[WMCEE-l] Some toughs about the scope, selection of participants and official language of the CEE Meetings.

Mykola Kozlenko mycola-k at ukr.net
Sun Oct 1 20:52:22 CEST 2017

Hi Tomasz,

Answering here to avoid too long inline.

1. In this case we would probably need some criteria, as everything is subjective. For example, Erzyan community is smaller than, say, Silesian, from all points of view (number of speakers, number of articles, number of active users), and most members of Erzyan user group do not speak Erzyan. I don't know if it's a good model, it might be worth discussion. If we want to include minority languages (and we have more than a dozen in the region) we would probably need to adapt our programme as well, as they have very different languages.

2. I remember that back in 2014 we managed all participants through something like a scholarship system. Bear in mind that at that time most communities did not have an active user group yet (countries like Bulgaria, Georgia and Latvia were just creating or were yet to create user groups). The significant difference is that we used 2 scholarships/country as a baseline. In some cases we had only one attendee because we did not have a second candidate, in some cases we accepted more than 2 scholarships, in other cases we had to decline extra candidates. I think it worked quite well, and I don't think it would be as good with just 1 scholarship/country.

What I do not find practical is having a double system: via country quotas and via scholarship committee. I am more in favour of a Berlin-like system with pre-defined quotas (with more room for affiliates paying for themselves) and a few extra scholarships (mostly for speakers), and I don't think that having a full-scale scholarship process like at Wikimania would be a good idea. 

3. The problem here is pretty much like a choice between reading a book (or watching a film) in original version or in translation.
* Firstly, synchronised translation is going to be hard even with a glossary (imagine translating someone like "there are issues with NPOV on this topic in enwiki, thus our chapter organised an edit-a-thon in partnership with GLAMs" - a non-Wikimedian translator is likely to get it wrong). I think there is a significant difference between preferring Russian to English and preferring Russian translation to English original: people would prefer translation only if they have significant problems understanding original.
* Secondly, a significant part (perhaps even more than a half) of CEE Meeting attendees do not speak Russian. This includes many cases: Greeks who never learned it, Hungarians from younger generation who only heard that their parents learned it at some point, Estonians from younger generation who probably learned some Russian at some point but do not know it well enough to speak it, or Belarusians who learned Russian but prefer to speak English for personal reasons. Only the latest case is related to political views of participants, all other cases are about times that are changing (we cannot make Hungarians speak Russian if Hungarian government made a political decision not to teach Russian in schools some twenty years ago).
* Finally, Russian is not a universal solution. I recall reaching someone for CEE Meeting 2014 who had very limited English, but they were from Southern Europe and did not speak Russian either, they had a good command of German instead. I also recall CEE Wikimedians (not CEEM attendees, however) whose main foreign language was French or Turkish, or even Esperanto in one case.

The survey you are talking about is a good test, we asked a similar question in 2014 as well. The main issue is interpretation - it would be good to ask which language(s) they understand better than English, as I am not sure these very people are exactly those people who speak Russian better (in 2014 only one person reported English as a significant barrier, but they did not speak Russian either).

Mykola (NickK)

--- Оригінальне повідомлення ---
Від кого: "Tomasz Ganicz" <polimerek at gmail.com>
Дата: 1 жовтня 2017, 18:46:35

2017-09-30 22:22 GMT+02:00 Mykola Kozlenko <mycola-k at ukr.net>:

I will comment on it as the discussion already started here.

1. Underrepresented communities. From the experience of past years, few countries are almost completely missing: Lithuania (quite absent offline but somewhat active online), Slovenia (same as Lithuania), Bosnia (Bosnian language community, while Serbian-language community is more active), Cyprus (only few people active) and Montenegro (no signs of any active community), with Romania, Croatia and Kazakhstan semi-active. Plus some minority languages for which we never made any serious outreach.

Yes. That correct and actually - I think good move for next organizer would to make an attempt to contact them. But rather not thinking about it in terms of countries - but rather communities of editors of Wikimedia projects. There is an issue how small communities to potentially include and which not. For example - in Poland except Polish community we have Silesian and Kashubian langauge Wikipedia communities, but there are very tiny and IMHO it doesn't make sense to include them officially. For Russia - it was already accepted to include Bashkarostan but we got a question from not yet officially recognized group - Erzya language User Group - to be included, and we rejected them because they were not on original grant proposal list. You may expect more such groups to emerge in due future, not only in Russian Federation but also in other places.

Anyway - my POV after CEE Meeting in Warsaw is - that we must switch from selection based on countries to selection based on language/project's Wikimedia communities.

2. I think that it is important to keep at least 2 scholarships for smaller communities. The fact that these communities are small means that they are unable to provide scholarships to their members like bigger chapters (WMPL, WMEE etc.) do. Giving only one scholarship make these communities quite dependent on one person (having one leader is not always obvious, it might cause severe conflicts if people disagree with this leader or, on the contrary, may create a strong dependence if people lead this leader decide on anything international).

To be honest  - no matter if is is going to be one person or 2 persons - it does not change anything in decisions to be made. There is also an issue what to do if one language/country community has more than 1 affiliated entities - at the moment there are at least 3 such cases in our region. 

Bear in mind - that my idea - is to have quite a number of scholarship to be selected by scholarship committee - the committee might designate these scholarship taking into account several factors - of which one of the most important might be diversity. So - if the given small UG or chapter cannot afford to send second representative on its own - that person can apply for scholarship. A pool of scholarships under committee decision can be also a chance for very small communities not having any affiliated entity to come.

3. I think that there are more disadvantages than advantages of this. People able to make synchronised translations of Wikimedia terms may be extremely hard to find: we need them to be highly proficient in Russian (pretty easy to find in, say, Armenia, but hardly available, say, in Greece) and not to make mistakes with Wikimedia terms (WMF tried hiring non-Wikimedia translators, they failed to translate even simple Wikimedia terms like "chapter" and wrote translations that were rather hard to understand). This is unlikely to be beneficial to more than a dozen of people (those who speak Russian better than English, given the CEE demography there are no more than 5 countries with such situation), but this is likely to frustrate more than a dozen (those who don't speak Russian or associate it with not that happy Communist past of the region). And well, I am a bit surprised to hear about Albanians who prefer Russian to English, this seems very uncommon. Having met CEE people at a number of event, I recall meeting just a couple of people who were not from Russia AND preferred speaking Russian to speaking English. I think we should carefully evaluate if there is a significant need for such translation.

Well - As I understand the "political" concerns of WMUKr - it is still true that quite a number of participants - speak better Russian than English - not only from Russian Federation - but - yes - also from Armenia and several other former Soviet republics. In the survey we have just announced - there is a question how much English is a barrier for participants - so we will have soon more precise  data about it, but the data will be only for current participants. We don't know how many haven't arrived due to language barrier.

And the language is just a language - doesn't make sense to blame language as such for current political issues of the country where it is most spoken...

Technically - organizing professional simultaneous translation is not a big issue - at least in Poland there is a numerous companies providing this - the service includes translators and technical equipment. We did it once for our GLAM conference - translators costs were donated by our host institution - Muzeum Narodowe - and it worked pretty well. The cost was similar to the cost of expanded wifi we paid for CEE Meeting in Warsaw. In order to help translators to translate wiki-terms, we simply provided them a glossary:



simultaneous translation does not need to  be perfect - it is enough that it is basically useful. 

I guess we should have 2 translators - from English to Russian and from Russian to English, so the translated track could be translated both ways.

Tomek "Polimerek" Ganicz

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