  cut the load on four Apache servers. This is just one example of the work that goes into making release 1.17 stable and ready for general release. This is the moment for a final push to get as many localisations in as possible because most MediaWiki installations out there do not run the LocalisationUpdate extension and manage with the localisations they get with the release.

Last but not least, when you notice anything that used to work and does not work any more, this is the time when the MediaWiki developers give extra attention to help you get it right. This is the time when MediaWiki 1.17 gets its shake down.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

VPAT for 508 compliance?

#MediaWiki does not comply with section 508 of VPAT. This answer is properly right for now. It is certainly the answer the Wikimedia Foundation had to give for now.

This answer raises a problem not only for the Unites States government but also for many of the readers of Wikipedia. When you have to conform to specifications, you only know if you do and, to what extend when you check these specifications out and test compliance.

MediaWiki has as far as I am aware never been tested. I do however know that a "visually impaired" man with his dog visited a Dutch chapter meeting and an "audible impaired" man visited with his Dutch sign language translator in an other chapter meeting. So it cannot be all bad. When you add that the SignWriting Foundation is working on an extension to enable SignWriting it is obvious that it cannot be that bad and, that compliance with VPAT for 508 should be reachable.

MediaWiki is open source and, we are quite happy that the United States government uses our software. We would welcome it when they test MediaWiki for compliance and help us where we do not meet the mark. This will not only help those branches of government that use MediaWiki, it helps impaired people all over the world to learn about everything that can be found in our many projects.

A committed developer from India, more will surely follow

On this auspicious day when #Wikipedia is upgrading to release 1.17, Junaid PV was made a MediaWiki developer. Junaid is working on input methods so that people can enter text in MediaWiki in their own language on their own keyboard.

The problems for the Indian languages are not singular and the hope is that many Indian developers will follow. There are so many challenges that they may solve. They feel the itch and, they can scratch it.

To name just a few challenges:
  • the presentation of different Unicode iterations is not properly supported on most devices
  • search engines do not provide the results of different Unicode iterations as being the same
  • PDF support is broken so how to export Malayalam, Arabic or Bengali articles
  • we are waiting for functional internationalisation of the official off-line reader
  • other off line readers do not use openZIM
  • ...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011, its essence is #community

When people localise at, they are likely to get acknowledged for the work they do for our supported projects. New messages count in to its statistics like these for Mifos. The one project that does not get acknowledged is translatewiki itself and new messages in English do not count.

The feel of translatewiki is one of getting things done. Key is to ensure that what translators do makes a difference. Projects that need to learn about internationalisation find the developers at translatewiki helpful. They find in the localisers a critical audience that insist on clear and workable messages.

This is what Adam Monsen has to say about how translatewiki makes a difference for Mifos:
I often refer to comments/help/suggestions from Nikerabbit, Siebrand and other translators as examples of how y'all are helping us improve our translations immensely. Before we were welcomed into the TWN community, we (well I, anyway) didn't know much about the quality of our translations. Some parts of Mifos are untranslatable, et cetera. Before we were terrible at i18n. Now we're passable. is helping us to become great at i18n.
The community of is part of the Open Source / Free Software world and, it is a vital part for it to reach out all over the world because it brings a freedom that Richard Stallman does not mention; the freedom to use software in a language that is understood.