Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#Hindi #Wikipedia has 100K or 10.00.00 or one lakh articles

News on the mailing lists has it that the Hindi Wikipedia has one lakh articles. A lakh is 105 and it is one of those numbers we happily recognise as a cause for celebration. So, congratulations to the Hindi community and lets hope that this auspicious occasion will translate in a project that will be increasingly popular.

A lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system. These numbers are written differently from what most of us are used to. It just happens to be the same as 100.000. Numbering systems are defined in standards and, the appropriate standard is the CLDR.

Given that we do support languages and consequently peculiarities like different numbering systems, there is a Bugzilla bug asking for the support of the Indian numbering system. It has been scheduled for proper attention and, that is a sign of the Wikimedia Foundation doing good for all the cultures it supports with its projects.

Eid Mubarak

It would be good when our Wikimedia communities can be happy and cheerful. The amount of e-mails we get nowadays seems to me much less then it used to be in the past.

A happy tone allows us to wish each other well and give the best wishes whenever it is opportune. It helps us feel good and really, truly and honestly it makes me happy whenever people wish me/us well.

Making an app out of keyboard mappings

When a #Wikipedia title like ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟ cannot be typed on your keyboard, what do you do? One way of coping with a bad situation is using the Gyanpad app created by Arjuna Rao Chavala.

What it does is using several layers of the Google Virtual keyboard API. Sadly this API has been deprecated but, it still works. It is one way of finding articles in Indic languages, using an app that makes use of interwiki links is another.

This is the keyboard layout for the Hindi Inscript keyboard. Google does provide you with the option to try the keyboard out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#MediaWiki is used by the visually impaired

#Wikipedia edited by the blind? How do they do it and, particularly what tools do they use?

The first thing that comes to mind is the use of systems based on Braille. Braille was originally developed for the Latin script but there are implementations for other scripts.

There are Braille implementations for Indic scripts, they are using a common system called Bharati Braille. A transliteration where Roman letters with specific diacritic marks i.e., symbols written above or below a letter, is used to write text in Indian languages. This Roman transliteration had been in use for many years and the idea behind Bharati Braille is to use 63 cells as a special script to represent text uniformly in all the Indian languages.

Bharati Braille Reference : Oriya

Braille systems for computers are expensive so there is a need for alternative technologies. Enter eSpeak, a compact open source software speech synthesizer that works for many languages including Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil.

The quality of the system varies per language; there is often a lot more that can be done to improve the quality and make it more understandable. It does however provide a tool that works and is freely available as it is open source.

The video below is a presentation that explains how eSpeak is used to edit the Malayalam Wikipedia.

Spreading awareness of tools like eSpeak is important as it enables people to use computers, it opens the Internet to them and as you can see it allows them to use MediaWiki to the fullest.

The #MediaWiki advanced toolbar

Not all the #Arabic characters are available on the advanced toolbar. In order to scratch the itch of missing characters, Amir added "Arabic extended" characters. As you can see, even for him there are characters missing from the fonts he is using.

At the WMF we are working on implementing WebFonts; this will allow us to provide everyone with fonts that do include all the Arabic characters. When a widely used script like the Arabic one is incomplete, you can deduce how relevant it is to provide fonts for scripts that are not as popular.

Clearly, supporting scripts is necessary when we are to share the sum of all knowledge with all the people on this planet.

Think globally, act locally

Dedalus or Ad Huikeshoven is a Dutch Wikimedian and accountant. He has been a member of the audit committee for quite some time. It is therefore of interest what he has to say of the annual fundraiser.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a global organisation with a global mission and a global vision. Every year a lot of money is collected to financially support its organizational and technical infrastructure. The foundation and the chapters maintain a track record of raising funds on time and on budget, and every year for bigger dollar amounts. Changes in the design and banner and donation landing pages follow evidence based research findings for best effect.

