Grants:PEG/Pgallert/Indigenous knowledge for Wikipedia workshop/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY 2014-15 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
  • You are welcome to Email grants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.

Project status[edit]

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?
Is your project completed?

Activities and lessons learned[edit]


Before the workshop
  1. The workshop proposal was formulated and submitted to PDC2014 on the due date of 17 March 2014.
  2. In consultation with Namibian academics of OvaHerero / OvaMbanderu descent, a list of 28 potential articles (hereinafter: "the list") was developed. The list was be published at w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment. The inclusion criterion for this list was if it was likely that PDC2014 conference participants and/or knowledge bearers at the village of Otjinene have intimate knowledge about this topic. The list comprised a selection of topics related to local history, culture, medicine, geography, and animal husbandry. The list was due on 15 June 2014 but changed several times after that date because it was not yet decided at that stage which village we would travel to.
  3. A Call for Participation was formulated and published, both on the w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment page and as watchlist notices.
  4. Prospective participants adopted one or more open topic from the list. They used written sources to develop the article in main space as far as possible. For the event that there were no usable written sources at all, prospective participants document briefly on the list itself why the topic has to remain a red link for now. See for instance the article list entry on the Road C22 at w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment#Article list.
  5. Submissions were vetted according to the published criteria. Unfortunately there were not many high-quality submissions. Several applications were turned down, for various reasons.
  6. Four scholarships were awarded, in lexicographic order:
    1. w:User:bobbyshabangu
    2. w:User:hfordsa
    3. w:User:Mompati Dikunwane
    4. w:User:RBerchie
During the workshop
  1. 10 October, morning, Windhoek, Namibiana section of the library of the Polytechnic of Namibia: Adopted article were expanded using offline written sources.
  2. 10 October, afternoon: Travel to Otjinene
  3. 11 October, Otjinene: Interviews with knowledge bearers in the rural community, and expansion of articles from the list
  4. 12 October: Travel back to Windhoek, Wrap-up and discussion

Lessons learned[edit]

What worked well?
Elders were willingly talking to us. The oral citations gathered by us are of outstanding quality in the sense that the elders we interviewed were speaking to an audience of not just foreign visitors but community members and fellow elders, who gathered at the elders' homestead, curious what our business was. This is an implicit peer review of the narrative. The translation itself received peer review in form of a community member fluent in English who intervened whenever he felt that our translator had left out an important aspect.
There was a combination of Wikipedia knowledge (What kind of information is missing, and what will we be able to use?) and community knowledge (Roughly, how does the Ovaherero community work?) in the interviewing group. Otherwise some of the answers could not have been understood ('The dress stems from an Englishwoman' ==> Queen Victoria), others would have been worthless. The question "When was Otjinene founded?" yielded, of course, the answer "Many, many years ago." With a bit of historical knowledge, we could continue "Was it before or after the Herero Wars?", and only then we got a useful answer.
What didn't work?
I did not get the number of applicants for this workshop that I had hoped for, and the really old hands of Wikipedia did not apply.
We had only one interview session of roughly 2.5 hours. Considering that we spent a whole day (2 nights) in the village, better organisation could have given us an opportunity for at least one more round of interview.
Due to the funeral of an important community member, all 'official' representatives of the tribe (chief, his deputy, constituency councillor, priest) were out. We could not locate the midwife, and we chose not to interview people connected to witchcraft (because no-one else would have talked to us after that). The topics covered by the interview thus did not achieve the variety that we had hoped for.
What would you do differently if you planned a similar project?
Certain things cannot be planned. My colleagues at the Polytechnic spent a lot of time trying to plan whom to interview and how to locate them, only to realise that they were not available on that particular day. With a bit more time in the village, our eventual mode of operation---driving from one neighborhood to another to search for elders---would have been quite efficient.
The workshop format as originally planned (10-12 people + translators) would not have worked. We were a group of four (facilitator, 2 attendees, translator), and that was already quite a group to "invade" the homestead of the elderly couple. Any more people in the group and we would have had to split, raising the organisational challenges to a new level. A group of three (2 interviewers, 1 translator) would have been ideal.

