Break from the seasonal activities in Cameroon

Lire cet article en français

Editathon_at_Goethe_Institut_Cameroon_031.jpg
Français : During editathon of our User Group at Goethe Institut Cameroon
Editathon at Goethe Institut Cameroon 031.jpg () by Geugeor, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

August is period reserved for holidays at the Goethe Institut of Yaounde. It is the place where the monthly meeting (2nd Saturday of the month) of the members of the User Group residing in Yaoundé have been held for more than 2 years, we unanimously chose to take a break; break that allows us to evaluate the last season and throw the prospects for the future one.

WMCMUG_Strategy_Youth_Salon_12.jpg
Français : Wikimedia Cameroon User Group strategy Youth salon organized in Yaounde with TechWomen
WMCMUG Strategy Youth Salon 12.jpg () by Geugeor, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

The season ended with the holding of five strategic shows in the cities of Yaounde, Douala and Buea where most of the community members are settled. Two Youth Shows were held in Yaounde in partnership with the TechWomen Association.

During these different exhibitions, several topics were discussed: Roles and responsibilities, advocacy, capacity building, community health, products and technologies, income generation. These saw the participation of more than 70 people (with percentage 60% of women.

The quote below summarized the multiple contributions which were made : “With the strategy2030, Wikimedia projects are immersed in the lives of Africans and Cameroonians in particular and traditions.”

The User Group remains engaged since beginning of this past season on several projects like WikiKwatt which aims to create articles with photo illustrations of the districts of the city of Yaounde in Wikipedia.

Neighborhoods_in_Yaounde_Events46.jpg
Français : Séance de travail sur les quartiers de Yaoundé au Goethe Institut
Neighborhoods in Yaounde Events46.jpg () by Gtankam, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Primary objectives of Wikikwatt were the training of members of the User Group based in Yaounde to contribute to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, the loyalty of community members and the work of structuring the community. Several of these objectives have been achieved, although much is still to be done in creation of the articles and their translations into English and German.

Neighborhoods_in_Yaounde_Events36.jpg
Français : Séance de prise de photos dans les quartiers de Yaoundé
Neighborhoods in Yaounde Events36.jpg () by Gtankam, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

During the previous monthly meetings in Goethe, several sub-groups were created which are already working against resumption in October 2019; We can cite :

  • The group which will coordinate the activities of the project WikiCiné Cameroun, il will work to list all the actors of the cinema in Cameroon, to gather the various existing sources before the production of contents according to each category.
  • The Wikikwatt group will continue its activities with photo releases in the neighborhoods of Yaoundé, the collection of sources (books, press releases, archives, …) and the creation of articles.

Editathon_at_Goethe_Institut_Cameroon_025.jpg
Français : During editathon of our User Group at Goethe Institut Cameroon
Editathon at Goethe Institut Cameroon 025.jpg () by Geugeor, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

  • A Wikidata group has been set up and especially made up of developers and computer scientists from the community; the objectives of this group are: to support the activities of the other two groups by creating Wikidata entries and training members to discover and contribute to Wikidata.

Other training courses were organized as part of the Wiki Loves Women project in Yaounde and Buea, giving several participants the opportunity to join the Yaounde group and set up a nucleus to form the basis for the meetings in Buea from beginning of the new season.

The impact of our community grew across our country last July at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications where we took part in the International Day of the Girl and World Telecommunication and Information Society Day; this has given us the opportunity to present our community as well as the various current and future projects.

User_group_at_the_fair_at_the_Ministry_of_Posts_02.jpg
English: Exhibition of User Group activities at the fair at the Ministry of Posts
User group at the fair at the Ministry of Posts 02.jpg () by User:Danielgwd, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Although we can congratulate ourselves on the commitment and dynamism observed, our community nevertheless encounters problems that weaken its functioning and its visibility through social networks and other media.

Strongly, we welcome a new season because new challenges are open to us with activities and projects that will be born in the Northern part of Cameroon.


Wikisource For A Social Justice:Story of Gujarati Wikimedians Helping the Visually Impaired

Gujarati Wikimedians have been working on the Audio Book project on Wikisource to help the visually impaired people. An Interview with the lead contributor Mr Modern Bhatt by Abhinav Srivastava with inputs from Sushant Savla. 

Gujurati Wikisource logo – image by Dsvyas CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported 

Q.1) It is always said Indians love Wikisource, but, Audio Books? That isn’t a routine. How did the idea come up?