A dozen local chapters of the Wikimedia Foundation participate in the online fundraiser. Chapter participation is part of the success of the last fund-raisers. Growth in dollar amount collected was partly a result of an increase in chapter participation.

All Wikimedians should be thankful to the many volunteers around the globe who have devoted time and energy to get a chapter organized. Institutionalizing a legal entity requires a lot of tough work. I am very glad fellow Wikimedians are willing to go through these motions. Eventually it pays of.

At Wikimania this year quite a lot of people were heavily upset by a letter and resolution from the board of the Wikimedia Foundation about the fundraiser. I happen to serve as a community member on a board committee, that is, the Audit Committee. The scope of its audits is the Wikimedia Foundation itself, not the chapters per se. My position is that I would love to see all local chapters participating in the annual online fundraiser or working towards participating in the future.

The Wikimedia movement as a whole has a responsibility to ensure accountability to donors about money received through the online fundraiser and the way that money is spent. Providing a link to the latest financial statement on [[m:Reports]] is a transparent way for a chapter to show they have fulfilled their accountability responsibilities toward donors. A September 1 deadline has been set for chapters to show financial reporting compliance for this year.

You can find links to recent financial statements for ten chapters that participated in the last fundraiser on [[m:Reports]]. The score so far is eleven out of twelve. Eleven down, one to go. Ok, have I mentioned Wikimania yet? Let me tell you this: I really enjoyed Wikimania this year (my first Wikimania ever). And I really would like to thank the local team from WMIL for organizing such a great event for the global movement as a whole. So, they have been very busy. In my humble opinion they should be forgiven that this year their financial report is late.

PS just after I submitted this blog post there was this. Keeping my fingers crossed for the last financial report...

Monday, August 29, 2011

#Mifos #localisation; scratching your own itch

The community is quite diverse and everyone has their own sweet reason to contribute. Mifos is an open source application for organisations who are working in the microcredit business.

When you want to learn why microcredit is important for so many people, watch the video.

When a microcredit business wants to use Mifos, it really helps when the software has been localised in the language of the people administering these loans. At this time Mifos is being localised in Telugu because it will be implemented in Andhra Pradesh.

Mifos is open source, it is localised at We appreciate it when the software is implemented as widely as possible. It will professionalise a business and this will provide its customers with an improved and more consistent service.

The #Dutch in #Bangladesh

When you study the history of Bangladesh, sources can be found as far afield as the Netherlands. With source texts in Dutch, handwritten and in old Dutch at that it is hard to piece together the background of historical artefacts as the old silk factory in Boro Kuthi.

Historical Boro Kuthi, former Dutch Silk Factory
Boro Kuthi will become a heritage site and the Rajshahi City Cooperation asked its people to provide information documents of the sites historic importance. As many of the documents can be found it the Netherlands, there is a call for volunteers to transcribe and translate the original documents.

It is quite an interesting project: Dutch archivists are volunteering their time and they seek people to transcribe the old Dutch and modernise it, translate it into English and even Bangla. This is the kind of project that would make sense as a Wikimedia GLAM project as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

#Arabic characters to display the #Qur'an

Readers of #Wikipedia are still expected to have all the fonts on their system necessary to display the texts they are about to read. The Arabic fonts on Ubuntu for instance are not enough to show all the characters used in printing the Qu'ran.

The technology used in printing is not necessarily the same as the technology used in displaying on a computer screen. The result is that several characters used when printing the Qu'ran are missing in Unicode. The King Fahd Glorious Quran Printing Complex has as one of its ambitions to bring the Qu'ran to the Internet and consequently brought several proposals to the Unicode standard and the ISO/IEC10646.

As you can see, quite a number of characters are missing for me. As reading the Qu'ran, requires a high quality font, it would be a gift to the world when the font as used and developed for displaying the Qu'ran becomes available under a Free license. This will ensure that everyone can see and read the Qu'ran as it has been handed down.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

#Wikimedia #Incubator improvements

The URL may be a bit cryptic: but it will show you the screen below.

