At Software Freedom Day I got some schoolkids from Mamelodi interested
in the project, and they tried their hands at translating some English
text into the Sepedi wikipedia incubator. They were very eager, and
were intensely debating which word to use for which concept. We
didn't get much done: only a paragraph or two, but I spoke to their
computer studies teacher, and they have a computer lab with internet
access, and she's willing to open it up for us on a Saturday, and the
kids said they'd be happy to come in on a Saturday for the project. I
still have to hear from her again, and I'll keep you all in the loop
as things develop.
I'm happy to go there and facilitate, but if you have experience of
this kind of thing, or know Sepedi, or have a clear idea of what the
most urgent, achievable or useful articles would be, please help!
I've got a picture or two that I'll post later.
To support and add to Kerryn's message, my understanding of the way
grants from the Wikimedia Foundation work is that community members can
apply for them at any time; i.e. you don't have to wait for a chapter to
form. Especially with the support of allied organisations (The African
Commons Project, Wits, UCT, etc.) a project like this could happen any
time you want it to.
I did an interview for Let's Talk Geek at Software Freedom day:
Unfortunately I wasn't as well prepared as I should have been, and
left out many important people and some important concepts. Notably,
I didn't mention the work that the Commons folk did to get it off the
ground, or anything about Delphine and Bence's part in the project.
Please don't shoot me on sight! Remember, I'm used to re-reading my
work to eliminate NPOV, undue weight, etc. etc. and I'm not used to
Oh well, at least our website is linked to the interview, so whoever's
interested will be able to get the inside scoop.
I hope you are all doing well.
I am forwarding you a copy of a press release of Wikimedia Israel about
their activities with offline Wikipedia in Cameroon and Benin - I think it
is very interesting and if you ever want to do something similar, you will
know who to contact for advice.
FORWARDED MESSAGE --------------------------------------------------
Here's a rough translation of a press release Wikimedia Israel has issued
yesterday, about the "Africa Center" project I had mentioned in an e-mail to
this list on June 30th 2010 (see that e-mail for more background on the
Africa Center at Ben Gurion University).
=== START OF PRESS RELEASE ===
TITLE: Wikipedia Goes To Africa -- Israeli Students to Leave for
Humanitarian Work in Africa, Equipped With Portable Static Wikipedia
SUBTITLE: Ben-Gurion University's "Africa Center", Wikimedia Israel, and
Hamakor cooperate in making free knowledge accessible in Africa
The Africa Center at BGU, headed by Dr. Tamar Golan, annually sends a group
of students on a three-month humanitarian expedition to developing countries
in Africa. This year's group is going to the Repbulic of Benin and the
Republic of Cameroon.
Learning about this while approaching the Africa Center for help with
developing Africa-related entries on the Hebrew Wikipedia, Wikimedia Israel
decided to equip the students with computers running free software and
containing an offline (static) version of the French Wikipedia, so that the
students can bring free knowledge to Africans without access to the
Wikimedia Israel reached out to Hamakor, the Israeli Free and Open Source
Software NGO, and Hamakor helped obtain computer donations, refurbished them
and installed the Linux operating system on them.
Wikimedia Israel collaborated with members of Wikimedia Switzerland and
Wikimedia France to produce an up-to-date static version of the French
Wikipedia (numbering about 1 million entries, and including images), French
being a major language of reading and writing in Cameroon and Benin.
"The students also have portable installations of the offline Wikipedia, so
that they may install it on any other computers they may run across in
Africa," explained Asaf Bartov, who coordinated the project in Wikimedia
Israel, "and they have received training on using Linux and Kiwix, the
offline Wikipedia reader (free) software, so they may train others to use
Incidentally, the Linux version installed on those computers is called
Ubuntu Linux, 'Ubuntu' being an African word (in the Zulu language) roughly
translatable as "unity of mankind" or "mutual reliance".
Supporting and promoting the distribution of free knowledge in developing
countries is one of the five major goals identified by the Wikimedia
Foundation as central to its five-year strategy plan, developed by thousands
of members of the Wikimedia Movement.
I think that a healthy way to think about languages in South Africa is
that outside of English and Afrikaans, which both have a robust
publishing market, other South African languages present excellent
opportunities for growth on the internet. Since 1994, South African
languages are being taken seriously in all kinds of media, including
publishing - and to the extent that the costs/barriers on the internet
are lower, I would be (personally) very interested in supporting any
efforts to grow what are currently fledgeling Wikipedias. To that
extent, translation is something that editors from these communities
could use - but it's up to them.
To motivate Indians to contribute to Indian language Wikipedias is also
a major opportunity here, and there's no competition - English is one of
our official languages too - and it's not an either/or situation. To the
extent that it would be wonderful to have Pedi Wikipedia move out of
incubation, it's probably wiser to think of this from the perspective
of Pedi users rather than it's peripheral benefit to, say, Afrikaans
users. Though, to the extent that that relatively under-represented
languages (in media at least) get to be big on Wikipedia, it's obvious
that there are benefits to the South African Wikipedian community as a
whole. (After all, articles in different languages from the same place,
or country, can speak to each other too: there are ways in which
different language Wikipedias can help each other for a more complete
Speaking of Pedi: Ian, in reference to your earlier post:
- is it possible that Mohau Monaledi (are you on this list?) would be
interested in talking to Dwayne?
I've followed the work of translate.org.za and congrats on everything
accomplished so far. Since you raised the issue of translation, I wanted
to point you to a robust discussion that happened recently in India
around Google's translation project. You can see archives of the
(Subj: Philosophical view on Google translated articles).
