Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why language identification

The #W3C updated their document "Why use the language attribute?" If there is ever a better explanation why there will be a WebFonts release 0.5 you find it in this article.
Applications exist that can use natural language information about content to deliver to users the most relevant information based on their language preferences. The more content is tagged and tagged correctly, the more useful and pervasive such applications will become.

Language declarations specify the 'natural language' of web page content. A declaration should always be used to indicate the language of a web page as a whole. If the language changes within the main page container element this should also be reflected in a sub-container element, eg. span, div, td, p, etc.

Information that indicates content language can be useful for many applications. Some of these work at the level of the document as a whole, some work on appropriately labelled document fragments. What follows is a list of a few possible applications for language information:
Please read the articles for the applications.. of those applications, the one on accessibility has quite profound implications for achieving our goal:
Language information assists speech synthesizers and Braille translators; it is required by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and enforced by governmental policies in some countries, eg. UK - Disability Discrimination Act (UK).

A barnstar for #GLAM II

When you want to express happiness, there can be room in many ways. Many variations on the previous GLAM barn star have been generated, good looking variations.

Now there is a new cool barn star, a star that brings together the acronym and the symbols of our GLAM world.

It will be interesting to see what it will be used for.

Monday, May 30, 2011

#WMFboard; #LGBT what to think

I was asked to comment on a new article. It describes a book, involvement of President Obama and really what is there to say but *great* that there is an article about a book, maybe a movement that reassures young kids that they are ok as they are.

Where I come from people are fairly tolerant. Personally I have friends who are gay, some have aids. I have friends who wear an abaya. They are all my friends. I stand by them. They are people, not stereotypes and, I love them for who they are and what they mean to me.

People may think that clogs are typical Dutch but they are as French. In the Netherlands clogs are certified security shoes and in French they threw their "sabots" in machines and that is the origin of sabotage. Some even dance competently with clogs on outside the Netherlands.

For me there are people. The people who are part of our community are among the finest. The people I like the least typically turn out to be fine people when I actually meet them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

WMFboard; fans

Having Wikimedians call others to go and vote is already extraordinary. For me to have fans is one happy surprise. I do agree with them that voting is a good idea and, you can do worse then vote for me.

A barnstar for #GLAM

You can find a GLAM in every country and, we are fortunate to have Wikimedians who reach out in their countries. This outreach is widely successful; Wikipedia is becoming well respected as a platform that makes them more visible, gives them added relevance.

We honour our GLAM relations with dedicated information about their collection, their institution on Commons. Celebrating our own, we traditionally do with a barnstar.

The new barnstar looks good and it is available at Commons. So we can celebrate our glammers wherever they are.

Friday, May 27, 2011

#WMFboard; the "May unpleasantness"

Some people are still upset because Jimmy had the audacity to make a lot of noise against what he calls "porn". They want either a day of reckoning or they want to influence your vote because they are against the board influencing or imposing on the projects.

On Commons this picture was proposed as a featured picture candidate. I voted against it, I made some scathing remarks and I was banned for a day. Getting banned is easy, it takes a hot head and some inflaming language and even I can get banned. The hothead got banned for longer a few days later but that is hardly relevant.

In this May unpleasantness analysis, it is said that I am with Jimmy. I have been told that it means that I will not be elected. This does not trouble me.

When people vote on single issues, then the qualities and the values a person stands for are not considered. Such an approach gets you the wrong person elected particularly when that issue is not the only thing that is relevant.

Do not vote for me when:
  • you want the WMF only to invest in the English Wikipedia
  • you do not want Wikipedias in new languages
  • do not care about historic illustrations
  • you want BLP restrictions to only apply on the English Wikipedia
For those who are single minded about porn; I have provided illustrations showing venereal diseases because they are educational. When you think that this is porn, you are sick.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

#WMFboard; an interview with Ting

The #Wikimedia Board elections are significant. They are not necessarily about what you think they are. This interview with our chair Ting Chen gives an insight on the kind of work and influence a board member has to look forward to. 
It is certainly educational as well as a good read. Enjoy!

Wikimania 2008 Alexandria - Ting Chen workshop - 4

Some say that because of the small number of board numbers who have been directly elected, the board does not represent the communities. Knowing the board from the inside what do you think ?
I confess that compared to my opinions when I became a candidate for the first time back in 2008 I have radically changed my opinion. The main reason is that at that time I didn't understand the role of the board of trustees.

So what is the role of the board, why is it there, why is it called the board of trustees, who trusts here what? A common belief (and also my belief in 2008) was that the role of the board is to represent different interests. So the community elected board members represent the interests of the communities, that the chapters nominated board members represent the interest of the chapters and, because of this, there are a lot of mistrusts and conspiracy theories especially to the board nominated trustees. Whose interest are they presenting?

