Annual Report 2022/Story: Investigating opportunities for the next steps to make Wikipedia more user friendly

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In this story, we focus on how Wikimedia Sverige has continued developing various project ideas focused on making Wikipedia more user-friendly, in alignment with our new strategic direction.

The speech synthesis solution Wikispeech is central in our work of making Wikipedia more user-friendly.

In Wikimedia Sverige's strategy 2021–2025 we state “[t]he chapter shall contribute to improving the user experience on the Wikimedia platforms” by working with software development and improving the documentation.

Wikimedia Sverige's work on the speech synthesis tool Wikispeech, which makes it possible for those who have difficulty reading to listen to Wikipedia articles, is an important part of our operations and in 2022 we developed three different project ideas around it. One of them focuses on how we can get speakers of minority languages to contribute speech data so that we can activate Wikispeech in their languages. Another idea focuses on how we can add Finnish and Northern Sámi – two of Sweden's official minority languages – to Wikispeech. We applied for funding for both these ideas, but weren't awarded any. We're going to work on identifying other external funders, but if that's not a possibility, we might end up fully or partially self-financing these two projects in the future.

We are now preparing a third large application to the Swedish Inheritance Fund. It focuses on both further development of Wikispeech so that the speech synthesis works in all parts of Wikipedia, not just the body text, and that the speech data collection tools we have started creating can be completed. However, this is an extensive project which is going to include active tests with end users, deeper collaborations with interest groups for people with disabilities and active work to involve the general public in collecting speech data and developing the free dictionaries we use as a foundation. Our initial conversations with the Swedish Inheritance Fund have made it clear that our ideas are well-received and there's a chance for potential funding.

We also worked on developing a plan for how we can build a new tool, Wikiporträ This tool is aimed at making it easier for people who own media files and are interested in sharing some of them (such as professional portrait photos) on the Wikimedia platforms, but are not interested in learning the ins and outs of the platforms. Wikiporträ would be an internationalized variation of a tool first developed by our sibling organization Wikimedia Nederland. Their tool has been very successful in the Netherlands, making thousands of image uploads possible as it lowered the threshold for sharing images. Unfortunately, the grant we applied for was never awarded, but we are going to look into how we could reuse this project idea in the future.

Throughout 2023, we are going to continue developing different concepts and project ideas centered around these topics. We hope to be able to implement one or several of them next year. In this way, we want to make it easier for people to use and contribute to the Wikimedia platforms.