Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good news from the #Tropenmuseum

I love good news and particularly good news from friends..

A Tropenmuseum tweet
The visitor number for the Tropenmuseum has increased in 2010 by 12% to 197.000. The news about the record number of visitors comes with news of exhibitions in the new year.. one will show contemporary art and the other will show how death has its place in the world.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

#WikiLeaks, naughty or nice

Love them or hate them, WikiLeaks generates strong opinions. This is true in the wide world and it is no different in the Wikipedia world. Recently I blogged about the featured picture candidate of a poster of Julian Assange and it will not feature.
Some of the arguments used not to feature are epic. The prize is for "Julian Assange is from Australia and it should therefore be honour not honor". Apparently there is a difference in Australian and US American honour.

The Signpost has a nice write up with arguments used to argue why leaked documents should or should not be used. What I am missing is perspective; it is not even necessary to quote WikiLeaks as it is renowned publishers like the New York Times who are co-publishers and who put their reputation on the line by publishing this material. When this is not accepted as source material, it becomes even more problematic to accept material from Fox. They are KNOWN to intentionally misrepresent the facts.

Disallowing WikiLeaks material will also damage the basic principle of the neutral point of view. Commons featured picture candidate process again proves to be misnomer; it should be the Commons featured pretty photo candidate process. The quality of the arguments used is the best indicator for its bias.

Weihnachten, Christmas 2010

It is becoming a tradition. A #SignWriting card for Christmas.

Looking from the sidelines, it is amazing how SignWriting is slowly but surely gaining acceptance in a world where the written word in the mother tongue is still a novelty. This year has seen many technical innovations that make the goal of a script that has its own Unicode encoding closer.

This year Stephan Woehrmann made two cards that I want to share with you. With many of the structural accomplishments of 2010, I hope that we will see the realisation of at least one Wikipedia in one of the many many sign languages.

That and a merry, merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The #Malayalam enigma

Traffic for the Malayalam Wikipedia has gone down dramatically while the number of articles and the number of editors has gone up. WHY??

When you look at the statistics, you will see that traffic halved in a couple of months. So what happened... and as importantly can we do something about it and do we need support to turn this situation around.

The first clue can be found on the main page. It says:

Reading Problems? Click here

 There are two scenarios; either you see no text or there are too many spelling errors.

When you look up the word "Karnataka" in English on Google, you get about 10,700,000 results. When you look up the word "കർണ്ണാടക" in Malayalam in Unicode 5.1 you get 2,760 results and when you look up the word "കര്‍ണ്ണാടക" in Malayalam in Unicode 5.0 you get 117,000 results.

Are you surprised when Wikipedia uses the latest edition of Unicode? Are you surprised when Google makes a difference between two words that are actually the same word written with different characters? The real surprise is that the Malayalam community has found a way to show the same text with fonts in either version of Unicode.

The big fall in traffic is because many people use typing tools that produce Unicode 5.0 to type and search the keywords. Search engines understand them as different. There needs to be canonical equivalence between the old and new Unicode. In the above example, both കര്‍ണ്ണാടക and കർണ്ണാടക should give the same results.

The question then becomes how do we convince the search giants of this world to include both versions of the written words in their results. The big fall in traffic is due to the conversion of all the Malayalam texts to Unicode 5.1.

The good news is that our Malayalam community is quite happy to help the search engines with conversion software because we want our traffic back.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#IYC2011 - International Year of #Chemistry

As 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, it can be a stimulus for our Wikipedia communities to share in the fun. On the official website there are many objectives mentioned that make Wikipedia a great platform for many activities.

The stated objectives are very much congruent with Wikimedia goals:
  • increase appreciation and understanding of chemistry
  • increase the interest of young people
  • generate enthusiasm for the future of chemistry
  • celebrate the role of women and major events in chemistry

As one of the Public Policy Initiative  objectives is to forge collaboration with academia, the IYC2011 makes the worldwide chemistry departments an obvious target for more collaboration.

