A great deal has been written and said about Wikinews, almost rivaling the total amount of content written for the project since it began in November.
Some love it, Some hate it. All in all, it has acquired around 200 articles, along with a fair bit of on-wiki policy debate and a core group of 8 or 10 active contributors. See how full article about it below.
Quick reports from the projects
See the latest paper publication in progress in the
Wikijunior report below.
In January 2005, the Wikipedia website changed its main page from the English main page to a multilingual portal showing all Wikipedia languages having over 100 articles, after more than two years of sporadic discussion.
When it was created, the English Wikipedia was located at www.wikipedia.org (originally www.wikipedia.com). Other languages were assigned domains based on ISO 639 language codes. The English Wikipedia was eventually moved in October 2002 to the appropriate domain for its language code, en.wikipedia.org, while the previous domains were set to redirect people to the correct location.
The move to create a portal was supported by the board and acclaimed by Wikipedians from other languages as long overdue and a true sign of the multilingual nature of the project. However, the change surprised a number of people and upset some users of the English Wikipedia who disliked the new arrangement. Read more of Michael Snow's report here.
() in English and German was officially launched in December 2004, followed by the Dutch version in January 2005. For the first time for a new Wikimedia project, it has gone through brainstorming, multilingual community-wide voting, and the approval of the Board of Trustees. Erik Moeller (aka Eloquence) spearheaded the drafting of a proposal to organize the vote, in addition to laying out the basic site structure and workflow. Even though it started as a demo version, bloggers, slashdot.org and mainstream media outlets have taken notice.
The biggest question probably was whether the success of Wikipedia could be replicated for news production. Many of the experienced Wikimedians worried that biased news, incompatible with our policy of neutral point of view, might be released in the much shorter cycle of work that is news production. Conclusive answers to these questions have not yet been discovered, although we have seen significant progress on the project.
Wikinews has now entered the "beta" phase. It is still in its formation phase but its existence as a Wikimedia project is now generally accepted. Erik wrote an essay reflecting on the project's past and future, and pointed out that the formal review process is being reconsidered and redesigned leading to a simpler, free-flowing mechanism. There is tension between making the site more newcomer-friendly by simplifying rules and procedures, sticking to the wiki principle of "anyone can make any edit", and imposing quality assurance measures - a formal review process with a specific set of rules to follow. Publication of unreviewed and incomplete stories on the main page has likewise been discussed. Some active users, including IlyaHaykinson, TalkHard, and Lyellin, have written at length on the topic.
Considering that around half of the new contributions are written in the area of politics and conflicts, it is quite normal to worry about bias and accuracy. Some think that we should emphasize in-depth coverage like that of weekly news publication rather than breaking news, and spend more time on quality control. Calrosar, one of the many active participants on Wikinews and a participant in many discussions of article neutrality, observes that Wikinews is getting better and producing positive results. Nevertheless, the project faces great challenges. Many have said that creating a truly free, open and neutral news source would be more difficult than even the creation of a free encyclopedia. We welcome all editors on other Wikimedia projects to come by, participate in discussions, write articles, and help build the communities that we have already started.
Approximately 2,000 pages and 150-200 articles. 150 categories. 800+ registered users, 8000- edits.
Translation of the week
Started by Danny at the end of October as little less than a challenge, after the success encountered with the translation of Gangnihessou into various languages, the Translation of the week, a project designed to translate an article across the different language Wikipedias has picked up very well, and counts 10 translations to this day. The idea behind the translation of the week is to choose an article in one of the Wikipedias and present it as candidate for a cross-wiki translation. Articles that reach a majority of supporters are then put up as Translation of the week and set to be translated in as many languages as possible. After 10 weeks, the project counts 64 declared participants, and surely that many more across the different Wikipedias. Although the record established by Gangnihessou, translated into 40 languages, has yet to be matched, no article has been translated into less than 16 languages.
Proof our efforts are being recognised as legitimate, the Beck Foundation approached Wikimedia a while ago, asking whether we could develop educational materials for a younger audience. After a proposal was submitted, they agreed to grant us US$10 000 to create an online and print project for 8-11 year olds.
The project was initially greeted with a bit of distaste on the Foundation mailing list, and was called dubbed as being another Wikispecies, a project created by the Board with little outside input. But once development started on Meta, the project has become more structured in its focus, and gained unanimous support and encouragement from every Wikimedia contributor that has discovered it.
