On Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 8:09 AM, Jim Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>  Sai can correct me, but I think by "form" he might have meant
>  things like "different conlangs being documented on half a dozen
>  different wikis", "different overlapping lists of conlangs hosted
>  on half a dozen different wikis", etc. -- rather than "word choice
>  and page layout choices made by conlang authors as they write
>  about their own conlangs".

That is primarily correct, in that that meaning of 'form' is all I meant there.

It's true though that I *also* support editing form in the sense of
how Wikipedia treats new content within an article. It's fair game to
be copyedited, laid out differently, combined with other sections for
better flow, etc.

So to me 'content' as it were, most basically, is the *ideas* being added.

However, I should underline that this is distinct for me from "fair
game" on the description of a language from within itself - that I
believe should be the author's exclusive purview (as I laid out as
Grammar, Vocab, & Purpose).

> Sai doesn't necessarily devalue
>  either of those things, but he sees the possibilty for more synergy
>  re: meta-information -- exhaustive taxonomic lists of conlangs,
>  encyclopedic articles about the art of conlanging -- if all
>  the people working on various wikis were working on one wiki
>  together.


>  For myself, I'm hopeful but skeptical about Sai's thesis.  The fact
>  that someone has chosen to host information about their own
>  conlang on, say, the Conlang Wikia doesn't necessarily mean they're
>  going to take any interest in editing and improving the handful of
>  how-to articles about conlaning (as can be seen by looking at the
>  edit histories of the few such articles there and how few people
>  have worked on them).  Why wouldn't the same be true of people
>  who contribute information about their conlangs to a new
>  megawiki?

It wouldn't, necessarily. They could keep on describing just the
section on their article.

However, for those who *are* interested in others' languages, or in
ideas that apply across multiple languages, it would be easier to do
that - and the benefits *of* that would be available to the
aforementioned solitary conlanger.

Essentially, this is a new-media sort of question, and it
fundamentally gets to one very simple thing: making the barrier
between thinking of doing good thing x, and being able to do x, as
minimal as possible.

Sure it is *possible* to do all these things without a merger. One can
maintain accounts, and be productive on, a dozen wikis and boards.
It's just harder, thus the barrier to participation (and maintenance
cost) is higher, and thus fewer people will being doing less.

>  Further, I'm pretty sure that Sai's idea is in practice going to end up
>  just adding one more conlang wiki to the existing set -- possibly it will
>  eventually be the largest such wiki; but even if most of the contributors
>  from the existing wikis move their material to the new one, it's
>  far from likely that all of them will choose to do so.   Maybe you could
>  persuade the admins of Talideon wiki and FrathWiki and some others
>  to shut down their wikis after porting over all the content -- good luck
>  with that -- but you aren't going to convince Wikia Inc. to shut down the
>  Conlang Wikia while they're getting a smidgen of advertising revenue from
>  it.

"Shut down" I think is inaccurate. It's not a delete, it's a merge.

Re. Wikia, that is somewhat like the current situation with the Yahoo
Groups version of this very mailing list...

>  Perhaps it would work better to figure out which of the existing wikis
>  has the largest number of active contributors or the most content
>  or both, and focus on a massive improvement effort there that would
>  attract people from other, smaller wikis.

That's perfectly fine by me. I didn't say it had to be all merged to a
*new* place, I just would like to see it merged, period.

> And maybe subsidize the
>  hosting costs of said wiki from

This might be possible. Some webhosts have offered significant
discounts (or even free service) to nonprofits, and in any case
hosting costs are something that scale very well.

We can't commit to anything yet (pending receiving our federal tax
exemption and making a deal with a hosting company), but it's
definitely on the list of things we'd like to offer.

> the LCS's humongous budget. :)

Ha! Not yet, I'm afraid.

On Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 10:17 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>  Yes.  The point is that the person most knowledgeable about
>  a particular conlang or conworld usually is *the author himself*
>  - what he says is as close to a canonical source as it can be;

I fully agree with this, as I hopefully made clear above and in the
previous suggested layout of subpages.

>  he and no-one else knows what he *intended*.
> Hence, it is
>  good tradition on FrathWiki, KneeQuickie etc. to refrain from
>  editing articles on someone else's projects.

I only partially agree with this, in that I believe people should
*say* what they intend, so that others can use that in order to
edit-as-in-improve/collaborate on others' projects.

I see this standoffishness about each others' projects for fear of
treading on someone's intent is a failure of communication, not a
*necessary* way to express respect for the purview of others'
creativity. And I see this as further making conlang projects
unnecessarily solitary.

Certainly some conlangers want that and don't want any interaction
from others, or perhaps only a "ooh pretty" and nothing more
substantial - and where this is the case, it should by all means be
respected. But my suspicion is that more people want feedback than

So it's a matter of structuring it such that it systemically
encourages the good kind of interaction.

... which, btw, is why the "Purpose" page as I proposed it is crucial.
I think this is a very frequently overlooked part of documenting a
conlang. With just a dry description of the result, it becomes
impossible to discuss how it may or may not be meeting its goals, and
how it could do so better. Whereas if you have result AND a purpose
statement, then people can offer constructive criticism without making
the error of assuming that their [axiomatic] value-set is the same as
the creator's.

See my old post about creating a rubric for conlang evaluation for
more on this if you like.

IMO the real issue that underlies the squeamishness about others
changing form or content is that the author's value-set for their
creative work would not be respected. And I agree that this is a
serious issue. But I see it as addressable. Not, as the "Vulcan"
comment implies, as unimportant.

- Sai