Michel-Adrien Sheppard, sometime Slawyer and full-time Library Boy, mentioned JurisPedia here a number of months ago, but didn’t talk about it then. I thought I’d take a look and see how things were going in this law wiki venture.

Jurispedia, which aims to construct an encyclopedia of worldwide law, looks to be an initiative of 5 institutions:

  1. l’Équipe de Recherche Informatique et Droit, Faculty of Law of the University of Montpellier I in France,
  2. the Faculty of law of the Can Tho University in Vietnam,
  3. the Faculty of law of Groningen University in the Netherlands,
  4. the JURIS team at the Université du Québec à Montreal in Canada, and
  5. the Institute for Law and Informatics at Saarland University, Germany.

The main page describes JurisPedia in seven languages — Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German and Spanish. As might be imagined, an attempt to deliver material in a lot of languages can lead to difficulties. For example, the Spanish main page has a Spanish language link to an introduction to Canadian law that takes you to a page in Arabic; the Spanish link text to a piece about Senegal takes you to a page in French. I think it needs to be clearer than it is what language the primary text is written in and whether there are translations into other languages.

Much of the site in any language appears to be simply a framework of empty pages that are sought to be filled. Someone has played out a taxonomy, or taxonomies, and these are used to suggest or invite content that might be contributed by volunteers.

The recent changes page shows that indeed there is action, but with their sights set at such a broad target it’s hard to get a sense that the database is growing or that the thing is coordinated well. I mean, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher that although a Québec group is part of the venture, the page on Québec law is empty.

This is a worthy venture but one that drastically needs some narrowing of focus, some oomph, and a more vigorous campaign to recruit volunteers.

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