Saturday, May 24, 2008

Funding Wikipedias in Underserved Languages

Today's Not the Wikipedia Weekly discussion dealt with developing Wikipedias in African languages. The recording itself should be available for listening shortly, so a few issues I'll refer to the discussion there. One bottom line question is how to fund the starting effort for underserved populations.

I brainstormed one solution during the recording and I'll float it publicly now. The basic idea is this: it costs $50-$80 a month to hire a person full time to create basic content in a starting Wikipedia in a developing country. We're talking about seeding a project with basic articles so that it begins to get traffic and a community of volunteers. Question is how to raise that money.

I'll use my volunteer skills to help generate that funding. Here's an example of the work I'll do--Photoshopping Cary Bass of the Wikimedia Foundation onto an Albrecht Dürer painting. In return for a donation to a dedicated fund (and with no share of the money for myself), I'll edit a photograph onto a famous public domain painting.

If you like this idea, please comment and/or e-mail me. We need to set up the place to accept the funds. As a starting donation level I'm looking at $25 per picture. So two to three images would fund a full time person for a month to develop Wikipedia material in Africa.

A good cause, with a fun benefit in return. What do you say?


Steven Walling said...

What African languages do you refer to? My understanding, from a personal investigation of the possibility of teaching English abroad, is that English is the medium of instruction throughout out quite a bit of Africa. You don't need a Kiswahili encyclopedia when everyone who can read knows English.

Durova said...

Africa isn't the only part of the world where English is a common second language. Gerard Meijssen who runs OmegaWiki is Dutch, and he discussed his project in English, but nobody really argues that as a reason against having a Dutch Wikipedia.

Here's the complete list of Wikipedias.

Arabic has 59,000 articles. Afrikaans has nearly 10,000 articles. After that it drops off precipitously.

Padraic said...

Hopefully, once the Canadian chapter is established, we can help find funding to do exactly that for First Nations languages.