Grants talk:PEG/Gerard Meijssen and Michael Everson/Batak

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My knowledge about Batak is close to 0 - but anyway - I found that the Unicode-based font for Batak exists already: [1]. It is been created by people from Hawaii University... and the licence [2] although not 100% free - allows for free use and distribution. Can you comment on this? What is wrong with actually freely available fonts, which prevents them for using by museums? Is there any direct advantage of having new fonts for Wikimedia projects? Are you going to put some source documents in Batak to wikisources?Polimerek 11:06, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hoi, I am not aware of an existing font. There is certainly not a freely licensed font. Having a GLAM project related to language is about transcribing original sources. Scanning them and showing the scan does not allow for using them as a text. Yes, I have contact with the Tropenmuseum about original texts in Batak and the Batak script. We even discussed reaching out to other museums for the initial digitising so that texts can be transcribed.
Thank, 10:12, 12 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe you can look into the Batak font Polimerek has linked to? Perhaps Dr. Kozok may grant our request to clearly release the font under a free license? Ijon 11:05, 12 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I have several questions about the font.
    • How long would it take to create one?
No idea, it is a craft and it needs some technical work to make it scale.
    • Does Michael Everson works full time?
He does not,
    • Is there any Batak Wikipemedia project and if yes, what font is used?
There is no project, the point of this project is to demonstrate that analog dat can be digitised ONLY when there is a font. This is a demonstration project, it is a GLAM project, all parts are in place to be executed
    • Are there Batak electronic media and if yes, what font is used? Thank you for the answers.--Victoria 10:29, 20 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is no Unicode font freely licensed or otherwise.

Thanks, Gmeijssen 21:38, 22 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Based on the information above I think that creation of the font should be funded as asked: these are unique skills. The only condition would be continuos support (say, for a year after font creation) - there are always bugs in any programme/digital media.--Victoria 11:48, 25 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good point, thanks Victoria! Gerard, can that be stipulated as part of the prospective agreement? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:07, 26 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A font is kinda binary; it works or it does not. There are no active parts in it. We will want to support it as a webfont I am sure and when it passes the tests of the localisation team it will be good. 10:59, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's not correct at all. I'm sure Mr. Everson would not endorse your statement above. In fact, when a font "works" in the minimal sense of being loadable by the operating system and rendering something for every relevant code point, there can still be multiple issues, such as bad kerning, missing/incorrect glyphs (language experts need to verify -- the WMF L10N team does not include a Batak expert, hence is not equipped to do acceptance testing of the product). I join Victoria in seeking re-assurance (which I'm sure is not unusual) from the prospective contractor that his price includes some provision for "fix-ups" as determined by an agreed-upon expert. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 19:45, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Validity, heads up, previous work[edit]

At first this grant looked strange to me, because I'm positive that a grant may not be used to hire somebody to take pictures or write pages, though it may be used to promote volunteer work. But perhaps a font is closer to software. In that case, may grants apply to hire a software developer? From my understanding, ordinarily not.

On the other hand, there is the case that this is actually basic infrastructure that is missing in order to make material available. Just like the foundation hires people to hack Mediawiki, it could pay somebody to produce this piece of infrastructure. And since font creation is a quite specialized field, it can be argued that it would be unlikely that volunteers would do it (though not impossible). In this sense I think the proposal stands on its own, though the foundation should consult somebody familiar with font design to evaluate the value requested - I haven't the slightest idea.

But, and this is important, maybe you should get some kind of heads up from the archives and museums you intend to contact about this, before spending the money on the font. It would be good to know that they understand the situation and are willing to work on digitizing material and making it available under a free licence, before we spend money on the infrastructure for that. You could even present it to them as a collaboration: you enter in with the font, they enter with freely licensed digitized works. If you have as much as one museum willing to do it, it will already make a much stronger case for needing a font paid by the foundation - and not by a research or culture funding agency accessible to the people who study this language.

Finally, regarding the "free as in beer" fonts that Polimerek pointed to, perhaps you should consider trying to convince the publisher of that font to free it "as in freedom" before spending that much money creating a new one. I think there is a good case for him releasing his work under a free license, specially if, like I mentioned, you already have some kind of agreement with this or that archive about digitizing works - the usefulness of it could be an incentive for him.

