Grants:IEG/Elaborate Wikisource strategic vision/Midpoint

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Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learnings from the Individual Engagement Grantee's first 3 months.


We could say that this project is mainly about creating a small, dedicated community for Wikisource(s). Activities:

  • Community contact through several means: hundreds of emails, discussions, Skype calls, IRC and IRL chats.
  • Outreach to librarians, scholars, open knowledge activists and developers (also in conferences like: Amsterdam Hackathon, LODLAM, OAI8).
  • Networking people who worked on the same or related subject, but didn't know each other.
  • Leading book metadata implementation in Wikidata. We outreached the wider Wikimedia community with our blogposts on Wikimedia blog.
  • Revitalization attempt of the Wikisource mailing list.
  • Identification of issues that need a technical approach, proposals and assistance to Wikisource-related GsoC projects.



Our only real method has been communicating, presenting ideas, rasing awareness about the chance to connect, coordinate and making Wikisource scale.

Wikisource is a very ambitious project, with several technical issues and several potential developments. It is, in our opinion, an underrated and under-developed project, suffering of lack of attention from WMF, chapters, and the wider Wikimedia community (a destiny shared with other non-Wikipedia project). This is not to accuse anyone, but a mere observation. Aubrey has elaborated on the present and the possible future of Wikisource in a talk at Wikimania 2012. Micru created a list of projects that could have the most impact on Wikisource here: Applying the Wikisource values.

Pragmatic approach[edit]

When we started our grant application, our aim was to get things done. The main Wikisource issues are well known, and some of the solutions are not that far away. One of the main problem of Wikisource is that there is not a wide, broad and international community, and there is no development and attention from the WMF or chapters either. Initially, we wanted the WMF (or some other developing staff) to take care of some issues, and some potential features for Wikisource. But we soon realized that to convince the WMF to commit developing staff time was not the way (other priorities, understaffed). The initial plan, which was to present a document with a detailed, documented strategy for Wikisource, would be useless if there was nobody that would implement it.

So we came back the idea that, for this, we needed an international, involved community. And that is were we are now, trying to facilitate the self-organization of existing participants on a broader scale. We started contacting everyone, and following every thread and discussion inherent to our aims (at the early stage, we followed every track concerning Wikisource).

We tried to alternate theory and practice: we weighted in the Wikidata community setting ap a task force dedicated to books (very relevant for the metadata issue on Wikisource, where at least 8 people participated), but we also drafted a theoretical mapping of metadata before starting to create Properties. Additionally we launched an effort to clarify sourcing in Wikidata, which resulted in the Guidelines for sourcing statements (during the final vote 25 people participated and it gathered a strong support).

Bottom-up, bazaar approach[edit]

The wiki world is a very innovative, emergent and innerly diverse environment: you can set up a six month strategy that can become useless after few months. For example, the advent of Lua and Wikidata are changing the rules as we speak. So we sorted out our priorities as they came, and especially as partners and interlocutors followed up. We dropped some conversations that were frozen or stuck, or as the priority came up to be another one. We adopted a bazaar approach, instead of a cathedral one.[1]

Blend into the community[edit]

We also decided to completely merge in the community, acting as the Wikimedians as we are. We mentioned, from time to time, that we were awarded an Individual Engagement Grant. This matters for few reasons:

  • Our actions are blended in communities actions: it's not often clear "who did what", and the community deserves all the merit for the results accomplished. We are just part of it.
  • It's more effective to collaborate as peers: we all know that the "economy" of collaboration is different and complex. It's more of a gift or goodwill economy than a capitalistic one. Therefore, it truly matters how you act and what you give, if you want to "inspire" the community, or, better, if you want to accomplish a goal all together. We tried doing stuff, raising awareness on the possibilities, and explaining others our opinions, proposals and ideas.


