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Latest comment: 6 years ago by Nemo bis in topic Fraintesi

Presentation of the project to the Wikipedia community[edit]

Hi, we would be happy to discuss our project Wikipedia 4 Refugees with the community. In particular, we are in the process of identifying the entries that will be translated from Italian into the target languages (i.e. African and Asian languages). We would like them to be relevant for the life of asylum seekers/refugees in Italy and for those planning to seek asylum in Europe. For instance, entries may be Diritto di asilo (Right to Asylum), Diritto di asilo nell'Unione europea (Right to Asylum in the European Union), or Convenzione di Dublino (Dublin convention), all in it.wikipedia.

What do you think? Any other ideas? Thank you!

--Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 18:52, 28 May 2017 (UTC) and --Martina Puppi (talk) 18:53, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Why Italian[edit]

Please note that this is just a question. I'm not saying that the project is misguided or wrong.

Are you sure that translating from Italian is the right idea here?

To make a translation you need one of the following:

  1. A person who knows the source language well enough at least to read and the target language well enough to write. In your proposal, the source language will be Italian, and you already gave examples of target languages: Wolof, Fula, Bambarà, Pashtu (are there more?)
  2. Two people, of which one knows the source language well enough to read, and the other knows the target language well enough to write, and who have a third language in common. For example, you can have a volunteer who knows Italian and French and a refugee who knows Wolof and French. The refugee cannot translate from Italian, but they can translate in teamwork by using French as an intermediate language. This is more complicated, but may sometimes be required if the article is important to translate and it is only available in one source language, for example, an article about an aspect of the healthcare system in Italy.

So a thing must be understood: Are there people among the refugees who know Italian well enough to fit in #1 above, and who have time and skills to contribute to translations? If not, can you find enough pairs to do something like in #2?

If not, perhaps it will make more sense to translate directly from English or French? --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 19:32, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you very much for your precise comments. They will help us in fine-tuning our project. The idea of translating from Italian comes from the fact that the entries that we are considering to translate have to do with some aspects of the Italian asylum system. This in order for them to be relevant for both the participants to the workshops and -ideally- for those planning to seek asylum in Italy. And it is plausible that content regarding the Italian asylum systems and laws are more accurate in Italian than other languages. Also, as we already did during our Digital Skills training course for asylum seekers, we will use English and French as communication languages during the classes. Finally, in order to minimize the many challenges deriving from multilingualism we have asked for the support of linguistic mediators that will attend some of the classes and check the translations made. --Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 22:34, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Forgot to say that participants to this initiative will be selected among those that already have an at least intermediate level of knowledge of Italian language. Indeed, this will be a prerequisite for participation. Moreover, working, writing and reflecting on texts which are in Italian language is an important part for asylum seekers/refugees's integration process into the Italian society. And it is important to support such effort as well.--Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 22:57, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Content Translation[edit]

Being its product manager, I'm obviously biased, but I'll nevertheless ask: have you considered using Content Translation?

It should make the translation process much easier. If it doesn't fit your require, I'd really love to know why.

For example, you speak about "handouts summarizing Wikipedia mark-up". Content Translation makes mark up mostly unnecessary, especially for languages in question, which mostly experience lack of volunteers who can write the basic texts. In fact, a lot of the markup work (links, templates, references, etc.) can be done by people who don't know the target language, if it is needed at all, given that a lot of it is done automatically by Content Translation.

When the point is to create a lot of translations, you can skip long introductions about free culture, copyright, formatting, templates, and use Content Translation to dive directly into actually writing text after a brief introduction about using the translation interface. When I say "brief", I mean "less than half an hour". I've done many workshops of this kind; for an example, see this blog post about South Africa.

I'll be very, very happy to help Wikimedia Italia volunteers learn the basics of Content Translation and give them tips about delivering such workshops. I'll also be happy to test whether Content Translation works well in the relevant target languages together with speakers of these languages (it should already work, but extra testing is always good). --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 19:43, 28 May 2017 (UTC)`Reply

Thank you for this as well! Actually, I haven't considered the Content translation just because I have used it only a couple of times and simply it did not come to my mind. But, yes, it can definitely be an interesting option that we can consider. Does the Content translation work for the languages that may be our target, i.e. Wolof, Fula, Bambara, Pashtu, Urdu, Bengali? --Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 22:49, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

It works for all languages, although it doesn't have integrated machine translation for all languages. But all the other features should work. Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 04:39, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

@Amire80: I am helping Rossella and Martina with the project, and I was surely planning to use Content Translation. However, I have used it just a few times so your help would certainly be more than welcome! :) --Jaqen (talk) 08:01, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Consider thinking of it as not only for refugees[edit]

With the right attitude, a good thing about such a project will be that it won't be just a "Wikipedia 4 Refugees", but a "Wikipedia by refugees for all the speakers of this language".

Editions of Wikipedia in all of the mentioned languages are very small at the moment. Given time, training, attention, support, and Internet access, these people in Italy will be able to contribute to the development of their language's online presence for the benefit of all the people who speak it. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 19:47, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you @Amire80:, this is precisely the motivation, the meaning (and the hope) behind our project. Thank you for all your comments! --Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 23:04, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply


For this project we will need some "ambassadors" in the target Wikipedias, someone who can check if the articles we want to to translate are considered notable, to help us if we have some problems we can sort out ourselves, to fix templates, etc. The target languages are Wolof, Fula, Bambarà and Pashtu. Afaik of the for Wikipedias only Pahto Wikipedia has a Wikimedia Embassy (ps:ويکيپېډيا:سفارتخانه), that we can use to find help. Other than that, which is the best way to find an ambassador? Can you be one? :) --Jaqen (talk) 08:18, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

I'd say "just be bold" and post whatever you have.
These four languages have close to zero active editors. Arguments about notability are highly unlikely, and if they do happen, it will actually be a win :)
And templates are just a technicality. If needed, they can be fixed by pretty much anybody, without having to know the language much.
That said, Pashto is written right to left, which may be technically challenging even for native speakers, but I'll be very, very happy to help with that in any way. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 08:27, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Keyboards and operating systems[edit]

Important: Which computers and operating systems do you plan to use for this project?

All of these languages need special keyboard layouts. Plain Latin and Arabic keyboards are not enough.

Some of them may be available in the operating systems that you're going to use, but this must be tested as early as possible. Not one day before the project begins, but at least two weeks before it. I'll gladly send you instructions about how to prepare, but I'll need to know the precise operating systems and their versions:

  • If it's Windows, I need to know whether it's 10, 8, or 7 (hopefully not older...).
  • If it's GNU/Linux, I'll need to know the distribution and the version.
  • If it's Mac, I'll need to know the version (10.10, 10.11, 10.12, etc.)
  • If it's a tablet, I'll need to know the model and the OS version (iOS? Windows? Android 7, 6, 5, 4? Hopefully not older)

The keyboard must be enabled in the computer's preferences before the event begins. Otherwise the event might get stuck because of lack of administrative permissions, etc.

If a keyboard is missing in the operating system you're going to use, I can try creating it using ULS, but again, I'll need to know about this ASAP, because writing and deploying such code takes at least two weeks.

Be sure to prepare for this and to have a native speaker test it as early as possible before the event begins. You don't want to get stuck with people saying "I can't type my language on this keyboard". Note that even native speakers often don't know how to their languages on computers—many people in many countries only know how to type English, if at all. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 08:39, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you for the heads up -- keyboard is indeed a crucial issue. We are going to use the Windows 7 machines in one of the University's computer rooms. If you can send instructions on how to prepare, that would be great! I will then do a first check, might need to coordinate with University IT for admin permission. Will let you know if any is missing. We'll surely have a native speaker try in advance. Re being a native speaker and not necessarily knowing how to type, that's surely something important to keep in mind. We will select the participants also by asking specifically this sort of questions. --Martina Puppi (talk) 11:17, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Don't make this a blocker in choosing participants. People can learn to type in their language quickly with a bit of preparation. This is certainly true for the Latin-alphabet languages. It may be a bit more challenging for Pashto, but not impossible.
When do you plan to actually run it? --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 11:34, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Martina Puppi, OK, so first of all good news about Pashto: it appears to be easy to enable this keyboard in Windows 7. See this video: How to add Pashto keyboard on Windows 7. The audio is in Pashto, but it's easy to understand what to do from the video do even if you don't know Pashto.
This video is only about enabling in the preferences. To actually type you'll need to know which keys to press. There's an image on this page. You may want to print this image for the participants, or to purchase keyboard stickers. (There are many sites where you can buy such stickers, not just this one.)
Now about the other languages. I think I know everything that needs to be done for Bambara, and I'll update you about this soon. But I'm a bit more perplexed about Fula and Wolof. I think I can do something myself, but it would be much better if I can speak about this as soon as possible to participants who can write these languages.
If you need any more languages other than these four, please let me know ASAP. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 12:33, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Thank you! I will try out the Pashto keyboard ASAP with the help of a native speaker and I'll let you know about the outcome. We will get stickers for sure. We're trying to reach out to the Fula and Wolof WP community so hopefully we'll soon have somebody who can help us here. --Martina Puppi (talk) 14:21, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Amir E. Aharoni We managed installing Pashtu keyboard! Tested it with a native speaker already, works like a charm. Now on to Fula, Wolof, and Bambarà ... --Martina Puppi (talk) 17:55, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
About the timing. We aim at planning everything before Summer, meaning by the end of June. But the course will take place in Autumn, starting in September/October.--Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 14:06, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Just do it! and all sorts of questions[edit]

First I have to say that this is the most exciting project I have seen in 11 years on Wikipedia. You have to do it! If the WMF or Wikimedia Italia don't fund it, find somebody who will. en:Open Society Foundations springs to mind but that is just off the top of my head.

Nevertheless, I see all sorts of potential difficulties, which I'll outline below. At the beginning perhaps you'll just have to plow ahead and just do it. But be prepared for the unexpected, including what might seem at times to be total failure.

  • You are going to pay these people for their translation work, aren't you? I'm not talking about the training and preparation, but the actual translation work. You don't want to in effect say to them "Welcome to Europe where you are free to work, just don't expect to be paid." It's a matter of human dignity more than anything. I'd guess the objection will be "but the Italian government won't allow us to pay them!" If this is the case, please use some creativity. Perhaps you can donate an equivalent amount of money to a Pashtun (or other) community group in the workers' names, so that all members of the Pashtun community will benefit from the work.
  • There will be difficulties with literacy skills, if not in Italian then in Pashtun and the other languages. As I understand it, many of these people are young men and women who come from very challenging economic circumstances and who have been on the road for a year or more. It's not going to be like working with recent European university graduates.
  • They may not want to work on articles related to Italian immigration law (surprise!). 1st they probably won't understand the legal system, they'll be very biased toward one viewpoint about the system, they won't understand enough about Afghanistan's legal system and terminology to translate. The whole thing might seem like a house of horrors to them. If they would prefer to translate an article in Pashtun about their native city into Swedish (the language of the place their relatives now live), I'd let them do that instead.
  • Once they have the hang of things and understand that you are offering them free access to the internet, they'll want to be on the computers 20 hours a day. Are you ready to provide this access, e.g. via a wifi hotspot. If you can't, will they be emailing to mom and dad back home instead of working on translations?
  • You'll need books and other sources of information in their home languages. Perhaps this will be the easiest challenge. I'll bet you'll be surprised at how many books you'll get if you circulate an announcement online such as "Wanted: books in Pashtun about the legal systems of Italy and Afghanistan." Will you have a space to put them all?

Back to the 1st point. Please ignore all the nay-sayers like myself. 2nd lesson, be prepared for anything.

All the best of luck.

Smallbones (talk) 19:34, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you very much for your comments! Yes, it is going to be challenging indeed. About your points:
  • No, we are not going to pay the participants for their work. First, because we consider it as a contribution to the community and to society at large. Second, because this project has an inherent educational value: the participants will hopefully benefit from it in terms of skills and knowledge. We will make sure they do it voluntarily and that they are happy with doing it.
  • Surely, literacy is an important point. We will select people who have at least a medium level of literacy, ie they can write in their native language without mistakes (we will have trained linguistic mediators to supervise this part) and reached a good level of understanding Italian.
  • The participants' opinion on which articles to translate is surely important. We will start by proposing a list of selected articles we identified beforehand, but we will also ask them what they'd find most interesting to translate and we'll adjust to that. We think that the Italian asylum system is a topic of interest for both those who arrived and those who are still at home reading the translated pages: we can see it in our daily experience with asylum seekers/refugees. It is true that these kind of articles are full of technicalities that may be difficult to translate. Because of this, we were thinking to start from something similar to the Simple English Wikipedia. If they are interested but they find it too difficult, we will surely be ready to change topic, or we'll provide the extra guidance with the help of the linguistic mediators. We will ask them to translate into Italian since this project is also about cultural/linguistic integration in the country they find themselves living in.
  • We will be using the University wi-fi with the credentials that will be created specifically for the project. We are using this system in our digital skills courses already: in our experience, distraction isn't an issue, nor we've ever had cases of people trying to take advantage of this resource at the project's expenses.
  • It will be surely helpful to have external resources. We will do our best to find them, also in the form of books, if needed.
--Martina Puppi (talk) 18:30, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Martina, thanks for the quick reply. I really do think that paying the participants for their work would completely transform this. It really is about basic human dignity. Getting paid for the work somebody has asked you to do will likely change participants' attitudes from "It's interesting to learn something about computers and to do something different but I don't think this has much to do with what I need to accomplish" to "I'm going to get this down in all the necessary detail. This might be the most important thing I've done since I've come to Italy."
How much would it cost? Well you've got 10 participants, say 100 hours of translation work at $15 per hour = 10 X 100 X 15 = $15,000.
You can get this amount of money with a reasonable amount of effort. I can guarantee it.
BTW, it could also raise the public profile of the project leading to further funding and similar projects. Somebody is bound to argue that the world will end if you pay refugees a reasonable amount of money. Others will say that this is the best idea since sliced bread. There will be lots of news coverage if you want it.
Smallbones (talk) 15:18, 1 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
Your saying "distraction isn't an issue" reminded me of something. People learn (especially about computers) by taking odd paths. Everybody I saw learning computers for the first time back in the 1980s wanted to do something else other than the assignment. I can't imagine your participants not wanting to e-mail their friends back home, even if their friends don't have email or a mobile phone. This may seem very much off the point, but please look up the work of en:Sugata Mitra and his Hole-in-the-wall experiments. Please look at the TED videos near the bottom of the article. My point is that people will learn how to do their computer tasks, no matter what path you take, if you give them enough room. Another takeaay would be that you try working in groups around the computer. Just some crazy ideas, but please look at the videos and don't be afraid to do things a bit differently. Smallbones (talk) 15:30, 1 June 2017 (UTC)Reply

Previous experience at Wikimania Esino Lario[edit]

Last year, at Wikimania Esino Lario, on Sunday, Jun 26th @Pharos: and others (including myself) organized a small edit-a-thon for a group of asylum seeker staying in Esino. I am sure he can provide some feedback or indication about what worked and what didn't work that day even if it was a different event and organized in a couple of days. (ping @Millosh: @Satdeep Gill: @Rosiestep:, please add the others who were there since I do not know the nicknames of everybody).

My feedback, also based on that experience, is related to what Amir and Smallbones said. I think it is important to find topics that are interesting for the participants. This was the biggest difficulty IMHO in the case of the event above because, since the event was organized very hastily, there was no time for preparation. Otherwise, the risk is that people will spend most of time either looking for something of their interest to write about or being bored. --CristianCantoro (talk) 11:10, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you for your having shared your experience at Esino Lario! If your colleagues there want to add something and share something more, this will be more than welcome!
On the topics to select: while we are now coping with all the technical issues, still the entries to work on remain an open issue. As we are aware that choosing the right topics is of paramount importance for the success of the project, we have asked your help and we are consulting with CINFORMI and the workers there - that have to do with asylum seekers every day - and asylum seekers themselves. The idea is to provide participants with a list of articles from which they can pick up what they like most. We believe such topics/articles should be relevant for them and - hopefully - for those planning to seek asylum in Europe: that's why we are thinking about articles like "Diritto di asilo", or "Diritto di asilo in UE". We know from our experience with them that they are very attentive to such topics since it is precisely from such issues - that may look "boring" - that their life and future depend.
On the issue of participants being distracted: see Martina's reply to the previous comment. My experience with my classes was the same. --Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 21:00, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Keep in mind that you could easily end in translating articles you think they are important to them, not them thinking so. Also, I think manuals on Wikibooks could have more value to them than Wikipedia articles. I understand that this framework doesn't allow you to write up to date information about where they could cross which border, but instead of giving them encyclopedic articles, a manual explaining what they need to do when if they want to seek asylum in EU could be much more useful.

Then, as we've seen in Esino Lario, their main problem is living in a comfortable prison, without any possibility to do anything to improve their lives -- in economic, cultural or any other sense. The distance between them and local population is high, they feel isolated. The guy whom I met while he was volunteering during Wikimania (and, thanks to him we've reached other refugees for the editathon) was an exception. Doing anything to improve their wellbeing in the Wikimedia framework is a good idea. For example, the editathon itself was that for them --not the articles they've created -- as they've spent some time outside of their daily routine (the content was our benefit).

But, much more important, it's better to talk with them about what they really need and, based on that discussion, find a way how it could be put into the Wikimedia framework. --Millosh (talk) 23:55, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Hi Millosh, thank you very much for your comment. When you are in front of a person in need, the risk of you jumping to the conclusions and identifying the need yourself, withouth giving the other person the option to express him or herself on the matter, is high. I can see the risk of this happening in this specific situation, with us indentifying articles for them. This is a matter that is particulary important for me personally: in my daily experience with asylum seekers and migrants, sometimes I have to remind myself that the person in front of me is somebody who, like me, can think and decide for him or herself, and not just a person in need I want to help. It is not easy. The way we are going to address this issue is, as you said, by talking to them and involving them in the selection of the articles to translate. Re Wikibooks: could be interesting, we haven't looked into it yet. I was just thinking that single Wikipedia articles, as they are more self-standing, may be easier to handle than parts of a manual. Also, even if it is surely important to translate topics which are useful, this is not going to be a crash course on "the asylum system in Europe" or "what to expect when you arrive in Italy as an asylum seeker". This project is surely about the dissemination of information, but also (maybe primarily) about digital literacy, Wikipedia editing and translating into Italian language -- we'll have to deal with these 3 aspects in order to achieve the first one, and it will already be a lot. I agree that just going out of the "comfortable prison", being in a new environment even if just for a few hours per week, and learning something new may end up being even more important than the actual content. --Martina Puppi (talk) 12:10, 1 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
Great to hear that! I suggest you to organize a couple (two-three, let's say) of meetings with the folk from Wikimedia Italy (CristianCantoro is a good start point, but I am sure you know some of them personally, including himself) where they should present to you what you can do inside of the Wikimedia online and offline projects. There are many resources you could use. For example, "1000 most common Italian words described in Arabic", on Arabic Wiktionary; or "news from the refugee camps" on Italian Wikinews; or their own manuals for refugees in Yoruba Wikibooks... (I suppose that teaching them touch typing could be a good idea, as well.) But, I am sure that you would get the whole picture of what you can use by talking with WM IT folk. It's not just Wikipedia and it could be very useful in your work and for the refugees themselves. --Millosh (talk) 12:44, 1 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
Thank you Millosh for your suggestions. We will explore for sure other Wiki resources and see if and how we can integrate them in this specific project or in other ways in other activities with asylum seekers. The same with the Italian Wikimedia community that has already been informed and involved in the project. And I'm sure, new collaboration will come! I just want to add one more consideration to what Martina has already said. In my opinion, it is important to make asylum seekers the true protagonist of this project, also in terms of knowledge production, and not only the beneficiaries and "recipient" of something. That's why we insist on the production of content (even if it will mainly be on translation), for giving them the idea that they have the power to make something that has a clear and immediately visible impact. In this sense, editining in Wikipedia has an empowerment dimension, even if at the end we will have produced only a few lines of content.--Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 16:01, 1 June 2017 (UTC)Reply

b:Refugee Phrasebook[edit]

Is your project somehow collaborating with this earlier one on Wikibooks, which was discussed a few times? Using Wikibooks is IMHO a very good idea. --Nemo 12:40, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you very much for your suggestion. We will see if and how we will connect with the Wikibooks project - which I did not know before. --Rossella Vignola (OBC) (talk) 21:05, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Update - August?[edit]

Just curious, any update about preparations?

User:Martina Puppi, User:Rossella Vignola (OBC). --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 10:49, 23 August 2017 (UTC)Reply

Hi! We submitted the rapid grant proposal and are now waiting for feedback from WF. Our final target languages will be Bambarà, Fula, Pashto and Urdu. We already installed & tested Pashto and Urdu keyboards (we'll use stickers.) Bambarà has only 2 non-Latin symbols, so I don't think we'll need special keyboards. Last one is Fula, that has quite a lot of non-Latin symbols and doesn't come as a standard option on our Windows machines. We may need help with that, we have about one month's time to get organised. Martina Puppi (talk) 07:56, 25 August 2017 (UTC)Reply
Big news, we've got the grant! We're now in full blown preparation mode (still a few weeks before we begin, in mid-October). We are focusing on 1) getting familiar with Content Translation and 2) prepping the keyboards. The only one we're kind of stuck with is Fula (see above) User:Amire80, User:Jaqen --Martina Puppi (talk) 09:47, 13 September 2017 (UTC)Reply
Martina Puppi, I made something for Fulah, but now that I'm testing it, I found some issues with it. Let me fix it and get back to you. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 10:46, 13 September 2017 (UTC)Reply


Segnalo "A dirlo è lo stesso Wikipedia" [1]. --Nemo 22:36, 21 November 2017 (UTC)Reply