The last two parts of the URL together indicate if a project exists in a particular language either as a full project or as a project on the Incubator. As you can imagine, a little tool that helps establish the status for a (potential) wiki would be nice.

As some ideas are obvious, it is good to know that SPQRobin is already working on just that. Robin is continually tweaking the Incubator and the result has been that it is easier to start new projects.

When you have ideas to improve the incubator even more, please let him know.

When USA #copyright rules are too restrictive

The moment when when sources lose their copyright restrictions is not universal. Three countries with rules that are not as restrictive as required by the WMF are Australia, Canada and India. Their Wikimedia chapters and communities have to abide by the American rules when they are to use Wikimedia's Wikisource, Wikibooks or Commons.

Wikilivres is a personal project by Yann where sources can be found that are suffering under the more restrictive USAmerican rules. When you visit Wikilivres, you find more than 3,000 books and documents, and 1,000 images in 16,028 pages from more than 750 authors. There are "main pages"  in fifteen languages; it is big for a site run by one person.

Yann is a long time Wikimedian and, when a credible organisation wants to take over this project, it is more then likely that he can be persuaded to hand over the reigns. As a request has been made for an Indian project for publications out of Indian copyright, this is a great opportunity for chapters to collaborate on.

It will serve as a full project in our Wikimedia movement and it will give us the opportunity to celebrate when books, sources or images can be moved to the WMF projects.

Copyright is restrictive, it harms the dissemination of culture and knowledge. Adopting Wikilivres is a great signal to countries with overly restrictive copyright rules.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 is done with #Wikimedia #Mobile

The work to make a #MediaWiki extension to support mobile devices is entering its final testing. Every developer with an interest in mobile support is asked to have a go at the new PHP code. These are the open issues.

Thomasz plans to switch over from the Ruby platform around the fifth of September. As a consequence the continued localisation support for Wikimedia Mobile is no longer needed.

It is the time to thank all the people who worked on Wikimedia Mobile and ask their continued support for "Mobile Frontend". Currently there are 44 messages and these are what it takes to get ready for the next generation of MediaWiki mobile support.

Commons "Mobile Frontend" main page
The one feature that stands out for me is that it is no longer only Wikipedia that is supported. It is time for the other projects to see how they want to take advantage of the new mobile possibilities.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why #Wikibooks or #Wikisource

When classic literary works  like Khosrow and Shirin (Persian: خسرو و شیرین) are read from a library, when they are bought in a book store, you expect a faithful copy of the original. Sadly there are always people who insist for their own good reasons that the original classic is not appropriate.

The notion of a woman observed while bathing is timeless, there are many stories from many cultures. When people are intent to rewrite history, they cut of parts of classical statues, they blow up statues, they remove parts of a book.

Including classical works like Khosrow and Shirin in Wikibooks is an appropriate answer to the cultural destruction preached by some. Referring to the original text in our projects and including illustrations in the text should be our answer to a censor.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Making an app out of interwiki links

When a #Wikipedia title like ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟ cannot be typed on your mobile phone, what do you do? You type it the way you can type the title and rely on interwiki links to display the article to your mobile phone.

The idea is simple and elegant and, it has been implemented with the Oriya Wikipedia in mind. It looks like this:

and it will send you to the Oriya Internet article.  The application is created for Oriya however, it does allow for other languages as well. Just replace the or with the language code of another Wikipedia.

There are all kinds of possibilities with such an application. When it is integrated with the Babel extension, it could provide an article when the article does not exist in the requested language. 

Srikanth Lakshmanan created a really nice program that deserves a much wider application.

There are few messages to localise for #Kiwix

Kiwix can be localised at and it started with 14 languages already localised. Two days later, 18 languages are completely localised and for 6 languages the localisation is underway.

With only 79 messages to localise, there is not much effort needed to localise Kiwix. Given that it is the client that does support the openZIM format, it helps support the Wikimedia Foundation in its effort to have a credible off-line strategy.