--Solstag 05:55, 15 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have communicated with the author and he made it clear that his font is substandard. He pointed to the one person who can do a good job. He is the guy who I want to create the font. Gmeijssen 17:03, 16 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, well done! Now, I still miss a clearer picture of what volunteer work is this infrastructure going to serve. Have you already negotiated contributions with the museums? Have you engaged interested volunteers to work on the wiki side? I guess this goes along the line of Ijon's questions below, so you may skip this and reply there :) Thanks!! --Solstag 04:05, 18 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have contacts withthe Tropenmuseum and I discussed this with them as a project. The one thing I will also do is contact other museums about their Batak content. Blogging is what I do and calling for volunteers will be heard <grin>

Project steps[edit]

The application is really something completely new for me. Your intention is very-well conceived and the aim is clear, but I think we need more details focusing on the steps that you need to pass through on this project. On the other hand, since you mention that many other languages lack the specific fonts, what is the motivation to use the Batak language as a milestone? Best regards.--Kiril Simeonovski 15:21, 16 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All the parts to make this project a success are considered and in place. The only thing missing is the font. This project has as its objectives:
  • It demonstrates how language support is also essential for source material. The history of Indonesia and the Netherlands is incomplete when the documents in Batak cannot be read / considered.
  • This project shows another approach to GLAM projects. It is not about illustration
  • This project allows for the cooperation of people who are living wherever in the world.
  • The choice for Batak is because of Batak being in the Tropenmuseum AND because it is relatively small in what they have. The point is not to do the most relevant or the hardest. The point is to make sure that the results are achievable.

Thanks, Gmeijssen 07:41, 17 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for clearing it up. Now it seems more understandable to me, but what is the interest of the governing bodies of this language on these fonts, and what is the possibility to get in touch with them for the sake of this project? Best.--Kiril Simeonovski 22:22, 21 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is no such thing as a "governing body" for the Batak language. The definition for Batak has been accepted in Unicode. This is as far as it goes. I know that professors who study the language are happy with the definition. Thanks, Gmeijssen 21:43, 22 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Who does this engage with?[edit]

Three quick questions:

  1. Are there any Wikipedians or other activists waiting to engage with a Batak font and the materials you mention, as soon as those become available? If so, who are they, where are they based, and what is the plan?
  2. Have you tried getting Wikimedia Indonesia interested in supporting (not necessarily funding) this work?
  3. What is the purpose of the trip to Indonesia?

Thanks. Ijon 23:25, 17 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • This project is a mix of language support (my WMF job) and GLAM (something I have been involved with for years). The key thing is that this project is a game changer; we can do other things then just "liberating" illustrations. We can truly make text available by transcription. Particlarly those scripts that are new to the Internet have no Internet presence.
  • I have sterling connections in Indonesia, but the crux of the matter is that like my previous projects the action is NOT in Indonesia, it is here in the Old world. The museums are here, the scanning will be done here. Here is where the documents are.
  • When you want to make an impact at some stage it PAYS to do outreach. Indonesia is rich in languages with other scripts. When the project is well under way, it makes sense to have at a conference someone of the project explain what is being done and its relevance in person.

I am good at that and, I am the right person to tell the story because it is my idea, my passion to enable Batak on the Internet. Thanks, Gmeijssen 10:46, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for this response. I think I have gotten an answer to #2 and #3, but not to #1. Who will be doing the actual work, once a Batak font is made available? Ijon 18:27, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have discussed this with people in academia and GLAM who are interested in this. Setting up the typing of Batak and making a call for volunteers is what I will do. There are examples to work from; it is how the Malayalam Wikibooks and Wikisource gets its content. Thanks, Gmeijssen 02:05, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm still a little concerned about this: how can we guarantee that, if this is approved, we don't find ourselves, 4000 Euros later, with a superb free font and no one to use it? Perhaps you could try to recruit some folks who are willing to at least make (on-wiki) a statement-of-interest in working on this once a font is available, so we can feel more confident this will actually be put to use? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:55, 27 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The point of the exercise is that we will enable historic texts for several cultures to appear on computers / the web. The font will be used by anyone who has an interest in the Batak cultures including a professor from Honolulu :)
This is a demonstration project first and foremost. It is a GLAM project and a Wikisource project. When people who speak Batak pick it up, it is very much a fringe benefit. Thanks, 11:03, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The exercise would have no point if, like I said, we'll have a perfect Batak font nobody would ever use. If there's anyone interested in doing the actual work of transcribing some Batak texts (even one or two volunteers!), funding this makes sense, and would have the other benefits you describe, e.g. proof-of-value. But having someone to engage with this product when it's ready is not a fringe benefit, it is a sine qua non for spending donor funds on this today rather in the indeterminate future, when such volunteers are found.
As I say, we are of the opinion that spending money on creating this free font is a good idea, provided there are volunteers who would make use it. Perhaps some outreach among Batak speakers (or scholars) would yield the one or two volunteers needed to make this feasible. But we have better things to do with 6000 Euro than create a theoretical possibility for work to be done in Batak. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 19:45, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am volunteering, is that not obvious? I will get new source material and I will work on several selected works. Gmeijssen (talk) 17:48, 24 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Actually, it wasn't! :) I'm glad you have now made that clear. If you're personally committed to doing at some work on this, once the font is created, that's good. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 18:17, 24 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMAU Funding[edit]

