Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Iteration 1/Diversity/10

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Most likely, new comments will not be taken into account by the new three Working Group members in their work of developing the final Recommendations. You are free however to continue discussing in the spirit of "discussing about Wikipedia is a work in progress". :)


This, again, is the type of thing you should be doing. Excellent idea. Seraphimblade (talk) 16:39, 10 August 2019 (UTC)

I agree... Until I reach the passage where it reads "The system should enable revert so that any contributor can withdraw his or her recordings easily." -- Sorry, contributions cannot be reverted at the whim of its contributor. This is the practice on en.wikipedia, on en.wikisource, & AFAIK on Commons. While there may be reasons to remove or alter any oral material, the current practice is that any edit/contribution remains in some form for everyone to review & use. Changing this practice would allow select individuals to have unchecked veto power over their contributions, which would damage our mission, as well as favor one group of contributors over the rest of the community. -- Llywrch (talk) 16:40, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
Agree this sounds like a very worthwhile project. Mccapra (talk) 21:33, 21 August 2019 (UTC)

Interviewee licensingEdit

Normally, an interviewer must use CC-BY or CC-BY-SA to release an interview as "open content". However, an interviewee would be recorded and would not know much about copyrights and the licensing. Must an interviewee be notified about the licensing and copyright? Would an interviewee agree to allow an interview to be used commercially and agree to have it released under an "open content" license, like CC-BY-SA? George Ho (talk) 04:59, 11 August 2019 (UTC)


I strongly support this recommendation. Libcub (talk) 05:36, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

yes, other projects, such as Transcribe Smithsonian are beginning to transcribe their oral history archives, which are fine primary source material, and the finding aid should be a good citation. Slowking4 (talk) 19:39, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Don't careEdit

as long as it doesn't affect major wikis. Open new projects and do whatever you wish. Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 10:54, 11 August 2019 (UTC)


The "read Wikipedia articles" part of this already exists and has existed since 2005, as w:en:Wikipedia:Spoken articles. What has happened with that project is that many important articles have been saddled with outdated recordings from 2005 to 2008, and more than 99.9% of articles will never receive a spoken version at the current rate. There are several reasons I think the project (at least on the English Wikipedia) has barely gotten off the ground:

  • It takes time to record and re-record audio files. While personal computing devices have improved greatly since the early 2000s, it can still take quite a long time to read an entire Wikipedia article out loud. Given that an article may change every day, it would be necessary to continually re-record parts of articles or entire articles just to maintain the usefulness of the recordings.
  • There are/were not enough volunteers. Most active contributors already have their hands full writing articles. While it's possible that this could be remedied by finding an alternate user base, serious work would need to be done recruiting enough volunteers to make this usable (i.e. the project would be in a state where all important Wikipedia articles have up-to-date recordings), and that energy could perhaps be better spent recruiting people to produce and improve content. (While this may also be exacerbated by the project being virtually unknown, it's not a given that it would suddenly become much more active if more people knew about it.)
  • Because the project appears to be non-viable due to inactivity, very few new recordings are created (approximately 25–50 per year) because there is little incentive for volunteers to contribute to an abandoned project that will never be good enough to be actually useful to the average visually impaired person who wants to listen to an arbitrary article. This feedback loop ensures that the project will never be viable unless there is a significant investment into creating and maintaining new recordings.
  • The only point in time that the project became worthy of mention by third parties was when a contributor uploaded a low-quality recording to w:en:Bhutanese passport; the recording went viral because the contributor spoke using a (possibly fake) Bhutanese accent and sounded as though their voice had been digitally manipulated. (The recording has since been removed from Commons and replaced due to its low quality.) While this is probably the only time this has happened, there are fewer than 2,000 spoken articles, so it's very possible that this sort of thing would happen quite often with the proposed project, and the project would need to maintain (ultimately subjective) standards for how good a recording needs to be to be retained on the site and shown to readers/listeners.

Articles can change and improve quickly, and it would take a lot of coordination and a lot of people with decent microphones to get real humans to record and re-record these articles. I think a more feasible way to approach this would be to develop either improved screen reader software or improved text-to-speech software, since this would take much less human effort and would be able to cover a much larger base of articles (albeit possibly in much fewer languages). I don't see much of a point in asking hundreds of volunteers to spend hours doing what would be menial tasks when existing software could reduce the time it takes to do such tasks by orders of magnitude.

A database of voice recordings (not being based on an existing Wikimedia project) could be significantly more useful, due to the inherent linguistic and ethnographic value of storing such recordings. However, if users were to focus on recording Wikipedia articles or Wikidata items, it would not really be a very useful ethnographic record, since the language used in the Wikimedia projects is usually very dry and factual, and so the project would fail to capture certain linguistic nuances (e.g. casual conversation, slang). A similar problem would arise if interviewers were to focus solely on interviews. Furthermore, depending on the scale of the project, being able to automatically transcribe and translate most recordings would be a necessity due to the possibility of numerous copyright violations being uploaded (e.g. from reading a copyrighted work or singing a copyrighted song), particularly since most people don't know more than two or three languages. Jc86035 (talk) 15:25, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Very good points. My impression of the "recommendations" was that they start to address a number of different issues, and then suddenly there is a proposal for a new Wikimedia wiki (why not simply present it on Meta in the normal process?). This all is still very unready, like the result of a brain storm session, but not a substantial proposal. Ziko (talk) 09:46, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

