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A proposal to bring together the conlang communities

From:Sai Emrys <sai@...>
Date:Saturday, January 26, 2008, 5:09
Right now, the conlang community as a whole is split up into many separate fora.

To list only some of them (and in no particular order), there are:
Lists etc: CONLANG-L, AUXLANG-L, LOJBAN-L, yahoo elfling,
tlhingon-hol-L, alt.language.artificial, yahoo imaglang, yahoo
artificiallanguages2, yahoo conlang-l quasimirror
BBs etc: ZBB, CBB, kneequickie, scriptorium, lj conlangs
Wikis etc: IAL wikia, frathwiki, unilang, wikipedia, langmaker,
yeruglymug, sigsumeidsi, ill bethisad, omniglot,
IRC: efnet #conlang, freenode #conlang, sorcerynet #isharia, sorcerynet #erelae
Media: Tower of Babel, journal, model languages
newsletter (all defunct)
IRL: various sporadically organized meetups,
... as well as literally hundreds of personal websites with essays,
grammars, apologia, etc.

Now, I can fully understand that in some cases this has been necessary
from the perspective of keeping discussion topical and to keep people
from butting heads too much (auxlang evangelism comes to mind as one
very easy flamewar-starter). I can also completely understand the
different utility, and mood, created by different fora types.

However, it seems to me that this degree of splitting is both
technically and socially suboptimal.

Our community - and here I speak of all online conlangers worldwide,
of whatever stripe - is not that large; on the whole, we are probably
a couple thousand people, and a couple hundred who are active. This
splitting, IME, results in simply many small, poorly organized, and
fragile fora, that die as soon as the originator loses the energy to
do it... which always does happen sooner or later.

I think that this is a shame, because many such projects that have
died for lack of collaboration have been admirable - especially wikis
(which tend towards stubhood) and media (which die once the originator
can't come up with all the content themselves).

What I would like to see is for these communities to come together
into basically one central, multifaceted site - keep the diversity of
list / BB / wiki / IRC / media / IRL formats perhaps if necessary
(though I'm unconvinced that the list/BB split is really necessary),
but make it all coherent, in the same place, and serving the needs of
all the community rather than having each subgroup split off because
some (valid and meetable) need isn't handled.

Relatedly, I would like to see this site have a way for conlangers to
describe their languages with input (as desired) from others, using
templates worked on collaboratively; to host their own essays and
such, with control over their own content; etc.

The benefit I see from boils down to essentially two things: First, on
the small level, individual projects would get more attention when
there are more eyes looking and more organization (like tagging,
sorting, etc) to make it easy for them to be found. Second, on the
large level, projects that *need* collaboration - like media (whether
podcast, journal, or otherwise) - would be able to get and sustain it
more easily, thus providing a kind of interaction and
bringing-together element that can't normally be done otherwise.

To be perfectly clear, I personally desire no control of this, and I
fully recognize that it is technologically nontrivial. To make it
happen would require wide consensus and collaboration, both among
normal conlangers and siteops - and across what are currently
segregated fora.

I'm posting this here on CONLANG first simply because y'all are a bit
more familiar to me, and (I suspect) a bit more used to talking meta.
My intention is to hash through this here (and on the LCS BoD) first,
then send a message to everyone else giving some neutral nonce place
to discuss it.

If you're interested in discussing this live, drop by
#metaconlang; if you want my attention, say my name since I'm
permaidle and not necessarily paying attention to my IRC client.

Fiat lingua,


Rik Roots <rik@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>