Reactions around google's translation have been mixed. The upsides are
clear, and the downsides (as expressed in that conversation) were:
- a dissonance between volunteer editors' contributions and the translations
- a lack of necessity or specificity to some of the translated articles
(marginal western figures who are unknown in, say, Tamil Nadu, etc.)
- some suspicion as to the motives behind the project (given google's
- some broader questions, in terms of volunteer vs 'paid' editing and
what the spirit of editing Wikipedia is
In general, I think that translation, if cleverly applied in a
customised way, could be useful, and when applied badly could be
terrible - but, regardless, it's for the community to decide. Obviously,
given the mission of translate.org.za, you would come with a degree of
trust and acceptability that a corporation like google doesn't always
necessarily bring (which is not to imply that their project is
necessarily not helpful - at the moment, I believe various groups of
Indian wikipedians are going ahead with talks and discussions on the
trial). And when you talk about translation, have you had experience
with written material that goes beyond interfaces and templates? (if you
have, that experience might be useful to share). Also wondering if your
goal is to build a tool (like google) that is constantly improved
through human interaction and input, or to run the translation exercise
as a collaborative, human-input-based exercise?
Perhaps a good way to think about this is to ask if a particular
language community within the various South African wikipedias is
interested in taking you up on this. And then run some kind of
identification exercise - perhaps an ongoing project - where community
members deposit articles they'd like to have translated from X language
to Y language in a box. Articles from translation don't necessarily have
to come from a strong Wikipedia (like English) or even an emerging
Wikipedia like Afrikaans - they could well be within several smaller
Wikipedias, eg Sotho to Zulu, etc. Finally, in terms of how things are
translated, their quality, and style, I think this is where it is key to
get community members involved to minimise conflicts and maximise
usefulness of the end result.
I've enjoyed following the discussion around WMZA.
I wanted to throw my 2c into the mix and talk about translation of
content, as opposed to creation. Last time I raised this with Wikimedia
(years ago actually) there was a real push back. Since then South
African languages have... not happened. And Google + WM do translation
of WP pages, go figure.
I saw some mention of translation from the notes about the first
meeting. I'd really like to see translation as an angle of attack to
help catalyse WP pages on ZA languages and get them to a critical mass.
We also host Pootle a translation platform that I'd like to see being
used to do Wikipedia page translations. Especially if we are able to
select a set of pages that we want all ZA wikipedia's to contain, this
might be driven my the needs within the South African curriculum or
simply to ensure that the pages about our history are well covered.
What do you guys think about this?
Associate Research Director +27 12 460 1095 (w)
Translate.org.za ANLoc +27 83 443 7114 (c)
Recent blog posts:
* Localizing Mac OS X strings files using open source PO editors
* What's new in Virtaal 0.6.1
* Localisation: How we guess the target translation language in Virtaal
Firefox web browser in Afrikaans - http://af.www.mozilla.com/af/
African Network for Localisation (ANLoc) - http://africanlocalisation.net/
This is a message on the Wikimedia India list from a Wikipedian who
pulled out facts relevant to India from Wikimedia's public statistics
- very usefully compiled by Erik Zachte, who is the czar of all things
statistical in our universe - and I thought it may be useful to share. I
found it tremendously interesting to understand what works in India and
how. The statistics for South Africa are slightly less deep (on account
of lower volume) but still, someone might be able to extrapolate and
share useful information from it?
Alternately, if one of you is really interested in getting deeper
statistics for within South Africa, perhaps you could write to Erik and
see if he has anything interesting to share. (Scroll down to the bottom
of the main page of www.infodisiac.com for his email address). There is
just a whole lot of interesting statistical information on his site and
on his blog, in general.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Wikimediaindia-l Digest, Vol 27, Issue 7
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2010 04:14:25 +0000
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2010 03:20:54 +0530
From: theo10011 <de10011(a)gmail.com>
Subject: [Wikimediaindia-l] New Stats- Global perspective about
Wikipedia Page edits
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Just wanted to inform everyone that there are some new statistics available
about global Wikipedia usage for Q3 of this year.
I just saw some surprising trends if you look at a language and country-wise
breakdown of page views and edits.
1.India is No. 15 globally in terms of Wikipedia page views and edits which
is expected for having only 7% internet usage, one of the lowest in the
first 50 countries on the list.
2. India is still the fifth largest viewer of the English Wikipedia.
3. 94% of Indian Wikimedians view the English Wikipedia, the second largest
language group for India after English is Hindi with 0.6% of total views.
4. 70% of edits from India are on the English Wikipedia (this marks a
gradual fall in edits from 81% in Q4 2009) followed by 6.6% for Telugu (this
quarter also marks a large increase in edits in Telugu and Tamil languages,
while Hindi and Malayalam both registered a drop)
The most surprising information is in the language-wise breakdown of edits
The first Indian language on the list by 0.03% of global share is Hindi,
followed by Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, all at 0.02% of global Usage. the
most surprising statistics is that the largest Page views to these languages
is not from India but the US sometimes more than several times the number of
views from India. Tamil is the only language where this disparity as its
The number of views from India is highest at 94% to the English Wikipedia
but the number of edits has been steadily dropping at a very sharp rate
(almost 10% in the last year).
Just to let you know that I am still working on pulling together a draft
document; which I am doing by looking at other local org's Memoranda to see
what they have included. I'm not a lawyer so we will need the Tobiases of
this world to check it out :)
There will be some sections like MEMBERS where the group will need to decide
what to do here. So here I am going to outline headings and put down some
examples but not flesh this out fully as yet until people have agreed
Anyway, hope to get the draft to you soon.
* * * *
director, The African Commons Project
email me at: kerryn(a)africancommons.org
phone me: +2711 486 0211, cell: +27 82 334 6165,
skype me: kerrynmac