Liaison reports/Russian/September-December 2007
Progress in general
I personally burnt out on the Russian project for a long while in the Fall and had turned my attention elsewhere, paying only enough attention to keep spam and copyright violations at bay. Momentum has built gradually and we have a handful of regular contributors. Russian Wikitravel continues to be highly organized for one of the smaller language version and is very well integrated with cross-version policies. We have arrived at agreed-upon translations for virtually everything that needed translation and these updated translations have all been implemented throughout the entire site. The most basic meta-articles have all been created/translated, save the "Welcome, newcomers" templates (I really need a native speaker to handle that particular task).
Russian Wikitravel now has a bunch of good information not available in any other language version, and that is an asset expanding at an increasing rate. Of particular note is the massive article on Yakutsk, which crucially has a ton of useful listings that other language versions could import. I expect, over the next year, that we will see a range of articles on destinations develop far beyond what is available on any other language version.
Perhaps of particular interest to other language versions, on 12 Jan 2008, I unilaterally altered the Copyleft on Russian Wikitravel so that all text on the site will automatically update to the latest version of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. So we're at CC-by-SA 3.0 right now, allowing for compatibility with sites that use versions of CC-by-SA later than 1.0, and possibly with GNU-FDL sites as well! There have only been about 40 or so unique contributors so far, so I really doubt anyone will have a problem with this licensing adjustment—if they do, it will be very easy to remove their contributions up to that date, as I am the only contributor with a long contributions history.
New regular contributors is probably pretty low: about 5–6 over these four months. There have been plenty of contributors, though, who have come through and done something of real value (the whole Yakutsk article was done by a one-time contributor). I'd say about 20–25 one-time contributors of note.
Focus since last report
Specific focus has been a bit lacking, especially given my preoccupation with matters elsewhere, but the disorganized focus has been on creating and building up a few specific destinations, as well as on coming to final decisions regarding translations of terms.
Focus during the next month
As before, translations of key policies (especially en:Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy, en:Wikitravel:Article templates, en:Wikitravel:External links and ru:Wikitravel:Listings formatting) are a central priority.
As I expect a good quantity of new destination articles to be created and worked on in the upcoming months, without any particular direction or organization, plugging in the geographical hierarchy gaps ad hoc with outline regions will move us towards a respectable hierarchy.
Finding a dedicated Russian speaker who is reasonably familiar with Wikitravel policies and interested in helping inexperienced contributors find their way is another big priority, as that would add a lot of strength to the Russian Wikitravel project. I'm hoping someone steps up, or magically appears, so I (and Evan?) can induct a new administrator.
As before, Russian Wikitravel eagerly awaits the roll-out of the listings editor. It will dramatically lower the barrier to involvement in the project for many contributors and will ensure both higher-quality contributions and greater conformity to policies (which aren't even written yet in Russian). I'm more than willing to help with terms translations (I've already translated all the Russian MediaWiki files dealing with listing tag terms). This remains the highest priority technical issue for Russian Wikitravel.
Resolution of Tech:TOC randomly shows up on wrong pages is also a big concern for Russian Wikitravel. That random TOC likes to show up all over the place (especially the Main Page, alas), and it looks very unprofessional. Since it is a young project, it is important that we maintain a certain level of professionalism in order to attract and retain talented contributors. Unfortunately, this bug plagues Russian Wikitravel—I'd say it appears once for every 15 page views.
I initially had expectations that were a bit unrealistic (would have required too much work!), but I think things are progressing just fine. A dedicated native speaker admin would be a great boon, but I'm content to allow that to happen on its own. Above all, there are some 350,000 daily speakers of the language, and Russians love travel with a passion beyond what you'll find in most countries. Russian Wikitravel will continue to grow, and one day prosper.