The answer is that the trustees are not representing any interests. Not that of the donors, not that of the users, not that of the chapters, nor those of the community. The duty of the board is to take care that a non-profit organization, in this case the Wikimedia Foundation, fulfils its mission as it is stated in its mission statement. We bring a good to the public, this good is clearly described in that mission statement. The trustees are entrusted by the public to take care that the Foundation indeed works and brings that good to the public. No more and no less.

Consider the role of the board in this way, it is more logical why our current board has its current composition. As an organization which brings its good together with a big community and with its chapters (the chapters are especially mentioned in our mission statement by the way), it is important for the Foundation to fulfil its mission when its board has a profound understanding for the community and the chapters and is rooted in them. But the board also need other skills so that both the board, as well as the Foundation, which as said is entrusted to these ten people, can work properly. Those skills are for example good governance, financial oversight, insight in diverse geography and in diverse demographic groups, tech understanding (as a tech based organization very important), fund raising, good public relation, etc.

The board nominated members fill in a lot of those skills, and it is important to have them.

Sue is making herself often available to the community through IRC, would it make sense for the board to be available to our community in a similar way 
Yes, definitively. By the way I am constantly on IRC and Skype and everyone can contact me when I am there. Everyone can also contact me by Wikipedia-mails or on my user talk pages. I also try to attend as much as possible community events and meetings personally, and everyone can speak to me on those events. The board has made some effort, especially organized by Phoebe and SJ, to make similar IRC sessions.

There are two difficulties for me at such meetings. The first one is that at such meetings a lot of people start to make questions at the same time and it is difficult for me to answer them all and to give all of them a detailed explanation. The second is that sometimes people have very specific and high expectations when they face a board member. They hope that the board members would be able to solve a specific problem of their project. This is unfortunately not possible because that is not the role of a board member. The board member is not the arb-com, which would solve the internal disputes of a project by making a judgement, the board member is also not in the position to give individual commands to an employee. That is not the role of a board member. If all ten board member start to interfere the day to day work of our employees I believe soon we will accomplish nothing any more. The role of the board is more high level. It tells Sue for example, we think it is important if we have a more secure server structure, please work on this. The role of the board is not to say, we believe the next server farm should have this or that structure, or it should be placed here or there.

So yes, I believe we will also have such meetings in the future and beside of that, everyone can contact me any time.

What can we do practically to get more women or people from the "global south" to edit Wikipedia
Well, I have no THE solution for this problem. Personally I believe on a constant and small evolution, which means that everyone of us should work on this. Let's say every 10 current active Wikimedian start to recruit one female volunteer to join us, then we will have an increase of our gender ballance by let's say 10%. But that means that everyone of us must work on this. I cannot command other people and say hey do this. What I can do is do it myself. Maybe I can recruit one this year, that would be ok, maybe two, that would be good, and maybe three, that would be marvellous. And I hope that there will be people follow this example.

To what extend can technology help us with our social problems like being good to newbies and cooperation among Wikimedians working on similar subject matter
I believe technology can have an impact. Technology has always had impact on how people work with each other and how works are organized. We saw this happen in a very radical way in the last ten years that tremendously changed our world. But I also believe that technology is not the only solution. Technology is only a tool. A tool can be used this way or that way. Information technology can be used as government propaganda or as public control to the government. So, as important as a technology improvement we need a cultural shift. We put a lot of energy in the last five years to improve our quality, to make us more reliable, to an extent that everything that doesn't formally meet our quality can be considered a potential vandal. Personally I advocate for more tolerance. More tolerance for failures, more tolerance for broader topics. And I advocate for more "Do it yourself" attitude and try to find mechanisms to award this attitude. Let's say a newbe put on a new article. My own experience is that a few changes can improve how it looks like. These changes are not necessarily more difficult as to put on the {{wikify}}, {{afd}}, {{notability}} or {{nocategory}} marks. Ok, they are a little more difficult, you need to at least read the start of an article to get an impression about what is it about at all, and make the small changes. But it is really not that big deal. I know this, because this is what I am doing now in my project. Put a formatting is easy, doesn't cost me much time, and improves the impression of a new article tremendously. Find a category for that article is not a big deal. I advocate that users whose only contributions are to put those marks above and don't even try to make any improvement (is it so difficult to try to sort an article into an existing category?) are not contributing in a constructive way, and as those are a sort of vandals.

