A proposal for a new Wikimedia project to have more knowledge in more languages

Wikipedia is an amazing success. And yet, it has great gaps in knowledge in many of its languages. Our movement has contributors all around the world, and we all work together on creating the world’s most consulted encyclopedia. But many people are locked out from accessing large parts of that knowledge, because of language barriers. More than half of Wikipedias only have ten or fewer active contributors. It is challenging to create a current and comprehensive Wikipedia with so few people. But if you think that’s only an issue for the smaller communities: almost half of the articles in the German Wikipedia do not have a counterpart in English.

There is now a proposal to set up an Abstract Wikipedia, a place where we can work together on content in a language independent way, where contributors from Japan can create and maintain content together with contributors from Nigeria. And then the local Wikipedias can choose which content from Abstract Wikipedia to take and display text in their own language, so that readers can learn from it. This frees up the local Wikipedia contributors to focus on the articles they really care about most, and at the same time it provides them with a path to share their knowledge with anyone in the world.

That requires functions that can translate the content of Abstract Wikipedia into the natural language text of every Wikipedia. For that we introduce a new Wikimedia project, Wikilambda (note that both names are preliminary and will be decided by the community). Wikilambda will allow people to create and maintain code together. But not just functions to translate into language! No, all kind of code, a large catalog of all kind of functions, written in a language-independent way so that more people can contribute to it than ever before. We propose for Wikilambda to become a new project of the Wikimedia movement, to enable Abstract Wikipedia, and to provide a place where we can store global modules and templates for all Wikimedia projects to access.

Does this sound crazy? I think it does a bit. There is much more documentation on the project: a project plan, a technical paper on how this all works, a paper highlighting some of the social aspects of the project, an introductory video and much more. If you think that it is an idea worth trying out, add your support or your comments or questions so we can make this a reality. We need people to translate the project proposal page, and improve or discuss the proposal. Every voice counts!