The medical translation project is a major undertaking between WikiProject Medicine, Translators without Borders and a number of other organizations. The aim of my grant has been to synchronize the many branches of the project, identify roles and to introduce members to fill any missing roles. The project saw tremendous success throughout 2014 and continues to grow with more enthused editors jumping on board and in need of guidance and coordination.
Thanks to the grant we were together able to refocus on a broad set of short translations that will be easier for the public to understand and easier to send out on a large scale. Following the grant we managed to work out a number of overlooked issues, and to build infrastructure for continued expansion of the project. This means as a direct result we're able to find and solve new issues faster. This way less time is needed administrating the project and more can be spent actually working on content.
Community organization balances attracting new users and making things easier for the already established users. Out project is considerably larger than many others on Wikipedia and I've spent significant time getting up to speed with how things work and where they don't work. I started off by getting deeply involved with the community, discussing issues and also working with a fair bit of the content myself. This helped me realize what I had trouble with, but also allowed me to listen to what issues were bogging down others as well.
Each translated article requires considerable integration effort. Such work is too much for a single editor and previously many users integrated one or two articles, only to leave the project indefinitely. I realized early on that the most successful languages where to where a a team of integrators existed, where users could commit at a lower level, sustaining long-term loyalty to the project. To this end I also realized the need for local community organizers and engaging with the editors to show someone pays attention to their work.
Beyond getting to know and understand the community my work can be summed up in the following points:
Protocols and processes grew organically as they were created and adapted by already initiated editors, which lead to much arbitrary complexity. For a new user getting to grips with this on top of the already difficult to learn Wikipedia policies is very off-putting. The process of simplification has been a technical one and hsd required assistance of Wikipedians and Wikimedians with know-how of build simple templates, tracking systems as well as discussion systems. More on this is explained below, and examples can be found in the screenshots.
Everything has a learning curve, but without documentation it's nearly impossible to get beyond the first hurdle. Very few if any editors knww all the steps and processes involved in our project, so it has been imperative to build a system to educate editors. This makes getting started faster, but also takes some burden of answering questions off the existing crew. I've researched and written each guide with the intent that someone without considerable expertise could read it.
To attract new editors I spent considerable time finding active communities on the different Wikipedias. This was made difficult because we neither speak the same languages, nor even congregate at the same places. On many Wikipedias the Village pump is the equivalent of the municipal noticeboard, a place where posts are made in lieu of engaging with the community.
Instead I've done a systematic, if not full or completed search of face-book groups, mailing lists, message boards and talk pages, as well as sending individualized messages. This proved slow and mass-messaging has proven the most successful so far.
In 2014 a major epidemic struck the African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Many Western health organizations worked diligently and the spread could finally be halted towards December. In the project we discussed how to do our part, and a number of dedicated editors got the article on Ebola up to a decent standard. By using the systems and infrastructure that we've built in the project we were able to send out the Ebola article for translation into 108 languages or 56 live articles, including many African languages.
In doing this we've become a major content provider on many small Wikipedias.
Short list of our African language Ebola translations:
Having a dedicated community organizer frees up other project members to work where needed most. This indirect benefit means we've grown in other categories - such as number of articles for translation and in connections to other WikiProjects for our hygiene/engineering related content.
We've taken feedback from the community on what the most important topics to translate are. While these differ greatly between countries and languages we've been able to identify a number beyond diseases we feel are universally important, such as hygeine, antibiotics and women's health.
Previously the project relied on a handful of members, but we're long past the point of being sustainable. We need to allow for editors to come and go, and to have quick access to guidance on what they can do.
Individually mentoring new members isn't viable, at least not from the start. With guides we're still here to answer questions, but can do so on a more in-depth basis. The following guides can be accessed our main page:
From the start we've built utilities and systems on an per need basis, with functionality that makes sense to those who has been active since the start. The result is a number of essentials tools that make you jump through any number of hoops to get where you want to be. Much of the IEG work has gone towards simplifying these tools for use by total beginners.
Google docs: We transitioned from using complex and esoteric Wiki mark-up code to google-docs for tracking and stat-keeping. This enables new users to get involved in the integration much faster. Several Wikipedians voiced these tables as had been a major sources of frustration.
Automatic article checker: Building on the previous work we built a bot which automatically checked which articles already existed so that we could focus our efforts mainly towards new content.
