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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts by Petr Brož

Evaluating the success of Wikimedia Czech Republic’s Mediagrant

This post is available in 2 languages: Česky 7% • English 100%

In English

Not only do we have to locate a protected area. The detective work begins when we try hard to find a specific plant species that is supposed to be at full bloom…

In mid-2011, members of Czech WikiProject Protected Areas (a group of Wikipedians interested in environmentalism) were thinking: there are a lot of protected areas scattered all around the Czech Republic, and yet, few of them had been photographically documented for Wikimedia Commons, the image database for the Wikimedia projects. As a result of this, we sought a grant in July 2011 to support the Wikimedian photographers. This grant falls within the Mediagrant initiative, an overall grant scheme developed by Wikimedia Czech Republic (WMCZ) and financed by the Wikimedia Foundation. The goals of the grant were clear: to obtain pictures of protected areas, memorable trees or rare plant and animal species that can be found in these localities.

The Mediagrant itself enables all interested people to ask for funding that will help them acquire new multimedial content such as pictures, but also audiovisual records. This means that every new project has an easy path to the funding it inevitably needs; and this was the case for WikiProject Protected Areas too. Our goals were not modest at all, to tell the truth. We deciced for a long run towards photographing every protected area and memorable tree in the Czech Republic, i.e. an astonishing number of 2500 different spots and a few thousand memorable trees. It would be utterly difficult to do this with a small group of volunteers, but without a certain level of coordination and without any financial support for travel expenses.

You might wonder how this all works in practice. Actually, it is very simple. Any volunteer can find a couple of protected areas that he/she would like to pay a visit to. After arriving at the spot, he/she makes a few pictures of the area, hunting for interesting plants and animals as well. At home, one has to upload the pictures to Wikimedia Commons and them send a short and simple summary of the trip. The grant admin then evaluates the trip, inspects the uploaded results, and, if positive, gives instructions so that the travel expenses are paid to the volunteer’s bank account.

In order to involve as many people as possible, we strived to eliminate bureaucracy. Both personal transport (petrol expenses paid per km) and public transport (train or bus) can be reimbursed. The only remnant of bureaucracy – the duty to send us the corresponding bus or train ticket for the sake of accounting – could not have been eliminated because of Czech law.

Almost two years have gone by and it remains to seen if our goals materialized into tangible results. To do this, we should examine the table below,[1] which includes data from six months of 2011, all of 2012, and the first month of 2013.

Year Number of.. trips ..localities ..images Costs.. ..per trip ..per photo Number of localities per trip
2011 16 70 1,200 2,730.00 Kč 169.56 Kč 2.28 Kč 4.38
2012 57 224 3,823 12,795.00 Kč 224.47 Kč 3.35 Kč 3.93
2013 1 4 33 61.00 Kč 61.00 Kč 1.85 Kč 4.00
Overall 74 298 5,056 15,569.00 Kč 210.39 Kč 3.08 Kč 4.03

In 2012, a total number of 57 photo trips were taken, capturing 3823 pictures of 224 different areas or memorable trees. This is an average of 17 pictures per object, which is fairly good coverage, even though all of the photos were taken at one time of the year (while nature tends to change a lot during the year). In total, almost 300 hundred objects have been captured through the lenses of our 12 volunteer photographers. You can see all these pictures in a category at Wikimedia Commons.

One of the biggest successes of our grant, one that we are proud of, is that we were able to attract new contributors who had not been part of the Wikimedia community before. Variability of our WikiProject seems to be the cause of our success – we popularize protected areas in Wikipedia, but also (and primarily) in printed media and on social sites. Our Facebook ‘Protected Areas’ page certainly plays a big part; from time to time, we advertise the availability of our grant there. As you could see above, this day-to-day and often demanding work bears fruits, although we would love to see even more newbies join our efforts. A great example is user Artiplexmedia, who was able to visit 71 protected areas and take 1241 pictures in only half a year. This made him the most active member of our team by far.

