Guide to Contributing

Brett Lockspeiser edited this page Dec 17, 2015 · 17 revisions

If you can spare 10 minutes, you can bring one piece of Jewish learning into the Public Domain. Some contributions require scholarly knowledge; some are more like (holy) data-entry that anyone with an interest in Jewish texts can do.

About the Public Domain

Everything that you contribute to Sefaria (texts and data like connections) is published with a Public License (Public Domain, CC0, CC-BY, or CC BY-SA) so that anyone in the future will be free to copy and build upon it. By contributing to Sefaria you are actually contributing to the Public Domain. Even if Sefaria can't finish its ambitious project, the next person or group to try will be able to pick up right where we left off.

Ways You Can Contribute

  1. Add Connections
  2. Add Texts
  3. Correct Errors
  4. Add Translations

Get in Touch

We want to hear your questions, ideas, feedback and concerns.

1. Add Connections

[Video Tutorial] Our tradition is full of connections between texts. We want to make a complete list of these connections in a form that a computer can understand. Any time Sefaria knows about connected texts, it shows a portion of the connected text on the right hand side of the screen.

You may be able to look up connections in resources like the Torah Temimah, or you may find a citation in a place like Wikisource and simply need to enter it.

There are many types of connections we're looking for:

  • Commentary: One text explicitly comments on another.
  • Quotation: The words of one text appear quoted in another.
  • Reference: One text refers to another.
  • Summary: One text summarizes the other.
  • Explication: One text explicates the meaning of another.
  • Related Passage: Two texts are related or parallel in a way worth comparing.

How to add connections:

  1. Open a text you want to add a connection to.
  2. Click the segment of text to connect then click Add Source in the (+) menu that appears next to the highlighted text.
  3. Enter a specific citation for the text to connect to. Sefaria will guide you as you type to make sure it gets the information is needs in a form it can understand.
  4. If Sefaria doesn't have the text you want to connect, you'll need to add it first (see below). You won't have to enter the whole thing, only the part you want to connect.

2. Add Texts

[Video Tutorial] Our goal is to include in Sefaria all of the primary texts of the Jewish tradition. This means Tanach, Midrash, Mishnah, Gemara, Meforshim, Halacha, Kabalah, Chasidut, Machsheva, Musar and more.

Some texts can be just be copy-and-pasted from other websites. Other texts will need to be transcribed from a book. Sefaria is built to support fragments, so you don't have do everything at once or start at the beginning. Each small piece by itself is a step closer.

It's important that Sefaria understand the correct structure of a text; that is, how it's divided up into appropriate subsections. For Tanach this means splitting it into "verses", for Mishnah it's splitting it into "mishnahs". Each text may have its own names for what these sections are called.

How to add texts:

  1. Click "Add a Text" in the table of contents.
  2. Type the name of the text you want to add. If Sefaria knows about the text already, it may replace what you write with a name variant that Sefaria considers to be the default.
  3. If Sefaria doesn't know anything about the text yet, you'll have to describe the text first (see below).
  4. Follow the prompts that Sefaria gives to specify which part (chapter, page, section) of that text you want to add, then click OK.
  5. Assuming you are copying a text from a book or website, select Copied Text.
  6. Add a Version Title. This may be the website where the text came from (like "Wikisource Talmud") or the name of a historical translation (like "JPS 1917 Tanach").
  7. Add a Source for this version in the box that says "Copied from". For websites, this should be a web link to the text. For transcribed texts, this should be a citaton for the book you used to transcribe the text.
  8. Type or paste your text in the large box. Pay attention to the blue Section Labels that appear outside the text box. These labels show you how Sefaria will break up and number the segments of your text. You can hit enter or backspace to break up or put together your text until the labels are all correct.
  9. Click Save in the upper right hand corner when you're finished, then pat yourself on the back for making culture more freely available.

How exactly do I find the text I want to add?

Copy from Wikisource

Wikisource is the best collection on the web of primary texts available with a public licence. Most of the texts in Sefaria today come from Wikisource. You are free to copy and paste any texts from Wikisource into Sefaria so long as you indicate "Wikisource" as the version title and leave a link to the page you copied from. Look at Hebrew Wikisource for original texts and the Judaism Portal on English Wikisource for texts in translation.

Copy from Public Sources

There are plenty of other sources on the Net that publish their work with a public license or are already in the public domain (such as the Internet Sacred Text Archive). If you find a text you'd like to copy, look for a Creative Commons license such as CC0, CC-BY, or CC-BY-SA, or check this summary of Copyright Terms to see if this text may already be in the public domain. For more information on this, see the Copyright FAQ.

Transcribe from a Book

Until we have a perfect OCR system in place, picking up a book and transcribing what you see may still be the fastest way to bring some texts online. It may seem daunting, but every word you transcribe is a word that no one will ever have to transcribe again. If the text or translation in a book you have was written after 1923, please check the Copyright FAQ before transcribing.

A Note about Translations

Please note: even though the vast majority of classical Jewish texts are already in the public domain, a translation of a public domain work is legally a new work, and subject to copyright. Translations created after 1923 are most likely under copyright (though see this summary of Copyright Terms for various exceptions) and copyrighted works cannot be included in Sefaria without a license.

3. Correct Errors

[Video Tutorial] If you see an error in Sefaria, please don't stand idly by! The more people who feel a responsibility to improve Sefaria's quality, the better it will get. Click Edit Text in the About Text menu to fix any problems you see and know how to correct. If you see strangely missing or badly segmented or aligned text, please check the text against its source link. Sometimes texts that are imported automatically to Sefaria get confused by unusual formatting and need to be hand corrected. You can adjust the way a text is broken up into segments by pressing enter or delete in the text editing box.

If you see a connection that is not connected to the correct text, click it to expand it then click the edit connection link at the bottom. You can update the citation so that it points to the correct place.

If you see a citation in a text that is not being recognized by Sefaria, it helps to change the citation so that Sefaria can pick up the link. For example, Sefaria doesn't use Roman Numerals, so citations like Genesis xxiv. i. should be corrected to Genesis 24:1.

If you recognize a problem but don't know how to fix it, please report it to the Sefaria Forum.

4. Translate Texts

[Video Tutorial] If you're comfortable translating Hebrew, creating new translations of classic texts and offering them to the world is an incredibly impactful way to share talents. There's a huge opportunity here, because so much of the basics have yet to be started. Search online and you'll find dozens of translations of Rashi on Tanach; but what about Rambam, Ibn Ezra or Sforno?

Following the success of sites like Wikipedia and Wikisorce, Sefaria is adopting a collaborative approach. Anyone may start a new translation, and anyone else may step in to suggest improvements. As we grow we'll design systems for contributors to more thoroughly vet and approve new translations.

For texts that we have in their original, Sefaria offers a simple side by side tool for making new translations.

How to add new translations:

  1. Open the Hebrew or Aramaic of a text you want translate.
  2. Open the About Text panel then select Add Translation +.
  3. Enter your translation in the large box.
  4. Keep your translation aligned with the original by using the enter and delete keys to separate segments of text.
  5. If you're copying an existing translation, be sure to include the Version Title and Source as described above.

If you'd like to add translations in languages other than English, please see Adding Non-English Translations.