The Signpost

News and notes

Oral citations; the state of global development; a gentler Huggle; brief news

Contribute  —  
Share this
By Church of emacs, John Broughton, and Skomorokh

Unsourced in India: film explores possibility of oral citations in Wikipedia

People are Knowledge (English subtitles/vimeo)

Verifiability and No original research are two of Wikipedia's core content policies. The core idea is that noteworthy information will have at least some source that Wikipedia articles can cite, and if not, then the information isn't noteworthy. While this might hold for the Western world, local information is rarely written down in areas like India and South Africa; there, knowledge exists predominantly as the spoken word. In the UK, for example, one book is published for every 372 citizens each year; but the ratio in South Africa is roughly 20 times smaller, and in India as much as 30 times smaller, with one book per 11,000 citizens each year. This raises an important question: how can there be a balance between local knowledge and global knowledge in Wikipedia if local knowledge is all but non-existent in the written world?

People are Knowledge, a CC-BY-SA film published a few days ago, offers an answer: instead of written citations, Wikipedia language versions like Hindi, Malayalam and Sepedi could use oral citations. Interviews and recordings could serve as a source of knowledge for Wikipedia. The team which tried this did experience problems early on, as documented in the 45-minute film: two residents of a small village described a local children's game differently. The team's solution seems to fit the mindset at Wikipedia: present both sides in the Wikipedia article.

People are Knowledge has been supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and the Centre for Internet and Society in India (blog post). It is part of a Wikimedia research project on oral citations. (Cf. earlier Signpost coverage "New Wikimedia fellow to research sourcing problems in local languages")

Catching up with Global Development

Chief Global Development Officer Barry Newstead

One year into his role as Chief Global Development Officer, Barry Newstead published a report on his experiences and those of his colleagues in the Global Development team, which is tasked with expanding Wikimedia's reach in parts of the world where the editor community is underdeveloped. Highlights of this initial year have included the first global and systematic survey of the editor community, the India catalyst initiative, and the Wikipedia 10th anniversary celebrations. However, there were disappointments for Newstead, including the postponement of the launch of an online merchandising store and the slow pace of progress in mobile development.

Initiatives for the coming year include a search for partnerships with mobile operators (particularly those willing to provide free access to Wikipedia for their customers), the doubling of the grants scheme to $600,000, and the expansion of the pioneering Public Policy Initiative into a Global Education program to promote university outreach worldwide. Newstead emphasised that reversing the decline in editors and expanding the movement's mobile presence are the key priorities for the year ahead.

As part of a continuing analysis of the April 2011 editors' survey (see previous Signpost coverage), Newstead's colleague, Head of Global Development Research Mani Pande has written a report on what the results reveal about female editors of the project. A mere 8.5% of the participants in the global survey identified as female, and these editors were found to be significantly less likely than their male counterparts to make large numbers (5,000+) of edits during their lifetime as an editor. The Foundation aspires to increase the project's female editor count from 9,000 (as of spring 2011) to 11,700 by spring 2012, through initiatives such as simplifying the editing interface and engaging in outreach programs.

News in brief

Brazilian Wikimedians at WikiSampa8 in June 2011

The following Wikipedia projects reached milestones in the past fortnight:

In other news, the Incubator wiki celebrates its 10,000th registered editor. This site is where potential Wikimedia project wikis in new language versions of Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikiquote and Wiktionary can be arranged, written, tested, and proven worthy of being hosted by the Foundation.

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0