Real-time statistics: We're collecting these at (Article stats & Language stats). It's now much easier to assess which efforts are working and which aren't!
Templates: Not all Wikipedias have access to common templates for links, images or even references. Some lack only the Template:Infobox Disease, while others don't have Template:Cite journal. Creating simple templates that can be quickly installed and adapted has been paramount to the project. We spent a whole lot of effort building templates that could be transferred and building frameworks for importing and installing templates, modules etc.
Template bot: Some Wikipedias actively discourage importing templates and a template translation bot for Polish was built. This made it easier to integrate into Polish and can save many hours of work in new translations.
Style: Our home-page was a pale page with lots of text – we reshaped it to be more appealing. We want to engage readers and keep the interested. We want to make it easy to see that the project is live and kicking!
Centralized discussion: We've centralized discussion on a single talk-page, making it easier for editors to find each and respond to eachother.
Created branding: Any major project needs queues that immediately peak interest and make you remember it. We rebuilt the entire home-page to look more professional. We now have a logo, a prominent catchphrase that makes it easy to get what we're all about. We also want to be immediately identified as part of Wikipedia, and also as a project people are proud to be a part of!
Rubric: This company is one of the sponsors of Translators without Borders, and is the worlds largest translator into languages of Subsaharan Africa. They helped us translate 14 of our articles on Ebola! We hope to continue working with them, and are also hopeful in looking for mutual funding, possibly from some NGOs.
Language engineering: The Wikimedia Language Engineering team works hard to make translations easier, and are committed to their work. While we can't use their tools full out, we're testing and discussing solutions that suit us. Getting their applications running for our translators will greatly decrease the workload of our integrators!
Wikimedia Taiwan: One of our best success stories is our partnership with Wikimedia Taiwan, which has worked to translate and integrate articles into Chinese, and are now at over 40 translated articles!
Oriya: Another major success has been our partnership with Dr.Subas Chandra Rout, who has helped us by translating and integrating content as well as organizing the Oriya community. Did you know Oriya is spoken by 33 million people?
Planned measure of success (include numeric target, if applicable)
Increase the languages translated by 50% (Long term goal)
130 % increase!
We've been able to massively expand the number of languages we're translating into simply by listening to the community and by refocusing!
Increase the number of articles [integrated] per year by 100% (Long term goal)
>200 integrated ~170% increase from 2013
This was a long term goal, but we are well on our way towards getting there already after only 6 months!
Get at least 100 shortened articles translated or ready to be translated (Long term goal)
185 articles live 106 articles ready
Another long term goal we smashed! We're currently at over 40 translated full articles and 106 different short articles ready to be translated!
Get at least 1 dedicated integrator in each language already translated
We realized early on that this would not be a priority goal, largely due to the effort needed to find and sustain single editors. We need a larger team of editors who can come and go as they please.
Get at least 1 integrator in new languages to be translated
13 new small language integrators
We reevaluated this goal, as it wasn't feasible considering our expansion. We're providing content for languages where there are NO active editors. That makes it very hard to recruit people, so instead we've been managing this through multi-language integrators!
Decrease failed [integrations] to 0 (no content sitting in the pipeline)
128 remaining (over 80% newly translated)
We dramatically decreased the number of articles that have been sitting waiting for integration by simply refocusing where we translate. We're further from 0 than before, but the turnover of articles has increased massively, i.e. they aren't sitting around for long.
All three of our long-term goals have been absolutely blitzed, something I never imagined at the start of my 6 month IEG. We're at a position where we can expand the project substantially, as well as being able to look back at a whole lot of good work.
The shorter term goals were a little to arbitrary and not well enough thought out when we set them, leading to meager results. Neither are they the same goals I would set for a renewal 6-month pass of the project. Getting a dedicated integrator in each language would be ideal, but it isn't essential for growth, and would several hamper our expansion.
Because people come and go, and our editors are spread over 108 different Wikipedias it is very hard to quickly pull the numbers of editors who've engaged with our content. The number of editors who have actively signed up and taken part of the project at any larger scale is at least 123.
2. Number of new editors
This wasn't a goal of the project, it is possible we introduced a number of editors from TwB, but not especially significant numbers.
3. Number of individuals involved
Very difficult to assess due to the way the translation platforms are built. Would require a census of Translators without Borders as well as Rubric.
