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Wikimania: Localization of a Global Project

I moderated the discussion that Lodewijk Gelauff led on “Localization on a Global Project”. Given my attempts to act as traffic cop, my notes aren’t as complete as I’d like, but I hope that’s because there was an interesting discussion taking place.

Lodewijk raised a fun, thorny question at the beginning of the conversation: given that we’ve got wiki projects in so many different languages and, increasingly, so many different projects (wikibooks, wikinews, wikia wikis like the Star Trek wiki), how do we bridge between all these different projects? Are we going to have a world filled with specialized wikis for different purposes? Or one giant wiki hive, subsuming other wikis? And what are the consequences of either route.

One of the questions that came up was the role of translation in Wikipeda. One model for translation is that there’s an ur-article somewhere that gets translated into additional languages – often, this is an English language article that gets translated into a second language. But there’s another way for thinking about multiple language Wikipedia articles – articles written on the same topic in different languages have different perspectives. (Think about the article on “Jerusalem” in Arabic, Hebrew and English.) Do we rely on the power of NPOV to eventually merge these articles into a single, stable, uncontested set of facts (hah!) or do we respect them as individual articles and, perhaps, work to create translations of those individual versions as well.

This might mean a future page on the English Wikipedia on “Jerusalem” might include links to the Arabic and Hebrew wikipedia “Jerusalem” articles, as well as to the English translation of the Arabic and Hebrew articles. How do you fit this all onto a page? Who decides what goes there? These are hard questions that didn’t get answered in the course of the session…

Another observation that caught my attention – different Wikipedia communities interpret licensing policy differently, according to a Japanese-speaking Wikipedia. How do we deal with translation issues when one community has a very loose interpretation of what constitutes “fair use” of an image, while another strongly believes in only using images available under open licenses? Again, asking the questions is a first step towards formulating answers.

2 thoughts on “Wikimania: Localization of a Global Project”

  1. Pingback: Jim Moore's Journal: systems, society, inventing

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