There are also technical opportunities where MediaWiki and the Wikimedia Foundation can shine. It would be so cool when we finally enable the JMOL functionality in our projects. Another opportunity will present itself when what many call "Wikidata" functionality. There is a plan for a conference on this subject and, there is a wealth of data available for use in our projects.

IYC2011 may make 2011 the year when chemistry gets to the next level of great information in many languages for an important subject.

About standards

I blogged about collation and standards and, there has been quite some follow up. The most valuable result is an expressed wish to append the CLDR standard with information about Assamese. This is to be tempered with the observation that adding to the CLDR is a painful process. Information new to me is that collation for Indic languages has been added to GNU/C for Tamil and Malayalam and, that an unsuccessful attempt was made to update the CLDR standard.

The sad truth is that it is not always easy to have changes applied to standards. This has benefits and drawbacks. As standards organisations take their time, the result is likely to be of a high quality and it is definitely true that it is easier for known persons and organisations to get results. With a collation order described in a standard, the information necessary to implement collation is available to everyone. It has the added bonus that everyone can be asked to comply with the standard.

The lack of formalised information about a language is the key factor that inhibits a language on the Internet. Asking for the implementation of such rules can only follow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Please Danese, help Assamese to get sorted.

On the Assamese #Wikipedia all kinds of things end up in lists. It is because of these lists that things can be found. That is to say, you can find things when the lists are sorted in an intelligible way. The problem for the Assamese is that the collation order we use for their language is "problematic".

It is not only Assamese tea that needs sorting

The sorting order we use for Assamese is the order in which the characters ended up in Unicode. At translatewiki.net we are asked what can be done to fix this.

What we can do is make sure that the collation order is available in the CLDR. This is where you find the standard collation order for a language. We do make use of the CLDR standard in MediaWiki and this is one of those things where we can make a big difference. We are quite happy to press people to check their sorting order in the CLDR, we are quite happy to have people wait until the standard gets updated. Quite happy because it allows for a solution.

Please Danese, you went to India to learn about what needs doing.. Assamese is also spoken in India...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A plan for a subsequent photo competition

The Dutch #Wikipedia photo competition Wiki Loves Monuments has been a resounding success and, a text is circulating to do it on an even bigger scale next year. I am happy to use it on my blog as a great example that there are many ways to have photo competitions.

Summary of this email 
Sorry for a long text...  We did "Wiki Loves Monuments" in the Netherlands and we would like to do Wiki Loves Monuments again in 2011, but now in Europe. This is possible when many chapters participate. To be clear: this event will only happen on a European level if there is sufficient chapter and community participation to combine efforts. Please feel free to forward this to whomever you find appropriate.

You might have heard before about Wiki Loves Monuments 2010 in the Netherlands. It was a highly successful photo scavenger hunt with 12.500 submissions and over 250 participants. We recently completed a post mortem of this project with a full description and an analysis. There are still many more monuments in the Netherlands which can be photographed and we are considering another run for next year and, we want to give it an European context. Below we will explain how we got where we are, what we have in mind, and what you can become a part of it. 

Katwoude - molen De Kathammer

It all started on the Dutch language Wikipedia with the windmill project. One of its main goals was to have an article with an image for every windmill in the Netherlands. Lists were created of windmills per province and statistics were regularly updated to track progress. This approach worked really well and now all the windmills have an article.


Volunteers together with the Dutch chapter, managed to get a dataset of all 60.000 "Rijksmonumenten" ie buildings/objects with some historical or cultural relevance from the "Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed". This marked the birth of the "Rijksmonumenten" project. The project uses the lessons learned in the windmill project. The data from the RCE was converted into lists by location and put on the Dutch Wikipedia. The community started improving the lists by adding missing information and by adding photo's.

Den Haag - Wassenaarseweg 80 v2

In June 2009 Wikimedia Nederland ran Wiki Loves Art /NL This was a  photo scavenger hunt in more than 40 museums. It was quite successful, 5.400 photos, but it was much more laborious because we needed to keep contacts with all the participating museums and the nearest museum was usually further away from people's homes than the nearest monument. 