How valuable are chapters in South America, for instance Mexico for the WMF ?
Huh, I don't know. I don't know Mexico at all. I don't know how civil organizations looks like there. We have very different associates in South America, just compare Argentina and Brazil. I believe in general, not limited to South America, any friendly organizations should be able to have a status or relation with the Foundation. The Movement Roles Work-group is working on it. South America is a focus in our strategic plan. Personally I would always prefer a functioning chapter than a Wikimedia Foundation office in the country. This is all I can say about this topic at the moment.

The BLP is seen as an English Wikipedia policy. The board has discussed this subject at length; should the BLP apply to all the Wikipedia projects..
I don't believe that the BLP policy is an English Wikipedia policy. From the projects I especially work most intensive, the Chinese Wikipedia, we had changed our rules according to the BLP policy. And this was a good move. You know that I believe currently WMF has a lawsuit in Hong Kong because of BLP issues. If we had not imposed and changed our rules two years earlier we will have more such problems I am quite sure. And because we have the current BLP policy I am also quite sure that we are quite safe facing the current lawsuit. And as far as I know the German Wikipedia had also changed its rules according to the BLP policy. So the BLP policy is definitively not an English Wikipedia policy.

What story about the Chinese Wikipedia would you love to be known more widely ?
One of the greatest thing I love Chinese Wikipedia is its diversity. We have volunteers from Mainland China, from Taiwan, from Hong Kong and Macau and from oversee Chinese. The composition of all these four groups are about one fourth each. This made the Chinese Wikipedia a place that is very tolerant to different views and to different opinions, because non of these groups can overwhelm the other groups and one must work with each other in a constructive way. For example it was members from the Hong Kong community who began to write articles about individual bus lines of Hong Kong: Bus line 110 is operated by this company, its start point is station x, its end point is station y, it is operated most frequently during the rush hour and less at Sunday, it was started in year 1997, changed the root this or that in year 2006. And so on and so on. At the beginning there was a big dispute about if such articles are notable. And some of them were deleted at the beginning. But because of the maintenance of those community members from Hong Kong slowly there was a turn of opinion. And now people from Taiwan or even from some of the big cities of Mainland China like Shanghai start to write such articles. I like this example especially because I believe it shows the vitality of the Chinese Wikipedia. Hey, Hong Kong is only a city, although a very big one and a very diverse one by the way, but at some point everyone "notable" is written and people want to contribute. As long as they contribute in an informative way, bus lines are valuable informations! This is a very good example of Be Bold. I have always big fun on Chinese Wikipedia and see it evolve and change. Sometimes on Chinese Wikipedia I still feel that innovative spirit that was so characteristic for our projects, let's say five or six years ago.

Why did traffic to the Chinese Wikipedia grow so unexpectedly ?
China is a mystery. I don't know why. What we observed is that since the begin of this year, with Wikipedia Ten, we got a lot of media coverages in China. Not only small and provincial newspapers covered Wikipedia Ten, even the official newspaper of the Communist Party and of the People's Liberation Army covered Wikipedia Ten, and both in a very positive way. Maybe these coverages are one of the reasons for more participation. But why the government is at once so benign to us, I cannot say. But if the newspapers of the party and the army talk about us, there must be some impulse from the high level. But why I don't know. Personally I believe that back in 2008 when Jimmy and I went to Beijing and visited the vice minister Cai there Jimmy made a very good work. We were able to despatch the fear and suspicion of the Chinese government that we are sort of an agency of the US government (sort of like Voice of America) or other anti-Chinese organizations. We were successful in explaining how we work, how we got funded. November 2008 Mr. Cai visited our shabby office in San Francisco. I am sure he didn't expect to see such a small office, without air conditions, in a formal workshop. I believe all these really dispatched any fear from the Chinese side. Fear leads to the dark side of the Force, right? So overcome fears is the right direction to peace, I am sure of that.

When have you been last in China ? How does it feel going there being the chair of the WMF when Wikipedia is blocked ??
I was last time in November 2010 in China. Mountain organized a Wikipedia meetup in Shanghai. It was planned as a inofficial national meet-up in conjunction with the Chinese Blogger Conference there. When I was in the Underground of Shanghai, which should bring me from the airport to my aunt, by whom I stayed in that time Mountain SMSed me to tell me that the Blogger Conference would not happen because of (external imposed) organizational difficulties. But because we had put up a central notice on zh-wp we got our own meet-up in a café in Shanghai, with about 40 to 50 attendants from most big cities over China. It was a mix of old and new volunteers and it was a lot of fun. Wikipedia is currently not blocked in China. There is a general keyword blockage to all foreign (since our server is in the US, we count to the foreign) server traffics. Since my first visite in the role as a board member in China I always thought that maybe someone would follow me, or try to break into my laptop when I am not in hotel, or things like that. But actually I never detected anything like that. Maybe I am simply too stupid and inexperienced on those.