What could be improved? The most challenging part of our work is really to attract more people from outside the Wikipedia movement. Objectively, it is difficult to explain how easy the process of funding is and how easily they can take their camera and go hunting for protected areas and then upload the photos to Wikimedia Commons. Editing the Wikimedia projects is still a big secret – or challenge – to many, and when you add the cumpulsory bureaucracy (no matter how simple we make it), the final “mix” is very difficult to overcome. We need to find a way to attract people to our mission on a larger scale.

We have already learned some valuable lessons about running this grant project. Mainly, we confirmed the well-known truth that bureaucracy has to be kept on a tight leash: otherwise, your chances of involving newcomers are slim. Secondly, the experienced grant leaders have to be always ready and willing to help beginners (eg. with adding descriptions to their pictures, creating categories, adding templates, etc.). This reduces the shock that the beginners would otherwise feel when starting out on Wikipedia. This way, it definitely puts less stress on them and it is also much more friendly. Actually, every new photographed object gets noticed fairly soon, as the contributors link all their uploaded content in their travel report. Grant admins can then go through the pictures and, if needed, fix the bugs.

Finally, let us have one immodest wish. We hope that our grant will do even better in 2013. Also, we wish to make the Czech ‘environmental tourism’ even more attractive, because this is the only way for us to fulfill our goals, to document all the protected areas and memorable trees. Our work can offer high-quality information to learn about the hot spots of Czech nature and landscape – for all and for free. Moreover, by sharing the free knowledge online, we also do something for a better environment. This is worth standing up and taking out your camera!

Petr Brož (Chmee2), Wikimedia Czech Republic
Translated by Vojtech.Dostal, Wikimedia Czech Republic

Gallery

Leucojum vernum in natural monument Pašínovická louka

Natural monument Drásovský kopeček, Brno-venkov District, Czech Republic

Group of five Quercus robur – famous trees near Tloskov u Neveklova, Benešov District, Czech Republic

National nature reserve Vyšenské kopce, Český Krumlov District, Czech Republic

Notes

  1. Only approved tickets are counted into the number of ‘trips’. The expenses do not include trips that have been approved but not paid out. However, that is just a minor number (currently 5) all all of them are to be paid out eventually.
    The number of visited localities and number of pictures are affected by several factors: objects outside of the WikiProject Protected Areas are included into the total number in case that the trip is mainly dealing with Protected areas. Also, trip no. 242 summarizes several protected areas under one name. The overall statistics is affected only minimally and can be neglected for the sake of simplicity .

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Can beginners write high-quality articles? Czech students prove yes again!

This post is available in 2 languages: Česky7% • English 100%

English

Another winter term is coming to an end at Czech universities and we can again evaluate how students of Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, succeeded in improving Wikipedia articles about Czech protected areas this year. A total of 36 enrolled students of “Nature and Landscape Protection” (6 more students than last year) took part in the cooperation between the faculty and WikiProject Protected areas, organized under patronation of Students Write Wikipedia program and Wikimedia Czech Republic.

The benefits of cooperating with a group of third-year university students of Institute for Environmental Studies have been clear since last year, as can be seen from the last year’s report. At that time, students wrote top-quality articles accompanied by lots of pictures, aiming to document corresponding protected areas and improve the topic in the Czech Wikipedia. It was this past success that was very demanding this time: Will we be able to motivate the students enough so that their articles are at least as good as they were last year?

We did not change the overall model of the project: again, students were asked to pick one protected area, pay a visit in it, take pictures, make a 15-minute talk in front of the class (including the following discussion), and, last but not least, write a detailed Wikipedia article on the subject of this protected area. However, we put more stress on the professional delivery of the talks in front of class, including punctuality and good time management, as well as sticking to basic Wikipedia rules when writing the article. The scheme did not change because it was evaluated as satisfying enough and leading to good quality articles with lots of pretty pictures. It must be noted that this model is very demanding for the Wikipedia Ambassador who goes through all the articles, corrects them, and attends the seminar each week to evaluate the speeches.