Check out the status, and help us to create the best off-line experience for your language.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The big missing #Wikimedia chapter

The Wikimedia movement consists of many parts, in no particular order there are communities, projects, associated projects, wikis, chapters and a foundation. This movement is growing rapidly in all its aspects. There is enough talent and cash to ensure that the parts of the movement operate efficiently and achieve their goals.

As there are many parts, it is important to be clear about who, what and where.
  • a community is a group of people working towards a mutual goal
  • a project aims to achieve a generic goal e.g. Wikipedia, MediaWiki, Wikisource 
  • a wiki is a website where a community works on a project
  • an associated project is a project outside of the WMF involved with the aims of the movement
  • a chapter is an independent organisation promoting the goals of the Wikimedia movement in general and the Wikimedia projects in particular. a chapter is typically based along national borders
  • the Wikimedia Foundation is the organisation that keeps the servers running, develops the MediaWiki code and coordinates the world wide activities particularly where chapters do not reach
Understanding this becomes complicated once you start appreciating the one big anomaly in all this, the special status of the USA. It is the country where a significant part of both our editors and readers are US American. It is where most of our donations are coming from. It is also a country without its own national chapter.

When the activities of the WMF office are separated from the activities in  the USA, a global organisation is left that is more obviously there for any and all chapters and a national organisation is left who will be better able to support any and all activities that take place in the US of A.

A separation like this will make it much easier to consider extra or alternate organisational models. It is one of the more popular threads on the mailing lists. The current complexity is what makes many fine suggestions unrealistic.

The #Dutch in #Kerala

A little known fact is that the Netherlands had a presence in Kerala, India. People in Kerala can learn about the Dutch episode in their history on

The website was restrictive in its license, they had selected a license that is quite popular on other websites. The author of the website and the Dutch embassy intended the information to be widely available.

When they were asked about the reason for their license, it became clear to them that re-licensing should seriously be considered. They did and, they have.

The website is in Malayalam and it does provide rich information.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dear #Wikimedia chapters; a request for funding

#ttfautohint is a tool that helps people who design fonts. It removes a part of the design process that is a mystery to many font designers, it is boring and it is one part of what makes designing fonts expensive. This software provides functionality to Windows, Apple and Linux. It works well for the Latin script and it will provide prototype support for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. It will provide hooks to other font design tools.

When you look at the Arabic example, you will notice that the characters do go from top right to bottom left. This is how I am told Arabic looks like when a "proper" font is used.

Santhosh is enthusiastic about ttfautohint; he pointed it out to me. When you watch the video, you will learn that a sum of $ 30K is needed to improve the system. They are looking for the full funding by October first.

This is the kind of investment that will lift the look and feel of all of the Internet. It is open source. It plays nice with the development of the MediaWiki WebFonts extension. It is something that any chapter flush with cash can support. When a chapter like the English chapter has given their excess cash to the WMF, it is likely that they may consider such a request from the English chapter positively.

What makes a #language a living language

The #Wikimedia Foundation provides hosting to any and all languages that are able to comply with the minimal requirements that have been defined in the language policy. For languages that have sufficient vitality and infrastructure this is a godsend; a Wikipedia is seen as recognition for a language.

Wikipedia is well positioned for this because of one early design decision for MediaWiki; the exclusive use of Unicode fonts. All languages that are supported with fonts are in luck. Recent work on for instance right to left languages will percolate into production in the near future, we are working on WebFonts and input methods and all this will be a game changer for many of the existing Wikimedia languages.

The Wikimedia Foundation has always been clear that its primary interest is not in the preservation of languages but in providing information to the people of the world. It has taken its time before the WMF is getting involved in increasing its support for languages. This is driven largely by the lack of growth in the "global north" and an astounding room for growth in the "global south".