What opportunities  do you see for us in the Chinese GLAM world
That depends on where. In Hong Kong our chapter is working on a contact. In Macao our chapter has traditionally a good connection with the culture institutions, so I would expect there to have our first Chinese good news. In Taiwan our chapter is dormant, or reorganizing, I hope the latter. I hope they can get their breath again and restart and work on this. On mainland China I had a long talk with Shizhao and Mountain on this. In the current situation, lack an official representation in China itself, and with our focal activities on India, Africa and Latin America, I don't expect much news from there. Maybe in a few years, when we shift our focal point, or when China changes its attitude on civil organizations.


Ting's Blog: http://wingphilopp.blogspot.com/

#WMFboard; an interview with Patricio

This years election for the #Wikimedia board of trustees has a very strong field of contenders. Not only are all the incumbents running, there are people with a strong known involvement often representing different communities and cultures. As I am interested in the point of views of some of them, I will be sending them questions. I am really happy with the answers Patricio send me. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Patricio Lorente y terra (sin logo)
What percentage of Wikimedians will be able to pinpoint Buenos Aires and Argentina correctly on a world map?
If we are talking about Wikimedians, I'm sure they will take a look at Wikipedia before pinpointing. Then, the percentage of correct answers will be 100%. Exceptions may occur in case of vandalism: many Wikimedians will confuse Argentina with Paraguay and Buenos Aires with Rio de Janeiro :-).

Nevertheless, other than believing Buenos Aires to be the capital of Brazil, I don’t think we are in the worst of all worlds in term of “International awareness”. There are many other countries in our region with great Wikimedian activity who seem to be many times invisible to WMF or other groups/persons/events in the global scene just because they don’t communicate in English. And, in fact, many chapter are more visible and “audible” than us because they feel more confident or are more used to speaking English. It’s the language that makes the difference, rather than the region, place in the world or socio-economical reality.

What are the next 5 subjects after Argentina and Buenos Aires every Wikipedia should have?
Whatever its editors are interested at, providing that all of them have the possibility to participate. What we have to do is reaching groups of people that for a number of reasons have been up to now excluded from editing or even having access to the Wikimedia projects’ contents.

The Argentine chapter has great relations with the Argentine press, how can this resource be best shared among all our projects?
We just have a good press team. I think that’s all with that.

The Argentine chapter is making wonderful inroads in the educational system. What resources are available to you?
Good public relations and collecting existing experiences are our best resources: as soon as we launched the Chapter, many teachers came to us, trying to figure out what is Wikipedia and how to deal with this kind of projects. We made several workshops and published a little booklet with creative approaches of educational uses of Wikipedia. With this background, the Ministry of Education asked us to
participate in the advisory council of "Conectar Igualdad", an official initiative to improve the classroom equipment and deliver a netbook computer to every single child in secondary school. At the same time, the Ministry launched a site called "Wikipedia in the classroom" with both practical and theoretical tips for teachers. We have always focused our work in this area. In fact, one of the main presentations of our Wikipedia 10 event was a panel by well-recognized Argentine educators and pedagogues who discussed about the possible educational approaches to the use of Wikimedia projects in an active way, that is, having in mind their dynamics and not just the current text that appears on screen.

What impact did Wikimania have in Argentina?
In the immediate aftermath, we sincerely thought than other than general press coverage the impact Wikimanía had had was not that significant. Nevertheless, as time went by, we started finding a whole set of interesting people --from government officials to educators and journalists-- who knew of Wikimedia Argentina as an established organization because they had heard about Wikimanía. Many people know colleagues who were in attendance or delivered a presentation at WM09, and that helped us opening many doors towards collaboration or partnership agreements, for instance.

There must be many more great stories originating in Argentina that are waiting to be heard in the rest of the world, how can we get them out?
We are trying to make our best to produce monthly reports in English, but we cannot guarantee it. And when we have to deliver rush translations, many things are lost in the way. I think the Foundation should do this work, allowing chapters and other groups to report in their native language, because we *work* in our native language. If WMF combines a global scope with a monolingual approach, then it is rather their problem than ours.

How important is it to put Argentina on the English language Wikipedia map?
I believe Argentina is already there. There are many people who speak almost decent English and who contribute there. And our country is an important touristic destination, so many native English-speaking people go back to their countries and contribute writing about Buenos Aires, for instance. There is a problem though with the less-touristy parts of our reality.

