Grants talk:PEG/Ravidreams - Tamil Wikimedians/TamilWiki 10 years/Report

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Please register your comments and questions about the report here. Thanks.--Ravi (talk) 19:22, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

Report Approved[edit]

Congratulations on a very successful project! Thank you for this very thorough and detailed report (with great photos and video!). We especially appreciate your discussion of lessons learned. One follow-up question is what was the community's role in getting the 20 volumes of encyclopedic content released under CC license? What plans do the government or community have for digitizing them? Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 20:43, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi Alex, releasing 20 volumes of encyclopedic content under CC license is a 100% community initiated effort. This was spearheaded by Prof. C. R. Selvakumar, a long time Tamil Wikipedian and sysop ( Watch his interview here). He flew down from Canada on his own for the 10 year celebrations. On 24th September 2013, few days before the two day celebrations, he gave a guest lecture about Tamil Wikipedia at Tamil Virtual Academy, a Tamilnadu State Government institution that works on Tamil development through Internet. During the discussion after his speech, we were asked how they can contribute for Tamil Wikipedia. They also wondered that even though they do various digitalization works, it is only Tamil Wikipedia that appears first in Google search results :) . We saw a win-win situation here and suggested that they donate their content under Creative Commons after we which we can upload them in Tamil Wikisource. Tamil Wikimedia community can boast of continuing good relationship with this institution since 2010 when they donated around 200,000 words to be added in Tamil Wiktionary from the technical glossaries they have created. Needless to say, the successful uploading of all these words in Tamil Wiktionary stood testimony to the commitment from our community. During the next few days, four Tamil Wikipedians namely Sundar, Mayooranathan, Ravishankar and Prof. C. R. Selvakumar met the director of Tamil Virtudal academy Dr. P. R. Nakkeeran and the Chairman of Tamil Development Board Dr. V. C. Kulandaiswamy and explained the benefits of releasing the content under Creative Commons. The authorities were content with our proposal and in October 2013, the Executive Board of Tamil Development Board agreed to release these encyclopedic works under Creative Commons. A formal written letter to this effect was given to us on 19th July 2014. We are planning to conduct a small event to publicize this effort and create more awareness. We hope that the successful completion of adding this content to Tamil Wikimedia projects in future will encourage more such content to be released in public domain.
Regarding the next step forward, these books are already available as scanned copies in Tamil Virtual Academy website. So, we can start using them right away in Tamil Wikipedia to improve article quality. This is a significant resource for languages like Tamil for which very little quality content is avaliable online. We have also started discussing in Tamil Wikipedia regarding various strategies for uploading the content in Tamil Wikisource. It is an ongoing discussion which in principle agrees that the work should be done professionally in a time bound manner without burning out the small Tamil Wikimedia community while also preserving Wikimedia ideals of volunteering. We note that the CIS-A2K team in India has been uploading similar content to Wikisource with a program budget allocated for it (See example here). So, seeking a separate grant to help in uploading these works is also an option. We are looking for precedents in Wikimedia world for this kind of content upload and will appreciate any direction from the WMF team.--Ravi (talk) 21:38, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the information, Ravi. It is fantastic to learn about this significant success by the community, and the massive contribution to online Tamil content this represents.
To your question about how to go about transcribing the content and making it available on Tamil Wikisource, I will offer this clarification: transcribing and proofreading pages on Wikisource, just like contributing content on Wikipedia and Commons, is expected to be done by volunteers. CIS-A2K did indeed run an experiment with the Konkani Vishwakosh wikipedia, where Goa university students were assigned bits of the digitized scans to transcribe. The usernames listed on that page you linked to are all volunteers. While many have contributed only during that semester, a handful continue to work on this even today, as their contribution histories on the Incubator will show.
The funded part of that work was the CIS employee who travelled to Goa, delivered several training sessions, coordinated the work, and supported the volunteers with technical questions. That sort of effort is acceptable as funded work, and we are open to discuss a similar model to work on this Tamil encyclopedia. If, after consulting with your community, you would like to pursue that discussion, let us know. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:37, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Asaf, thanks for the clarification. But, evidence for payment to type content in KonKani Encylopedia digitisation program can be seen here. The CIS-A2K volunteer enrolment brochure also clearly promises remuneration for 30 selected students. You have also previouly said that such practices cannot be considered as paid content generation. So, please clarify if Tamil or any other community is free to follow this model of paying people to type content that can be uploaded in WikiSource. Thanks. --Ravi (talk) 19:23, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for pointing out this inconsistency, Ravi! I am surprised to discover the fact the students were "remunerated"; looking closely now, I see it was indeed mentioned in the brochure, but was not part of the project descriptions and reports I have read (though the link to the brochure was included in one of those descriptions; I must have missed the mention of remuneration when glancing at the brochure).
This does go against our general expectations. As I had explained in that answer you linked to, paying for the facilitation of a massive content ingestion (in this case, for example, all the negotiation, logistics, and physical, manual scanning of those four volumes) is fine, and helpful; but the longer-term gradual transcription and proofreading are expected to be done by volunteer labor. I am sorry to only be discovering this now.
Looking ahead, what kinds of work precisely did you (or your community) have in mind for the processing of the 20 volumes, as they are already scanned? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:55, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
Hi Asaf, thanks for clarifying about the KonKani Encyclopedia digitization project. The precise work we need to do next is to type and upload all the content to Tamil Wikisource. Many of the articles can be updated, modified and reused in Tamil Wikipedia once this work is completed. The question we face is how to get this done. Following are two options I can think of:
1. Volunteers type all the content. Besides taking years to complete, this won't do justice for the value of time of volunteers who can do more valuable work than typing mechanically. A program like IT at School present in Kerala or a contest can encourage more people to join this effort but not all communities can't emulate this model successfully. 2. Request WMF to give a grant to the owner of the content and let them hand over the typed content to Wikisource volunteers who will upload and wikify the content. This will ensure maintaining the spirit of volunteerism and yet getting the work done in a professional and time bound manner. Numerous works in Wikisource are such ready made content uploaded already in the web through other projects like Project Gutenberg.If providing grants to non-Wikimedia organizations is an issue, a grant towards this can be given to community / chapter who will then outsource the typing work. If funding for typing per se is in contradiction of the movement's principles, then Tamil community may seek to raise funds outside WMF from language promotion enthusiasts and agencies.
I welcome community's input on any other model for this as India has vast amount of literature and works like this are waiting to be transfered to Wikisource. This is one area where we can add lot of content to Wiki projects at once.--Ravi (talk) 21:24, 1 September 2014 (UTC)