For 2010 we were looking for a nice topic for a photo competition. The "Rijksmonumenten" project was running very well so we decided to organize Wiki Loves Monuments to give this project a boost.


So, what could a European WLM look like? Obviously it is very much open for debate but we are trying to incorporate the lessons learned in the Netherlands into a European model. We think it will work best with national Wiki Loves Monuments projects and international cooperation, shared resources and international prizes. The national contests do not have to be identical, but similarity will prove to be practical. We are not sure yet what countries would be most successful, but initially we are considering the EU chapter countries and Switzerland ...

Wiki Loves Monuments would run in the month of September 2011, and participants will submit photos of monuments which are part of a list of monuments. This list includes the addresses and maybe the geo-coordinates of all the identified monuments. In each participating country there will be some prizes available, to be awarded by a jury for that country and the best will be competing for prizes in an European final. 

Gemert (8)

Most of the local work will be to get a database with the objects and create object lists from that. Dutch volunteers can support you as they have the experience. You will need to communicate to get the community and the public informed. You will need to find a jury and prizes for them to award. We can help with example press releases, best practices, templates and list examples and community motivation. 

So, what to do when you like the idea? First of all check with your collegues (at the board, other members, community) what they think of it. You will need several people to run such a project. The next step is to analyse your local situation: who would be good partners (who keeps the lists of monuments?) for you, how many monuments are there in your country, are they well spread? Roughly how much information/photos is already available and are there community members already active in this field?

Grachten Suikerbergh Klundert 2009 aug 10 025

We already registered www.wikilovesmonuments.eu and are in touch with CARARE and Europeana who may help us by laying contacts with European Union cultural heritage organizations. This will stress the European context and the impact this may have. The most important partner in each country will be the one that maintains a database with bational monuments, and may release this to you. Such a database/list is crucial for the success of such an event. 

Please inform us when you are interested in joining in such European event. When there is enough enthusiasm, we will create a special (easy to join) mailing list to coordinate efforts and to allow the volunteers to join in the discussions. We  took the liberty of discussing this with some chapters, and are hopeful that it will actually become the first grand chapter cooperation program. You can already join #wikilovesmonuments on freenode irc when you are interested. 

With kind regards,

Maarten Dammers
Lodewijk Gelauf

A photo competition with a twist

We need illustrations for our #Wikipedia articles and it is tough to find high quality pictures of those parts of the world where Wikipedians are rare. Both Albania and Kosovo are not well covered with Wikipedians, our Wikipedias do not cover these areas particularly well either and there is a lack of high quality pictures to illustrate such articles.

Organising a photo competition makes sense but a standard competition has a few drawbacks:
  • it is time limited
  • it does not necessarily build skills
  • judging photos is a serious pain in the posterior
The current photo competition in Kosovo is different; there is no need for judges, the photographers have to make pictures to a high standard and best of all, there is no time limit. The first prize is for the first photographer who has its picture featuring a Kosovar subject as a Commons featured picture

Nominating a picture is easy but qualifying is hard. Technical requirements for digital photos are high and jealously enforced. This removes the need for the organisers to judge the pictures themselves. This competition has already generated quite a lot of pictures by several photographers and the quality is improving.

This competition has it all;
  • we gain many new pictures about an area we know little about
  • the competitors gain valuable skills
  • Commons and Wikipedia become better known in Kosovo and Albania
It will be interesting to learn when the competition has ended.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

OMG who killed #Flickr

The story of the demise Flickr has been overly exaggerated. Unlike delicous, it is only rumour mongering as far as I can see. With Yahoo obviously in trouble, it is a good moment to reflect on the relevance of Flickr for GLAMs anyway. 

Remember all the conferences where Flickr was praised as a platform to bring museum and archive collections to the people? Well, for quite some time now they do not provide support for new GLAMs to join the program.

I am sure that like Kenny, there will be a next chapter in the evolving drama. Unlike Flickr Wikimedia Commons is very much still in business to welcome new cooperation with GLAMs that will bring its cultural heritage to a global audience. The number of conferences where you may have heard about the possibilities are rising and there are plenty of people, myself included, who will be happy to help you in the direction of Commons.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Making Dutch orphan works available to the public

The Dutch National Archive and Pictoright, a branch organisations for copyright holders of graphic and illustrative material have come to an agreement to make digitised material that is without a known rights holder.

