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A letter to the Language Committee of the WMF

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Jun 23rd, 2018
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  1. A request from myself to the LANGCOM
  2. I write to you today as a native speaker of Danish, who uses English as a second language. I have written this statement against the closure of the Simple English Wikipedia in my best English. I doubt I'll mess it up, but you never know - It wouldn't be the first time I have screwed up, I doubt also it will be the last.
  4. I am disheartened that this proposal has been opened. The reason given being that we as a project, are simply not reaching our target audience.
  6. The Simple English Wikipedia has existed since before the standard rules and guidance for a project to exist were created. This means that technically, we're a grandfathered project.
  8. And yet, here we are having to justify our existence to the LANGCOM - a group of people who hadn't been in existence too long when we opened, against rules which nobody had created and against people who don't even use our Wikipedia.
  10. SEWP is a project which grew out of a thought for accessibility, to help users of English as a second or subsequent language. The primary English wikipedia contains many articles which simply are not written at a level which English learners or non-native users could understand.
  12. When comparing the work of simple english wikipedia with that of the primary english wikipedia, the first thing people think we're doing is "dumbing down". Which we're not - what we're doing is making the work easier to understand.
  14. Nobody should be thought of as being "dumb" because they need to have things written in a manner which makes them accessible. That means blind people are dumb, because they can't read written text, no? No. Of course not! That's just ridiculous.
  16. But this is just one part of the argument against our existence. Another is that we attract banned users and vandals from other projects who just want to mess with us. That in itself is patently wrong. Find me a project which doesn't attract vandals, and I'll show you a Wikipedia with a read-only database.
  18. I began working with the SEWP, when I realised that the bureaucratic nature of the primary English Wikipedia, mixed with the manner and complexity of their article writing, meant that my chances of contributing meaningfully were about the same as me giving birth sometime in the near future.
  20. I have now been with SEWP for two and a half years, and in that time, have made more than eight times the number of edits on SEWP as I have on the primary English Wikipedia. Why? Because it's easier to use. I believe in the goal of Wikipedia, which I found out from a guy called Steven Walling: To assemble the sum of all human knowledge and make it available for everyone for free, in their own language.
  22. I believe that this goal should include making it available in a manner which people can freely understand without help. This is why we're here.
  24. To close the Simple English Wikipedia without an accessible alternative would be damaging to the goal and work of Wikipedia. I hope that the LANGCOM will understand how much the (serious) editors of SEWP care about what we do.
  26. I would never vote to close any Wikipedia project with an active community.
  28. If there are problems, tell us.
  30. If we need solutions, help us find them.
  32. Don't disband us because we don't meet your goals.
  34. Remember, your goals didn't exist when we began.
  36. DaneGeld (talk) 17:50, 23 June 2018 (UTC)
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