Incubator:News/2011 report

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This is the Wikimedia Incubator yearly report for 2011. It is the first time that such a thing is made. Incubator (http://incubator.wikimedia.org) is a wiki of the Wikimedia Foundation which serves as a platform where anyone can build up a new language edition of a Wikimedia project (Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikinews and Wikiquote) that does not yet have its own subdomain, provided that it is a recognized language. These so-called "test wikis" on Incubator can be used like (nearly) any other real wiki. When the community desires so and there is enough activity, they can request to move to an own subdomain through the requests for new languages process.

Wikisource and Wikiversity are not mentioned above, as their tests belong to Old Wikisource and Beta Wikiversity, respectively. Regarding test wikis, this report will focus on Incubator mainly.

The Language committee reviews these requests, deciding about the eligibility of languages and determining whether test wikis are deemed active enough to sustain activity on an own subdomain.

As it is widely known, the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia was celebrated on January 15th; but this year was also the fifth birthday of Incubator, which was created on 2 June 2006.

Site creations

Geographical distribution

12 new language subdomains of Wikimedia projects were created in 2011.

In January, Rusyn Wikipedia has been created, and in March Latgalian Wikipedia, Kabardian Wikipedia and Albanian Wikinews. Three Wikisources were also created, in Sanskrit, Yakut and Esperanto, after a successful testing phase on Old Wikisource. Greek Wikinews got its own subdomain in April. In July, the Mingrelian Wikipedia and from outside of Incubator Arabic Wikiversity have been created. In September, Oriya Wiktionary was re-opened; this was the first time that a closed wiki became so active again on Incubator, so that the subdomain could be opened again. The last wiki created in this year was the Northern Sotho Wikipedia in November, which was interestingly the largest indigenous South African language Wikipedia even though it was the only one still on Incubator.

Upcoming projects are Veps Wikipedia and Western Punjabi Wiktionary, which were approved and are currently waiting for creation, while Tachelhit and Lezgian Wikipedia are still awaiting content verification.

Policy issues

Closing projects: SPQRobin made a proposal for a Policy on closing projects in February. Proposals for closing projects had no fixed rules before, but were more or less simply votes; sometimes users came by and made a "decision" by counting the votes and filing a bug accordingly. After the policy proposal had been elaborated further, it was adopted by Langcom and the Board of Trustees in May/June. The policy now defines several reasons for closing as either valid or invalid. The decision on closing projects is now within the responsibility of the Langcom and Board.

First Langcom actions about closing projects in happened in August; and currently the "2nd round" is ongoing. See the proposal page on Meta for details.

Kichwa language: On Incubator, a group of users started building a test Wikipedia in Kichwa, an Ecuadorian standard of Quechua. This "Unified Kichwa", however, is not included in the ISO 639 standard which Wikimedia uses for determining whether a language is acceptable or not. A temporary code is used now; a solution is pending.

Berber languages: Several Berber languages have their test wiki, and there is also effort to start a Standard Berber test wiki, which also lacks a valid code. There are also technical issues because in addition to Latin, the Tifinagh script is used which lacks proper software support. Having two scripts also requires script conversion.

Language Committee

In May, the Language Committee held its first real-life meeting in Berlin. We discussed a lot of topics, including linguistic issues, simple projects, ... We also made some decisions: the LangCom's activities are now more open by allowing observers. Robin volunteered to write monthly reports for the public.

In November, several LangCom members who also work for WMF and/or are a developer (Amir, Robin, Gerard, Santhosh) went to the Hackathon in Mumbai, India. Software tools (Narayam input method and WebFonts) were improved for Indic languages, but can also be used for other languages; they make it possible to type non-Latin scripts without having an appropriate keyboard available.

Wikimedia Australia and Wikimedia Indonesia are collaborating with the language committee to organise a 2012 Languages Conference in Indonesia. More info: http://www.wikimedia.org.au/wiki/Proposal:2012_Languages_conference

Technical improvements

A new MediaWiki extension has been developed for Incubator, aptly called "WikimediaIncubator". It was enabled for the first time on 6 June, allowing users to set a test wiki preference (similar to the language preference), and to view a number of special pages, including Special:RecentChanges, on a per-test-wiki basis in order to make this more convenient and less confusing. The extension is continuously being improved. Some other features which should be mentioned are: checks to help users create pages (correctly) according to the "sorting system" of Incubator and the introduction of automatic "Welcome pages" for every possible project of every valid language. These pages contain information for people how they can start a new Wikipedia language version there & are adapted to each language and project and are translatable.

This last function is synergetic with a new feature added in December: instead of showing a 404 error page, the red links on Special:SiteMatrix now redirect to the respective Welcome page on Incubator, e.g. http://ss.wikiquote.org. Interwiki links are also possible e.g. [[xyz:Page]] on en.wikipedia links to http://incubator.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wp/xyz/Page"

Plans for 2012

For 2012, we hope to simplify the processes for requesting a new subdomain and to improve Incubator's usability. Therefore it will be easier for people to contribute here, resulting in an increased participation in new language versions. Unfortunately, our documentation is very poor at the moment, so that will be in our focus very much. It is also planned to gain more feedback from users about how the Incubator phase and wiki creation process could be made easier and more attractive.