Grants:Project/Global Voices/Strengthening Indigenous-Language Wikipedias in Latin America

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Mapping Research: Indigenous-Language Wikipedias in Latin America
summaryThis project seeks to create a peer-led network to provide the knowledge, capacity-building, mentoring, and support to indigenous communities across Latin America, to enable them to take active leadership and participate fully in the sustainable creation of Wikipedia content in their native languages.
targetOur project will impact all active and incubator Wikipedia projects in Latin American indigenous languages.
type of grantuncertain
amountTotal - US$10,662
this project needs...
created on23:44, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

En Español

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Explain the problem that you are trying to solve with this project. What is the issue you want to address? You can update and add to this later.

A review of the existing active and incubator Wikipedia projects in indigenous languages of Latin America reveals wide variations in activity from site to site. The great volume of Wikipedia articles written in other languages (e.g. Spanish and Portuguese) can, on one hand, be attributed to the existence of large number of speakers of those languages, compared to indigenous languages, of which there are relatively a low number of active sites and even more inactive incubator sites of indigenous languages of Latin America.

But this comparison obscures the existence of other obstacles to participation in Wikipedia projects by indigenous communities. For example, many communities lack a unifying consensus regarding orthography, or disagree over which variant to use. There are also fundamental technical challenges, as some languages require special characters that are not readily available on all computer keyboards. Other obstacles include the scarcity of internet connectivity and free time for volunteer activity. These may be some of the reasons why there seems to be low participation of native-speaking editors in Wikipedias in indigenous languages of Latin America, which is something this project aims to map.

Nevertheless, there are excellent examples of small communities of indigenous-language Wikipedians who have found ways to move their projects forward, compelled by a strong belief that “the sum of all human knowledge” is in fact incomplete if it is not also available in their own languages, which, like all languages, are repositories for concepts and ideas unique to their culture.

The proposed project will map and document these success stories, as well as instances where projects fell short of their own expectations and share their accounts of their challenges and how they are overcoming them.

While we acknowledge the importance and benefits of alliances, such those with as Wikipedia editors who are not native speakers of a language, we seek especially to empower native speakers to take a more active and central role in the development of Wikipedia in their languages. We seek to build upon the emerging movement of indigenous communities taking advantage of the internet and digital tools to access and create content in their native languages. This digital activism may also seek to influence policies and attitudes that can lead to more speakers of that language, which can help with increased online participation.

Building on our experience with indigenous language digital activism, we plan to facilitate the creation of a mutually supportive community with common objectives across its membership. For the past 24 months, Global Voices has been collaborating with a wide range of partners to convene activities related to indigenous language digital activism, including training in the use of blogs, social media, audio-visual content creation, and free software localization. We consider content creation or translation in Wikipedia to be a fundamental pillar of this work, which we are we seeking to better understand and help build peer-led systems to provide the necessary mentoring and support.

What is your solution?[edit]

We believe it is essential to understand the background story of each of the Wikipedia projects to be included in this mapping. Through communication with site editors, literature reviews, data analysis from Wikistats, and reviewing other already available information and documentation about these sites, we can obtain a broad overview of the current status, history, challenges, success stories, and best practices of the various active and incubator Wikipedia projects in Latin American indigenous languages.

The research team will develop a set of initial conclusions based both on overarching themes and on challenges unique to specific projects. Based on the collected feedback, recommendations for next steps will be developed.

Project goals[edit]

Long-term goal:

  • Increase participation by indigenous editors in Wikipedia projects in Latin America indigenous languages.

Short-term goals:

  • Conduct a participatory mapping project that documents the challenges facing Wikipedias in indigenous languages of Latin America, as well as the strategies to overcome these obstacles.

Project plan[edit]


We propose that this project will take place over the course of 12 months and be divided among the following activities:

1) Research and outreach - The team will begin online research, compiling available background information about the activities or actions that have led to the creation of existing indigenous-language Wikipedias. For example, one active contributor to Wikipedia in Guaraní has blogged about his first attempts at editing and his reliance on a fellow Wikipedian in Lithuania to help upload content to the site.

