Liaison reports/Russian/August 2008-October 2009
Progress in general
The Russian version has made huge progress since the last report (from last year), and has accomplished most of the basic goals that any young version should accomplish (although most have not). Its contributor base is healthier than it has ever been before, it has a solid base of articles (550 new ones since last year, almost all of which have real information), and has hit a series of important milestones.
We now have a good community of very proficient regular users, about five, which is as many, really, as any other healthy language version (excepting :en, of course). It is no longer surprising to see a new, short-term active user on any given week.
We gained another administrator at the end of last year, Igor Dorofeev, who came here as a very experienced Wikipedia editor, and who does an incredible amount of work on the site. We really don't need more administrators than we already have, since we are not overwhelmed with contributions from anonymous and new users, but we have several other users who would easily pass the nomination process if desired.
Anonymous contributions are up, but still a lot lower than I would like, and a good deal lower than on versions like :fr, :it, and :es. Russia has just about the same number of internet users as France or Italy, so I would like to aim to have at least as much anonymous activity as those versions. Yandex  is the major search engine for Russian users, and our position on it is poor. I don't know how they rank websites, so I am not sure what is the best way to improve our position there. On Google, which accounts for about 1/5 of searches on "Runet," we have a respectable rank (5), but that is still not nearly high enough to register on most searches.
Igor mentioned that a better way to attract Russian contributors will be through press releases, not search engines, and that this is how ru:wikipedia has had success. We have rather stopped issuing press releases since Evan stopped working on the site, though. I do think we should find some excuse to write a press release in Russian, and perhaps get in contact with someone at Wikipedia who has Russian media contacts who could help us get something about Russian Wikitravel published. We could write about the general site's milestones of reaching both 50,000 articles and 50,000 users, as well as the upcoming 1,000 article achievement on the Russian version. Publishing a Wikitravel Press guide in Russian would be another great excuse, although that is probably a little ways off still—the Saint Petersburg articles are closest to being a viable printed guide.
Focus since last report
Two main projects since the last report were the translation of important policy articles from English and the creation of a full geographical hierarchy of nations and for Russia. Both are done! More policy articles could certainly be translated, but all of those that were really vital have been translated. The Russian version is miles ahead of most other language versions in this regard.
We also finally finished, thanks mostly to Igor's daily efforts, the task of creating an article for every country in the world, all of which have actual content. They are also much more likely to have regions maps than on any other language version, as I have made map translation into Russian a personal priority. A lot of those translated maps cover areas and destinations that are covered by no other maps in Russian on the web.
A while back we also agreed on a regions scheme for Russia, which I then brought over to the English version, and we have created all Russian region articles down to the Oblast level. (The scheme itself is still in flux as we continue to discuss it, but that is obviously healthy.)
We also have created a handful of top quality articles that can act as a showcase for the potential of the site and for how Wikitravel articles should be written.
Focus during the next period
As obvious from the "new contributors" section above, I think our number one priority should be attracting more anonymous and casual contributors (more regular users would obviously follow). This will also be the most difficult task.
I would really like to see a completed districts scheme for Moscow completed. We have already discussed the outer districts, but have yet to come up with a scheme for central Moscow.
We should also try to create an article for every capital city in the world.
Aside from the above, our focus will be the same as any other version: create more high quality articles! We have a good rotation of articles now for our Destination of the Month feature, but it would be great to double or triple the amount of articles of a high enough quality to be featured.
There are no special technical issues particular to the Russian version in need of attention. Although solving Tech:Image thumbnail not shown if filename contains special characters, which is our top-rated bug, would be very useful.
The Russian version remains one of the site's healthiest, and looks set to continue its growth and to improve marginally upon that growth. It would be great to hit the exponential part of the curve, but that is still over the horizon. --Peter Talk 17:14, 29 September 2009 (EDT)
Regarding the search engine issue, have you guys talked about Wikipedia links? Saw a statistic somewhere (trying to find it again) that 20-30% of the English traffic is coming from the Wikipedia links. They might have a stricter external links policy on the Russian version, like the Danish Wikipedia has, but it would be a relatively easy way to generate traffic, and gain some solid users, used to the wiki way. sertmann 18:03, 1 October 2009 (EDT)