I note that WMAU has already pledged AUD300 for a "travel grant to allow key people to meet in Indonesia to discuss potential Batak script usage in Wikimedia projects." (source). Is this factored into the travel budget? Craig Franklin 00:42, 25 October 2011 (UTC).Reply[reply]

I am happy to learn about this but it is not relevant. I asked them for funding for this project. I did not get a positive result, they did not communicate this either. Travelling does not constitute what is the essence of this project: a fully functional, freely licensed font for Batak. Gmeijssen 02:02, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Travel to Indonesia[edit]

The grant figures look like approximation under 2 headings for 6000 Euros, not a small amount. You might know, there is an Indonesian Chapter and a strong Indonesian community already, have you tried contacting Siska or anyone in Indonesia, to get their support or opinion on this? They might have undertaken similar efforts or could provide guidance. Theo10011 03:35, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, this doesn't "break new grounds", you might want to read what GLAM means, Galleries, libraries and Museums. Localization and scripts are neither of those. This is pure and simple a localization project and should not be under GLAM. Theo10011 03:45, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems to me that Gerard mentioned he intends not just to make Batak transcriptions technically feasible (which is localization, as you say), but also to broker a partnership with the Tropenmuseum and other GLAM institutions with Batak holdings, for source material. That is certainly GLAM work. Ijon 19:20, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ijon, the only mention I see of a museum in the grant is this line, "The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam for instance has a rich collection of content in the Batak language." That is like saying the uffizi has a rich collection of latin script, there is not a single mention of a partnership in the grant, if that is related maybe he can expand his grant to mention a partnership. Second, Tropenmuseum is physically closer to gerardM, if they are interested, they can consider supporting the effort. So far, I see no proper mention of a museum or how this involves a museum in the grant besides - a museum close to him has works in that script. Theo10011 19:49, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was referring to this edit, in this very talk page. You are correct that the Grant page itself did not make it clear. May I remark your comments come across as a little hostile? I point this out because I'm sure that's not your intent. Ijon 19:59, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi asaf, they are indeed not intended to be hostile. They are intended to provide the same analysis and feedback I've seen other grants go through for a tenth of the amount and twice the documentation, I am trying to uphold the same standards. Now may I remark, that GerardM's position as a staff member and his use of volunteer and staff accounts to request this grant, conflates this request, ideally, the two should be kept separate. Again, I don't intend to sound hostile but grants like this might give the appearance of impropriety, when a co-worker would be the one approving the grant from an grantor organization that is currently employing the grantee. I am bringing it up here in the interest of openness, so this doesn't set a bad precedent or goes unnoticed. I hope you can realize that my intention is to confront it, so others don't read into it later. Apologies to Gerard or others, if my tone seemed hostile. Theo10011 21:26, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree it would have been ideal if Gerard were not simultaneously doing paid work for the Foundation. Let me make it clear that although Gerard was using his Foundation account, getting Batak on the Internet is not a current goal of the Foundation, and, like e.g GLAM, if approved, would be done as a community initiative supported by the Foundation. This makes it even more important to receive community review, from the GAC as well as from other community observers (and thank you for the feedback! I do appreciate it!). Rest assured this grant would not be approved without due process and before the concerns raised in this talk page are duly addressed. Ijon 22:22, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks Asaf, I appreciate the clarification. I had an idea of the WMF's position on this but it is better to have it stated, that the two things are indeed separate. Again, I wish to apologize if anyone took my tone as hostile or aggressive, it wasn't my intention. Regards. Theo10011 00:37, 26 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Possible Conflict of Interest[edit]