The team will also collect quantitative data through Wikistats to gain a broader view of each site's activity, and identify key actors. The team will reach out to registered editors in each of the sites to collect basic data, as well as members of chapters, community-based organizations or public/educational institutions to learn about previous efforts to train and support new editors in this field and learn about the results.

2) Interviews and data collection - Following the initial data collection, the research team will build a list of resources and subjects for more in-depth study, including active and inactive editors and Wikimedia chapter/user group members to be interviewed, and other organizations that have coordinated activities to encourage Wikipedias in indigenous languages.

3) Blogging and information sharing - The research team will document the research process in blog posts shared on the Wikimedia blog and republished on other sites such as Global Voices’ Activismo Lenguas portal, tagged with relevant metadata (e.g. language, country, tool) . Stories related to the mapping project will be published in a stand-alone section within the Activismo Lenguas site, making them easier to find. Select stories will also be translated by our volunteer community for publication in English. These, in turn, may be translated into other of the 43 languages available in Global Voices Lingua translation community. The blog posts will be shared on various social media channels to drive conversations their topics.


(looking for input from others that have implemented similar type projects)

Phase I (Research) - Total - US$10,662

  • Project Coordinator/Admin - over the course of 8 months = $US 5,500
  • Lead Researcher - over the course 7 months = $US 4,662.00
  • SkypeOut Credit for international calls (when interviewee has poor internet connection) - $US 200
  • Recording/transcribing software of interviews - $US 100
  • Direct admin costs (bank fees/transfers for staff payments) - US$200

Community engagement[edit]

We developed this idea following our first experience organizing an indigenous language digital activism event in Mexico in October 2014, where we discovered close commonalities with our friends and partners at Wikimedia Mexico. They were also interested in exploring ways to better support indigenous language Wikipedia projects in Mexico and graciously introduced us to members from other chapters from the region, as well as editors from local Wikipedias. From them, we learned much more about current efforts to build these communities about the the key actors working in this field. But we also learned that this was a highly complex space, and that we’d barely scratched the surface. The project has evolved into its present form precisely because of that community outreach and consultation, and we look forward to refining our plans further as a result of the community review process.

In preparing this proposal, we forged strong connections with regional Wikipedia chapters and user groups in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile. We also took advantage of existing relationships with native-speaking editors from sites such as Wikipedia in Wayuunaiki, Aymara, Náhuatl, and Guaraní, whom we asked for input. They expressed interest in learning more about work in other native language Wikipedias across the region, and in building relationships with them. We also reached out to Wikimedia Canada and to editors in India, including a Global Voices community member who is an active contributor at Wikipedia Odia. His input was especially in helping us formulate ideas for developing underrepresented- and minority-language initiatives.

The participatory nature of the mapping project means that we will not wait until the end to share findings and relevant information. By writing and sharing blog posts on topics of interest, we will encourage interviewees,editors and other community members involved in this movement to offer critiques and comments to further enrich the process.


When the grant ends, we fully expect a peer-led network comprised of native-speaking editors, as well as other individuals and organizations committed to supporting this movement, will be ready to lend assistance to communities interested in starting or continuing Wikipedia projects in their native language. While it is true that many online networks may lose traction over time, we feel that the face-to-face meeting where network members will come together to collaborate on the planning on the structure of the network and its future activities, will be essential in establishing the ties and relationships that will drive continued virtual collaboration.

A second phase can also be imagined following the creation of this network, and the workshop participants will be instrumental in defining the next steps. Other possible activities may include increased outreach to include trainings, offer of speaking engagements, and the creation or translation of online learning Wikipedia resources indigenous languages. This network could also provide information exchange and consultation to Wikimedia chapters and other community-based organizations and public institutions.

