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UCT Xhosa Wikipedia translatathon

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Greenman assisting a workshop attendee on how to edit Wikipedia.

The UCT Xhosa Wikipedia translatathon was a series of three events hosted by Wikimedia ZA in early 2012 at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Its purpose was to encourage professional Xhosa language translators to translate and improve Wikipedia articles onto isiXhosa Language Wikipedia. I was the first such workshop event ever hosted by the newly formed Wikimedia ZA.

In preparation for the event Discott talked with a number of Xhosa language academics at the University of Cape Town and at the University of the Western Cape to notify professional translators about the event. The event was mostly attended by professional translators most of whom were government employees working as either document translators or court translators.


The workshop at UCT on the 11th February was well attended.

The first event was held on the 11th February 2012 and was well attended by just under 20 translators. Volunteers from Wikimedia ZA were on hand to show them the basics of editing Wikipedia. Attendees were given the freedom to work on any article on Xhosa language wikipedia they wished with a default activity of translating the first paragraph of an article of their choosing for those who requested a task. Roughly 20 articles were created on Xhosa Wikipedia on this day.

An interesting aspect to take note of was that there was no universal consensus on how to spell words or deploy certain types of grammar leading to cordial debates on what spellings and grammar to use.

The second even was less well attended with only 5 people showing up and adjourning early. For the third event only one person attended. This rapid decline in interest is a problem that will need to be addressed in future such activities. At the time Wikimedia ZA did not have sufficient access to funding being such a new organisation. These days it would be possible and advised to provide catering for attendees as it creates a conducive environment to Wikipedia editing. It is also advised to consider transportation costs as another budgetary line item as transport costs were a significant barrier to some to attend. It would also be advised to better tailor the course contents to better cater to attendees interests, this is a problem that has no obvious answers and is often contextual.