I am a regular visitor to a blind school in Bhavnagar which also happens to be my hometown. I help students with English and Mathematics and quite often on request by students, I used to narrate stories to them. It was then that the school director, who is also blind himself, proposed an idea of having pre-recorded books. 

The audio recording then started and there is no looking back. 

Q.2) Is there a specific thematic area where you work upon say a specific Gujarati author? 

If I have to name just one, then it has to be Jhaverchand Meghani. Ever since my childhood till today, have fondness and admire his contribution to the Gujarati literature. He wrote on the history of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat from where I belong. He travelled from one village to another discovering facts and evidences. 

Q.3 ) The Open Knowledge Movement is for a better society, however, its end-merit remain incidental. Your initiative directly helps the visually imparied. What motivates you?

Obviously those students from the blind school however it is also encouraging to know that normal people like you and me busy in daily routine for bread and butter are also the beneficiary. Audio books saves time. 

Q.4) Did peers from your community also join you in the initiative? Tell us how they read this? What kind of conversations happen around Audio Books?

I am humbled with the support I receive from my fellow Gujarati Wikimedians like User:sushant_savla and others. We have an active Whatsapp Group where we regularly debate and discuss Audio books project. To share a more precise and latest update, we are sampling voice for Women authors and also selected few, to name,  Bharti Chavda.

Q5.) Unheard and unfound, there are a lot of challenges, efforts and struggle that go in with passionate Wikimedians? Tell us something in brief.

I was working on a book, ‘Saurashtra ma Rasdar’ which has 28 Chapters and roughly 350 pages. While working on that book, I was a victim of sore throat and had to consult a doctor. The doctor gave me a few medicines and I recovered my voice. 

That’s all. Otherwise, as they say in Gujarati, I have been in, ‘Majama’.

[laughs]……[laughs]

Q6.) Back in your mind, you would have done the maths on number of books which you wish to complete. There would a rational maths to say the number of books that are practically possible but there would also be a dream number. Tell us about that dream number and more. 

I would like to answer this differently. The Audio Books Projects still happens to be very new and we are learning and gaining experience everyday. Not quoting any number but having as many number of books is the aim. I retire from my job this July 2019  and would devote much more time to the project and make the maximum possible.

Q7.) India has Wikisource active in so many languages? Any message for them on Audio books?

Gujarati Wikimedians have the highest regard for each and every Indian language , they show the diverse Indian culture. We all are always there to assist to the best of our potential.  A learning to share would be, struggle in finding volunteers. That’s an important area that needs to be contemplated. 

Q8.) Gujarati language has a very close connection with Kutchi language. Kutchi does not have a Wikimedia project and remain in incubation. Do you believe something like Audio books could provide a stimulus in their growth?

Well, that needs to be seen but Yes there is a possibility. I can say there are a lot of material for Kutchi language to be worked on Wikisource. Necessary we find a group committed volunteers to take it up. Also, I would like to mention, Blind people association have shown support to host activities in the Kutch area of Gujarat.   

Q9.) Tell us something more, do you also edit on other Wikimedia Projects ? Briefly share your experience. 

At the moment, I devote all my time and energy to Wikisource. However, someday maybe definitely. All Wikimedia Projects are public goods for welfare. 

Q10.) Tell us something about your personal life? Where do you belong? What do you do in your personal life etc?

I stay in Bhavnagar, city of Gujarat and I am a banker with The Bank of India. India is a developing world and there are so many unbanked. My professional life deals with developing saving habits and promoting financial inclusion for a better India. 

Originally published by Wikimedia India on 25 June, 2019.


By digitizing venerable translations, they’re bringing the world’s literary history to Punjabi speakers

The_Municipal_Library_Patiala.jpg
English: The Municipal Library Patiala
The Municipal Library Patiala.jpg () by Wikilover90, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

The Punjabi-language Wikisource is the fastest-growing Wikimedia project in the world. Rupika Sharma, a volunteer Wikimedia editor and community member, writes about one of the initiatives that has helped made this a reality.

Imagine a world where you grew up in a world where the greatest literary works in history never existed.

For many of the world’s language speakers, this can be their functional reality. Titles like these have either never been translated, or were translated decades ago and now hide in ancient paper-bound texts on dusty library shelves.


