Proposal:Audio offerings

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Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


Pure audio can convey much information in relatively few bytes, and may serve as an alternative distribution for the WMF materials. I recommend that the Foundation make a major push to develop its audio offerings.



  • Spoken versions of Wikipedia articles, Wikiversity lectures, Wikibooks and Wikisource texts, etc.[1]
  • Pursue donations such as ethnomusicology and animal sounds from Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology.
  • Develop tags for musical notation on Wikipedia and methods for hearing them played.
  • Develop convenient tools and/or help notes for volunteers to work with pure audio files.
  • Direct phonetic input for Wikipedia authors
  • Develop Text-To-Speech software or enhance available FOSS text-to-speech software, deploy it on Wikimedia Websites and Wikimedia's Wikipedia Iphone app (e.g. see mp3/reading applet in the webpage of German tech website, just below article headlines. It uses the proprietary software ReadSpeaker by Something similar (as FOSS of course) would be nice.)
  • Create FOSS Text-to-Speech Firefox addon, perhaps in collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation or other interested parties


  • For Text-To-Speech software: enhance accessability of Wikimedia websites and the Web for people who like audio presentation or are dependent on it; FOSS Text-To-Speech software in multiple languages could provide Wikimedia and the FOSS community as a whole with a valuable tool (Text-To-Speech); it could serve e.g. also in FOSS Routing software for routing commands (collaboration with OpenStreetMap project, FOSS xGPS / Navit software for Iphone).

Key Questions

  • Is there Open Source Text-To-Speech (TTS) Software available? Festival lite flite software perhaps? Speech Dispatcher speechd? ESpeak?
    • Java based Freetts is an obvious candidate here, and can be run as a web start. Freetts can be found here: [2]. For an example of implementation of Freetts, I blogged this a few days ago: [3]. Voices, threading and markup parsing / link following are the big issues. Sjc 07:55, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Should the Wikimedia Foundation invest resources into developing FOSS Text-To-Speech software for major and/or minor languages / WP language editions
  • If we pursue the TTS line of inquiry, we will need an agreed set of baseline standards for pronunciation. This raises a number of implications relating to optimal pronunciation, ranges of voices available, etc. Moreover, many words in languages such as English, whilst spelt similarly and having identical meanings, are pronounced very differently in different implemenations of the language throughout the world (e.g. British English 'leisure' with a short e and American English with a long ee...)

Potential Costs

For Text-To-Speech software: Unknown; perhaps $40000 for completion of the Text-To-Speech engine and additional $10000 per additional language.


Community Discussion

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Want to work on this proposal?

  1. Vibhijain 14:58, 8 May 2011 (UTC) Costly!
  2. .. Sign your name here!