As part of the "images for the future" digitisation project there is so much material without known rights holders that it is impossible to research them all. The agreement makes it possible for the Nationaal Archief to make all the digitised pictures available on its website.

Voor Nationaal Monument op de Dam in Amsterdam hebben vrouwen vandaag liggend gedemonstreerd tegen aannemen van Abortuswet v
Women protesting the 1980 abortion law

This is good. This is important. However... when the images are to be made available elsewhere on the Internet, payments are still required and it will be Pictoright that will do the research into the rights holders. Maximising the money generated will allow Pictoright to do the best it can.

The experience with the Bundesarchiv proved that making images restricted in size to Commons made a huge difference to the sale of high resolution images. It would be wonderful if we can persuade the parties involved to share with us this treasure trove so that we can better illustrate our projects and they will make more money.

#Wikileaks and #Wikimedia #Commons

This picture of Julian Assange is a featured picture candidate. The arguments used against the featuring of this picture are in my opinion pathetic.


Commons is a repository of media files. These are primarily used to illustrate Wikimedia projects. Wikipedia articles are to provide a neutral point of view and consequently there is a need for illustrations for any point of view. Given that Wikinews is one of our projects, this is an appropriate time to support illustrations like this. It is not a digital photo and consequently the size of the file is irrelevant. The notion that works like this have to be in the svg format is as bizarre as the notion that the picture itself has to be notable.

My blog now with #mobile telephone support

#Blogger has improved its service a lot with the new mobile support. Given that it is important to me to have my blog available as effectively as possible, it is a huge thing.

So check this beta offering out when you are bored on the train or when you are just interested in the latest thing I have commented on.

Supporting #Mifos in the light of the Indian #microcredit crisis

The BBC informs us about the problems the microcredit industry faces in India. There is a problem and, it is not a simple one. The problem is that without microcredit many people are not able to get a loan at all except from loan sharks and consequently it is a lifeline for many people and typically it is the only way for people to start a business, to earn a living.

The stories of people in India and Bangladesh who default on their loans are heartbreaking. Then again, the stories are about parents who want to give their children an education, who paid for essential health care, who lost everything due to a flood. Lets recognise that an appendicitis left untreated does kill that a lack of education is what holds people back and compare this to mortgages for a second house or loans for a second car with people who default and just walk away...

When you read the BBC article and associated articles, you learn the difference in interest people pay microcredit organisations and usurious money lenders. You learn that there are politicians everywhere that do not have the public interest at heart.

Mifos is a tool to administrate microcredit. Microcredit emancipates people by providing them with tools to function economically. At translatewiki.net we support open source software. Mifos cuts the cost of microfinance and each implementation of Mifos in yet another language will help people realise their Indian dream, Bengali, French or American dream.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What makes an organisation a news organisation

A news organisation brings news. As news may be unwelcome to some, there are legal provisions that protect legitimate news organisations. The point to such protections is that it is the truth that keeps our society honest and free and it is the role of the press to make this happen.

An organisation that makes use of the instruments of news organisations like newspapers, television or radio to deliberately misinform its public does not qualify as a news organisation and consequently it does not qualify for the protection the law offers.

It can even be argued that when an organisation brands its content as news, it has to provide information that is verifiable and truthful. When it is not, it should not be allowed to label its content as news and be protected as a news organisation.

Fox News should be required to rename itself to "Fox" or "Fox Content".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let's have the best #Wikimedia fundraiser possible IX

This years fundraiser is ambitious, it is our best fundraiser ever and it is still going strong. Never before has there been so much data to understand what message does well what we can do to optimise the results.

New is the ability to donate every month. Believe it or not, there are people who put it on their list to Santa Claus and, this gift came early. Testing has been going on for a week for the message in English and it is an option that has to find its way into the message in other languages. At translatewiki.net new messages became available and consequently there is this appeal to help with the messages in your language for the "Donate Interface" and the "Payflow Pro Gateway" extension.