Once completed, our books will be available worldwide, either for free, or at a cost affordable to local children, rather than just their parents. Glossy and full colour, these magazine-style booklets will be colourful and richly illustrated, to help encourage literacy and curiosity.
The project is currently being developed as part of Wikibooks. Once we've created our first booklet, the information will be transferred to a non-editable site for our readers. All of the content will be reviewed and verified by qualified educators.
One of our greatest challenges so far is adapting our writing styles and content for kids. Contributors walk a fine line between too fluffy and too nerdy. Eventually, as we venture into other topics, we'll also have to decide between censorship and tastefulness. The first topics are safe from any such issues; Big Cats, the Solar System, and South America are the first books the community decided to put into development. There's also been some interesting experiments in how to layout multiple levels of content at once.
The South American issue seems to be developing the quickest, thanks to the help of Wikimedians from the continent.
We've already had translation offers for Danish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. Our eventual goal is for these projects to develop content independently of the English project. Additional grants will be needed to create print editions of all other languages.
I encourage everyone to come and see what Wikijunior's shaping up to be. Contribute some info, list yourself as an eligible translator, debate over the project's name. Wikijunior will hopefully lend more creditability to the Wikimedia name, as one of our first projects to have truly noticeable results in the real world.
Right now, the Spanish Wikiversity is growing quite faster than "Wikilibros" (Spanish Wikibooks). It seems that the foundations of this project are getting stronger as we already have Schools with active members in Chemistry, Physics, Computing Science, Philosophy and Linguistics. Especially active at the moment are the School of Computing Science (Escuela de Ingeniería Informática), with 7 members, 8 departments and 1 university course outlined; the Physics Department and the Chemistry Department have also very active members and the Department of Linguistics have a recently created Area of Synology. In the "Claustro" we discuss how the organization of the Wikiversity should be.
One of the topics being discussed is if we should propose to Wikimedia community that the Wikiversity should be an independent project from Wikibooks, with or without another domain name (for example .wikiversity.org). Actually, eventhough Wikiversity may/should use Wikibooks to create didactic material, different departments may be involved in other Wikimedia projects. For example, the "Area de Sinología" is going to begin the Chinese-Spanish and Spanish-Chinese section of the Wiktionary and also the article "Literatura de China" from the Wikipedia. So, the vision of the Wikiversity is quite wider than Wikibooks. It involves and tends to get profit and participate in all the projects from Wikimedia. I encourage you to have a look and to participate :P. What? don't you have a Wikiversity in your language, and what are you waiting for creating it ;-)?
Ar: A lot of effort is put into improving the existing articles, with some new additions everyday. No special projects are currently going on.
En : In light of the size of Wikipedia, it's increasingly difficult for people to keep track of significant happenings in the community. Michael Snow has made a new effort to collect this information by actually writing about it and has started a newspaper called The Wikipedia Signpost. The paper is planned to be published on the weekly basis. Read it at:
Es: A very successful project called País de la Semana (Country of the Week) encourages contributors to enhance the article of the country chosen for that week. Countries with little to no information are prioritized.
Ja: Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation (MLIT) clarified that their aerial photos are available under GFDL. This is a big good news for us, because fair-use images are not accepted for legal reasons on Japanese Wikipedia. Our big thanks go to the effort of User:っ and the magnanimity of MLIT. e-Goat. (PDF source)
In Japan, Wikipedia.org traffic has grown 635% over the past year, the biggest spike on the Japanese web by a wide margin. Wikipedia is currently 7% as popular there as the country's most popular site, yahoo.co.jp.
Zh: The long-requested feature - Traditional/Simplified Chinese automated conversion - are coming with MediaWiki 1.4, which will attract more traditional Chinese users to Mediawiki projects and reshape the community. We owe Zhengzhu a lot for this wonderful work.
It : One Christmas tradition is sending Christmas and New Year cards, and the text on an Italian card would be “Buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo”, on an English card “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”.
Buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo! is the leading page for this effort. What we want is the translation for as many languages as possible but certainly one for all each language that has a Wikimedia project AND a sound file with the pronunciation on Commons.
One way in which you can extend this project is by writing about the way Christmas is celebrated in your area, tradition or country. Many Christians do celebrate Christmas in January for instance and not in December. Not everyone knows about a “Christmas pudding” for instance and snow should go with Christmas but not in Australia. Buon Natale is a page where you can find many resources about Christmas"""
The first two Wikimedia chapters, based in Germany and France, were founded this year. Both chapters have elected boards and are now active in their respective countries.