Hi, first you are using your staff account to defend a grant you made as a volunteer. Second, you are currently a contractor/staff for the foundation, if you are planning on undertaking this grant as an employee, it might be better to ask WMF directly? or are you waiting to undertake this after your contract? if so, then please mention so, ASAP is not a timeline. You are also requesting a grant for localization under GLAM as a staff member with very little actual information or budget, and defending your position from your staff account, do we consider this your volunteer application or representative of WMF? Theo10011 03:40, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am working part time for the WMF. This leaves me with ample time to do the things I find important .. This has both language and GLAM in it. I have been active in both fields. What this does is showcase that many resources that linger in the vaults of museums and archives have little relevance to where they are stored but all the more when you look at it from a global perspective.
Consider for instance the wealth of material that ended up from India and its cultures in British museums. I will not say that they should be repatriated. What I will say is that the transcription of documents and texts on objects with photos and making them available on the Internet is the least controversial way of making such material available to the peoples the cultures that produced these things.
Read my blog and you will know that this is a consistent message coming from me. Thanks, Gmeijssen 15:20, 1 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And the 6000 € goes to....[edit]

Where? You have a request for 6k euro, for a "project" that you don't describe, with no measurements of success, pages to look to, or budget. This is not a nice grant request. Can you at least tell us WHY do you need 6k euro to this? How do you plan to spend this? Béria Lima msg 20:55, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hehe, I guess what Beria is saying is, please provide more detail about your planned trip, where are you going to and, most importantly, what do you plan to achieve there. And detail the budget in terms of individual flights and hotel rooms. About the font, give us the means to understand why 4k€ is a reasonable amount for this work and why nobody else is avaiable to do it for less, as most of us - if not all - have never dealt in the typography services market. Hugs, --Solstag 18:37, 7 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
By the way, I appreciate the most recent changes to the request. They have helped a lot, :) , but still fall short in terms of what this topic is concerned. --Solstag 18:39, 7 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are not that many people who can have a script go through the Unicode process, have the necessary contacts to ensure that a following font will be correct and actually work. The notion to go shopping is not realistic.
The trip for Indonesia coincides with a planned conference where the idea is to have many more languages consider a Wikipedia. Script issues are certain to be a factor, having the Batak example introduced as an example of what can be done expedites the digitisation of historic texts. I do not know the exact amount of money however I do expect to incur costs in the Netherlands as well. Thanks, GerardM 07:52, 3 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks Gerard. I am satisfied with this. I understand that creating good fonts is a very specific skill, and since Michael was the guy defining Batak in the Unicode process, and since both you and the "professor from hawaii" pledge for him, he sounds like a reasonable choice. I'll just note that you could have provided a link like this one in the body of your proposal, it would have helped a lot our understanding of your choice and avoided many repeated questions. In any case, it seems to me now that this is not the part of the grant that is stopping it from approval, so go take a look at the part about the travel budget :) Ni! --Solstag 04:39, 25 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just to clarify, by "satisfied with this" and "this is not the part stopping approval", I'm referring to the choice of Michael to create the font. I'm also kind of convinced that the price is reasonable, since I'm assuming, as you suggest, that he is going to deliver superb fonts, which I estimate will take him at least a whole month of dedicated work. However, it would still help if you could provide some reference to put this price in perspective, though the issues with the travel budget being discussed in that other section still look like more of an issue to me. Thanks again! --Solstag 04:58, 25 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do not have alternate sources. Consequently I do not have alternate prices. Given the amount of work involved in getting a script to the stage where a font is actually an option, given the fact that for Michael it is already a labor of love there is not much more to say. Thanks, 11:07, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Travel breakdown[edit]

Could you break down the travel item? It's unclear what these 2000 Euros would fund. Also, as you will no doubt be attending the Bali event, perhaps your planned travel to Indonesia can be combined with that travel and significantly reduce the travel amount required here? Ijon 18:45, 29 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