4. Number of new images/media added to Wikimedia articles/pages
This wasn't a goal within the project. A few images such as logos can be found at Commons
5. Number of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects
The major goal of this project, we've been able to produce and improve articles over many different language Wikipedias.
6. Absolute value of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects
Due to the scale of the project this is very difficult to asses quickly, but numbers can be obtained upon request. At the very least it numbers in the millions of bytes.
Did your work increase the motivation of contributors, and how do you know?
While we haven't surveyed our participants actively we have clear indications through comments and engagement that indicate that people are enthusiastic. It's always hard to get any real numbers on this type of statistic, which is why we would send out a survey during a potential extension. Previously we've had slightly too few potential respondents to justify spending the time creating a survey, but I believe we're at a point where it is reasonable.
I believe we've worked towards all of the major IEG goals, but to give a guick recap:
How did you increase participation in one or more Wikimedia projects?
We've had access to the excellent community from Translators without Borders for a few years now, but we've had little overlap between our communities due to technical barriers. We're seeing more TwB people interested now than before. Editors from the Czech, Bulgarian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese Wikipedias to name a few have expressed delight at seeing our content have told us how it gives incentive to spend time engaging with content and making sure it holds to the standards we want.
How did you improve quality on one or more Wikimedia projects?
One of the cornerstones of our project is that anything we translate needs to be of high quality. This means adhering to the rigorous standards set forth by MEDRS & MEDMOS, as well as being of a quality of Good article or Featured article. A previous projects from Google and others didn't focused on the quality of the content, but rather on dissiminating any content. Talking to community members and getting them to understand our goals made it easy to spread the content and we've been the first to get high quality content on some of the smaller Wikipedias (such as Ti-wiki).
How did you increase the reach (readership) of one or more Wikimedia projects?
We're looking into tracking readership of our articles over a large scale, especially mobile readership, which requires new methods. The data we have is looking good with new readers finding their way to our African language articles, though it isn't yet publicly available.
I've tried to summarize the most important bits, as linked to everything that's been created during the project would be far too much to link here. From the following links it should be possible to find your way to all the relevant content such as guides, information and links to articles.
At times it was hard to locate community members and having content lying around waiting for integration prompted me to try to get it out there on my own. I learned a lot in the process, but as I didn't know many of the languages we work in it wasn't a very successful approach. Though I often found that my half-baked efforts lead me to find the community, if only those that would berate me and later guide me towards more willing editors.
Focusing on single large translations
We noticed quickly that while it is possible to press forward and get our finished translations in the major Wikipedias such as Polish and Dutch it took an unreasonable amount of time. Each translation had to be checked with the already preexisting content to make sure nothing was lost. We made the difficult decision to instead focus primarily on new articles. We still want to translate into the larger languages, but will only do so when we receive a specific request.
Major outreach program: With the groundwork we've done, we're ready for a major influx of editors. From the outreach we have performed its been easy to see that there is considerable interest out there. Having a number of well defined roles makes it easier for new editors to engage with the project, and we really need that engagement.
Contracting programmers: We've had help with a number of programming issues, but are yet to tackle our major roadblocks, such as automatically messaging relevant user/projectpages once a translation has been completed. We're losing editors because once the work is done they have no easy way to tell when new work is available and promptly forget about the project.
Expansion: At the end of these months we've really been able to ramp up the number of translations we've been sending out. We're currently expanding ever more into South American, Asian and African languages in a way we haven't been able to before.:
892 dollars remain from the funds indicated for promotional materials. A large part of this was saved because it didn't feel relevant early on in the project, and getting stuff out there took slightly to long towards the end of the project. The funds are sufficient that they can be used in a renewal.
I'm so happy in having received the grant, and to have met brilliant people both within the project as well as other amazing Wikimedians at Wikimania. I see myself working with both the Medical Translation Project and Wikimedia for a long time as I believe we have very worthy goals. I really like how Wikipedia and my medical studies complement each other and how I can draw from both and take from one and bring to the other.
I felt the close contact I had with both Jake and Siko helped me reach the results I've stated and I really felt the cared about the success of the project as well as my role within it. If I were to seek a future IEG or other funding there are many things I would change. I feel any change builds on the experiences I've had within this project, but for starters I would try to think about goal-setting and how to make sure they are relevant.