As an example of this problem, let’s take a look at the Punjabi language. Separated as part of the 1947 partition of British India, the language is today spoken by 120 million people in regions of Pakistan and India. I’m one of them. I grew up in northwest India and can still remember hearing about Chambe Diyan Kaliyan, a short story collection by Leo Tolstoy that was adapted into the Punjabi by Abhai Singh. That particular book is frequently cited in the history of Punjabi literature as one of the first collections of short stories to be published in the language.

You’ll note, though, that I didn’t say I can remember reading it—I’ve never been able to track  down one of the published books to read it for myself, nor have I been able to find anything but a bunch of pop-culture songs with similar titles when I search for it online in Punjabi. All of which is to say that when I was growing up, reading and learning from Tolstoy’s story was functionally impossible for Punjabi speakers.

Thankfully, times are changing. While there are still many barriers to surmount, the advent of the internet has made the fundamental problem of publishing and distributing of translations far easier. The Wikimedia community has an entire project devoted to this sort of thing: Wikisource.

Wikipedia_18,_Patiala_(15_January_2018)_01.jpg
Wikipedia 18, Patiala — Wikipedia 18, Patiala (15 January 2018) 01.jpg () by Satdeep Gill, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Bringing the lost literature of long-forgotten times into the modern era for interested users, Wikisource is a free e-library that provides freely licensed or public domain books free of cost, in different formats, and able to be used for any purpose. It is one of thirteen collaborative knowledge projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, the largest of which is Wikipedia, and Wikisource is available in nearly seventy languages.

The Punjabi-language Wikisource was and is small compared to other language Wikisources, and to grow this resource, I formed a partnership with a government library in the Indian city of Patiala to digitize public domain books. By making rare literature books accessible in languages that have little to no presence online, Wikisource serves the common people, allowing them to freely browse these resources.

As a titled Wikimedian-in-residence at the library, I helped their staff scan a selection of important books. The collaboration brought forty-two public domain Punjabi-language works online—including a reprint of Chambe Diyan Kaliyan, the Tolstoy short story collection. But just making the scanned images available online isn’t enough; they are not easy to read and often rank low in search engines. Wikisource plays a crucial middleman role: they host the images and pair them with searchable text versions, created and vetted by volunteers. They’re helped in this process by Jay Prakash’s IndicOCR, a new tool that helps to easily transcribe any Indic language to Wikisource. (It replaced an older Linux-based tool that could not be used on many devices.) In addition, Wikisource makes everything available in different file formats so that readers can download whatever works best on their device, whether it’s a computer, tablet, phone, or otherwise.

Finally, Wikisource also allows anyone to contribute, and so I helped organize an online contest, held from December 2018 to January 2019. Prize offerings and in-person trainings brought around three dozen new volunteers to the project, including twenty-four who made more than fifty edits. Kuljit Singh Khuddi, a new volunteer who joined Punjabi Wikisource during the contest, says that “I am proud to be able to contribute to my mother tongue on Wikisource. Such contests help make my language known worldwide.”

The results were stark—the contest made the Punjabi Wikisource the fastest-growing Wikimedia project in the entire world in both content and editors. As of October of last year, the Punjabi Wikisource contained a bit over 1,200 pages. By January of this year, it had over 6,770 belonging to 200 different books. Moreover, over 6,000 of these pages had been proofread by volunteers.


The growth of the Punjabi Wikisource through the contest and other volunteer work is just a beginning. There are a number of opportunities for supporting the project with technical contributions and GLAM partnerships with different government organizations and institutions.

Moreover, they’re just one of several expanding Wikisources in the region. The Wikisources for the Indic languages of Marathi, Kannada, and Assamese each more than doubled in size in the last year, and with every edit, they’re bringing the sum of all knowledge into their own mother tongues.

Rupika Sharma, Wikimedia community member

Originally published by Rupika Sharma on Wikimedia News 11 July 2019


“People Who Can Take It”: How Women Wikipedians Negotiate & Navigate Safety

MoMA_Art_Feminism_2019_93.jpg
2019 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at The Museum of Modern Art, New York — MoMA Art Feminism 2019 93.jpg () by Manuel Molina Martagon, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

The first time Helena* — a scientist and published author — edited Wikipedia, her edit was immediately reverted: “It was not only reverted,” she recalled, “it was reverted with a ‘You don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground’ kind of a note.”

But she persisted. She created a new account, read Wikipedia’s policies, and continued to contribute. When another user blanked Helena’s Wikipedia user page — deleting content she had written and leaving her a death threat — administrators refused to act. At this point, Helena decided it was time for a break: “I took a hiatus. I told everybody to just basically go shove it. ‘I may never come back to Wikipedia’ is what the message says; ‘I’ll think about it.’”