As mentioned earlier, WikiProject Protected Areas has been the principal curator of this project; however, it is part of an official Students Write Wikipedia initiative that has been operating for two years now in the Czech Republic and has seen hundreds of articles being created about various topics and by students of several Czech universities. Apropos, ten Czech projects are running in the current winter term, including “Christianity I.“, “Sculpture in Czech Lands 1550-1800“, “Molecular Immunology” or “Essentials of Parasitology” (the list of all our projects can be found here). Recent changes in all these articles can be monitored real-time at a special page; the most interesting updates are regularly posted at the program’s Facebook page.

And how was the cooperation going this year? Let’s see the table below!

Image Name Before After Gallery

on Commons

Pohled na louku v PR Andelske schody3.JPG Andělské schody Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohľad na Badínsky potok.JPG Badínsky prales Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Zarustani Barrandovy skaly vegetaci.JPG Barrandovské skály Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Blana 7.JPG Blana Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Borkovické blata - rašeliniště.jpg Borkovická blata Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Vyhlídka NPP Černé rokle (2).JPG Černé rokle Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Apalus bimaculatus.JPG Drienčanský kras Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Šupinovka kostrbatá (Pholiota squarrosa).JPG Hostivické rybníky Silver piece.png Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Louka jen.JPG Jenerálka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Druhá strana.JPG Kalvárie v Motole Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kapradiny.jpg Kaňon Labe Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Mohutní Karlštejn.JPG Karlštejn Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kohoutovský ryolit.jpg Kohoutov Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kotyz Hvozdik kartouzek.JPG Kotýz Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Rohac velky.JPG Lednické rybníky Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Přr máslovice.jpg Máslovická stráň Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Zajimavystromubotice.jpg Meandry Botiče Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
RybnikKancik.JPG Milíčovský les a rybníky Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Les u potoka v Modřanské rokli.JPG Modřanská rokle Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled na rozmanitost dřevin.JPG Motolský ordovik Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
PR Na Čihadle (6).JPG Na Čihadle Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Vstup do NP.JPG Na Plachtě 3 Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled na vychod.JPG Nový rybník u Soběslavi Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Železniční trať.JPG Polabská černava Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pravcicka brana1.JPG Pravčická brána Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Prokopské1.jpg Prokopské údolí Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Prosecke skaly 3.jpg Prosecké skály Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Lesni porost.JPG Skalka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Vyvrácené stromy, Sokolí skála.JPG Sokolí skála Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
PR Starý Hirštejn 3.JPG Starý Hirštejn Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Třemešný vrch 2.JPG Třemešný vrch Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled ze severovychodni lokality na Jizni spojku.JPG U Branického pivovaru Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kunratický les.jpg Údolí Kunratického potoka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Údolí Únětického potoka.JPG Údolí Únětického potoka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled z cesty.JPG Vrch Hazmburk Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Gejzírové stalagmity.JPG Zbrašovské aragonitové jeskyně Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie

As you can see by comparing the corresponding page revisions in the table, the amount of text written during the course of the project was huge, and that applies to pictures as well. Like last year, one of the articles, written by a student, achieved the status of a Good Article. Specifically, it was an article dealing with a natural monument Hostivické rybníky, which is located in the vicinity of Prague. We proved again that even someone who is a Wikipedia beginner can create a high quality article when properly motivated. We also believe that the “exemplary articles” offered to students are essential for the success, as students can easily see all the templates used and just copy/paste them into their own article. We also stressed the practice of watching the work of students by experienced Wikipedians, who fix any imperfections and mistakes in the text or student’s wrong understanding of the internal wiki-rules.