What role can the WMF and its board play to ensure that subjects of the "periphery" find their place not on a map but on a globe?
True internationalization is one key, and supporting local communities is the other. I don’t believe in this approach of the Global South initiative, opening offices with consultants from abroad. As languages are still being a limitation, many times WMF tends to identify contributors that speak English fluently as community leaders. And this is often a mistake.

Are the changes you seek as a candidate for the board evolutionary or revolutionary ..what change are you most passionate about??
There are many groups and wikimedians I want to make visible to the global community and the Foundation that today are out of the conversation just because they can't communicate in English. Far away from North America and Europe, English is a lingua franca only for the elite. True internationalization will be my biggest challenge. And also I will make my best effort to deepen the links we already have between our projects and the educational system.

If we look into the Movement, I think we should work to build better relations between the staff and the community. But none of these are revolutionary changes, I just want to address new problems and new challenges for our still young organization.

At translatewiki.net we allow for the localisation in Latin American Spanish, this is not really popular. Is the difference with standard Spanish minimal?
Is not minimal but we can understand each other without problems. On the other hand, there's no standard Latin America Spanish: between Rioplatense Spanish (i.e. Argentina and Uruguay) and Mexican Spanish there's the same distance than between both and the Spanish language spoken in Spain. There’s a conceptual error about a perceived “Latin-American” brand of Spanish that has some connection, in my opinion, with the American concept of “Latino”.

One must have in mind that Spanish is a regulated language, where regional variations don’t overshadow the fact that we have a completely uniform grammar. There are less differences between any regional variations of the Spanish language than there are between UK and American English, or between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.

When friends work on supporting #India

Santhosh asked his friends at #Fedora, what is new in Fedora 15 for Indic support. As a favour they blogged about this. New is not only support for the Pangul font for Sourashtra, but also there is support for the Meetei-Mayek script.

Meetei-Mayek was used for the Manipuri language until king Ningthau Pamheiba who ruled Manipur in the 18th century ordered everything written in the script to be burned. The script has been resurrected, it got its place in Unicode, a freely licensed font was created and it is already available in Fedora in the newly released Fedora 15.

Had king Ningthau Pamheiba lived today, he would not have been able to be as destructive; the Meetei Mayek font Eeyek Unicode is available for download, there is an on line editor, Santhosh will include it in debian and make it available in the WebFonts extension. In this way it is already available for the moment when we can properly indicate when the Manipuri language is used with the Meetei-Mayek script.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#WMFboard; bureaucracy

Particularly in the bigger #Wikipedias, the amount of procedures, rules and good intentions have led to a shitload of expected behaviours enforced on others.

When this behaviour amounts to work, it is no longer merely problematic. People come to Wikipedia to do their thing and when we are lucky, as it becomes a hobby for them they become a valued and valuable Wikimedian.

Take for instance the "BLP", when you read this policy for the first time it is complicated and, while it may work on the English Wikipedia, it does not scale to all Wikipedias let alone the projects waiting in the wings at the Incubator.

The aim of the BLP is to provide accurate information and the most important reason why things break down is technical. The technology used does not scale. Templates with the same functionality do not scale when you have to implement them on 270+ projects and counting..

As the reason for a BLP is compelling, the argument for an innovative approach is equally compelling. Interwiki links identify the same persons and when the information boxes are available in software with localisable labels, an environment becomes available that allows for consistent maintenance on all our projects.

Monday, May 23, 2011

#Incubator needs #WebFonts the most

When a new #Wikipedia is requested, it is becoming increasingly likely that special needs including web fonts will make a big difference in the development at the incubator.

When such needs are identified, there are several issues that need to be considered.
  • the language needs to be available for selection in the user preferences
  • a freely licensed font has to be available for use in the WebFonts extension
  • an input method has to be available for use in the Narayam extension
Typically the managers at translatewiki.net will add the configuration for a new language once the "most used messages" have been translated. The availability of a font for a language supported requires that the language is selected in the user preferences. This would no longer be necessary when we can properly identify an article on the Incubator as being in a particular language.

Experience with the Sourashtra language shows us that it takes little time to include new fonts. It is just an additional thing that we may have to take care off.

Outreach in #Indonesia by #Radio

Outreach for #Wikipedia is best done by a broadcast medium. It is best when you want to reach a big audience. Effectively building a public for Wikipedia where computers and broadband are for many a luxury takes a stroke of genius.

Using small articles, often just stubs, on the radio at the end and beginnings of programs is such a stroke of genius. Learning that it is even extended to languages that have not even an Incubator presence makes it even more awesome.