#Wikileaks paranoia; Sunnyvale California

After I blogged about Julian Assange and Dick Cheney, my blog has been frequented by someone from Sunnyvale California. I have the impression that all my blog posts have been read over the past few days.

For those who do not follow the news, Halliburton has paid a bribe to keep Mr Cheney out of jail. In the mean time Mr Assange is still in remand for something that is quite dubious.  Mr Cheney's bacon is saved with $500,000,000.-- but as always he must be considered innocent because no judge pronounced him guilty.

With Sunnyvale California dominating the traffic to my blog, I have no information what my readers are interested in. This information is publicly available on my blog. The value for me is in learning what it is people read about.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The #Hindi localisation of #MediaWiki is picking up

When people are asked to name one language spoken in #India, it is Hindi. When you look what Wikipedia in an Indian language is the most popular, it is Hindi when you look at the page views.

For all these reasons, it is satisfying to see a new group of translators stepping up onto the plate and help with the Hindi localisation of MediaWiki at translatewiki.net. The effect of an improving localisation is two fold; the immediate effect is that the user experience improves and slowly but surely the page views go up as well.

Growing the reader base in India is really important; we want to double the number of readers in the coming five years and, this increase is expected to come from people in the "global south". With a great user experience and relevant content this is certainly possible.

When you read my blog you will find that I hardly ever write about the Hindi community. The main reason is that I am not aware of the stories that are waiting to be told.

Implementing the #CC-PD-mark at #glamwiki

In Paris Multichil added the CC-PD-mark to #Commons. He identified over 1 million files as public domain and, he added system messages that enable the localisers at translatewiki.net to work their magic.

One of the things achieved by the CC-PD-mark is that the GLAM that has the original of a public domain work is identified. This has the same relevance as associating a source with a fact.

While the CC-PD-mark is based on good-will it does add value as it provides both provenance and good relations with the GLAM world it is the kind of good-will that provides us with a win-win strategy.

Our adoption of the CC-PD-mark is of immense interest to Europeana. With 1,069,565 files labelled in this our is probably the largest collection identified in this way. There will be a substantial overlap with the collections that Europeana represents and this makes Europeana an obvious partner for collaborating on meta data.

Pictures of Calcutta on Europeana
As Europeana is to represent the cultural heritage that can be found in European GLAMs, it is an extremely relevant resource for a world wide public. To make it more accessible, we have offered to localise the Europeana website at translatewiki.net. As the software is freely licensed, Siebrand and Mulichil did already have a peek at the code ....

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Dutch #Wikipedia mills project is complete

The Netherlands, like Spain are well known for their windmills. As we take pride in them, all of them have their own articles and they have all been illustrated with photos as well.

De Lelie - Aalten - Winter - 2009 
De Lelie in Aalten
As all the complete windmills and watermills are done, it is time to reflect. Over the course of three years 1200 mills have been documented, 12 new mills were completed in restorations. The final push was helped by the well known mills photographer Willem Jans who was willing to help out with missing pictures. Willem got the Wiki virus because he also helped with the lighthouse, the watertower and the Wiki loves Monuments project.

Don Quixote 6

It is not that there is nothing left to do; there are always the mills in Belgium and it is rumoured that there are even more mills in the UK and Spain.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Welcome to #Wikipedia II

When volunteers are the most precious things you have, you want more of them. Their time is the resource that they volunteer. It may sound odd, but improving the value of the time spend by volunteers is a sound investment.

When a new Wikipedia starts, it has little of everything. It has a start of its localisation, a few hundred small articles and a handful of enthusiasts. It needs more of all that as it grows. As it grows additional things become relevant like policies specific to its community, people who have the knack of moving things along...

Particularly when a Wikipedia is still small, the people learning about the Wikipedia in their language are new. They may have heard about Wikipedias and other languages but they have to learn about this one.  A FAQ is one resource that can help people in the right direction. The FAQ as published by the Indian chapter provides a good example. It is not to big and appropriate for their environment. It is also used as a translation exercise intended to bring Indian Wikipedians together.