Nevertheless, something did not run so smooth this year. Although we did explain the problem of copyright and stressed the importance of original writing, two students crossed the line of this essential Wikipedia rule this year. We cannot tell if it was unfamiliarity with the rule or an effort to simplify their school job, but the truth is that we recognized these violations very soon and removed the problematic pieces. Students thus experienced efficient defence mechanisms of Wikipedia, as even without the need of an Ambassador’s action, as other users promptly flagged the articles. Students were bound to rewrite the articles and explain their fault to the teacher. We believe this was an important lesson for all the students in the class, helping them to realize how important the original work is. However, we strongly warn everyone who considers starting a similar project to check all the student texts for copyright violations – this is a ubiquitous problem.

Apart from this issue that must be addressed, I would recommend all the Wikimedia projects to try to involve students as much as possible. Their positive value is indisputable and if you dedicate enough of your free time, they sure will produce excellent results, as our students did. The Czech “Students Write Wikipedia” program has once again proved its viability and the diversity it brings into Czech Wikipedia. This is a project when otherwise non-existent articles on protected areas and pictures are created and I personally hope that the next term will be again blooming with gifted students and their beautiful articles.

I’d like to hereby thank to Mgr. Jiří Reif PhD., the Associate Professor at Charles University in Prague, who once again allowed me to cooperate with his students and join them into the development of Czech Wikipedia. Also, I would love to thank to all students, who took part in this project and gave a lot of their energy in it. Thank you all!

Petr Brož (Chmee2), translated by Vojtech.Dostal, Wikimedia Czech Republic

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Wikipedia Czech Republic organizes photography workshop at Fata Morgana

(This is a guest post from Petr Broz, a member of Wikimedia Czech Republic)

This post is available in 2 languages: Česky7% • English 100%

Česky

Snímek byl pořízen během workshopu “Fotografický workshop v Botanické zahradě Fata Morgana,” Praha.

Občanské sdružení Wikimedia Česká republika připravilo ve spolupráci s WikiProjektem Chráněná území a Portálem Fotografie další z řady odborných workshopů zaměřených na fotografování živé přírody kolem nás. Oproti předchozímu setkání, kdy se wikipedisté a další zájemci z řad široké veřejnosti učili v přírodě jednotlivé rostliny poznávat a fotografovat ty nejlepší části pro pozdější poznání, tentokrát bylo cílem vysvětlit teorii fotografování, následně si tyto teoretické dovednosti hned vyzkoušet v praxi a po skončení fotografování společně fotografie zhodnotit. Patronací nad vedením setkání převzal Topi Pigula, významný český fotograf, který často publikuje své fotografie v prestižních časopisech.

I přesto, že tento odborný seminář proběhl v zimě, rozhodně bylo co fotografovat. A to díky navázání spolupráce s Botanickou zahradou hlavního města Prahy, která nám umožnila navštívit skleník Fata Morgana, fotografovat a následně fotografie uvolnit pod svobodnou licencí. Před samotnou návštěvou zahrady jsme se setkali u počítače, kde jsme společně procházeli zásady zlatého řezu, kompozice, používání externího blesku, stativu a dalších teoretických předpokladů pro pořizování kvalitních fotografií. Po teoretické přípravě se zájemci přesunuli do skleníku. Zatímco venku panoval prosincový mráz a silnice pokrývala silná vrstvy ledovky, zájemci o fotografování se namísto toho potili v tropickém klimatu, kde teploty přesahovaly i 25 °C. A nepotili se jen fotografové, mnohem více tato náhlá změna teploty a vysoká vlhkost vzduchu neseděla přinesené technice. Ta se záhy po vybalení obalila do nepříjemného oparu mlhy kondenzující na fotoaparátech. Snaha čistit čočky a otírat vysráženou vodu byla marná. První půlhodinu praktické části fotografování jsme kvůli tomu museli strávit čekáním, až se technika zahřeje a přestane se rosit. Naštěstí v budově byl sušák na ruce, který vhodně posloužil i pro sušení objektivů. A tak jsme se nakonec mohli vrhnout na fotografování krás tropické přírody.