Learning patterns[edit]

New learning pattern: Grants:Learning patterns/International events? Allow 3 months for visa formalities

Outcomes and impact[edit]


Provide the original project goal here.
For a selected set of articles on the English Wikipedia, the workshop will develop content that cannot be referenced to anything but orally transferred knowledge. It will be demonstrated practically what I asserted in a theoretical presentation at Wikimania 2013:
  1. that indigenous knowledge is knowledge, meaning that it is not just a set of beliefs but it is justified
  2. that indigenous knowledge is valuable, that Wikipedia cannot be the sum of all human knowledge without it
  3. that traditional knowledge (what peoples know about their own culture and tradition) is but a tiny part of indigenous knowledge
  4. that indigenous knowledge is verifiable in the very same way that all other knowledge is
  5. that there is a very reasonable oral equivalent of 'publishing' which applies to indigenous knowledge
  6. that indigenous knowledge is peer-reviewed by the group of knowledge bearers
The workshop shall showcase a before--after scenario for a few Wikipedia articles with regards to the question of how useful oral citations are to document and re-codify indigenous knowledge. The created examples can then be used in the various policy discussions on the admissability of oral citations, on the question of which oral citations could be reliable and third-party (and which ones not).
Did you achieve your project goal? How do you know your goal was achieved? Please answer in 1 - 2 short paragraphs.
  1. that indigenous knowledge is knowledge, meaning that it is not just a set of beliefs but it is justified ==> Partly achieved. The answers relating to culture and heritage contained some justifications. However, the justifications for knowledge in engineering or medicine would have been more crucial to test, and we did not have the opportunity to ask these.
  2. that indigenous knowledge is valuable, that Wikipedia cannot be the sum of all human knowledge without it ==> Achieved in the sense that several examples have been produced of knowledge that will never be referencable to written sources. For instance: that the introduction of formal schooling was one of the major causes of the erosion of oral knowledge transfer in the Herero community. Considering self-censorship of the local media towards what is regarded as "progressive", such statement will likely never be printed.
  3. that traditional knowledge (what peoples know about their own culture and tradition) is but a tiny part of indigenous knowledge ==> Not achieved. The interview did not go beyond the "teaser questions" of own tradition and culture because the elder became exhausted after 2 hours of interview, and we decided to stop in the middle in order not to overwhelm the old man.
  4. that indigenous knowledge is verifiable in the very same way that all other knowledge is ==> Not achieved. To show this, different community representatives would have had to be interviewed on the same topics.
  5. that there is a very reasonable oral equivalent of 'publishing' which applies to indigenous knowledge ==> Achieved. Even our only interview gathered a crowd. A village elder sharing community knowledge is a public event from which no village inhabitant will or can be chased away.
  6. that indigenous knowledge is peer-reviewed by the group of knowledge bearers ==> Achieved. Other community members that gathered at the elder's homestead would intervene at obvious omissions. This included the translation which was continuously corrected and expanded upon by the son of the elder.

Progress towards targets and goals[edit]

Project metrics

Project metrics Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
A annotated list of local, notable topics for articles for which no or insufficient written sources exist to develop them The list has been created, see here. Every applicant adopted one or more items. One contribution was reduced to a redirect, with an incorrect rationale: w:List of rules of the Herero people.
For each participant at least 1 article in the subspace of w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment that is updated with oral citations. 2 articles updated so far, see w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment/Articles. I'll still update a third one. Most of the interview content went into the general article, w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment/Articles/Herero people. One participant did not ask questions about their adopted topic, and did not edit the project space after the end of the workshop.
A detailed description of the workshop setup, including its scientific background and rationale (unfortunately this will be under the copyright of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)) The workshop description was submitted to the conference editorial board. It was accepted and has been published. Online availability is still a few days away, I'll report back later. Volume 1 (full papers) of the PDC conference is available online, volume 2 (workshops, installations, short papers) is pending.
A description of the workshop as conducted, on the WMF blog (under CC-BY) and in the conference proceedings (under ACM copyright) There is a draft WMF blog entry at Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/The value of oral citations; I have positive feedback from the moderators on its publishability. There is no ex post facto scientific workshop description, only the initial suggestion. This was a misunderstanding of mine. Lessons learned from this workshop will, however, likely flow into my future scientific work.

