Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wiktionary quality issues

On the Wiktionary project I run the interwiki bot. The process is simple; when an article exists in another language spelled exactly the same, I create an "interwiki" link. This allows you to see the information on another language Wiktionary. This process is an automated process, it works on all Wiktionaries and it is an unattended process.

I have received a request from the Polish Wiktionary to stop adding interwiki links for the Russian and for the Vietnamese Wiktionary. The reason given is one of quality. On the Russian Wiktionary many of the articles are created by a bot and they do not provide good information. An example is dispersion, there is nothing really in there. The Vietnamese Wiktionary is more problematic because a bot was used to generate declension and conjugation tables of Russian words and they got it wrong.

The Russian Wiktionary has some 81.000 empty shells and refuse to remove it. The Vietnamese are not willing to remove there incorrect data.

I have been asked to stop including the Russian Wiktionary and the Vietnamese Wiktionary when I run the interwiki process. To be honest, I run the bot as a service and I do not think it is the right thing to do. I think the Vietnamese are wrong not to correct the wrong data that they have. I am less sure about the Russian approach; in essence it is a stub. However, creating a Wiktionary in this way is like stamp collecting; you can look at it but there is not information about it.

Given how the process works, I am not sure that I can exclude either the Russian or the Vietnamese Wiktionary. The way it works is that I run explicitly on all Wiktionaries. When I exclude Russian or Vietnamese, I will probably end up removing all references to these projects. They are the third and fourth Wiktionary is size.

When I do not exclude the Russian and the Vietnamese Wiktionary, the bot may end up being blocked on the Polish Wiktionary. This will also kill off the interwiki process.

From my point of view, using bots to generate content in a Wiktionary only makes sense when there is at least a link to the word in the base language. When the initial creation of stubs is followed by the enrichment of these stubs it is acceptable. For having information that is completely wrong, there is no excuse.

The question is, will there be a discussion about acceptable practices in Wiktionary. The question are:
  • Can the Polish demand what they do?
  • Is having a project that consists mainly of stubs acceptable?
  • Is having incorrect data acceptable?

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