A big thank you to Kombinasi who provide this wonderful service to us.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

#WMFboard; revolution or evolution

When #Wikipedia is compared to a ship, it takes time for it to change its course. However, Wikipedia is not like a ship, there are many of them and the Wikipedias have both their own and commons issues.

Just like dogbreeds, no Wikipedia is the same, they have their own characteristics, they have their own issues. As such, both the board and the office have a duty to the critters they care for.

The primary task is to the existing projects, ensuring that they receive the care that allows them to flourish. With the expanding financial and technical potential the Wikimedia Foundation has the potential to take its place as the biggest and baddest champion for multi-linguistic content.

It is this evolution of the WMF as an organisation and its care for its projects that I champion. The continued numeric approach to our current activities, will not have us realise the potential of all our projects. Highlighting what is special, supporting what has potential will give every Wikimedian a project where they feel at home.

#WMFboard; story telling

The #Wikipedia story is like a fairy tale; people love the story and they have Jimmy tell the story time and again. Jimmy tells a convincing story, his personal story, the stories of others and, he makes it a story that motivates.

Jimmy is not the only board member who I know spreads the word about us. Phoebe does a great job in the GLAM world, particularly in the libraries and archive world, a world that she can call her own.

Having the individual stories told of our pack of volunteers, the many wonderful things they do celebrates our community, it will motivate people to find their own thing. Telling these stories and bringing out what makes our community so wonderful is part of the puzzle that will bring us new people and grow the people that are already with us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

#WMFboard; The role of #Wikimedia chapters and the Foundation

When a model for representation is chosen, that model should at least be consistent. Probably my most contentious opinion is that at this moment the chapter model is broken by design. Broken because the Wikimedia Foundation activities in the United States includes activities that are considered exclusive activities for chapters in the rest of the world.

A United States chapter would be a rich chapter and, it would be in the same position to experiment with new programs as the WMF is at the moment. Like the chapters in Europe or the communities India its projects can start on an appropriate scale and eventually fill the whole space.

GLAM activities are considered to be a chapter activity and consequently people who want to reach out to museums and archives are often hindered by a lack of an organisational basis. As the Foundation has a monopoly on software development and excludes practical involvement in the GLAM area, crucial functionality for our GLAM partners like timely statistics do not get the attention it needs.

The appreciation for our chapters needs improvement. This will be helped by a better definition of responsibilities and by assigning room for the development and integration of the tools needed to run chapter activities.

#WMFboard; The English language #Wikipedia

As the biggest Wikipedia, the wiki that attracts the most visitors by far for the Wikimedia Foundation, it is the Wiki where all subjects for all cultures need to find their place. When politicians want to make an enemy out of a different people one of the reasons why they may succeed is when there is a lack of credible and available information about the country and the culture of these people.

The Neutral Point of View is a cornerstone for our ability to integrate many different view points. To realise this our ability to welcome people from all over the world is essential. Biting the newbies, is not only a drama for English speakers new to Wikipedia but it is even worse for people for whom the English language and culture is foreign.

Blaming the "dogs" is not fair; they do what they are trained to do. They are part of our community and they do provide an essential service. In my opinion it is essential to strengthen our community with Social Media type of functionality. When you consider the proliferation of Wikimedia related activity on Facebook and LinkedIn, it is obvious to consider Social Media as part of any solution.

There is and there will be a continued vigilance against vandals and trolls. A better understanding of the risks they pose and where they come from will help us develop improved tools for the patrol of recent changes. This helps us open the door. A user interface that is more in-line with what people expect and know will open the door even further.

#mwhack11; templates do not scale for #Wikipedia

The #WebFonts extension does one thing well; it provides web fonts when they are available for the language selected in the user preferences.

That is great for an initial roll-out because it provides a service to people for whom a wiki is intended. Amir argues rightfully that there is a need for web fonts when a text is written in a language where we know that fonts are likely to be lacking.

In some Wikipedias there are templates that identify a text as being in a language different from the language standard for that wiki. Such a template can be extended with an optional web font. It will work when the extension makes the web fonts available.

The problem is that there will be a need for one template per language and such a template will be needed in every Wikipedia. While Amir can do this for a Hebrew wiki, he cannot do it for all wikis; it is just too much work.

It makes more sense to include the ability of identifying a language and selecting a web font in an extension. This could be WebFonts v2.0 and, there is already a request for it.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The developing story of #Sourasthra

Some people think that the Pagul font for the Sourashtra language should look better. This is good news in a way because it means that the language and the first font is important to them. The best news is that these comments have been welcomed and there is room for a Pagul version 0.2. There is room for people who propose and provide improvements.