Commons became more hospitable to the readers of Indian Wikipedias with their localisation available on Commons for readers. These may seem like small things but they show how much we welcome our global audience.

PS for an even better result, use some inviting illustrations !!

Extradition requests for Julian Assange and Dick Cheney

Again, #WikiLeaks is not to be associated with #Wikipedia. except for having articles on the subject.

Both Mr Assange and Mr Cheney are wanted for criminal activities that are in another country than the one where they reside.  Mr Cheney, the former vice president of the USA, is wanted for corruption in Nigeria. Mr Assange is wanted for exposing his penis while having consensual sex without a condom in Sweden.

It will be no surprise when Mr Cheney will not stand trial. It is no surprise that Mr Assange is having his day in a political court. Such inequality makes it clear why there is a need for WikiLeaks. As big corporations and rich people are found to have enriched themselves by hook or by crook without any comeback the reason for a WikiLeaks is all too obvious.

An extradition of Mr Cheney would help a sense of justice. An extradition of Mr Assange strengthens the sense of injustice and helps build the image of St Julian the martyr. Companies like PayPal and Amazon have proven themselves as national, not global companies resulting in a damaged reputation as a global company.

What we should have is equal justice for all. It is what we are told to expect but it is not what we observe.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Making the obvious obvious... Why #localisation

When you go to #Commons as a reader of one of our language projects, it helps a lot when the user interface is in your language. The quality depends of the localisation as it is made available at translatewiki.net. The quality also depends on the quality of the language support of your computer.

This example shows that our community works wonders where it can. We need the Wikimedia Foundation in its role of a 500 pound gorilla to push the quality of the software we run our systems on. This language is "only" spoken by some 37 million people and we want computers and telephones for them to have the best user experience.

#Glamwiki; the secret of our success

Guess what #Wikipedia, one of the 500 pound gorillas of the Internet, is bad at? It is telling about what it is that we do right. We do not cherish the moment and when we do, we do not tell the world about it. Sometimes it is small things like how AWESOME it is to have a conference in the building of the Assemblée nationale, to dine on its third floor and have a panorama with many of the famous Paris landmarks.

It is great to hear Beatriz inform us that history is written based on the richest sources and how Wikimedia Argentina is working on making the content of a box full of DVDs with Argentine news available. There is footage on the war of the Malvinas in there and as contemporary  history is written today in Wikipedia, history is written using Argentine television footage

It is great to hear from the cities of Toulouse, Brest and Rennes. They are the alpha adopters of Open Content in France. For me, the key to their stories is in how the citizens of these cities benefit. They are happy to share with us and that is the icing on the cake.

When the French National library explains its project with Wikisource, the kind of information is provided that can help people in other countries to use its approach as a template. We heard about a Chilean encyclopaedia that is becoming available under a free license, it is not dissimilar to what is happening in India and this too proved a well kept secret to me.

The most astonishing factoid to me is the availability of a news letter about the public policy outreach project. It would be great when the lessons learned are not hidden away. It would be great to easily subscribe and learn what works and what does not. 

Blog, tweet and tell the world about our success. There are a few reasons why you should consider this
  • Positive feedback makes people happy
  • Examples good or bad help people to do the right thing
  • Positive stories motivate people to go on
  • Positive stories may sway people to work with us, become one with us
  • Positive stories help governments and GLAMs consider Open Content as a viable approach for them
If you find it hard to get your story out or heard globally, I may be your ambassador when I like your story. When you read my blog regularly, you must have an inkling of what that is.

Distributing celebratory #Wikipedia t-shirts

When you organise a party to celebrate Wikipedias 10 year anniversary well in advance, you can apply for enough t-shirts. These t-shirts will be send in batches of 50, they exist in many patterns and, they are nice.

The challenge that I want to raise is in the distribution. The obvious distribution can be covered by the DHL, FEDEX and what have you of this world. The not so obvious distribution is in the sizes of the t-shirts. We do not share the experience with t-shirts with Linux. We have a different problem.

