Grants talk:Project/Nigerian keyboard project

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Not eligible for the current round of Project Grants[edit]

Hello Evertype,

Thank you for submitting this proposal. Please note that the application deadline for the current round was March 14, 2017, so your proposal is not eligible for review until the next round. For that reason, I am changing your proposal status back from 'proposed' to 'draft.' Please feel free to resubmit your application for the next proposal deadline of September 26, 2017.

We have some application support information available in the following places:

Kind regards,

--Marti (WMF) (talk) 23:30, 3 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Questions about your proposal[edit]

Hello Evertype,

Since your project touches on subjects in which I have little training, may I ask you to summarize (in non-technical language) what the concrete outcomes of your project will be specifically in relation to Wikimedia projects? In other words, when your project is over, what will have changed? For example, will the keyboard you have developed actually be implemented on all Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo Wikimedia projects, so that contributors who are currently facing inefficiency will no longer have those struggles?

Thank you,

--Marti (WMF) (talk) 02:39, 4 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Hello Marti (WMF)
At the Wikimedia strategy meetings in Berlin this year I met a number of poeple from those linguistic communities, all of whom say that their success as editors is limited to the lack of keyboarding utilities for their languages. Editing is slow and involves a lot of pasting of vowels. This definitely impedes progress in building Wikipedias in those languages. The deliverables of our project will be freely-available specifications for those languages and software they can use on macOS and Windows. I will myself make the Mac implementation, and MF-Warburg the Windows.
Let me know if you have other questions! All the best,
Evertype (talk) 09:05, 5 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Eligibility confirmed, round 2 2017[edit]

This Project Grants proposal is under review!

We've confirmed your proposal is eligible for round 2 2017 review. Please feel free to ask questions and make changes to this proposal as discussions continue during the community comments period, through 17 October 2017.

The committee's formal review for round 2 2017 begins on 18 October 2017, and grants will be announced 1 December. See the schedule for more details.

Questions? Contact us.

--Marti (WMF) (talk) 19:10, 5 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Documentation and distribution[edit]

I am familiar with the problem that this proposal is trying to address. I spent many hours talking to people from Nigeria and other African countries about the challenges of typing in their languages. Some languages that are written with a modified Latin alphabet, such as Polish, French, or Vietnamese, have been well-supported out of the box on all desktop operating systems for fifteen years or so, the languages of Africa aren't. macOS doesn't support them at all and Windows appears to support them, but in fact, this support is very incomplete and badly documented. The speakers of these languages were not familiar with it, and even when we managed to enable them in the operating system preferences, we weren't actually able to use them because essential letters were missing.

Therefore, I support this project. The people who are proposing it are exceptionally qualified: Michael is a world-class expert in Unicode, fonts, and keyboards, and MF-Warburg has years of experience supporting language diversity in Incubator, Meta and elsewhere in the Wikimedia universe.

Even though I support this project already, I do have a couple of question about the project goals. Addressing them can make the proposal even better:

  1. How will we make sure that all the editors who want to write in these languages can learn to type? The current proposal says "Make available specification and software for Wikimedia project editors", but it would be great to have more details about it.
  2. How will it be distributed? The current proposal says "Make this software freely available to commercial and non-commercial vendors for distribution", but here, too, it would be nice to see more details. The dream ideal is that they will be available out of the box in the out of the box default installations of the next major versions of macOS, Windows, and ChromeOS. However, this will require cooperation from big vendors. Occasionally this works—for example I was unusually lucky with getting Microsoft to improve the Hebrew keyboard in Windows 8. I realize that it's not always so easy, and requires external cooperation that to which the people involved cannot really commit, but should at least be attempted. A more realistic option is to set up a website from which the software can be installed, and to make sure it's documented and discoverable to all editors.

Yet again: the points above are only suggestions for improvement. I do support this project. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 05:09, 23 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I'd like to thank Amir for his support and for his questions.
  1. As to the first of Amir's questions, our understanding is that the group of Wikipedia editors which works together on these languages has some ability to type (for instance in English); the issue is that language-specific characters are unavailable to them, and so they have to resort to copy/paste substitutions in order to edit in the African languages themselves. What they require is linguistic and keyboard-design expertise to give them layouts (1) that are optimized for the chief language needed, (2) that insure access to characters used in editorial markup, and (3) that include access to important characters used in other local languages that editors may require. The specification deliverables will include a printable PDF showing the layout that can be used while editors get used to the new keyboards (since obviously hardware engraving is outside the scope of this project).
  2. As to the second of Amir's questions, we would intend that the front pages of each of these Wikipedia projects would instruct readers how to download an install the drivers which we produce. A number of Wikipedias do this for fonts for languages of India and Southeast Asia. Negotiations with vendors like Apple or Microsoft to get them to ship the software we develop would be outside the scope of this project, given its modest budget. This project is about linguistically robust and accurate design, and will produce functioning software that can be used by Wikimedia editors using these languages. Dissemination would be through Wikimedia resources, though the software will be free and could be hosted by anyone. Perhaps a dedicated dissemination site could be developed for these and other resources, but that is a different kind of project. This one is focused on linguistic requirements. Evertype (talk) 06:04, 30 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]


This is intended as a follow up to the comments of Amir E. Aharoni.

