Grants:Project/Rapid/Oral history digitization/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Rapid Grant approved in FY 2017-18 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Project/Rapid/Oral history digitization.
  • 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 rapidgrants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.


Did you meet your goals? Are you happy with how the project went?

All the 32 videos were successfully uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, this adds up to 70 hours of high quality video material of oral history about Iran. The process was quite complicated due to the size of the files and took longer than we expected, but we managed to convert all the available files and even more material than we originally expected. We were also happy how this projects created momentum among local expat communities of Farsi and Arab speakers and organisations which work for or with these groups. We held multiple meetings with them to seek future cooperation and possible ways of involving more people in Wikipedia. Nevertheless, we had to learn that we underestimated the barriers (e.g. levels of media literacy, technical equipment such as Farsi/Arab keyboards) to empower such diverse groups of newcomers to contribute to Wikipedia and hence did not succeed to create the amount of Wikipedia content that we originally planned.


Please report on your original project targets.

Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
Number of total participants: 10-30 (with an emphasis on diversity of participants) 60 We conducted two orientation programs with a total number of approx. 60 participants from various cultural and language communities in Afghanistan and Iran. However, due to various social and technological barriers only around 10% of the participants were able to productively work and edit on Wikipedia.
Number of articles created or improved: 300 15 Due the challenges mentioned above in combination with the extreme heterogeneity of the participants (from people who can only read and write to people who have higher education) the output of articles was much below our expectations.
Number of photos uploaded to Wikimedia Commons: 50 hours video 70 hours We prioritized the upload of the videos over the pictures, as the videos are almost impossible to upload from within Iran. As this was more time consuming than expected, the photos will be added after we close this grant / after of the official project timeframe.
Number of files used on Wikimedia projects: 100 articles 43 As a result of the challenges described in 3) fewer articles could be illustrated with photos. However, we will still be working on it after the official end of this grant project.


Projects do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:

  • What worked well?

The project generated valuable open educational resources which can be especially helpful for refugees in Europe and other parts of the world. In addition, the project showed that the refugees also hold valuable perspectives and knowledge that is beneficial for the diversity and quality of Wikimedia content and that vice versa online volunteering for Wikimedia might be a good tool for integration and skill building during the long waiting times in the asylum process. This project can be seen as a pilot which generated valuable insights about the opportunities and challenges of projects for and with refugees in Austria and Europe.

  • What did not work so well?

The video conversion was more complex and time-consuming than we thought. We also underestimated the technological and social challenges that come with this work: Many of the refugees lack essential tools to work with Wikimedia projects, like laptops and internet connection. We could also not provide large numbers of laptops for the courses and for the equipment we had, “small” things like not having suitable keyboards for Farsi and Arabic made a huge difference in terms of productivity. The groups were heterogeneous in terms of educational background and culture (which can also lead to interpersonal conflicts).

  • What would you do differently next time?

We would work more closely with refugee organizations in the preparation phase, to learn more about the challenges and requirements in order to plan more realistically. We also think - and that was confirmed by other groups, who do similar work, e.g. in Italy - that in the long run some pedagogical expertise is key to make such programs successful and sustainable.


Grant funds spent[edit]

Please describe how much grant money you spent for approved expenses, and tell us what you spent it on.

Exchange rate: 1 EUR = 1.09 USD

Expenditure Actual costs (EUR) Estimated costs (EUR) Total USD
Per diem 396 400 431.64
Accomodation 233 700 253.97
Public transport 48.60 33 52.97
Technical equipment 676.91 300 737.83
Travel to Vienna 150 150 163.5
Farsi Keyboards 95,50 - 104,10
Total revenues 1,608.60 EUR 1,583.00 EUR 1,753.91 USD

There are two major deviations from the proposed budget, which were approved by WMF staff:

  • The storage device expenses turned our to be higher than expected: 600 instead of 300 EUR, as the files are considerably bigger after they are converted into a format that is suitable for Commons.
  • The accomodation in return cost less. We chose a cheaper hotel to make up for the increase mentioned above.

Remaining funds[edit]

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.

Do you have any remaining grant funds?

Yes, 78.49 EUR (86 USD) of the funds were not used. We suggest that the unused funds will be subtracted from WMAT’s next FDC grant instalment.

Anything else[edit]

Anything else you want to share about your project?

Wikipedia is one of the most accessible online sources for knowledge. It can support refugees with information about the geography, culture, and heritage of their new surroundings in their native languages. The same is true for information about the cultural heritage of their home countries, e.g. when it comes to teach children about the roots of their families. However, currently a lot of this information does not exist at all in all necessary languages or could be improved (regarding quality or the diversity of perspectives). Teaching refugees to edit Wikipedia helps to enrich this content and make it available for everybody and empowers participants to navigate online resources, assess sources, and the quality of information as well as to contribute their own knowledge.

We are happy that we could contribute to this through this rapid grant and are glad to report that the efforts will continue after the end of this project: WMAT will develop a more systematic approach to working with refugees in Austria as part of their incubator program. Several other European chapters (WMUK, WMSE, WMNL etc.) are currently doing similar projects and started to collaborate around this topic to learn from each other and to look for scalable approaches. We believe that some of the groundwork we did in the context of this project will be beneficial for these next steps and we are happy to support those initiatives with our network and know-how.