Illustrations are important for this blog and I found this existing keyboard layout for the Sourashtra language. This is quite exciting because it may provide the basis for a keyboard method in the Narayam extension.

#mwhack11; font support for #Amharic and #Tigrinya

One of the developers at the #MediaWiki hackathon had to do some copying and pasting on behalf of the Amharic Wikipedia. What he saw on his screen were these nice boxes that indicate that he did not have the appropriate fonts available to him.

This developer asked Amir, one of the members of the Language committee for help. The right string got copied and pasted.

Amir asked Santhosh to add support for the Ge’ez or Ethiopic script. The script is now supported with a WebFont at translatewiki.net. Two languages with a Wikipedia; Amharic and Tigrinya are now supported. When the Tigre and the Blin language ask for their Wikipedia, we are ready for them as well.

#mwhack11; #translatewiki.net statistics

When the UploadWizard became the default upload method, it became highly visible. People were asked to help with the localisation and these statistics show that it worked. As the UploadWizard is part of the MediaWiki extensions, it is quite amazing that for a day half the localised messages of extensions were localisations for the UploadWizard.

The "most used messages" are as visible but they are not as in your face; it is a missing message here and a missing message elsewhere. The statistics show that our readers will miss them. These messages have been compiled again so it is really worth it to check out what you can do for your language.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#mwhack11; Sumana tests #Hebrew on her #Nokia

The test Hebrew #WebFonts on an iPad was not a success. As Sumana had a nice Nokia, we asked her to help us test its functionality. Amir was ever so happy that it works as designed.

When people have spare time on their hands, translatewiki.net will be really happy when people do some localisation on their smart phones.

When people know that their mobile phones is smart enough they can while away the time a few translations. It is quite relevant when you help out by testing your mobile against the WebFonts at translatewiki.net.

Now it is about localisation, but it will also make a difference for people who will be reading Wikipedia once it works properly in PHP.

#mwhack11; two concurrent events - #WikilovesMonuments

At the Berlin hackathon there was a big meeting working hard to get the organisation right for Wiki loves Monuments. There were people from all over Europe and from what I saw they were having a great time. They had their own hackers and having their own event at the same time and place proved to be a stroke of genius.

With all these people being together at the same time, you get to speak to many of them. I met Jane this way and we had a good time talking about several things including a retired photographer, Bob van der Lans.

Mr van der Lans took over his father's photography store in Hillegom in 1958 and took pictures for several local businesses for over 5 decades. He still takes pictures for the Keukenhof, a flower show in Lisse. Since retirement, he has given away parts of his archive, which included thousands of photo negatives on various subjects, such as all editions of "Sail Amsterdam", all versions of various flower shows and parades.

Bob van der Lans - Monument archiefvormer Hillegom
Bob van der Lans

In May 2011, he gave his personal archive of Dutch and European monuments to Wikimedia Netherlands after reading about Wiki Loves Monuments in his newspaper in 2010. He has acquired a digital camera and laptop and plans to continue photographing monuments. None of his former monument pictures have been previously published.

The challenge is to digitise these pictures and put them on Commons. Given that this is a true collection, with annotations on the back, it will be a lot of work...

#mwhack11; Managing the #stack of #MediaWiki

#LAMP is considered to be that stack. It could also be seen as a pyramid of functionality. When you look at this illustration for LAMP is that "Application" represents any application.

As MediaWiki is the application that runs Wikipedia, it is obvious that language related technology in the LAMP stack is of special relevance to us. With some 270 Wikipedias in as many languages it has a coverage that is bigger then some of the standards that should cover "our" languages as well as all the others.

At translatewiki.net we feel the pain of the missing data. We feel it for MediaWiki, for Mifos, for many of our applications. To alleviate this pain, we can use what we have. We know what is in the CLDR, LIB-C; this can be merged. We have a community representing all the languages we support who we can ask the data for their language.

We have discussed this in the WMF language committee at the Berlin Hackathon, we discussed it with the translatewiki.net managers. It is now a matter of finding out how best to do it, do it and get the data that is new into the standards where it belongs if it to support the whole stack.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Meet Alex and Leigh, a couple from #Mexico

#GLAM, #language and #Wikipedia are the reasons why I was contacted by Leigh Thelmadatter. She and Alejandro Linares Garcia (Alex) are a couple happily living and working in Mexico. 

Sadly we three will not be meeting at the GLAM meeting in Mexico, only Leigh can attend.