We can drop down our activities dividing them in few categories

  • Communication & outreach
  • Google Summer of Code
  • Wikidata

Communication & outreach[edit]

Possible workflow and relationships between Wikimedia projects and Open Library. Version 1
Possible workflow and relationships between Wikimedia projects and Open Library (plus Internet Archive). Version 2

We initiated contacts with several potential organizations: Open Library, Google Books, Open Book publishers, Europeana/Glamwiki toolset, OKFN, plus some initial contacts with national libraries. These contacts have been possible thanks to the participation in several conferences and leveraging existing contacts. Hurdles that we found when developing the contacts:

  • lack of a linked data interface with identifiers to be able to match databases. This will be solved by having the book metadata (and its status) in Wikidata with some identifiers that allow synchronization (i.e. OCLC ID, LCCN number, etc).
  • lack of a "Wikisource brand". People know about other digital libraries and Wikipedia, but not about Wikisource. Hopefully when we start linking with other organizations it will be possible to start building a brand value.
  • missing import tools into Wikitext, which makes importing digital-born documents a nightmare. An TEI -> Wiki prototype tool has been created by Tpt, and it will need more development.
  • missing export tools, mainly a way to integrate the proofread text again into the scan file.

At internal level besides of using the blog posts and the mailing list, we gathered feedback using "Request for Comments" about:

  • Possible interfaces to represent content in Wikipedia (around 50 participants in this RfC)
  • Evaluating potential interest in a musical transcription project (around 25 people participated in the RfC)

Google Summer of Code[edit]

Besides of the featured GsoCs, we wanted to offer some Wikisource-centered projects. Looking for mentors and students was not an easy task, two proposals couldn't materialize for lack of a mentor interested in Wikisource or a suitable candidate. It was important to explain to candidates how Wikisource works and which impact their work will have.

The GSoC projects that have been accepted and are currently under development are:

The integration of these projects into Wikisource it is summarized in:


In Wikidata the activities have revolved around the previously mentioned Books task force and the source metadata. This will become a tool for synchronizing works among several projects both internally (for instance citing an existing Wikisource book in Wikipedia, or in Wikiquotes) and externally (so that external organizations can point out to books of their catallogues that have been proofread in Wikisource).


This is an incomplete list of updates:

Midpoint outcomes[edit]

Aubrey at OAI8
Micru at Amsterdam Hackathon

What are the results of your project or any experiments you’ve worked on so far?

Please discuss anything you have created or changed (organized, built, grown, etc) as a result of your project to date.

  • Wikidata Books task force: the community has been discussing all the book-related properties on Wikidata, as this will affect several Wikimedia projects (Wikipedia, Wikisource, Commons). Many properties (a core set) have now been created.
  • Wikisource User Group: the groups is being presented to the Affiliation Committee, and we have a list of 20 participants so far.
  • The Google Summer of Code grantees are working in their respective projects and they have a clear view how their project relates to the Wikisource workflow.
  • More than 100 people participated directly in the several discussions/rfc/conversations initiated during this project.
  • Messages in the Wikisource mailing list: February: 2, March: 11, April: 7, May: 47, June: 112


Please take some time to update the table in your project finances page. Check that you’ve listed all approved and actual expenditures as instructed. If there are differences between the planned and actual use of funds, please use the column provided there to explain them.

Then, answer the following question here: Have you spent your funds according to plan so far? Please briefly describe any major changes to budget or expenditures that you anticipate for the second half of your project.

The finances were budgeted as follows:

Expense Approved amount Actual funds spent Difference
project leadership, to be divided equally among 2 grantees 4000 EUR
travel 6000 EUR 1340,58 + 3240,31 = 4580,89
Total 10000 EUR

Our funds have been spent according to the plan. All the budget has been spent for travel to hackathon and conference, and discussed with Siko as well.

  • Wikimedia Hackathon, Amsterdam: David
    • Travel expenses: KLM FLIGHT: 1075,82 EUR
    • Accomodation: STAYOKAY ZEEBURG AMST.: 98,40 EUR
  • LODLAM conference, Montreal (Canada): David
    • Registration: 57,50 EUR
    • Travel expenses: 20 EUR (70km bus ride and metro)
    • Accomodation: Alexandrie-Montréal, 63 EUR
  • (budgeted) Wikimania 2013, Hong Kong (China): David (1744,47 travel + 146,65 accommodation + 34,47 registration), Andrea (EURO 1.286,09 + 152 (registration and dorm accomodation) + 104.07 hotel accomodation + 34.39 assurance + 13 shuttle = 1589.55 euro)


The best thing about trying something new is that you learn from it. We want to follow in your footsteps and learn along with you, and we want to know that you are taking enough risks to learn something really interesting! Please use the below sections to describe what is working and what you plan to change for the second half of your project.

What is working well[edit]

What has been successful so far? What will you do more of? Please list these as short bullet points.