When a language is a living language, it will at some stage have a presence on the Internet. Failure to do so will mean it will be increasingly marginalised. There may be mitigating circumstances like the use by a locked in community like the deaf and their many sign languages.

In the WMF language committee there is a big discussion about what to do with the languages that do not have a WMF project. Should we go out and stimulate people to start a WMF project in their language. Should we technically enable languages for the Internet and stimulate its use in the hope of a living WMF project at some later date...

Projects like are very much the kind of projects we can support to further the use of more languages on the Internet. Even the use of Facebook or Google+ is a net gain when people use their language on the Internet. I am all for it, I am even for providing social software at the WMF. When we can help people use the Internet in any way, it will stimulate a language, a culture. First you give them their voice and then we may find a request for a new Wikimedia project. At the same time the chance of finding content about such a culture and language in for instance the English Wikipedia will increase. Now that, the sum of all knowledge, is what the WMF is about.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

#Wikimania recordings find their way on #Youtube

Reasons to be cheerful; Wikimania recordings are finding their way on to the Internet. This time I can be happy that I spend so much time networking and not going to all the presentations. I will still be able to see them, to comment and ask questions.

Addendum: His slides can be found here.

A fork is a tool to eat with

Bringing information to the people of the world is what #Wikipedia is about. We are getting better at it. We are for instance working towards agreements that will enable people to read our projects for free on a mobile phone.

Both Wikipedia and MediaWiki are free. If you want its content or functionality and are happy to comply with its license, you can do whatever you want with it. There have been projects with malcontents in the past. People who thought they had a better notion on how such a project should be run.

So far, such notions, dreams, follies have been proven to be no success. With some regularity there are people who want to give it a go for their own reasons. They can and they may. However, the result is a distraction from what our projects are about; bringing information to people so that they can gain in knowledge.

The growth of our projects is not in the "global north" so any project that is a result of such a locality will at best be a distraction particularly when it is in one of the languages that are already supported with a high amount of quality information.

Yes, you can. Yes, you have a right to be convinced by your own arguments. It is however a brave person who will acknowledge later to his own folly.

#Wikimania question: "Jimmy what would you do with a million dollar"

The oral history of Wikimania has it that during a traditional board Q&A, I asked Jimmy Wales what we would do with one million dollars. Jimmy referred to this in his latest "state of the Wiki", the closing presentation of all Wikimanias.

In those days, the scrutiny of the community was no less; for many people Wikipedia only needed money for hosting, all other things were considered distractions from our "mission".

The Wikimedia Foundation has grown up considerably, its budget runs now in the multiple millions, its staff has grown to run programs that absorb the money that is put to good use. There is a steady flow of reports. The Wikimedia Foundation is doing well.

It is different with some of our chapters. Chapters are very much integral of our movement, they often gain considerable amounts of money during the annual fund raiser and it is often not known what they do, if they spend it and, how they spend it.

I urged several chapter people at Wikimania to let their stories be heard. Many of them are truly inspirational, a lot of good work is done but unknown to our wider community. As you approach them with good faith, even when you accept their good intentions, the sheer amount of money involved makes it hard if not impossible to accept the radio silence from many chapters. Spending money well is an art in itself, it is already hard when you are flush with cash and you have to consider even more money from future fund raisers...

There is a big dust up between chapter people and the board of the WMF. The board now insists on the transparency that has always been a must in the fund raising agreement. No longer is it a matter only of "thou shall be transparent", there are now sanctions on the horizon as well.

So, dear chapters get your stories out, become transparent, plan ahead, spend your money wisely, be happy to share your wealth when it achieves our goals. One more piece of advice and one question.
  • all chapters could do with one PR man getting the chapter stories out
  • the language committee knows how to spend some of your money... developing fonts for instance. Even the Latin script will benefit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amazing Stroopwafels

A #Wikimania traditions are the stroopwafels. They are a Dutch sweet, they have been brought in over abundance to Wikimanias and you are supposed to like them. I like stroopwafels, particularly the Amazing Stroopwafels. They were a daily attraction when I lived in Rotterdam. Enjoy,

For the love of #statistics

Planning activities based on statistics is like driving a Formula One car based on what can be seen in the rear mirrors. The problem is that it does not show what is ahead and, it does not show everything what is behind.

