Research talk:Oral Citations

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Thanks for creating this project page. We are trying to apply a standard structure to project pages and we would appreciate if you could restructure this page and adapt it to this template: Research:Project_page_template. Thanks --DarTar 13:46, 16 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks - as explained on your talk page, the logistics of this project mean that the results are open-ended; there is no official "close" and for now, we'd prefer to run with the format we have, as I think it gives a better sense of the project than the standard template. Aprabhala 07:01, 22 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for the wonderfull film. Full English subtitles would be helpful, as the English dialect is somtimes difficult to understand and to act as base for further translations. -- JakobVoss 20:59, 24 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

In process! Aprabhala 15:49, 25 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
...and done. Aprabhala 04:50, 30 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

North American work[edit]

My thesis work revolves around Wikipedia and Indigenous communities in the United States. I'm serving as the Wikipedian in Residence at the National Museum of the American Indian, and one of our goals is to explore oral history usage via Indigenous community members as the vital, and often only source, of information regarding skills, language and history within communities. Just to have funding for a project like this is a dream - you have been very lucky! Anything I can do to assist in North America, please let me know. Missvain 14:45, 26 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Hallo Missvain, thanks - the funding was essential to catalogue the situation between India and South Africa, given the distances involved and just about enough (not enough actually!) to make a film on the process. We'd love to have you get involved - I see you have two sessions at Haifa, so perhaps we can meet there and talk? If not, on email. Take care. Aprabhala 17:39, 26 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Original research[edit]

Most Wikipedias have policies against engaging in original research -- specifically excluding Wikipedian-conducted interviews that aren't published in other media first. By recording these interviews and using them as citations, we become both first-publisher and repeater of the same information (both a secondary and a tertiary source). I'm having difficulty seeing how this project does not run afoul of some of the basic principles of Wikipedia. LtPowers 20:03, 26 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for your comment. The way I would look at it is this. Does the premise of this project (not all things in the world are written down in books, and some of those things are important aspects of knowledge) make sense? If so, would you say Wikipedia - and the Wikimedia movement as a whole - would benefit from having them included? And if so, then how would you re-interpret policies on verifiability and original research to accommodate something that makes sense and is badly needed? Rules evolve, especially on Wikipedia. There's no sense in throwing away good rules. There's also no sense in throwing away good intent. The question then is, can we keep our systems of trust and integrity intact and also expand to include the world's knowledge in our ambit? This is the kind of discussion that's being currently had in the communities we worked within, and this is the kind of discussion we'd like to have with more and more communities as we proceed. Aprabhala 09:07, 27 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Just because something is true[1], doesn't mean it belongs in Wikipedia. The prohibition against original research is central to the way that Wikipedia operates - it means that editors don't have to argue over what is true, they only have to argue over what has been published in reputable sources. Arguing over what is true is a problem for other venues. I don't see any way in which you can fit "oral citations", premised on including information that is not published anywhere else, into this framework. This is closely tied with the problem of establishing reputability of your sources - just because you interviewed some random person who makes a claim doesn't mean that we can necessarily trust the accuracy of what that person said, and ultimately puts the editors back in the position of determining truth. Stevenj 19:36, 27 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Wikipedia isn't the right place for original research, ok. But if i understood properly, the purpose here is to be a solution exactly for the lack of published sources, isn't it? And the question is how we can do that while keeping our systems of trust and integrity intacts. Such a challenge! The problem is that we are only seeing Wikipedia. No original research is a policy in Wikipedia, but Original reporting is a policy in Wikinews. The material is an interview, which perfectly fits in the escope of Wikinews. And with Accreditation policy we can assume the reliability of the interview. And the audio file will be in Commons, don't forget that! Everyone in Wikinews can check the transcription. We can accept only news from accredited users or/and revised by others (a process similar to Wikisource's proofreading). Just an idea. If we found this interviews in Wikinews are reliable enough, then they can be used like every other news to reference a particular article on Wikipedia. Then we can just use {{cite news}} or a specific template, created specially for that. CasteloBrancomsg 21:12, 27 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with Stevenj. There would need to be a much better process of establishing the authority of the people interviewed for this not to be pure "original research". And to use Wikinews to get around the no original research policy is silly - clearly that's no better than citing the interview directly. If we don't let random people insert their opinions/local knowledge in text, why do we let them do it if we record them on video and then write down what they say? Maybe in certain languages it is impossible to abide by the core no original research policy, simply because not enough has been published. But I think the experience of the larger wikipedias is that this policy is crucial to avoiding disputes over article content. If an editor didn't agree with what an "oral citation" said, what would stop him from just recording his own video? And what criteria would be used to evaluate which of these "oral citations" to trust? The publication system is an important gatekeeper in this respect. I highly doubt that this system will ultimately be feasible. Calliopejen1 15:30, 28 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Could WMF support not only original research, but also -or rather - the publication of original research, on topics of interest for Wikimedia projects, so that the relevant data can be used in WP articles without bypassing usual w:WP:NOR and w:WP:REF rules? Apokrif 19:49, 11 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, i think so. This is the way out, in my opinion. CasteloBrancomsg 16:10, 18 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I support the project 100%. Oral history is a well established method. We already have "OR" in the form of original pictures on Mediwiki used to document and show people and places. Keep in mind how the process works: someone conducts an interview, interview is uploaded to Mediawiki, the interview is used as a primary source to write Encyclopedia articles. Nothing in that process is very different from what we do now, other than the OR video/audio interview, which is basically what we do with pictures. It just takes it to a new level, but philosophically it's catholic to current traditions. Obviously there need to be ground rules and procedures for oral history, but there's an establish historical field to draw on for guidance. Green Cardamom 05:50, 25 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Wikipedia is an internet forum; it is an online encyclopedia. The medium itself and the way that knowledge is constructed within the forum means that it cannot be the Encyclopedia Britannica, nor should it be. Wikipedia has an opportunity to not only convey the sum of human knowledge, but to make people think about the way that knowledge is constructed in our society. The fact that we cannot gain a better understanding of other cultures due to a lack of printed material that verifies truth and knowledge shows that we are, in fact, missing out on a world of shared experience. As Aprabhala says in his discussion post from 27 July 2011, "how would you re-interpret policies on verifiability and original research to accommodate something that makes sense and is badly needed?" I do not think people would disagree that acknowledging and sharing this knowledge is badly needed, and however we come to reconstitute the standards of verification, we as well as Wikipedia should perhaps keep in mind the overall goal. Wikipedia has a chance here to benefit the world in ways that past encyclopedias as we know them cannot. (May Prumar 02:05, 1 October 2011 (UTC))[reply]

Lets make Wikinews the wiki home for original research and first person testimony[edit]

There are very good reasons why Original Research is banned in Wikipedia. Whenever it gets it's nose in the tent it is always leads to crank theories. This however is a specific class of original research - First Person Testimony. This is what I saw, This is the version of the song that I sing, this is how our village do that dance in a few cases we can allow hearsay This is what my grandfather told me before he died.

This leads to some minimum standards. Something like

  • note down where and when the recording took place
  • record exactly who you are talking to. How do you spell their name?
  • ask them if they agree to their interview being distributed under the CC-BY-SA license (is that the license we want to use? Copyleft does seem more respectful of these living cultural treasures than simple CC-BY).
  • Ask them about what they personally saw, what they did, who they met, what it was like.
  • If they stray into hearsay get them to tell who was the original witness then go interview them.
  • Make sure it is clear what is first person witness and what is opinion.

Wikipedia then has a clear citation to a named witness for particular facts. --Filceolaire 15:58, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I have seen people who in early 1980s gave testimonies that there are secred roads connecting Moscow to Vladivostok. I have also heard these testimonies. Now we know that the testimonies were plainly not credible and the roads did not exist at the time. I think this is smth inappropriate to be cited in a Wikipedia article (even if this is the article on the highway between Moscow and Vladivostok). And I do not immediately know how to separate this from what you suggest above.--Ymblanter 17:58, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You don't have to separate it. You just have to record it, including who exactly is saying this and if they are claiming to have seen it themselves. Leave it up to history to sort out later if it is a lie. Wikipedia, if it uses the quote (because there is no other better information) can surround it with the neccessary qualifications - "In an interview with Wikipedia Mr Ivan Ivanov told how he used this road in 1933 when he worked as a driver for the ministry of prisons". Alien abductions too, for instance. I personally don't believe in alien abductions but the article on alien abductions would be much better if it included interviews with the actual person (not the opinions of the UFOlogists. First person testimony only) recounting what he remembers. Wikipedia is not saying 'This is true'. We are saying 'This person said this'. Think how powerful interviews like this would be from Hama in Syria today - even if some interviews are with government supporters. What exactly are they thinking? --Filceolaire 18:17, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

And of course this collection of interviews is available for much more than just wikipedia citations. This is our generations answer to Smithsonian folkways, the BBCs mass observation project, the collectors who recorded folk songs and fairy stories all over Europe in the nineteenth century - an invaluable treasure to pass to our children to use in a thousand different ways. Wouldn't it be great if the next Youtube sensation is a bunch of grannies from Africa telling us how to make the best goat stew with corn porridge? --Filceolaire 18:47, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


Hi Achal, Filceolaire, Castelo. I believe this Wikinews idea deserves more development. At first, it seems to me that using Wikinews is a good idea. We do benefit from keeping things modular, and the whole idea of oral knowledge as interviews is inherent to the project. However, as Calliopejen1 said in reply to Castelo in a previous topic, we should not use Wikinews to simply get around the No Original Research Policy. Wikimedia is not a news agency and when it accredits editors to work as journalists that does not carry the same weight as a news agency.

And this is something we can't fix the wiki way, though any of us is free to start a non-profit news agency to carry on this kind of research. However, while we can't fix reliability, we can fix is the practicality of verifying the information.

In that spirit, I feel like Filceolaire's standars are useful, but still fail to address that which is the main problem with original research: it is non-obvious and therefore hard to check. Now, if we can build straightforward verifiability into this specific set of original research, then we would have a scalable and resilient standard that could perhaps even support other situations. This, of course, means additional requirements, some of which could be:

  • Describe how you learned about each source and how you were introduced to them.
  • Provide detailed information on how to contact each source and its surroundings, include phone numbers and addresses or a method to acquire them, and what languages do they speak.
  • If you interview somebody in a somewhat isolated village or tribe, provide contact information to some local institution or a reference villager.
  • In order to produce a news piece valid as citation you must interview at least two people. This makes it harder to manipulate interviews, but most importantly it strengthens verifiability by increasing the chance that you can reach someone.
  • The interview should be expected to be on video. Audio is not only easier to mess with, but harder to test the authenticity should one choose to contact the source.
  • The interviewer must constantly ask for other sources, that is, given a piece of information, ask "How could we verify this without hearing from you?"
  • An explanation should be given for each of these additional sources collected that was not then investigated.

It seems to me, with this more complete set of standards, that we would be able to claim more honestly that "all bugs are shallow", as each viewer would be much closer to taking matters into his own hands and verifying every detail and context of the interview, or even expanding on the research initiated.


--Solstag 06:52, 22 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Mention on Metafilter[edit]

This project was posted on Metafilter. The first comment by "Apropos of Something" makes an excellent point on how this project could benefit tribes in the Amazon by documenting native knowledge of plant use, which would help them in their struggles with western institutions which patent plants and don't pay anything back to the Indians who knew about it long before. As "Apropos of Something" says:

<quote>This particular problem [oral citations] also crops up prominently in international patent regimes, particularly those over seeds. Because of the way international patent law is structured, the ability to document established medical or other uses for a crop is preferred over a traditional knowledge base held by a tribe or people, regardless if the traditional knowledge predated the work of a western drug company by several hundred (thousand sometimes) years. The Indian neem tree is a classical example in the literature.
There's lots of innovative clever solutions cropping up to deal with this particular problem, including trusts and other structures which attempt to document traditional knowledge in such a way that tribes can retain IPR and channel the payments into something they can use - infrastructure - instead of into cash, which lots of societies plain don't have use for. One optimistically wonders if Wikipedia can inadvertently serve as another form of traditional knowledge documentation. [emphasis added]

--Green Cardamom 05:28, 25 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


I just had a cursory look at Oral Citations. I will go through it in detail. I would like to ask a question. What about reliability? Wikipedia should not compromise its standards in order to accomodate. I mean the five pillars. Verifiability and not truth. No original research. No synthesis. Reliable sources? If there aren't enough sources in a language sources from other languages can be used. In order that it is verifiable and accessable, the source could be quoted in detail. But say Hindi Wikipedia shouldn't be third rate because it belongs to a third world language. Yogesh Khandke 13:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I've had another look at this. I see no reason to change the above. Yogesh Khandke 17:19, 6 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Can't first person testimony by a witness be a reliable source?--Filceolaire 22:10, 15 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Undermining expertise[edit]

This study is extraordinary, more so the fact that it actually got sponsored. The author(s) has(ve) clearly enjoyed travelling and ostensibly conducting video interviews. The nature of the research is however astounding in that it entirely dismisses centuries of epistemological debate within Academia - or more likely that the reviewers of the project have no understanding of the area of research and that fact that even if this needed examination, that there are qualified people to find inside Academia. It really is a shocking spectacle of unscholarly research and one can only admire the fact that a lot of media attention has been garnered. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 09:28, 22 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Whoa ! You are looking for academic excellence where none exists. This project is just a part of a quid-pro-quo among a bunch of Indian friends. Go figure. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:16, 3 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Making Collective Memories with Computers[edit]

I was pointed to an interesting post collecting various resources about gathering indigenous knowledge with digital media:

From the Abstract:

This post contains abstracts and links to a selection of papers written about the Indigenous Knowledge and Resource Management in Northern Australia (IKRMNA). From their website: IKRMNA was a three year 2003-2006 ARC Linkage Project to support and develop Indigenous databases that maintain and enhance the strength of local languages, cultures and environments in Northern Australia. The project was coordinated through the School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems at Charles Darwin University.

I have only looked over it briefly, but it seems like a valuable resources. -- Duesentrieb 13:05, 6 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

This research project has been mentioned and debated at en's RS/N[edit]

As a courtesy note: this research project has been mentioned and debated at en's Reliable Sources/Noticeboard due to the partial unreliability, unethical collection of ethnography oral sociology or oral history, and copyright violation of respondents' intellectual property by the interviewer assigning CC-by-SA, of a number of interviews inserted into articles in the English encyclopaedia. Fifelfoo 21:19, 13 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you for the pointer, Fifelfoo. I'm surprised someone tried to use these directly as citations on enwiki, given the directions of commentary here, but at least the ensuing discussion over there will become a useful reference for this and similar projects. --Solstag 22:01, 13 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I'm interested in how respondents react to my suggestion that slabs of oral history testimony (admittedly edited, selected and redacted by a practicing historian) be used to generate notability, weight and reliably sourced claims on en. I have been attempting to codify en's attitude to reliable sources in history (en: HISTRS). I've excluded the use of oral history portions for evidence due to the temptation for editors to just go to sourcebooks and attempt to write primary history. But Lowenstein in the example has conducted a Western Authorised Epistemology/Methodology analysis through selection and presentation of the oral reports. I'm not invested, as the exception here relates to expert collection, expert "authoring" by selection and presentation, and publication under a review system. But this is a long way from amateur collection, uncontrolled presentation, and uncontrolled publication of the oral tradition knowledges of people. Lowenstein's workers and petits-bourgeois aren't culturally constructed as repositories of oral-traditions; they're socially excluded "common people". I'm about to invite three editors who I esteem on en. in this area of reliable sourcing analysis to comment on my question, as I believe they will provide interesting opinions that will carry respectable weight. Fifelfoo 01:12, 14 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Is this project still alive?[edit]

As discussions seem to have stopped in 2012, I'd just like to ask whether the project is still pursued or if it is cancelled. If alive, did it it move somewhere else? Has there progress been made on the subject? Are there debates about connections to and / or merges with Wikidata? — The preceding unsigned comment was added by an unspecified user

The project has ended a couple of years ago, and its outcomes are detailed in the main page. It has not gained adoption or significant attention from the editing community; it remains a possible direction, and may be picked up in the future, if and when the editing community shows interest in tackling this formidable challenge. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:38, 17 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Project: Atikamekw knowledge, culture and language[edit]

Hello, you are welcome to have a look at the project Atikamekw knowledge, culture and language in Wikimedia projects. We are looking for endorsements and contributions! Best, Seeris (talk) 04:58, 28 June 2016 (UTC)[reply]

See also[edit]