Measures of success[edit]

We plan to reach the following targets:

  • At least 25 blog posts published on Global Voices (tag feed to be included in Planet Wikimedia) and the Wikimedia Blog featuring a different active or incubator Wikipedia
  • At least 25 editors interviewed during the mapping project.
  • The creation of a page on meta with all of the documentation of the mapping project.
  • The creation of a final report summarizing the different case studies, conclusions, and recommendations contributed by the participants of the feedback workshop.
  • The defining of the internal communication platform for the network (e.g. can a talk page or an existing iberocoop discussion venue be used?)

Get involved[edit]


Our project team leader is Eddie Avila, Rising Voices Director at Global Voices, who lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Since 2007, he has been working with indigenous communities in Latin America, starting with the Voces Bolivianas project that provided blogging workshops to Aymara university students and out of which the first Aymara-language blog emerged. Further work with that community included a collaboration with Wikimedia Bolivia to organize workshops for the training of editors to contribute to Wikimedia Aymara. On assuming leadership of Global Voices’ Rising Voices section in 2010, Eddie began more targeted mentoring and work with additional indigenous communities, some of which concentrated on the use of digital media to revitalize languages in countries such as Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico.

In October 2014, Global Voices partnered with Wikimedia Mexico to organize the first Gathering of Indigenous Digital Activism in Oaxaca, Mexico, where community members led workshops on Wikipedia. A similar event took place in Bogota, Colombia in partnership with Wikimedia Venezuela and Wikimedians of Colombia, who sponsored the participation of an active editor from Wikipedia in Wayuunaiki. Based on these experiences, Global Voices co-organized a workshop for Wikipedia in indigenous languages of the State of Oaxaca, together with the Juan de Córdova Research Library and Wikimedia Mexico.

If the project is successfully funded, we will advertise the lead researcher position, relying on our network to help disseminate the opportunity and help review and ultimately select a candidate. Ideally this researcher will be an active participant and in the Wikimedia movement, and have existing connections with indigenous communities.

  • Volunteer I work with Eddie Avila from Bolivia, we stay in the same position, all projects need Native speakers as Native speakers have got another vision about the scientific themes when compared to Occidental mind. I would like to return to old projects as Wikimedia Indigenous Languages where I was working. Marrovi (talk) 01:23, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I can contribute in searching speakers of Indigenous Languages in Mexico. I know about a dozen of people speaking different languages. Davius (talk) 22:00, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I'm a native speaker of Da'an Davi (Xayacatlán Mixtec language) and I'm managing now 3 educative projects whith a team of Tsotsil, Tseltal, Tojolabal and Kanjobal people in five municipalities of Chiapas (Mexico). I can train native speakers in this locations for to collaborate in Wikipedia. yavi : : cáhan 01:57, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I'm a native speaker of Mexicano or Náhuatl (aztec language) and also I'm working with Eddie Avila from Bolivia. And I´m working directly with indigenous communities Tepoxteco (talk) 00:4, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I'm a native speaker of Mexicano or Náhuatl (aztec language) and I can collaborate writing and translating in my native language. Teòtlalili (talk) 22:16, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I'm a native speaker of Spanish who can train native speakers of Mapudungun (or Mapuche language) in Chile. Lin linao (talk) 17:15, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Trabajo para crear una comunidad de Wikipedia en mapudungun Lin linao (talk) 23:32, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Presto a ayudar en lo que se necesite Jduranboger (talk) 19:10, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Presto para ayudar en lo que se necesite Jduranboger (talk) 19:10, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I'm a native speaker of Spanish with professional command of German, English and Portuguese. I collaborate with Paraguayan linguists in their efforts of modernization and diffusion of the Guarani language. Glad to help here! --Fadesga (talk) 13:45, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

Community notification[edit]

Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?