The Wikimedia Foundation is increasingly data driven and, consequently it is vital to assess the quality of the data that policies and developments are based on. The data is based on the results of traffic to computers and mobile phones from Wikimedia servers. At the same time the data of Wikipedia, maybe all the Wikipedias, is available to organisations like Facebook. As Wikipedia articles become better available in such a way, it does affect not only the reach of Wikipedia but also the ratio between readers and editors.

Browsers are not the only way to read data from Wikipedia; there are apps for tablets and mobiles that make use of an API to retrieve articles from the WMF servers. These numbers are not included in the statistics either. As apps for tablets and phones are increasingly popular, it is not unlikely that they are yet another factor that confuse a full understanding of the status of the wiki.

When language support is to be provided for all our users, it is important to know to what extend all platforms are used. We know that mobile use is growing rapidly and the numbers of tablets sold is also quite staggering. What should be given priority for support and for language support.. What numbers exist to support whatever choice properly.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Why the Chinese #Wikipedia is doing so well

At #Wikimania there was one puzzle that no one new an answer to: Why is the Chinese Wikipedia doing so well. It does so well that it trades places regularly with the Dutch Wikipedia for the 10th place of Wikipedias in reach.

A group of Wikimaniacs where leaving from Ben Gurion international airport and one of them was Chinese. He was able to explain this riddle; the robot.txt for the Chinese Wikipedia used to be both in traditional and simplified Chinese. The result was confusion for the bots of organisations like Google, Microsoft et al.

By changing the text these bots now know how to deal with the Chinese Wikipedia and this results in substantially more traffic. This fits in nicely with the graph that is produced; there is a spike and after this the growth stays on the same trajectory.

The question arises if there are more projects with similar issues.

Monday, August 08, 2011

#Wikimania was great, WikiIndia is in November

Wikimania was great. It was awesome, great organisation, great ambiance, great people to meet. It has come and gone and now I am really looking forward to the presentations I have missed. All in all I was impressed; a big thank you to all the people whose hard work made it the success it was.

In November there will be another important Wiki conference. Wiki Conference India will be three days packed with all things relevant to India, the Indic language Wikipedias and how to raise awareness for our projects in India.

This conference will not be a mini Wikimania in India, it will be much more centred to the languages and countries of what used to be the British Raj. One reason is that countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar very much face the same issues. It is hoped that this conference will help them as much as any of the Wikimedians in India proper.

At this time there a "request for papers" has gone out. It means that we like to hear from people who want to present at the Wiki Conference India. :)  Talks about how to improve facts about India on the English Wikipedia will certainly be considered. :)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Introduction to hacking #MediaWiki

One of the innovations at #Wikimania was a session during the hackathon where MediaWiki was explained to programmers new to the code. The origin of this session was because people with no experience asked if they were welcome.

As we like to welcome everybody, it was felt a good idea to reach out to these people and spend some time explaining the magic behind our software.

As MediaWiki is getting older, it also becomes increasingly difficult to understand. Yes there is documentation and, yes a lot of effort goes into the documentation. It is however quite different if you have to find your way on your own or if you are taken gently by the had and introduced into all the vagaries of our software.

This session was a success. In the end two thirds of the participants had actually done some work. If anything, this is the kind of session that is worth repeating.

#Wikimedia and original research

At #Wikimania a coherent case is made to allow for original research. Many Wikipedians will frown at the idea but, Wikipedia is not the only project. Other Wikimedia projects do allow for original research.

The case for original research is quite obvious when you realise that many cultures do not have their history, their sources available in a long tradition of written records.