Global Metrics[edit]

We are trying to understand the overall outcomes of the work being funded across our grantees. In addition to the measures of success for your specific program (in above section), please use the table below to let us know how your project contributed to the Global Metrics. We know that not all projects will have results for each type of metric, so feel free to put "0" where necessary.

  1. Next to each required metric, list the actual outcome achieved through this project.
  2. Where necessary, explain the context behind your outcome. For example, if you were funded for an edit-a-thon which resulted in 0 new images, your explanation might be "This project focused solely on participation and articles written/improved, the goal was not to collect images."

For more information and a sample, see Global Metrics.

Metric Achieved outcome Explanation
1. # of active editors involved 5 The workshop did not reach its anticipated size, see above.
2. # of new editors 0 Outreach was not planned for this activity, and the workshop program would have been unsuitable for new editors.
3. # of individuals involved 12 2 actual participants, 2 accepted participants that could not attend, 1 translator, 5 community elders, 1 cultural advisor, 1 facilitator. A number of people who commented on and off wiki.
4. # of new images/media added to Wikimedia articles/pages 7 by Bobby Shabangu + 6 files by Daniel Gonzales-Cabrero. I would have wished for more pictures but I don't have a working camera. Daniel is a commercial photographer who only reluctantly released some pictures under CC-BY. There are also 9 deleted images (notifications). I cannot say if they are really so bad, as I don't have admin rights. Someone willing to check?
5. # of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects 3 There is still quite some material on our paper notepads. I'll expand in due course.
6. Absolute value of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects pictures plus w:Wikipedia:Oral citations experiment and its subpages. Any idea how to quickly count the byte value?
Learning question
Did your work increase the motivation of contributors, and how do you know?
This is very hard to estimate. On a very general level, Wikimedia Africa is always excited about new projects, but I wouldn't want to speculate too much here.


What impact did this project have on WMF's mission and the strategic priorities?

Option B: How did you improve quality on one or more Wikimedia projects?

  • As I have outlined in the grant application, the sum of all knowledge must include indigenous knowledge. Indigenous knowledge is often not available in writing. Having collected a set of facts and explanations that likely will never be available in writing, I believe that proponents of oral citation inclusion in Wikipedia have now a useful set of examples that was previously not available - policy debates often faded in the wake of the argument 'Show me an example', to which the reply was 'I have none, I'm not a member of any indigenous group of people'. That we now have examples has the potential to increase the quality of Wikipedia articles in the area of indigenous knowledge.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures[edit]

This section describes the grant's use of funds


Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grants at wikimedia dot org, according to the guidelines here? Answer "Yes" or "No".