Both of you love to go on photo expeditions in Mexico. What subjects are you most interested in photographing
Most of our work has mostly focused on small towns in central and southern Mexico, along with museums and other cultural venues in and around Mexico City. We look for places to visit which have something different and unique about them, with an eye towards writing for English Wikipedia. When we take photographs, we have two aims. One is to illustrate for WP and the other is to note artistic aspects, especially details.  The first is for me as I do most of the writing and the latter is for Alex as he is an artist.

details of ceiling at the 18th century Sanctuary of Atotonilco, Guanajuato

From the Dutch press you get the feeling that all Mexicans want to leave for the USA or are into narcotics. Obviously both perceptions are wrong. What are Mexicans like
What you read about drug traffickers and the migrants is “yellow journalism.” Its gets lots of attention because it sells papers. It is not the everyday experience of most Mexicans. Most are normal people, just like everyone else. Maybe Mexicans like to do things with a little more style.

Pouring hot milk into espresso style coffee at La Parroquia in Veracruz

I understand that there are many regions in Mexico, are there many differences between the regions? 
Mexico is a very large country, so of course it varies a lot. Another reason it varies is that it is made up of many different indigenous cultures, with mixed with Spanish influence in their own ways and different degrees. There has even been African influence in areas of the country such as in Veracruz.
I understand Alex wants to take up filming, does that mean that Leigh is going to take more pictures ?
Maybe someday, but not until we have a decent video camera. That’s a question of money. However, Leigh believes Alex has the ability to do this.
Practice makes perfect.. you are making many, many pictures. What more can you do to improve the quality of your pictures?
Alex will enroll in a course for digital photography esp to learn to take advantage of the features of the camera we have as well as digital editing. Remember, we grew up in the era of film cameras.
How well known is Wikipedia in Mexico?
Wikipedia is very popular because it appears first in Google and many kids use it for schoolwork. Just like the rest of the world.
What is the biggest opportunity for Wikimedia in Mexico?
Mexico is known and yet unknown to the rest of the world. Although most know it as an important tourist destination, this is limited to a few destinations such as Cancun, Acapulco, Baja California and to a lesser extent, Mexico City.  Wikipedia and Commons allow for the uploading of far more information about the wide variety that is Mexico than any magazine or book could ever offer.
Pre Columbian piece at the Regional Museum of Chiapas
You are involved in setting up a Mexican chapter, what is it that you want to achieve with a chapter most?
We are most interested in GLAM, and finding ways to promote the writing of quality articles about Mexico, in whatever language.
Are Mexican museums the same as US American museums, what do you like about Mexican museums?
Alex has not yet been to the States (still working on the damn visa!) and Leigh is ashamed to admit that she did not go to many museums in the States. Mexico has many more than the US. Mexican museums are pretty laid back, are almost always in good condition and well cared for and generally allow photos. Some charge to take photos but this is a nominal fee and we consider it worth it.
 Hall in the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City

Leigh has a helmet, does Alex have a sombrero ?
Speaking of stereotypes….. (this is Alex’s fantasy… no way in heck Leigh would ever be caught dead grinding anything like this)

#mwhack11; most used messages have changed

In #MediaWiki, the "most often used messages" are called that for a reason. They are the messages that most often used. As software evolves, the messages that are most often used change with the time.

At the Berlin Hackathon, Siebrand was provided with new statistics and he has changed the composition of this group.

When you look at the group statistics, you will see that as a result there are now only 51 languages who have a complete set of localised messages. I do not have to repeat why it makes sense to do these messages first, but hey, they are the ones who are most often in your face. So do check them out...

The language committee will be processing all the outstanding requests and, all the languages that qualify for their first project will be judged against the old most used messages. Obviously, from a usability point of view even these projects do benefit from at least completing these messages.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

#Kiwix loves #WebFonts

When Kiwix targets a website for off line presentation, it takes all the attributes of that website in order to show it as is.

When a website does not use web fonts like Wikipedia at the moment does, the result of the exercise will also be determined by the quality of the support for a script on the local host. This is often patchy.

When Wikipedia installations use WebFonts, it will use the fonts selected as default for a language. Some people will prefer a different font for reasons best known to them.

The use of fonts supplied with Kiwix is being considered at the moment. When they do, they may choose to adopt all the fonts collected to support Wikipedia as they will all be freely licensed.

Amir tests #Sourashtra on the #iPad

When #MediaWiki supports #WebFonts, it is important to test it on devices. Sourashtra is supported with the Pagul font and, when we can get our hands on a fancy device any excuse is a good one. Including the testing of web fonts.

The iPad does not support Sourasthra so it is worth the effort to see if it works with WebFonts.. The happy smile on the face of Amir tells the story.

Further testing shows that not everything is great on the iPad. Amir being Amir, he tested Hebrew web fonts with vowels. This is where the iPad could do better.