V průběhu fotografování měli všichni účastníci možnost si samostatně vyzkoušet své dovednosti a nově získané znalosti. Mezi nimi průběžně procházel zkušený lektor – fotograf Topi Pigula, se kterým měli možnost konzultovat nastavení fotoaparátu či se jen poradit o kompozici nebo vhodnosti nasvícení. Během tří hodin ve skleníku vznikly stovky fotografií, ze kterých účastníci následně po skončení vybrali několik nejzajímavějších snímků. Nad nimi pak proběhla mezi všemi diskuse, během které se účastníci snažili vzájemně upozornit na případné chyby a přednosti snímků. Všichni tak měli možnost vyslechnout si zpětnou vazbu k výsledkům celodenního workshopu.

Celkově se na akci přihlásilo 13 lidí, z čehož pouhých 5 bylo zkušených wikipedistů. Zbytek představovali zájemci z řad široké veřejnosti, kteří neměli s editováním žádné, či jen velmi malé zkušenosti. K přilákání pozornosti k této události jsme využili jak fanouškovskou stránku o chráněných územích na Facebooku, tak i osobní výzvy mezi své známé. Tohoto úspěchu, kdy podíl zájemců z prostředí mimo Wikipedii byl takto vysoký, si obzvláště ceníme, jelikož nám to dalo možnost hovořit s lidmi o Wikipedii, představit její myšlenku a fungování a případně pro její tvorbu zaujmout nové editory. Výsledkem tedy nebylo jen zlepšení našich dovedností, pořízení desítek zajímavých fotografií, ale i probuzení zájmu mezi newikipedisty. To, jestli se někdo z nich rozhodne podílet na tvorbě v budoucnu, ukáže až čas. Nicméně i tak se nám určitě povedlo zlepšit povědomí a jméno Wikipedie.

Akce byla financována skrze grantový projekt Mediagrant Wikimedia Česká republika při celkových nákladech 3069 Kč. Pevně věříme, že se brzy podaří podobnou akci opět zorganizovat pro další zájemce. Organizačně akci připravil wikipedista Svajcr, kterému tímto patří velké díky od všech, co se workshopu zúčastnili!

Petr Brož aka Chmee2, člen občanského sdružení Wikimedia Česká republika

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Wikimedia Chapter convinces Czech Parliament to release photos to Wikimedia Commons

(This is a guest post from Petr Broz, a member of Wikimedia Czech Republic)

This post is available in 2 languages: Česky7% • English 100%

Česky

Eva Sykova

V říjnu 2012 proběhly na území České republiky doplňující senátní volby, v jejichž rámci byla zvolena třetina zákonodárců do horní komory parlamentu, konkrétně 27 zástupců z celkových 81. Tito zástupci budou po dobu 6 let reprezentovat své voliče a dle svého uvážení schvalovat, zamítat či navracet dolní komoře parlamentu předkládané návrhy zákonů. Zvolení zástupci tedy představují významné osobnosti českého veřejného života, které budou mít značný dopad na zdejší dění. Díky této moci se zvolené osobnosti dostávají do popředí zájmu veřejnosti a není divu, že o nich editoři Wikipedie zakládají biografické články. Již dávno ale není Wikipedie pouze o textech. Pro většinu hesel se snaží wikipedisté získat i multimediální materiál, který by ilustroval předmět článku. A co může být u biografického článku více ilustrativní než fotografie osobnosti, o které článek pojednává? Vyvstává tedy otázka, kde získat fotografie významných osobností v dobré kvalitě pod svobodnou licencí.Podobnou otázku si již dávno položili členové Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE), kterým se povedlo rozběhnout naprosto dechberoucí a skvělý projekt. Během něho navazují spolupráci s jednotlivými zemskými sněmy a na jejich půdě následně fotografují jednotlivé členy. Tímto úspěšným projektem jsme se rádi nechali ve Wikimedia Česká republika (WMCZ) inspirovat. Naše současné aktivity tudíž přímo navazují na německou myšlenku. Proto jsme iniciovali se Senátem ČR jednání, zda by bylo možné senátory vyfotografovat vlastními silami či rovnou získat existující snímky pod licencí kompatibilní s politikou projektů Wikimedia.