Please list all project expenses in a table here, with descriptions and dates. Review the instructions here.
Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Actual cost per unit Actual total Budgeted total Currency Notes
1 Air travel: participant 1 Return travel: Gaborone-Windhoek 1 1 7,354 7,354 ZAR
2 Airport shuttle (home country): participant 1 Botswana 1 2 363 726 ZAR
3 Air travel: participant 2 Return travel: Johannesburg-Windhoek 1 1 5,618 5,618 ZAR
4 Airport shuttle (home country): participant 2 Johannesburg 1 2 200 400 ZAR
5 Air travel: participant 3 Return travel: Accra-Windhoek 1 1 11,990 11,990 ZAR We had to cancel this flight due to unforeseen Visa problems, and there was no travel insurance available. The Namibian government inexplicably requested the applicant to apply for a work visa. See also below.
6 Airport shuttle away country 13 October 2014: 2 participants 3 ZAR / km 100 km 300 300 ZAR I drove with my private car. That's cheaper than 2 x commercial shuttle.
All budgeted transport costs 26,388 70,000 ZAR
7 Workshop fee Otjinene Wikipedia workshop 1 12 700 8,400 ZAR There was a misunderstanding with the conference chair: I understood the fee to be for everybody actually attending the workshop, while they charged me for the maximum number of attendees. See also below.
All budgeted Workshop fees 800 USD Budgeted in USD, charged to me in ZAR.
8 Accommodation 9/10 October 2014: 2 participants 1 2 200 400 ZAR Not including breakfast
9 Breakfast 10 October 2014: 2 participants 1 2 210 420 ZAR 2 participants had had neither dinner on 9 Oct nor breakfast on 10 Oct, and ate twice on this occasion.
10 Accommodation 12/13 October 2014: 2 participants 1 2 200 400 ZAR Not including breakfast
11 Breakfast 13 October 2014: 2 participants 1 2 100 200 ZAR Estimated as standard amount per item #4 in the application (adapted for breakfast).
All budgeted Windhoek accommodation (bed and breakfast) 1,420 10,000 ZAR
12 Dinner 12 October 2014: 2 participants 1 2 180 360 ZAR Estimated as standard amount per item #5 in the application.
All budgeted Windhoek food 360 12,000 ZAR
13 Unforeseen expenses Visa application: participant 1 1 1 80 80 ZAR No embassy in Ghana, to be applied for locally in Namibia
14 Unforeseen expenses Account owner statement 1 1 75 75 ZAR WMF requirement. The bank charged for it...
All budgeted contingency expenses 155 10,000 ZAR
  1. Air travel participant 3: the travel agent said that the airport taxes (about half of the ticket price) could be refunded, but I haven't got it yet.
  2. Still discussing with the conference chair whether she really needs to charge the full workshop fee, considering that there were only two participants.
Total project budget (from your approved grant submission)
ZAR 147,550
Total amount requested from WMF
ZAR 110,000
Total amount spent on this project
I don't know - the cost for conducting the workshop were budgeted by the conference team. I only spent money on items approved in the grant application, and the conference team paid other items (e.g. the car and the translator)
Total amount of Project and Event grant funds spent on this project
ZAR 36,723
Are there additional sources that funded any part of this project? List them here.
Presumably the workshop fee did not cover the costs for actually conducting the workshop, so there is some implicit funding by the PDC.

Remaining funds[edit]

Remaining funds from this grant have been returned to WMF in the amount of US$1,412.44.
The funds remaining from this grant in the amount of 26,074.63 ZAR were deducted from another grant payment for Grants:TPS/Pgallert/e-Learning Africa 2015.
Remaining funds have been used or will be used for other approved mission-aligned activities. This use has been requested in writing and approved by WMF.
The funds remaining from this grant in the amount of 15,927.46 ZAR were deducted from another grant payment for Grants:TPS/Pgallert/CaTaC 2016.
Are there any grant funds remaining?
Please list the total amount (specify currency) remaining here. (This is the amount you did not use, or the amount you still have after completing your grant.)
ZAR 73,277 23,324.91, as of 13 September 2016 (details in discussion page)
Update: I used ZAR 26,074.63 attending the e-Learning Africa 2015 conference in Addis Ababa (Grants:TPS/Pgallert/e-Learning Africa 2015/Report).
If funds are remaining they must be returned to WMF, reallocated to mission-aligned activities, or applied to another approved grant.
Please state here if you intend to return unused funds to WMF, submit a request for reallocation, or submit a new grant request, and then follow the instructions on your approved grant submission.
From my point of view, I would like to:
  1. Attend the e-Learning Africa 2015 conference in Addis Ababa to present a talk on Wikipedia educational projects. This activity was suggested to me by Tighe Flanagan of the WMF. I have submitted a talk. The talk was accepted. I am now looking for sponsorship of the registration fee (390 Euro), the flight (TBD) and the accommodation (TBD). Update 10:51, 2 April 2015 (UTC): The submission for this activity is here: Grants:TPS/Pgallert/e-Learning Africa 2015 Done and deducted above. Pgallert (talk) 10:28, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
  2. visit another village to gather oral citation, on my own, for a couple of days. The cost for this follow-up would be a lot less than for the original workshop because no foreign travel is involved. I estimate I would need no more than ZAR 12,000 for the complete trip (car travel, payment for translator, token of appreciation for elders, accommodation, and food)
  3. return the rest of the money to the WMF.