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WikiCite 2016/Proposals/Citations for oral sources

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Building a meta-index of citation data can solve deep and pressing problems of fragile or lacking infrastructure and missing paths to access content. What it can't do is curate the sources that don't yet exist on Wikipedia due to a lack of representation and paths to 'verifiable authority'.


Create a citation structure and policy for an oral citation. The citation would leverage public speaking as a proxy for verifiability and the status of the speaker as a proxy for a reputation of factchecking and accuracy. Its fields would identify the speaker, their community, the event/interview they spoke at, and their position or role which lends credibility to the sources; a video or recording of the event/interview would be tied to the citation and uploaded to commons ideally.

Peter Gallert proposed that:

  • indigenous knowledge is knowledge, meaning that it is not just a set of beliefs but it is justified
  • indigenous knowledge is valuable, that Wikipedia cannot be the sum of all human knowledge without it
  • traditional knowledge (what peoples know about their own culture and tradition) is but a tiny part of indigenous knowledge
  • indigenous knowledge is verifiable in the very same way that all other knowledge is
  • there is a very reasonable oral equivalent of 'publishing' which applies to indigenous knowledge
  • indigenous knowledge is peer-reviewed by the group of knowledge bearers

Achal Prabhala noted that:

Wikipedia privileges printed knowledge (books, journals, magazines, newspapers and more) as authentic sources of citable material. This is understandably so, for a lot of time and care goes into producing this kind of printed material, and restricting citation sources makes the enterprise workable. But books - and printed words generally - are closely correlated to rich economies: Europe, North America, and a small section of Asia.
In India and South Africa, for instance, (to take just two countries in the rest of the world), the number of books produced per year is nowhere close to, say, the number of books produced in the UK. What this means for indigenous language Wikipedias from India and South Africa is that there is very little citable, printed material to rely on in those languages; in turn, it means that it is very difficult for any of those languages to grow on Wikipedia. (There is a related problem: writing this local knowledge on English Wikipedia is a task similarly hampered by a lack of good printed sources).
It is undoubtedly true that the sum of human knowledge is greater than the sum of printed knowledge even in Europe, a continent with a tradition of printing books that stretches back 550 years. However, the sum of human knowledge is far greater than the sum of printed knowledge in societies like India and South Africa. There are significant media markets for Indian languages within and outside the country and yet there is little scholarly publishing in any language other than English. Most South African languages, with the exception of English and Afrikaans, have had a primarily oral existence, and a relatively recent - and nascent - publishing tradition.
As a result of this disparity, everyday, common knowledge - things that are known, observed and performed by millions of people - cannot enter Wikipedia as units of fact because they haven't been written down in a reliably published source.This means that not only do small-language Wikipedias in countries like India and South Africa lose out on opportunities for growth, so also does the Wikimedia movement as a whole lose out on the potential expansion of scope in every language.


Skills needed[edit]

  • Anthropology research
  • Audio/video recording
  • Citation template creation
  • Policy arguments for verifiability

Phabricator task[edit]

See also[edit]