  1. Can you better describe what are problems with the current implementation of these three languages in Windows 7-10? As I understand it is not true that there are absolutely no support in Windows. For instance, there language packs for these languages.
  2. What do you think about this? Is not it an implementation for the Yoruba language at least?
  3. What is the duration of the project?

Ruslik (talk) 19:34, 23 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

This is just a comment and not really a complete answer.
Quora doesn't make it easy to see it, but I asked that question :)
If you read the answers, you'll see that none of them really give something conclusive and complete. The answer by Sadeeq Aliyu Gumel is the only that actually provides a relatively comprehensive solution, but it involves installing software that is not a native operating system keyboard layout, but a whole program with its own user interface (for Windows). Such a program would make sense for a language that requires a very complex input method, such as Chinese or Japanese, but for a keyboard layout of a Latin-based alphabet this is overkill, and it's unclear to me why is it needed.
The project proposed here tries to treat all the biggest languages together, which would be very useful for collaborations between people who speak different languages, which is a thing that happens often in Nigeria, be standard for all the operating systems, and integrate into the operating system itself rather than being separate software. At least, this is my understanding, but User:Evertype and User:MF-Warburg may give a better answer. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 14:09, 29 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Responses to Ruslik:
  1. I do not use Windows, but I can report that the reason we have put this project forward is specific requests by editors of these three language communities who explained to us the lack of keyboarding resources to them when we met them at the meeting in Berlin.
  2. The macOS implementation there is a simple alteration of the MacRoman character set, which is not optimized for Nigerian use. It's a quick hack, but we propose more linguistically robust solutions.
  3. Say 90 days. It's complex and careful work but won't take forever. Evertype (talk) 08:15, 30 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Integration and use within Wikimedia[edit]

It's not clear how you plan to make the output actually used in Wikimedia wikis or by Wikimedia contributors. Are you planning to add an IME (input method or key mapping) to UniversalLanguageSelector (ULS), or what? --Nemo 12:43, 31 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

The output will be files that the users can install on their own Macs and PCs. I will be doing the design work and the Mac implentation, and MF-Warburg will implement for PCs. We are aiming for OS-level implementation, not browser plug-ins. Evertype (talk) 17:32, 1 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Why? --Nemo 13:04, 2 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Because there is no need for browser plug-ins if you have OS-level implementation. Right now I'm writing in Chrome on macOS. I can switch to an OS-level installed Cyrillic keyboard и я могу писать без проблем — and I can write without problems. These resources will be useful for editors in Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo, and they can use them whatever browser they are using, or if they are editing Wilimedia browser material offline and then going into a browser to upload it. Evertype (talk) 17:48, 3 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I agree that an OS-level implementation is overall better and more important than a site or a browser plug-in. I'm one of the maintainers of jquery.ime, and once a specification is written, I'll be able to make a jquery.ime implementation in less than an hour. A jquery.ime implementation will be useful for some people, but it won't be perfect: not all browsers support tricks of this kind, and it's too tied to one website. The success of a Wikipedia in a language is nearly always a reflection of the health of the general online culture in the same language, so a keyboard should be useful on all websites and not just one. Developing a good specification is really the most important part.
Running a focused campaign for having this specification adopted all over Nigeria and included in the default installation of common operating systems would be a good idea, but it's OK if it's not in the scope of this project. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 12:46, 5 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]


I am commenting here as a native speaker of Yoruba language and active editor at Yoruba Wikipedia with highly proficient in spoken and written Yoruba. I am familiar with the problem the grantee is trying solve. While I don't believe that the reason for poor participation in these languages Wikipedia is lack of keyboard software, the language communities are in need of this software, even thou the reason for poor participation is the lack of awareness about these languages Wikipedia. Yoruba language for example is a peculiar language in which anything written without a diacritical mark is useless. For example, In Yoruba language, Igba means 200 in English, ìgbá means Garden egg in English, ìgbà means Time in English and Igbá means Calabash in English. Now, if an editor is writing about "Time" and he writes Igba, it becomes a problem. If such written styles continues then the entire article will make little or no sense. In 2016, I discussed with Amir on the need for a keyboard software in Yoruba language. After few weeks, he developed a keyboard software in Yoruba language which I use up till date. I have translated over 200 articles from the English Wikipedia into Yoruba language using this software. See for example Nils Olav. I believe similar software could be developed for Hausa and Igbo language. However, I don't think the problem here is how to develop the software but how to distribute it and get potential editors to use it. I see a hitch with distribution of this software. It's a different thing to create a useful software, another thing is for users to know it actually exist and know how to use it or familiar with the project where it is actually useful. If this software is finally developed either by the WMF or the grantee, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa language students of tertiary institutions should be the major target. This will not only create awareness about the software but also create awareness about the language communities and increases editors and or participation. Workshop could be organized for these students where they would be taught how to contribute to these languages Wikipedia using this software . I'll be glad to help in my personal capacity and in my capacity as member of Wikimedia User Group Nigeria. All the best. Wikicology (talk) 08:10, 7 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

