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

Kiril Simeonovski kiril.simeonovski at gmail.com
Mon Oct 2 12:55:18 CEST 2017

Hi all,

Thank you Tomasz for working out this interesting proposals. My thoughts on
each of them are presented bellow.

   - *Scope.* It is difficult to define the exact scope of Wikimedia
   Central and Eastern Europe and it would not change drastically even after
   settling for something, but from the very beginning it was meant to foster
   regional collaboration and sharing of experiences and best practices. In
   that context, this would roughly make the Wikimedia CEE Meeting closer to
   the Wikimedia Conference rather than Wikimania. The main thing that
   Wikimania sets apart from the other conferences within the movement is that
   it is basically a research-oriented conference that enables participation
   for people outside of the movement compared to the Wikimedia Conference and
   the Wikimedia CEE Meeting that are intended for a closed group of people
   from the movement. In regad with the thematic scope, the Wikimedia CEE
   Meeting should be less executive than the Wikimedia Conference because it
   also involves participation of people from communities with no Wikimedia
   affiliates, who need to gently start with very simple community-oriented
   activities that the more experienced communities have masted in throughout
   years. The hackathon topics might be of interest for many regional
   Wikimedians, but my opinion is that they are way too technical to be
   considered practical enough for the general audience at the conference.

   - *Participants.* My understanding about the movement has even been that
   it focuses on language communities than on countries or specific regions.
   Of course, in the sense of Central and Eastern Europe, this roughly
   overlaps with countries, although there are good exceptions that need to be
   taken seriously. I think the current model of inviting two representatives
   per country should be changed and Mykola's proposal to pre-determine quota
   places per community is very sound to me. As for the emerging communities
   willing to participate, it will be good to invite one representative for
   the next Wikimedia CEE Meeting; as for the communities irregularly
   participating, there is nothing that we can do to make them participate if
   they do not want to, but it is still good to reserve a quota place for one
   representative from these communities that can be alternatively distributed
   in case of no interest.

   - *Official language(s).* The discussion that we had during Wikimania
   2011, when Wikimedia Central and Eastern Europe was activated, concluded
   that there will not be an official language, although the communication
   will be mostly made in English as *lingua franca *for most people from
   the region. This, however, does not make English official language and does
   not give it priority to any other language spoken within the region. The
   same should apply for Russian, German, Turkish, Polish, Ukrainian or any
   other language. From a practical point of view, apart from English as the
   most preferred language of communication among Wikimedians from the region,
   Russian is by far the second most preferred language of communication and
   Serbo-Croatian probably comes on the third place. Coming back to the
   previous point, if we are going to expand the number of communities to
   include some representing languages of Russia, then the necessity of having
   participants who will need communication in a language other than English
   (in this case Russian) increases and therefore providing part of the
   conference programme in Russian or using simultaneous translation becomes
   the most practical solution. Otherwise, we will most likely end up in a
   situation to have participants who could not understand most of the talks
   and this will make them difficulty to share the knowledge with the other
   members from their communities. This is not only for Russian but for any
   other language that might be preferred in similar situations in future. The
   only problem, as previously pointed out, is the cost for the translator.

Best regrads,


On Sun, Oct 1, 2017 at 8:52 PM, Mykola Kozlenko <mycola-k at ukr.net> wrote:

> 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).
> Thanks,
> 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>:
> Hi,
> 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:
> https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%
> BF%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%B8%D1%8F:%D0%93%D0%BB%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%81%
> D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B9
> https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomoc:S%C5%82owniczek
> 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
> http://pl.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Polimerek
> http://www.ganicz.pl/poli/
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