Submissions/A Tale of Language Support

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
A Tale of Language Support
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Siebrand Mazeland
E-mail address
smazeland AT wikimedia DOT org
Country of origin
The Netherlands
Wikimedia Foundation,
Personal homepage or blog
mw:User:Siebrand, translatewiki:User:Siebrand

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001. In 2002 “phase 3” of the MediaWiki software we use to curate the Wikimedia sites in was started. It took until 2004 for all Wikimedia wikis to run it. These days there are Wikipedias in 280 languages, and Wikimedia Incubator contains projects in over 100 more languages. For the past 10 years or so, it has always been possible to localise most of the MediaWiki software to make the user interface and other aspects of the software available in other languages. Since 2006, has been the place to do that.

Internationalisation was always largely supported by volunteer developers, simply because the Wikimedia Foundation had always had a very small budget, and there were always higher priorities to deal with. In August 2011 this was changed. The Wikimedia Foundation created the Localisation team and hired three full time developers, a part time communication liaison and a part time product manager out of the volunteer community. This team was to boost internationalisation with a focus on the strategic area of India, and deliver functionality that will allow the Wikimedia movement to use mass communication using volunteer translation, so that users of languages other than English will be more often approached in their own language, so that the information presented has a bigger chance of being received.

Now, almost a year later, this presentation will provide you with an overview of the current achievements in internationalisation on the Wikimedia software platform in the past year. Maintaining support for hundreds of languages is impossible within a small team. Communicating with 500 million users about language support is also a challenge. For this reason language support teams were created. Small groups of volunteers that have indicated to have knowledge about a particular languages and having a willingness to care of support for that language in MediaWiki. There are now language support teams for over 80 languages. Tens of wikis in Indic languages are using web fonts. Tens of input methods for scripts other than the Latin script have been created and verified by language communities, making the input of text easier for those that does not have access to operating systems that support these natively, or do not know how to configure them. Translation tools for policies, periodic news articles, central notices and documentation have been made available on Meta wiki, and the wiki for our own Wikimania conference.

Last but not least, this overview would not be complete without providing insight in the priorities for the year to come, so an overview of the roadmap will absolutely be included.

Technology and Infrastructure
Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes (18 mins. talk, 7 mins. questions and discussion).
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information
Not yet available.
Special request as to time of presentations

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  1. Daniel Mietchen - WiR/OS (talk) 22:31, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. --Brest (talk) 00:52, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Dmitri Lytov (talk) 15:37, 6 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Pginer (talk) 18:14, 7 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. A12n (talk) 15:38, 12 July 2012 (UTC) (very interested but scheduled to be at a parallel session at this time)[reply]
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