  • Google Summer of Code:
GSoCs where a great idea: it' very pragmatic to participate in these projects. David set ups some proposals, and took a great effort in finding interested students and potential mentors and co-mentors.
As of now, there are few tangible results, but we are sure there will be at the end of the summer. For sure, this interests the Wikisource communities in various ways, and the ongoing discussions are a just result per se.
  • Blogposts in Wikimedia Foundation blog
A big part of our project is outreach both internal (i.e. towards the Wikimedia movement) and external: the Wikimedia Blog is a very popular source of Wikimedia information, and we are happy feedback on this has been very positive.
  • Wikidata: Books task force
Among other users, we have pushed many proposals and discussed about many topics. The Wikisource transition to Wikidata is the next big thing to accomplish, and we are very happy that our work has been useful (of course, we are not alone, and the Wikidata community is awesome. But we dedicated time and effort (some skills too), and this is probably worth mentioning).

What are the challenges[edit]

What challenges or obstacles have you encountered? What will you change to do differently going forward? Please list these as short bullet points.

  • lack of communication between Wikisource communities: Wikisource communities are scattered and do not communicate with each other. They don't do it, and they don't seem to want to do it.
    • approach: do not force anyone in, keep the door open. We will keep generating opportunities where there is a more clear benefit of participating at international level. It is an effort for the users to engage in a broader community (time, language barrier, etc), and the benefits might not be that clear yet.
  • lack of communication between cross-project communities: There isn't a real communication channel for "cross-project thinking". It is very, very difficult to involve different communities for discussion that would involve different projects (like Wikipedia, Wikisource, Wikiquote).
    • approach: present opportunities for cross-project collaboration, again this will be solved as more cross-wiki projects arise and the need for talking is unavoidable. It is already happening with Commons/Wikisource and the UploadWizard for books, more projects like this will make the need appear.
  • many projects depends on interlocutors/partners: Obviously, collaboration needs more that one participant. We started many conversations for many potential projects, but in some of them our partner dropped the conversation (e.g. lack of interest, lack of time, lack of resources, etc.). This has been the case, for the moment, for possibile projects with Open Library and Internet Archive.
    • approach: flow with the current, if the intended partnership is not working it might be that the tools or the social structure needed is not there yet. Try again in the future, and keep busy with more fruitful partnerships instead.

Minor issue:

  • neither one of the grantees is part of one of the biggest Wikisource communities: As a minor obstacle, it's worth mentioning that Andrea is part of the Italian Wikisource community, and David of the Catalan one. Both Wikisources are mid-size, and this matters as the big communities do have a major potential (in terms of people, skills, content, etc.). It is however difficult for us to go into these communities and direct the attention towards goals that would benefit all communities and not just theirs (notice that Wikipedia has a similar problem).
    • approach: enable a central space and let users and communities organize by themselves: the communication channels are being established, and when a member of those communities joins the Wikisource User Group or hears about it, he or she could act as communicator and coordinator for their community, spreading the word about it.

Next steps and opportunities[edit]

What are the next steps and opportunities you’ll be focusing on for the second half of your project? Please list these as short bullet points.

  • Complete the process for the Wikisource User Group Application
  • Start and complete the Wikisource transition to Wikidata
  • Define a set of projects for future volunteer and grant driven development (these will depend on how far we can get and on community feedback).
  • Continue executing the initial plan :)

Grantee reflection[edit]

We’d love to hear any thoughts you have on how the experience of being an IEGrantee has been so far. What is one thing that surprised you, or that you particularly enjoyed from the past 3 months?

We think that one of the core features of being a grantee (thus, one of the main reason to apply for a Individual Engagement Grant) is the fact that you get an official approval for a specific project, which has previously been evaluated. You are not a single, rogue Wikisource user who is speaking for himself only: you carry on a project for the WMF, which has a budget, an evaluation and an audit. We think it is very important to highlight how this recognition acts on people and users, who actually listen to you and allow you and your project to make an impact.

Monetary resources are of course important, but not as much as the fact that your thoughts and projects now have a shape, they have a well-defined goal, and this has been recognized.

In our experience, money (not too much) is important as a motivation for your work as a volunteer, as an appreciation of the additional commitment and responsibility, and as a budget for offsetting possible conferences/meeting/real life event expenses, that allow social networking and sharing of information and ideas.


  1. See Eric Steven Raymond essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, O'Reilly, 1999. Wikipedia page: