I refreshed my understanding of these two terms, and I think we should change our language to make it clear that the initial phase of our project is the prototype rather than an MVP. My theory is that there's an important semantic difference, which should help to manage expectations among our stakeholders.
Here are the Wikipedia articles and some quotes,
> A prototype typically simulates only a few aspects of, and may be completely different from, the final product.
> The purpose of a prototype is to allow users of the software to evaluate developers' proposals for the design of the eventual product by actually trying them out, rather than having to interpret and evaluate the design based on descriptions.
> A vertical prototype is a more complete elaboration of a single subsystem or function. [This is us, IMO.]
> The main goal when using evolutionary prototyping is to build a very robust prototype in a structured manner and constantly refine it. The reason for this approach is that the evolutionary prototype, when built, forms the heart of the new system, and the improvements and further requirements will then be built. [This is also us.]
> A minimum viable product has just those core features sufficient to deploy the product, and no more. Developers typically deploy the product to a subset of possible customers—such as early adopters thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information.
> "The minimum viable product is that version of a new product a team uses to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort." -Eric Ries
What I'm seeing is that the features we're leaving out (see task T176333), especially curation, are part of what would make the product deployable. When we first release to actual Wikimedia projects, that will be our MVP.