More ambitious: An improved Wikimedia Commons APPEdit

I love the idea of making audio upload easier, because I always try to improve audio content. But in the age of Netflix and HBO We should be more ambitious: a Wikimedia Commons APP. Alice in Wonderland? Popeye the sailor? Then do it. Make it TV compatible and, well, maybe Wikimedia Commons has not the best film collection, but let's make files easy for users.--TaronjaSatsuma (talk) 16:31, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

What about sign languages?Edit

Sign languages are not written, but they are not oral either. A project that is not based on written languages is the best opportunity they have to be included in the Wikimedia movement, since VideoWiki does not seem to be designed for that. Has the Working Group considered this possibility? --Unapersona (talk) 10:44, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Videowiki could handle someone signing. Each sign could be a short video and they could be strung together. What else were you thinking? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:50, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
@Doc James: Sorry for the late answer, I hadn't notifications on! As far as I understand, VideoWiki content is based on en.wp (or another written wikipedia), isn't it? If it's possible to have people signing a full original article and to treat it as a separate language, then sure, VideoWiki works.
Also, recording all signs in a language in different videos and stringing them together is very impractical. It's like recording all words in English in different videos and then putting them together in different orders to create sentences. Not only would it sound horrible (because of the lack of intonation), it wouldn't make sense either because the recordings wouldn't have conjugations/declensions.--Unapersona (talk) 17:46, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
@Unapersona and Doc James: Take a look at the ASL Wikipedia test project on Incubator (73 articles, interface localized), as well as test projects in other sign languages. There's been a lot of technical work done on it, but some necessary software is blocked so long as the WMF doesn't commit any resources to reviewing the code I wrote for CSSJanus four years ago. I really think this should be a priority, given that there are many tens of millions of people who's native language is a sign language. --Yair rand (talk) 02:20, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
@Yair rand: yes I saw that a while ago, and I think it's a good start. Unfortunately I can't participate because my (non-native) SL is Catalan Sign Language instead (I want to learn ASL at some point, but far into the future probably). In any case, while sign writing works great for representing sign languages, and although the technical achievements for this to work are amazing (at least to my non-tech brain), I don't think this is practical. Most people who learn or speak a sign language can't read it because it's just not taught in general sign language education, unless you have some kind of specialisation in linguistics or are just interested in this writing system. It's certainly a good step forward and I was thrilled to know that it existed, especially since my are of work in the Catalan projects is mainly on our local SL, but an SL Wikipedia won't be truly universal until it can fully support articles in video format. --Unapersona (talk) 19:41, 4 September 2019 (UTC)
@Unapersona: SignWriting literacy is more common in some places than others. (SignWriting seems to be quite common in Brazil, where it's used in 18 federal universities and 12 public schools.) Sign language support would also fit well with the WG recommendation on linguistic diversity.
(Pinging @Icemandeaf and Slevinski:, who might have more to say on this.) --Yair rand (talk) 19:40, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Sign languages are written languages. In Brazil, there are multiple generations of sign writers who are reshaping the deaf education system. What was once fringe is becoming mainstream. More and more people are using SignWriting every day. The speed of adoption will only increase as we complete our technical infrastructure. If you want to know more, you can check out the project on IdeaLab and the project grant for the two-dimensional font. These two resources are Wikimedia specific. Additionally, you can check out or my homepage for more information about the past, current, and future work with SignWriting. -Slevinski (talk) 18:54, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
Hi @Slevinski: I appreciate your answer. I don't doubt sign writing is widely used in some parts of the world such as Brazil, but this is not a reality everywhere, which is what I mean. Some sign languages may be written languages, but definitely not all of them —not the two I am more in contact with, for instance (Spanish SL and Catalan SL). Don't get me wrong, I would love seeing a more wide adoption of SignWriting as the natural writing system for all SLs, but as far as I can tell, we are not there yet. That's where I was coming from. --Unapersona (talk) 17:49, 13 September 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. For all of the sign languages available, we have text examples from 60 different sign languages, and interest from another 20. It is beyond doubt that sign languages can be written with Sutton SignWriting. I think sign languages should be written. Literacy, in the context of text, is good for individuals, their brain, and the community at large. Written language is essential for group editing in a wiki environment.
Written sign language is uncommon in most countries, but well established and growing in the top 10 countries at least with each having several large user groups. Groups cooperate within and between countries. Most of these countries have small pockets of SignWriters in primary schools, universities, community groups, and personal projects.
The bottleneck is technological. There are still issues of characters, fonts, and input methods to resolve and execute. Once solved, the bottleneck is broken, growth will increase, and international cooperation can flourish. Ideally, children would learn to write in schools and then be able to use it in the schools, in their lives, and when online.
I think SignWriting can be a part of the Wikimedia movement's vision of "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." It's possible that SignWriting's vision is a bit too meta to be included in the Wikimedia vision. -Slevinski (talk) 13:26, 15 September 2019 (UTC)

This recommendation could be expandedEdit

While it is fine as it is, you might want to consider making this more expansive and recommend that serious consideration be given to opening new projects in a range of languages that permit or are focused on material that may not meet inclusion criteria for the existing projects; such material may include oral histories, collections of material for orally-based (i.e., non-written) languages, cultural practices such as traditional healing that may not be well-documented in what are commonly referred to as reliable sources, etc. Wiki-Oral should just be the start; there is a lot of information and knowledge out there that simply doesn't make a good fit into any of our existing projects. Risker (talk) 02:45, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

New draftsEdit

As far as I can tell, this recommendation was dropped. Apparent successor: Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Sprint/Diversity/3 (Talk). --MarioGom (talk) 17:30, 22 September 2019 (UTC)

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