Indigenous Knowledge for Wikipedia: A Case Study with an OvaHerero Community in Eastern Namibia

Gallert, Peter; Winschiers-Theophilus, Heike; Kapuire, Gereon K.; Stanley, Colin; Cabrero, Daniel G. and Shabangu, Bobby (2016). Indigenous Knowledge for Wikipedia: A Case Study with an OvaHerero Community in Eastern Namibia. In: Proceedings of the First African Conference on Human Computer Interaction - AfriCHI'16, pp. 155–159.



Wikipedia has established itself as the top content site on the World Wide Web and the largest and most successful general reference work. Its vision to provide access to the sum of all Human knowledge, however, is far from being realised. Through its Western focus, its strong alignment with existing encyclopaedias and its Internet-savvy editor base it has not even begun to penetrate knowledge that is not codified purely in writing. This paper presents preliminary results from an empirical experiment of oral information collection in rural Namibia converted into citations on Wikipedia. The intention was to collect information from an indigenous group which is currently not derivable from written material and thus remains unreported to Wikipedia under its present rules. We argue that a citation to an oral narrative lacks nothing that one to a written work would offer, that quality criteria like reliability and verifiability are easily comparable and ascertainable. On a practical level, extracting encyclopaedic like information from an indigenous narrator requires a certain amount of prior insight into the context and subject matter to ask the right questions. Further investigations are required to ensure an empirically sound approach to achieve that. We demonstrate that oral citations are possible and viable additions to Wikipedia as a global knowledge repository.

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