Wikipedia is so helpful to translators that most of us would rather not admit quite how much we rely on it — partly because, as everyone knows, Wikipedia has a certain less-than-perfect reputation when it comes to accuracy. However, a surprisingly large number of translators don’t realize that the Wikimedia Foundation (the organization that actually operates Wikipedia) also runs a number of other collaborative wiki projects that can at tmes also be very enlightening. Projects such as Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity and Wikimedia Incubator might come in handy the next time you need a quick reference on somethng while translating. Let’s take a closer look!
Wiktionary (a portmanteu of the words wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, web-based project to create a free content dictionary — better still, it’s available in a vast array of languages (158, according to them). Unlike standard dictionaries, and in keeping with most other wikis, it’s written collaboratively by volunteers, using wiki software which allows articles to be changed by anyone. Tip: The same way you might with various other wiki resources, try looking something up in one language and then clicking a different language (towards the bottom of the left-hand sidebar) to go multilingual.
In short, the goal of the Wikiquote is to produce a vast reference of quotations from prominent people, books, films, and proverbs. There are, of course, a number of online collections of quotations already on the web, however Wikiquote is distinguished by being among the few that provide an opportunity for visitors to contribute, which is nice.
Wikibooks (previously called Wikimedia Free Textbook Project and Wikimedia-Textbooks) is for the creation of free-content textbooks and annotated texts.
Wikisource is an online digital library of free content textual sources. It aims to host all forms of free text — in many languages. Originally conceived as an archive to store useful or important historical texts, it has expanded to become a general-content library.
Wikimedia Commons (or simply Commons) is, in short, an online repository of free-use images, sound and other media files.
Wikispecies aims to create a comprehensive free content catalogue of all known species. Unlike most other wikis, it’s directed by scientists, rather than the general public. Jimmy Wales, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation, stated that submissions have to pass muster with a technical audience.
Wikinews is a free content news source wiki, working on the principle of collaborative journalism. According to Wales, Wikinews can be distinguished from Wikipedia because “on Wikinews, each story is to be written as a news story as opposed to an encyclopedia article.” In contrast to most Wikimedia Foundation projects, Wikinews allows original work under the form of original reporting and interviews. According to Thelwall et al., Wikinews has been most successful in covering large news events involving large numbers of people, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech Shootings, where firsthand experience or the availability of firsthand accounts form a larger part of the entry, and where the wealth of reportage makes a central “clearinghouse” valuable.
Wikiversity supports learning communities, their learning materials, and resulting activities. It differs from more structured projects such as Wikipedia in that it offers a series of tutorials or courses for the fostering of learning, rather than formal content.
The Wikimedia Incubator is where potential new language versions of existing Wikimedia Foundation projects (Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikinews, Wikisource, and Wikiversity, etc.) have their own wikis.
Have you found any of the above resources indispensable when translating? Which ones and how do you use them?