Since 2010, I’ve been contributing to the Malagasy Wiktionary.
It has become a habit now: every month, every week, every day, and almost every morning and evening, I turn on the web browser to check what’s going on on Wiktionary, and what I can do to add further content.
Some days, I get so interested in adding some pieces of information that I feel like writing a program to add it in the next hours.
And some days, I don’t feel like contributing, and them I’m just looking at the recent changes to check if pages have been vandalised in my absence, or if some pages have been fixed by other users.
Still there are several ways to contribute to Wiktionary. Here are five of them:
(1) Write pages manually. This is the most basic yet most tedious work to do. This is how everyone start, and this will is how most of us will contribute probably for the next 30 years. In 2045, Wiktionary or even Wikipedia in its current form will probably become obsolete or be self-editing.
Before this happens, you’ve got to put in a lot of work. Still, you can increase your efficiency by learning to write code, then:
(2) Write a program that writes pages that you may need to fix. Simple, since the last three years, I’ve been concentrating on how to do this. But as time passes a lot of pages get created, and even with a lot rate of error, you end up with thousands of pages of potentially wrong information. OK, but you also end up with even more pages with correct information. Coupled with synonyms dictionary and advanced NLP you can have it write definitions of words that can’t be translated directly to the target language.
(3) Write a program that reads newspapers to find the words to be created. With a very complete dictionary it gets difficult to find missing words. You won’t have the will to read dozens of newspaper articles every day, so have a program read them for you and find all missing words for you. After that, write a program to detect all compound words and add them to the Wiktionary if you feel like it. The next-level of this kind program would be an almost-real-time word scraper which analyses text flow for e.g. Twitter and lists all missing words at the end of the day.
Learning to code is one thing, but adding information and know what piece of information to add are two different things. Whenever you have an idea, or interesting lexicographic datasets under your eyes, get to code and add those bits of information to the Wiktionary. Do so in compliance with copyright laws.
(4) Navigate through dictionaries and add exotic words. Passionate about word etymology? Are you learning a language? Do the words not exist in Wiktionary? Feel free to add them. Always do so in compliance with copyright laws. Compiling several dictionaries and definitions may be attributed as original work but never do verbatim copy of word definitions. I did this one time and almost get sued because of a complaint of a copyright owner. If you feel you’re good enough in AI and NLP, write a program to reformulate and translate the sentences.
Code is strong, code is powerful. It requires a lot of time to write good one. It requires a lot of time to become good at coding, and not everyone feels like learning it. So what to do?
(5) Contribute to your native language Wiktionary. English put apart, Wiktionary is written in 170 different languages. A huge number of them have below 100,000 pages. Malagasy, my native tongue, has 3.75 million only thanks to my efforts in trying to create the biggest dictionary in Malagasy that has ever existed. If your native language is English, get interested in other languages and add new words in them, be it at the English Wiktionary or elsewhere. What, you are not passionate about languages? Add obscure English slang terms then.