A co jsme museli během jednání překonat? Za prvé stud a ostych. Bylo potřeba si uvědomit, že pokud si člověk bude klást malé cíle, nikdy neprorazí. A proč si tedy nedat hned na začátek jako cíl téměř to nejvyšší? Senát České republiky. Čím je totiž cíl odvážnější, tím lépe pak bude sloužit jako vzor pro další příležitosti. Co nejhorší by se nám mohlo stát kromě odmítnutí? A tak zástupce WMCZ překonal ostych a prostřednictvím e-mailu oslovil tiskovou mluvčí Kanceláře Senátu ČR se žádostí o poskytnutí fotografií anebo prostor, ve kterých by bylo možné senátory a senátorky vyfotografovat. Dopis byl doprovázen vysvětlením, proč je vhodné, aby fotografie byly volně dostupné a tedy využitelné pro Wikipedii, a byl zastřešen občanským sdružením WMCZ. Co bylo hlavním argumentem pro úspěch žádosti? Nepřekvapíme, ale byla to právě masová využívanost Wikipedie všemi generacemi. Wikipedie se již dávno stala naprosto nedílnou součástí všedního života a současně prvním (a často i posledním) místem, kde uživatelé internetu hledají informace. Postupně se tak dostáváme do situace, že co není na Wikipedii, přestává s trochou nadsázky existovat. Tento závěr si začíná uvědomovat stále více lidí i mimo wikipedistické hnutí.

Přestože se nám nepovedlo získat fotografie všech 81 senátorů a senátorek kvůli složitým autorsko-právním vztahům u starších fotografií, jak jsme si na začátku vytyčili, můžeme i tak oslavovat úspěch. WMCZ se povedlo získat 23 fotografií nově zvolených zástupců a hlavně příslib pro další roky, že i v případě další volby za 2 roky budou fotografie opět uvolněny pod svobodnou licencí. WMCZ se tak podařilo navázat dlouhodobou spolupráci s významnou státní institucí, což bude možné v budoucnu dobře zhodnotit. Spolupráce se Senátem České republiky může fungovat jako inspirativní odrazový můstek pro navazování spolupráce s dalšími institucemi a partnery ze státní i nestátní sféry, ať už mimo organizované projekty či v rámci celosvětově úspěšných projektů GLAM.

Dovolte nám, abychom jménem WMCZ tímto poděkovali ochotě zástupců Senátu České republiky. Velmi si ceníme Vaší pomoci a chuti uvolnit fotografie a tím pomáhat šířit svobodně informace celosvětově. Budeme se těšit na další spolupráci!

Petr Brož aka Chmee2, člen občanského sdružení Wikimedia Česká republika

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Ambassador program: Students document protected areas in the Czech Republic

Students are widely using Wikipedia as a source for their school projects and as a learning tool. However, what happens if we change this procedure of just “using Wikipedia” and also engage students in writing Wikipedia? This is the main idea behind the worldwide spreading of Ambassador programs on Wikipedia projects all over the world. One promising method for an Ambassador program was tested by students who participated in cooperation with Czech WikiProject Protected areas.

The Czech WikiProject Protected areas represented by Chmee2 ran in winter semester 2011/2012 in cooperation with Jiří Reif, university teacher at Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science at the Charles University in Prague. For the project, 30 bachelor’s students participated in writing articles on the Czech Wikipedia. Students had to visit one protected area of their choice, take several pictures of the area, write an article for the Czech Wikipedia and give a public presentation for other students in the class. The presented task was comprehensive, varied and focused on individual work of participating students. We did not just want to attempt to enrich Wikipedia projects with new articles and images, but we also wanted to prepare students for future scientific work and give them the opportunity to try creative writing and critical work with references. This knowledge will soon come in handy when they start writing their bachelor’s work and prepare the defense of their bachelor’s academic degree.