  1. Shared to the Iberocoop Mailing List
  2. Shared to the Wikimedia Bolivia Mailing List
  3. Shared to the Wikimedia Languages List (forwarded to wikipedia-l and mediawiki-i18n)
  4. Personal emails to individual editors, members of regional chapters and user groups, and others interested in the topic


Do you think this project should be selected for a Project Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • I support this project wholeheartedly in my volunteer capacity. I have worked with Eddie personally for a long time and have seen works initiatives so far to grow the Indigenous languages of Latin America in Eddie's leadership. All the works are very intensive, well documented openly for others to learn and do similar work for their own languages. I have got the chance to meet some of the existing volunteers from Latin America during the Global Voices Summit. Their work ethics and commitment is worth rewarding. I think this grant will enable them expand the work further. Subhashish Panigrahi (talk) 03:29, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I firmly support this appeal for a grant by Eddie Avila. It has very compelling mission and Eddie has practice and abilities to accomplish it (as he interviewed me frequently about my work with Guarani Wikipedia, it become clear what he is prepared for this aim). Most of Native American languages are vanishing as the new wave of technologies based on English/Spanish/Portuguese languages reaches them. Supporting these people who are interested in creating online content in their native languages (or helping for native speakers) is essential. I hope this meeting will come true with the help of Wikimedia and it's participants will draw new ideas and energy to develop Wikipedias in Native American languages. Hugo.arg (talk) 08:35, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I endorse this project because of its innovativeness and because if successful, it could be duplicated in other regions of the world with documented poor representation of certain linguistic groups. Adabfx (talk) 23:55, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this project, it could benefit to the coordination of initiatives around indigenous languages in Wikipedia projects. The team is experienced and has a good structure to support the action. Seeris (talk) 12:16, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this project. The motivations and frameworks that guide younger wikipedias and their usage is in dire need of focussed study. Pusle8 (talk) 10:14, 12 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this project. Understanding needs and attitudes of individual communities and sharing experiences are key to developing and maintaining sustainable wikipedias of smaller languages. Loztron (talk) 10:01, 13 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this project. We need more participation from Native speakers in Native American Wikipedias and new projects in Incubator for American languages. --Marrovi (talk) 19:58, 13 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Definitely needed! --Millosh (talk) 22:58, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I endorse and support the creation of this project.Maunus (talk) 06:14, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • This seems to be an interesting and great project, I support it, Claudi Balaguer/Capsot.
  • I support this project. Because I grew up an very small comnunitie, and we need more participation from Native speakers in our indigenous languages in Wikipedia projects --Tepoxteco (talk) 13:39, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this project. Because I think it is very important more participation from Native speakers in our indigenous languages in Wikipedia projects.--Teòtlalili (talk)
  • On behalf of Wikimedia Mexico board, our endorsment to the project. Supporting Indigenous Languages on Wikimedia is one of our activities in the chapter and this project will support us to have a better understanding of the current panorama. Also we worked two times on the initiative leaded by Eddie in Rising Voices regarding to Indigenous Languages and Internet Activism Fostering in Mexico where we can testify his experience as project manager and team leader. Best, ProtoplasmaKid (WM-MX) (talk) 19:03, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I really support the project. In Bolivia, we have to work more with another native languages besides Aymara and Quechua. I have been passive volunteer for Wikipedia Aymara, so far. With the proposal of Eddie Avila there is a hope to begin with many other native languages. Ruben
  • I support this project. I'm interested in the Mapudungun Wikipedia project in Incubator with almost 400 stubs. It only needs a small push in order to create a community to sustain it. / Apoyo este proyecto. Estoy interesado en el proyecto de Wikipedia en Mapudungun (hablado en Chile y Argentina por más de 100 mil personas), que tiene casi 400 miniesbozos en la Incubadora. Solo le falta un pequeño empujón a la creación de una comunidad que lo gestione y le permita perdurar. Lin linao (talk) 17:11, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Good Project --Nurunnaby Chowdhury (Hasive)talk • 12:32, 28 August 2016 (UTC)
  • On behalf of Wikimedia Bolivia Working Group, our endorsment to the project.--Jduranboger (talk) 16:57, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support personally and on behalf of Wikipedias in the languages of Russia, as a very important initiative. Best regards, -- Frhdkazan (talk) 18:54, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support --Fadesga (talk) 13:45, 14 December 2016 (UTC)