An oral tradition does not mean that the stories, the facts are not available, you just have to ask. Asking in this day and age is easy; telephony has reached almost all parts of the world and, recording the news of the world is technically easy and obvious.

Writing down the stories, the histories, the myths is an old tradition and as a result we know large parts if not all of the bible, fairy tales, music. When such material is reduced to hear say and inadmissible many subjects in Wikipedia are already tainted.

The preservation of an oral tradition, of facts that have been orally passed on can lead to a written preservation. Nowadays the actual discussion can be recorded with or without video. On Meta there is a project on how to deal with oral citations. Have a read and accept that many facts have to be recorded first before they can be cited. Our movement is particularly well placed to go out and learn what is already known. It is one necessary way to honour our mission.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Dead or Alive at #Wikimania

With Wikimania in full swing, with parties private or otherwise every night, it sometimes feels that you are more dead then alive. The "death anomalies" presentation is therefore hard to resist.

Death anomalies raises a serious question; should a person alive in one Wikipedia be dead when another Wikipedia suggests the demise of that person?

The Neutral Point Of View is obvious; have a source and the result is death declared. The reward; not $4000 but death established in linked Wikipedias.

The question whether someone is "dead or alive" is from an easy category, it is just about establishing a binary state. Consider what it takes to establishing a NPOV when the question is more complex.

Reasons for multiple fonts

At #Wikimania I spoke with people who conserve old texts. We spoke about the fact that the shape of characters has changed over time. This is also true for for instance Hebrew.

When a website provides webfonts, it is possible to show a text that has been transcribed in a font that uses the same shape for the characters as used in for instance a manuscript. This in turn will make the experience of reading a historic text just a little more authentic.

The drawback of old text with differently shaped characters? You can not scan them and consequently the process of optical character reading is problematic as well. This does not mean that it cannot be transcribed, it is just more work.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Want to test the PHP mobile #Wikipedia environment ?

At #Wikimania you learn things that may have been there for some time. One such is the invitation at the bottom of every Wikipedia to its mobile view. What you get is the mobile software as developed in PHP.

This is really nice because this mobile view is integrated in MediaWiki itself and consequently new functionality may affect the mobile view. Currently the functionality is the same as what is available in Ruby. There is a need for people to test the new mobile functionality so please check it out.

When you do not have a necessary font, you will see the little boxes indicating Unicode characters like in the illustration below.

At this stage, the mobile developers need all the feedback they can get. Try it on your computer, your mobile... Compare it to the Ruby version that can be found at ** Let us know where the new software lets you down compared to the old.

Once the new software is as good as the old, we can move on and bring in new functionality that helps you to get the most out of your mobile. Things like uploading pictures directly from your phone into Commons would be nice...

Transcription of Ladino

At the #Wikimania hacking days, in a corner, Can Evrensel was happily working on a project that intends to transcribe Ladino from the Latin script to the Hebrew script and transliterate Ladino to the different orthographies it is known for.

As Ladino is written in different ways, it is wonderful to learn that research is done to see if it is possible to represent Ladino in ways that are familiar to the people who know the language. Research like this invigorates a language, it gives it a lease of life.

#Aymara computer bags at #Wikimania

Bringing a souvenir is often obligatory. Giving the T-shirt is such a cheap thing to do so what else can you bring from Haifa?

How about one of these computer bags from Bolivia brought to you by Ruben Hilari. They are unique, they help him do his Wikipedia evangelism and they are certainly a bit more imaginative. Finding Ruben is easy; he is certainly one of the more colourful people around.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

#Wikimania 2011 has its own first day cover

It is quite an honour the Israeli post office has given Wikimania 2011. We have our own first day day cover. In a circle there are all the Wikimedia projects with the Wikimedia logo in the middle. What I really like is that the stamp has the WMF logo as well. Really nice.

The one thing I do not have an answer for is, what license is this image. 

