How to collaboratively create a dictionary?

This is probably not the correct category, but I didn’t find a general one.

I got already some time ago an idea that I could use tools from SIL to collaboratively create a bilingual dictionary. What I mean by collaboration here is that I as a more computer literate could use FLEx to make references between the dictionary entries and publish the dictionary both as a html site and as a PDF (or whatever “printable”). The translation itself would be done using out-crowding, i.e. I have a list of words in one language and the volunteers would add translations of them.

My first idea was that the volunteers would use Language Forge. After several turns it revealed that LF is not actively developed and if you hit any issues, you’re on your own. Well I hit show-stopper level issues, simply put LF doesn’t work for me.

My second idea was that the volunteers would use WeSay. This time it turned out that the project in the Language Depot repository is in the wrong format. (I didn’t know this when I asked to create the project there.) I could ask them to create a new repository, a WeSay compatible one, but since WeSay is unsupported I have second thoughts about this all.

This brings the question what I should do. Is my idea of out-crowding the creation of a dictionary technically impossible? Or is it just so that the tools SIL provides cannot be used and I should seek elsewhere? Where in that case?

Any pointers appreciated

What I feel needs to happen is that the SIL powers-that-be need to prioritize staffing the Language Forge management and development team. LF is such a well-developed, essential tool, I don’t understand why it’s allowed to languish.

How can we get stats on historical and present LF usage? How can we urge our leaders to prioritize LF?

As the lead developer for LF for several years, it was hard to see LF not get developer resources/funding while other projects did. The last major “feature” work was done by interns in the summer of 2019. No project gets unlimited resources, and looking back, LF had several good years of priority resources/development. In that timeframe we simply failed to deliver a service that met the needs of online dictionary development. I take responsibility for various development/technical decisions that let to a product that isn’t complete enough for people to actually use. Being reflective here, I feel like the scope of LF to be a collaborative online dictionary tool that interoperates with FLEx is perhaps too big for us to reasonably achieve given the resources and expertise we have.

Paul Nelson and Mike Cochran are the two leaders who you can talk to about prioritizing LF development.

Thank you so much Chris for sharing. I guess there are more factors involved than I had realized. I am still hopeful for the future of LF. I’ll see if I can reach out to those two people and some others to learn more about the situation and share needs.

I have been waiting for LF to mature a bit more before setting it up for the language community we work with. I too am disappointed that it has been mothballed!

Kim Blewett

Language Technology Consultant (LSS)
SIL Papua New Guinea