Today, Helena has been editing Wikipedia for more than 14 years. When asked to reflect on her earliest experiences, she replied, “There’s a wonderful phrase. I culled it out the other day. I put it in a little file folder to share with you. ‘We throw brand new potential editors directly into shark-infested waters, then yell at them for splashing at the sharks.’”

In our paper People Who Can Take It: How Women Wikipedians Negotiate and Navigate Safety, we wade into these “shark-infested waters,” asking how women Wikipedians like Helena remain in the community as active participants even when they feel unsafe, or are ignored or admonished when they seek help.

Note: Our paper is a qualitative study and, thus, is not intended to be generalizable. Also, some Wikipedia editors have criticized our study for containing “outdated” data, but qualitative work is time-consuming, and academic research requires a lengthy peer review process that does not allow for immediate publication.

Takeaways

  • Wikipedia is written primarily by men. This unequal division of labor in social systems is known as the gender gap.
  • Women who edit Wikipedia have different perspectives about the gender gap, but many have witnessed or experienced harassment. [1]
  • Experienced women Wikipedians have developed sophisticated tactics to participate in the community even when they feel unsafe.
  • Based on our conversations with experienced women Wikipedians, we share three provocations for designing safer spaces: (1) when aiming for inclusivity, consider safety a design requirement; (2) recognize your own assumptions and biases about safety; (3) provide users with tools for creating their own safe spaces.

Our Research

We interviewed 25 women who are experienced Wikipedia editors.

There’s this one guy who is part of the chapter here that was, for a while, posting date invitations on my talk page, that would say how much he wanted to spend time with me. Then it became a thing at edit‑a‑thons that he would attend too, where I felt like he was harassing me.

Mia, editing for 5 years

Wikipedia is more than a website. It’s a community stretching across the globe and made up of a multiplicity of online and offline spaces, many of which are porous. Each of these spaces — article talk pages, internet relay chat (IRC), edit-a-thons, meetups, conferences — has its own character, which is shaped by design affordances as well as community norms and values. Interactions in these different parts of Wikipedia, as Mia notes, often bleed across these sociotechnical boundaries — often without consent or control.

Schönbrunn_Palace_(8371660461).jpg
Maze — Schönbrunn Palace (8371660461).jpg () by Steve Collis from Melbourne, Australia, CC-BY-2.0.

I’m not an administrator and don’t want to be. Editors who work in topics which are perennially under assault […] often burn out for periods, sometimes permanently. I have tremendous admiration for those who have taken on the Sisyphean task […] I couldn’t do that work.

Oona, editing for 12 years

Women Wikipedians have developed sophisticated tactics to sustain their participation as community members even when they feel unsafe among their peers. For women like Oona, choosing what work to avoid is one way to protect themselves. For other women, choosing what to edit (for example, avoiding controversial topics) is another way to manage their participation so that they can “avoid drama” and its associated harassment risks.

MoMA_Art_Feminism_2019_91.jpg
2019 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at The Museum of Modern Art, New York — MoMA Art Feminism 2019 91.jpg () by Manuel Molina Martagon, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

We don’t feel safe on Wiki. Not all of us, but a lot of us don’t, so why keep doing this on Wiki when we can take it another place […] ?

Jenn, editing for 12 years

Because Wikipedia does not allow users to create exclusive online spaces (e.g., women-only), women like Jenn have created or joined private groups on Facebook to cultivate and promote safe peer engagement. These spaces allow participants to share their personal experiences as well as their ideas about editing and other ways of participating bravely in the Wikipedia community. We take from these examples the need for designers to consider safety as a design requirement when aiming for inclusivity. This approach, in turn, means recognizing one’s own assumptions and biases when imagining the design of idealized scenarios, but also sometimes translates into the realization that providing users with tools to create their own safe spaces is the best means to ensure the safety of all.

References

[1] Community Engagement Insights. 2018. Wikimedia Foundation. Wikimedia Meta. Retrieved from https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Community_Engagement_Insights/2018_Report#Experience_of_harassment_has_not_declined_since_2017_and_appears_to_remain_steady

Notes

* We’ve used pseudonyms to protect our participants’ identities.

This article summarizes a paper authored by Amanda Menking, Ingrid Erickson, and Wanda Pratt. This paper was presented at CHI 2019, a conference of Human-Computer Interaction.This post was originally published via Medium.