Sterkebak does good work and wants to continue doing it

I travelled to #Wikimania with Huib. He and Robin are fellow members of the language committee. Both are doing great work, both equally deserve some positive attention. Their stories are quite different.. Enjoy..

Who are you, where are you from
A 25 year old man from the Netherlands, with a love for taking pictures and currently setting up my own company. 

What WMF projects are you active on

I'm still active on Incubator, it used to be Commons and Meta also.

What are your personal priorities for Wikimedia projects
Sharing the things I know and doing the things I can do best. This includes sharing the pictures I can make. These are the most important things for me. 

You are a member of the language committee and admin on the Incubator, how do these two relate for you
I think both go hand in hand, being active on both incubator and the language committee makes it possible for me to be active in the whole process. From helping new languages to discussing them and after that importing it to the a own Wiki. It makes me proud to be a part of that process.
You have a sad reputation related to sock puppetry; can you explain this and explain yourself
First of all the reputation is a little bit not true, yes there are other account but it used to be that when a account is renamed the old account still exist. I'm renamed multiple times leaving those accounts behind. When you strike those accounts there are still 3 accounts left. The reason those accounts are being used is kind of simple. When you love a project very much you want to edit it. I just cant see the things I could do and look away.

You want to regain standing in WMF projects, what is important to you and what activities do you want to do
For me its important that I do the things I like and the things I'm good in, this includes my work as a photographer. I always believed it was important to share my pictures and I uploaded a complete portfolio to Commons. I come on some places where other people wouldn't easily come and its really important to me and it makes me proud that those pictures are shared under free licensing also. Since 2010 I'm a member of the language committee also and I believe that that work is very import and I like doing it.

The Dutch Wikipedia is the main source of issues, can you talk about your on wiki activities prior to your block.
I started on Wikipedia writing articles about graveyards (fields of honour) later on I start taking pictures with those articles as subject, from that moment on I stopped more and more writing and started adding pictures with that my edits also started to be less until it completely stopped because I spend more energy in other projects.
How relevant is it for you to be unblocked on nl.wp
Its not, I stopped editing there almost one year before the latest block, I prefer to work with images and writing articles is just not my thing.

Any comments on the “automatic” blocking on other projects ?
I think all project should decide for them self when they block somebody. Automatic blocks... I don't think they are being the best for the projects.

WikiWeet is the source of your problems, this is a project external to WMF Why did this spill into our Wiki world ?
The WikiWeet project was mend to be a project for children so they could start there and move later on to Wikipedia or Commons. This worked very well and lots of people don't see the difference between the two also because the children that used to be active there are now on Wikipedia. I think that the WikiWeet did what is was made for and it brought good children to Wikimedia but it brought some problems with it.

#Dilbert on standards

#TwitterFeed for communicating the chapter

When a #Wikimedia chapter wants to get its message out, there are all these networks to choose from. Often it is only a matter of configuring your social network. Sometimes you need a tool like TwitterFeed . It helps me by creating a tweet. By using hash tags in the first two sentences, people are likely to find my blog post.

There is a nice article at ehow that explains how you have to set it up. An added extra of TwitterFeed is that it allows the use of OpenID.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Developing the global south

At #Wikimania the meeting about the "global south" will probably be the most relevant meeting. Relevant because the Wikimedia Foundation aims to dramatically increase both the number of readers and the number of editors from the global south. When this does not happen, never mind what else is happening, the year will be considered a failure.

In the bus from the airport to Haifa, a Brazilian was sitting next to me. Brazil is considered to be part of the global south. They speak Portuguese in Brazil. He told me that the Portuguese community cannot get FlaggedRevisions and ArticleFeedback for their project. He was not bitter, he was resigned; his feeling is that Portuguese is considered second best.

I told him about the global south meeting on Tuesday. It dawned on him that this is the place and the moment when the WMF can be asked to take the other languages seriously. Seriously, this is what it takes to move the global south in the fast lane.