Our problem is in the difference of our communities. The Scandinavians, Germans and Dutch are big while the Indians, the Indonesians and the Albanians are small. So the distribution of the sizes of the t-shirts have to be considered when a box of t-shirts is packed.

There is one thing in this problem that I like; it is not mine. I just want a t-shirt in my XXL size to celebrate :)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

What #Orange had to say at #glamwiki

Orange labs presented two projects they did with the Louvre and the Versailles palace. Projects Orange developed in partnership with these two GLAMs.

To be brutally honest, based on the questions, I think the objective of Orange was not understood. Orange is in the business of developing new technology to promote its business. The technology is to develop new applications for mobile telephones and develop an interest among GLAMs.

The question that was asked was: "is this application freely available". It is the wrong question because the it should have been: "is this technology available". The answer we got was that it is not freely available because it was developed in partnership with the Louvre and the palace of Versailles. The answer we were looking for was can we make use of this technology for our own projects.

The answer to the second question is dramatically different because you may only care about the Louvre or Versailles projects when you care about the Louvre or Versailles. Informing us about the lessons learned and enthusing about the possibilities of the newly developed technology is important to Orange. That is what generates new business for them and us.

Welcome to #Wikipedia

We'll have newbies for breakfast and lunch... what is for dinner? Seems to sum up the welcome given to new Wikipedians. Particularly the bigger projects are infamous for the "we know best because we are here longer" mentality.

It certainly proves that we as Wikipedians are not good Christians because otherwise we would have learned that Jezus did not like the practices of the Pharisees and also that what you do for the least of us, you do for Jezus.

So what can we do to welcome our newbies in our ranks. To start off, we can let them be bold and have them introduce themselves. Best practices at translatewiki.net has them identify their language ability and ask for translator rights. This is extremely valuable because it establishes that they understand English. We use the Babel extension for this and it establishes in what language a person can communicate in. It does not require templates so it is particularly beneficial for the small and new communities.

Many Wikipedias have projects dedicated to subjects. It would be nice when people can identify their interests. This allows people with compatible interests to take the newbies under their wings and protect them from the worst abuse.

Finally, we can add value for being a Wikimedian. As the Wikimedia Foundation is a five hundred pound gorilla and unlike with Facebook and Google our users are not the product so it would be a gift when we can like Facebook and Google identify ourselves as Wikimedians.

I would be happy to be identified as a Wikipedian and I would love to learn any argument why a Facebook or a Google would not accept such credentials. By establishing an identity anchored in the Free content world, the merits of our ways will rub off on anyone new to us and this may prove strategic in realising our aims for the next five years.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Improved language support on #Commons

At #glamwiki a few MediaWiki developers were happily hacking away while listening to the many interesting presentations. Today they improved the experience for our non English readers.

When people who were not logged in went from Wikipedia to Commons, they would be surprised with a user interface that all of a sudden was in English. Commons is now aware of the language that you used in the Wikipedia.

When you go directly to Commons, the language will depend on such things as the language that is configured in your browser. For this improvement to work well we rely on the quality of the MediaWiki localisation.

Musée Jean-Jacques Henner and #glamwiki

After the GLAM conference in #London, it was the turn for #Paris to host a meeting where Wikimedians and people from the GLAM world met. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event with plenty of surprising moments. There were exquisite French and Wikimedia projects that were new to me and there are plenty challenges that we will overcome another day.

One of the happy examples was a presentation about the Musée Jean-Jacques Henner this French National Museum reopened in 2009 after a lengthy refurbishment and is now using innovative ways to gain attention for the museum and for the art of Mr Henner.

Now that I am back in my hotel, I am really astounded to find that the English Wikipedia has an article about the museum. The surprise is in finding it rated higher then the museum itself when searching in Google and to top it off, there is no article listed from the French Wikipedia.

As I could not believe that there was no French article about the museum, I did look into it and found that the English article did not have an interwiki link to both the German and the French article. So I did the right thing; I fixed it.