Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2012, Almaty: Master Class, Kazakh in China and Developers’ Workshop

The translatewiki.net “master class”

On the morning of the second day of the Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2012 I held a translatewiki.net workshop. The participants called it a “master class” and I didn’t object :)

People sitting on benches. Amir Aharoni operating a notebook and a projector
Doing a "master class" in translatewiki.net

In the master class I demonstrated how to translate Wikimedia software. People opened accounts and started translating MediaWiki and the Wikipedia Mobile app. During the master class several issues were raised. Some of them turned out to be technical issues of translatewiki.net. I intent to find a solution soon.

Language support for Kazakh speakers in China

After the translatewiki.net master class I had a relatively short, but really fantastic meeting with Akytbek, a Kazakh speaker from North-Western China. He told me that two million Chinese Kazakhs are well-connected to the Internet and that they vigorously use the Kazakh language online. (According to official Chinese data, there are 1.25 millions Kazakhs in China, but whatever the number is, it’s a lot of people.) That is good, of course, but they only do it only in the Arabic alphabet, and not the Cyrillic, which is used in Kazakhstan. He said that there is a great potential of having many Chinese Kazakh contributors to Wikipedia, and that even though the Kazakh Wikipedia already supports the Arabic script, some improvements are needed to realize this potential.

People sitting together on benches and looking on a laptop computer
Working with Akytbek from China on Arabic script support for the Kazakh Wikipedia

I showed Akytbek our current language tools – the automatic script conversion, WebFonts and the Narayam typing tool, and we decided to work together to adapt them better for the needs of Chinese Kazakhs.

By the way, Akytbek didn’t speak any Russian and he knew little English, so another Kazakh speaker who knew Russian acted as an interpreter. This is yet another proof of the importance of never assuming anything about languages and people.

MediaWiki development workshop

According to the schedule, the same morning I was also supposed to hold a workshop for programmers that would introduce them to MediaWiki development. The workshop did not take place at its scheduled time – network problems spoiled the opportunity. However, as it is so important, we did not give up and held it later at the hotel where we were staying.

It was intense, and intensely good, too: Talented and experienced people from Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan sat and listened to me talking for two hours or so about MediaWiki configuration, special pages, i18n files, installation procedures, extensions, preferences, templates, bots, source control and so on. Because of the quality of the questions, I am sure that my presentation was understood. What made me really happy is that several people asked how they could contribute patches and new features.

To be continued…

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