Submissions/The Old New Thing: Crowdsourcing the Digitization of Ben-Yehuda's Dictionary

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Submission no. 1080
Title of the submission
The Old New Thing: Crowdsourcing the Digitization of Ben-Yehuda's Dictionary
On YouTube:
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Asaf Bartov
E-mail address
through the wiki
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Project Ben-Yehuda (Hebrew)
Personal homepage or blog
Project Ben-Yehuda's Blog (Hebrew)
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The most comprehensive dictionary of the Hebrew language is still the one authored by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda in the early 20th century. It is now public domain. Creating a digital version of it is a formidable task -- it contains Hebrew in two scripts (standard and Rashi), as well as single words in Polytonic Greek, Arabic, German, French and English -- and it spans more than 10,000 pages.

I have created a free-software crowdsourcing platform to facilitate volunteer work on manually transcribing the dictionary -- one individual headword (dictionary definition) at a time -- with each headword going through three rounds of proofreading before being published, and have been publishing hundreds of detailed definitions in the gradually-accumulating public page of the dictionary.

Some interesting features:

  • Every headword has a permalink so ease referencing it in online discussions. All content is offered to the Hebrew Wiktionary project as source material.
  • Source references (i.e. quotations from the Bible, the Talmud, etc. illustrating how words are used) are automagically made into hyperlinks to the correct positions in existing digital editions of these source texts, often on the Hebrew Wikisource.
  • the software can be re-used for any right-to-left dictionary transcription project, and will definitely be re-used to transcribe other Hebrew dictionaries.

In my talk, I will demonstrate the project, discuss design considerations, and offer tips and learnings from volunteer responses to the project.

WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Crowdsourcing the Digitization of Ben-Yehuda's Dictionary
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
on the right
Special requests

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  1. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:44, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  2. ਅਮੀਰ ਏ. ਅਹਰੋਨਿ 12:47, 12 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Jodi.a.schneider (talk) 20:02, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Naturally.  :) Shani Evenstein (talk) 21:00, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  5. -- とある白い猫 chi? 06:30, 3 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Frank Hendriks (talk) 14:47, 4 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  7. NickK (talk) 23:56, 7 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Your name here!