The Kids Open Dictionary has been a project of love (self-funded) that I and others have worked on for the last 6 years.

This year, we accomplished some big milestones. Perhaps the most significant to me is that we defined all of the identified high frequency words. Currently, we have over 10,700 words (or approximately 43.8% of the total list) defined. [Caveat: These are not all “final.”]

This year, we also had several requests from folks to use the raw dictionary data for various projects. Most of these were game-type apps. For me, every time we get an email asking for access to the data (which is openly available),  it’s a proof that this is a useful project.

When I think about challenges of this project, there are several. First, from a technical standpoint, we spend a fair amount of time fighting off malicious attacks on the site. Unfortunately, this is a reality of any open, crowd-sourced site. It makes me sad that this is the case.

Another challenge has been the sheer amount of work this project requires. It has taken thousands of hours already, and the crowd-sourcing element of it hasn’t taken off as much as I’d hoped for. (Kudos to our loyal contributors, though, like Algot Runeman. We couldn’t have gotten as far as we have without you.) At this point, it’s hard to foresee when we might finish this, but it will be years.

I look forward to continuing to work on this. Not only do I think it has social value long term, but I find working on it satisfying. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day or am in a boring meeting, I’ll define a bunch of words. Some people knit; I work on my dictionary.

The going-forward plan (in rough order of priority) is:

  • Complete initial definitions for the remaining words (approximately 13,000)
  • Begin editing and finalizing (“freezing”) definitions
  • Release a final build
  • Begin prioritizing the long list of additional features we’ve had requests for (pictures, audio, multi-language, etc.)

As we finalize, I’d also like to think about some apps we’d like to build with this data, as well as marketing the availability of the data set and tools. (We haven’t done this to date since this is still very much a work in progress. Everyone who’s using the data currently knows that it is not final and is at their own risk and discretion.)

Thanks again to everyone who’s supported this project. And if you think it’s worthwhile, consider a visit to define a word or two. :)

Reflecting on my year of open – part 5/Open dictionary
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