At this time there is no indication that I will be going to the Bali event. It is however more important for Michael to go to Indonesia then me. Thanks, Gmeijssen 15:13, 1 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, please do give some details about the purpose of the Indonesia trip and its expected outcome. While the link to Indonesia is obvious, the purpose of the trip is not. Ijon 21:43, 2 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
GerardM, your recent comment in the previous section seems to contradict your reply in this section. So just to get the facts straight, please provide very clear details on the requested funding for a trip to Indonesia -- who is to go, for what purpose, and what is the plan. This request is stalled waiting on your input. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:31, 19 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is a plan to have a WMF conference in Indonesia promoting minority languages. It is possible that I will go their co of the WMF. Michael can be of much more relevance going there. He can learn about scripts that are not yet in Unicode and prepare for this. When it turns out that he will not goto Indonesia, the 2000 EURO minus other costs can be used for for instance the SignWriting script he is working towards introducing into Unicode.. (we have several requests for Wikipedias for this and the SignWriting Foundation has a developer who is also developing an extension for this) These people are very much underfunded. Thanks, Gmeijssen 21:55, 22 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gerard, I think by "break down the travel budget" we mean for you to specify how much is going to be spent in transportation, accommodation and meals, so we're still waiting for that - please add those details into the proposal, it is much better than replying here.

Also, I don't think it is acceptable to conflate a grant's project with a different one, even if related, so if you want to help fund SignWriting start another grant proposal, don't try to channel money from this one into that. If you're already going to Indonesia courtesy of your work with the WMF, and if Michael can't make it, then this grant should simply abstain from receiving that amount. This is much simpler and more transparent.

--Solstag 04:26, 25 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Indeed. Thanks, Ale. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:06, 26 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My plan has two parts; the traveling and the font. I am seeking 6000 EURO. This does include all costs including the traveling to Indonesia. Given that a trip to Indonesia can be around 1500 EURO easy depending on time and stuff it only leaves a limited amount for anything else. I cannot budget it realistically better at this point in time. Thanks 11:10, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Gerard (I'm assuming that's you, since you did not sign in), we're not asking for a precise definitive budget. Just break down the 2000 you ask for travel, so we can see your current guess at a price has some thinking behind it, and even help you with that. It's not our task to guess how much of that value will go for airplane expenses, accommodation, local transportation etc. And it shouldn't be hard to provide that, unless your estimate is completely made up - consulting a couple travel websites or calling a travel agency should suffice. Also, you did not make it any clearer the point about whose travel is this money to pay for. Hugs, --Solstag (talk) 15:06, 23 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

GAC members who have read this request but had no comments[edit]

  1. Even if the request of grant is old, I have had some concerns but there are some on going discussions that are already analyzing them. --Ilario (talk) 08:44, 10 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. Agree with Ilario Abbasjnr (talk) 04:06, 17 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Amended proposal[edit]

Hoi, as the proposal was in two parts and as it is hard to properly budget the part invollving a linguistic trip to Indonesia, I like to alter the proposal by cutting that part from the proposal.

  • The proposal is now to have a font for the Batak script to be developed by Michael Everson. This will cost EUR 4000,--
  • Finally I would like a budget of 400 EURO to cover travel costs to museums.

Thanks, Gmeijssen (talk) 17:05, 17 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hmm... given that, as stated above, you are personally committed to do the outreach to museums and community in order to make the best use of the delivered fonts, and in light of all the discussion about font quality and price we've had so far, I support this amended proposal and have no further comments. For myself, I look forward to see the development and potential of an unusual project like this one. I hope you still get to go to Indonesia someday, and talk about the font there, perhaps on vacations :) Ni! --Solstag (talk) 19:00, 17 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi, nine months has passed. Any result that can be used for Batak projects in Incubator? Bennylin 17:11, 22 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is the grant work done?[edit]

The grant duration (one year) has elapsed a few weeks ago. You have about two more months to prepare your report, but I wanted to get a quick confirmation that the work has been carried out and that you will be submitting a report on time. Thanks! Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 21:37, 13 May 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

bugzilla:54528. --Nemo 11:04, 29 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Neat! Thanks, Nemo. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 22:57, 29 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Report past due[edit]

Hello! This report is now past due. We still have not received any responses to our requests to this report by Email. Please do update us on the status of this report or submit it immediately. Thank you, Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator) talk 18:15, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sorry, but I did not receive any requests about this report until today only by e-mail. I have no record of any other e-mail being sent to me. I am travelling at the moment and it will take a little time to prepare a report. Evertype (talk) 08:29, 27 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you. Take the time you need to prepare the report. Can you offer an estimated date by which you think it would be ready?
(This was indeed the first time we e-mailed you. Reporting after a year and three months was an expectation set out in the grant agreement. The grant was approved in April 2012.) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 17:17, 27 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]