Groups of Italian, Dutch and Romanian Wikimedians expressed interest in forming their own chapters this fall, and held a few meetings, online and in person, to discuss the details. The Romanians in particular already drafted some bylaws ().
A common sticking point for all of these chapters, both formed and proposed, is whether to create a chapter for a particular country, or one for a particular language, or neither (for instance, there is interest in forming a European chapter, which would have a changeable regional affiliation and no language affiliation at all). Interim reports on the Italian and Dutch deliberations can be found here and here, respectively.
Wikimedia Deutschland () has been busy with a lot of administrative tasks. The German chapter has succeeded in gaining official status as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. To resolve some repeatedly asked questions about the impact of copyright laws and the GNU FDL on Wikipedia, Wikmedia Deutschland has ordered a legal FAQ for the German Wikipedia from a German lawyer who specializes in Open Source and Open Content license issues.
At the end of September, Wikimedia Deutschland, together with the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (WRS) and Prof. Deborah Weber-Wulff from the University of Applied Sciences (FHTW) in Berlin, began working to participate in a well capitalized research project developed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), called "New Media in Education ." Two applications have finally been submitted; the selection process will continue until the end of the year.
In early October, Wikimedia Deutschland established contacts with the OSCE, which organised the "OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting " in Warsaw, where Jimbo Wales gave a speech about Wikipedia at the panel "Guaranteeing Media Freedom on the Internet." Later that month, a team from the German chapter represented Wikipedia at a booth and gave a speech at Berlinux, a Linux congress in Berlin from the 22nd to the 23rd of October, 2004. Rumours exist that John "maddog" Hall was seen wearing a Wikipedia T-Shirt there. Contacts with the Brockhaus publishing house were strengthened at several meetings, as well as contacts with Directmedia, a company from Berlin, which produced the CD version of Wikipedia. The Wikipedia CD release received several favorable reviews in the German media and was distributed on the cover of the computer magazine Chip. Directmedia currently plans a DVD version of Wikipedia for spring and invited us to share their booth at the Leipzig book fair, which is in the immediate neighbourhood of Brockhaus'.
In December, Wikimedia Deutschland attended the 21C3, the annual Congress of the Chaos Computer Club. Jimbo Wales gave a presentation about Wikipedia. And, Wikimedia Deutschland invited two of the main developers of the MediaWiki software, Brion Vibber and Tim Starling, to meet for a Mediawiki conference there.
In the last three months, there have been numerous mentions of Wikipedia in the German-language press. For example, Tageszeitung featured an article on Wikipedia, and Bild-Zeitung, Germany's biggest tabloid, published an article with a "how-to" on Wikipedia. The start of the new Wikinews-Service has been very well received by German journalists, although de:Wikinews is still at its very beginnings.
Wikimédia France (), a French non-profit association, was officially founded on October 23, 2004 in Paris, with 20 founding members. Among the founding members were the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. At this meeting, the final bylaws were adopted. The goal of Wikimédia France is to promote all Wikimedia projects, with a focus on French language projects. Wikimédia France will also act as a representative of the Wikimedia Foundation in France and other countries, where its help is required. It will not exercise any editorial influence on the French-language Wikipédia, and may intervene only statutorily in the case of legal matters.
The founding members and other interested users are working to establish a set of internal policies for Wikimédia France, in order to further define its goals and methods.
Wikimédia France elected its Board members on October 25th via IRC. Ryo was elected president, Yann, secretary and Shaihulud, treasurer.
The last step is to register the association as a non-profit with the French authorities, and for this it is necessary to have the bylaws signed by all founding members. The last missing signature was Jimbo's. Since the signed bylaws have just been returned to France, it is expected that the association will legally exist in February 2005. This will enable Wikimédia France to function as a legal entity and, for example, to open a bank account. Some early goals will be for the association to be recognized as an organization of "public usefulness" and to have membership fees that are partially deductible from income taxes. After that, the real work of setting up accounts, getting donations and such can begin.
Wikimédia France have had a few occasions to present Wikipedia in different meetings. Please see  for more details.
Wikipedia lately received a lot of coverage in French language medias: articles from maintream newspapers Libération and La Tribune de Genève, the radio France-Info, the magazine Univers Mac and many web site reviews.