Natural monument Břestecká skála, one of chosen protected areas. Students documented damage by growing tourism at this location.

Natural monument Břestecká skála, one of chosen protected areas. Students documented damage by growing tourism at this location.

The project enjoyed high popularity among students, according to the results of a survey. A full report with results from this cooperation is available on Czech Wikipedia in English. Here we present only a short summary of this cooperation and main lessons that we learned.

Unlike other ambassador projects where ambassador is supporting students mainly virtually in the Wikipedia environment, our ambassador was personally present at each class. This gave us the opportunity to directly interact with students, easily giving feedback about articles and answering their questions about Wikipedia. And of course, the ambassador was active also on Czech Wikipedia, correcting student’s edits. We realized that this in-person approach is more time-consuming for an ambassador than virtual assistance is. But it is better for the community on Wikipedia and for students. The ambassadors are able to help students understand all standards and rules of Czech Wikipedia without relying on the greater Wikipedia community. As a result, Wikipedia was enriched with high-quality articles containing references with only minor effort from the community. And students were able to directly and easily ask questions and get their answers.

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Wikimedia Czech Republic memory game encourages new editors

A photo of the Panská skála used in the WikiProject Protected Areas memory game. Photo: Miloslav Rejha, Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedians around the world are looking for ways to convert readers into new editors and encourage new people to join our common effort to produce a freely accessible encyclopedia for everybody to use. Wikimedia Chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation continually search for ways to increase the base of active editors, which is now consistently around 80,000-90,000.

As part of our programs, Wikimedia Czech Republic has recently created a memory game showcasing free images from Wikimedia Commons as a simple and enjoyable way to reach out to families, educational institutions and photographers. After all, we asked ourselves, is there a better way to make people excited to join than seeing the happy faces of both children and their parents?

Many Wikipedians who have similar hobbies or fields of interest have organized around their area of focus, which gave birth to WikiProjects. The Czech Wikipedia’s WikiProject Protected Areas tries to coordinate editors who are interested in protected areas, nature habitats, traveling and photography.

For the creation of the WikiProject Protected Areas game, we chose colorful and wonderful images, which were taken by dozens of authors and are freely available on Wikimedia Commons. We sorted them and included information about our WikiProject. That gave us an opportunity to tell the story to recipients and made a small advertisement, which hopefully will attract their interest to Wikipedia, too. Our idea was that adults will read the story while cutting out the game pieces for their children. At a minimum, we can share knowledge in an entertaining way!

After uploading the WikiProject Protected Areas memory game [available as a pdf] on Commons, we printed 1000 editions of it with support from Wikimedia Czech Republic. We distributed the game for free to interested parties, including schools and other institutions. We also delivered copies to administration of Czech Krkonoše National Park (KRNAP), to the Czech Union for Nature Conservation, to several elementary and high schools and to the wide range of Wikimedia Czech Republic’s fans on Facebook.

In addition to printing the memory game, we have coordinated activities with Charles University, where students contributed articles for about 30 protected areas in the Czech Republic. Through our Facebook and Google+ pages, we’ve worked with photographers to photograph 40 protected area localities and upload their images to Commons. We are coordinating a photo walkabout with wiki-photographers to improve our photo skills and capture images of protected areas in the process. And finally, we have even made the national news, where we highlighted the coordination with Charles University and brought more attention to the project.

We are happy to say that, through this game, we have connected with groups of people who support the conservation of nature and who like to travel a lot. They represent potentially good editors for our WikiProject about protected areas because they have both a wide range of knowledge and photos from their trips. We deeply believe this small gift together with our other activities can bring new editors to Wikipedia projects. And, in the process we brought a lot of smiles to children’s faces and we strengthened the good name of Wikipedia in lots of families and public circles.

Thank you,

Petr Brož
Wikimedia Czech Republic

Wikimedia Foundation staff play the WikiProject Protected Areas memory game. Photo: Matthew Roth, Wikimedia Commons