It is unreasonable, I think, to imagine that any WMF-funded project could magically be adopted as shipping products by OS vendors. Such an activity goes way beyond the definition and development of software resources—it would involve business-case arguments and lobbying to the OS vendors, who may simply not agree that there is a business case. We already know that some vendors support some Unicode-encoded scripts with fonts and others do not. At the same time, those projects which require special fonts, like Burmese or Gothic, make some effort to allow users to download and install them. We expect that similar provisions will be able to be made by the three user communities served by the layouts we will design and implement. Additional keyboards for additional platforms could be configured according to the robust linguistic specifications we will design. We set a budget that we considered to be reasaonable recompense for the effort required. Our project responds directly to requests from the Nigerian Wikipedia members who find that they are unable to edit and create content efficiently because flexible input methods are unavailable. Evertype (talk) 14:04, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Aggregated feedback from the committee for Nigerian keyboard project[edit]

Scoring rubric Score
(A) Impact potential
  • Does it have the potential to increase gender diversity in Wikimedia projects, either in terms of content, contributors, or both?
  • Does it have the potential for online impact?
  • Can it be sustained, scaled, or adapted elsewhere after the grant ends?
(B) Community engagement
  • Does it have a specific target community and plan to engage it often?
  • Does it have community support?
(C) Ability to execute
  • Can the scope be accomplished in the proposed timeframe?
  • Is the budget realistic/efficient ?
  • Do the participants have the necessary skills/experience?
(D) Measures of success
  • Are there both quantitative and qualitative measures of success?
  • Are they realistic?
  • Can they be measured?
Additional comments from the Committee:
  • This proposal perfectly aligns with Wikimedia's strategic priorities and has a potential for a significant online (and off-line) impact. On the other hand sustainability, scalability and wide adaptation of the developed layouts is not guaranteed - this requires collaboration with the OS vendors but this is not mentioned in the proposal.
  • Not really sure if this fit in Wikimedia's strategic priorities, proposal is vague and in absence of a deep analysis. Difficult to analyze without knowledge on the ground about the given problem.
  • support for less represented languages is very important for the global goal. if the keyboard problem will be solved the implementation can be implemented on all other projects in those languages
  • The proposal intends to solve a long standing problem and can be considered iterative. The potential impact is great especially in the context of WMF's Global South Strategy. The main risk is that the developed layouts may not be widely adopted due to lack of support from the OS vendors. The success can be easily measured.
  • Goals are inconsistent and unclear. Not sure of the real impact this might have.
  • in Project goals section, the quantity of contents has been omitted, so the stated goals do not represent the overall project idea. Measures of success are not clear
  • The team has ability to execute the proposal and the budget is probably realistic.
  • Budget seems improvised. Not sure if participants met the necessary skills.
  • the budget specification is totally unclear to people who are not professional tech.
  • The community engagement appears to be limited but the proposal will support diversity if selected.
  • Community engaged is in absence and not really planned.
  • a certain community support was noted
  • Collaboration with the OS vendors is important and the project should plan for this otherwise this project will be impossible to scale or sustain after its completion.
  • The project suits the Wikimedia strategy priorities. However, its budget lacks clarity and the deliverables are unclear. The grantee should work on improving their grants and/or work with the Foundation in order to have a clear and focused vision on what can be achieved.
  • The problem they are trying to solve is not very clear. Lack of consistency across the proposal.
  • a clearer budget, measure of success and goal

This proposal has been recommended for due diligence review.

The Project Grants Committee has conducted a preliminary assessment of your proposal and recommended it for due diligence review. This means that a majority of the committee reviewers favorably assessed this proposal and have requested further investigation by Wikimedia Foundation staff.

Next steps:

  1. Aggregated committee comments from the committee are posted above. Note that these comments may vary, or even contradict each other, since they reflect the conclusions of multiple individual committee members who independently reviewed this proposal. We recommend that you review all the feedback and post any responses, clarifications or questions on this talk page.
  2. Following due diligence review, a final funding decision will be announced on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
Questions? Contact us at projectgrants (_AT_) wikimedia  · org.

Round 2 2017 decision[edit]

Congratulations! Your proposal has been selected for a Project Grant.

The committee has recommended this proposal and WMF has approved funding for the full amount of your request, $6,000.00

Next steps:

  1. You will be contacted to sign a grant agreement and setup a monthly check-in schedule.
  2. Review the information for grantees.
  3. Use the new buttons on your original proposal to create your project pages.
  4. Start work on your project!

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