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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Gender Gap

Wiki Loves Pride 2014 and Adding Diversity to Wikipedia

Logo for the proposed user group Wikimedia LGBT

Since Wikipedia’s gender gap first came to light in late 2010, Wikipedians have taken the issue to heart, developing projects with a focus on inclusivity in content, editorship and the learning environments relevant to new editors. 

Wiki Loves Pride started from conversations among Wikipedians editing LGBT topics in a variety of fields, including history, popular culture, politics and medicine, and supporters of Wikimedia LGBT - a proposed user group which promotes the development of LGBT-related content on Wikimedia projects in all languages and encourages LGBT organizations to adopt the values of free culture and open access. The group has slowly been building momentum for the past few years, but had not yet executed a major outreach initiative. Wiki Loves Pride helped kickstart the group’s efforts to gather international supporters and expand its language coverage.

Pride Edit-a-Thons and Photo Campaigns Held Internationally

We decided to run a campaign in June (LGBT Pride Month in the United States), culminating with a multi-city edit-a-thon on June 21. We first committed to hosting events in New York City and Portland, Oregon (our cities of residence), hoping others would follow. We also gave individuals the option to contribute remotely, either by improving articles online or by uploading images related to LGBT culture and history. This was of particular importance for users who live in regions of the world less tolerant of LGBT communities, or where it may be dangerous to organize LGBT meetups.

San Francisco Pride (2014)

In addition to New York City and Portland, offline events were held in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., with online activities in Houston, Seattle, Seoul, South Africa, Vancouver, Vienna and Warsaw. Events will be held in Bangalore and New Delhi later this month as part of the Centre for Internet and Society’s (CIS) Access to Knowledge (A2K) program. Other Wikimedia chapters have expressed interest in hosting LGBT edit-a-thons in the future.

Campaign Results

The campaign’s “Results” page lists 90 LGBT-related articles which were created on English Wikipedia and links to more than 750 images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Also listed are new categories, templates and article drafts, along with “Did you know” (DYK) hooks that appeared on the Main Page and policy proposals which may be of interest to the global LGBT community.

Creating Safe Spaces

This morning I read an article entitled Ride like a girl. In it, the author describes how being a cyclist in a city is like being a woman: Welcome to being vulnerable to the people around you. Welcome to being the exception, not the rule. Welcome to not being in charge. The analogy may not be a perfect fit, but reading these words made me think of a tweet I favorited several weeks ago when #YesAllWomen was trending. A user who goes by the handle @Saradujour wrote: “If you don’t understand why safe spaces are important, the world is probably one big safe space to you.” As I continue interviewing women who edit Wikipedia and as I read through the latest threads on the Gendergap mailing list, I keep asking myself, “How can a community that values transparency create safe spaces? How can we talk about Wikipedia’s gender gap without alienating dissenting voices and potential allies?”

Ride like a girl?

Wikipedia’s gender gap has been widely publicized and documented both on and off Wiki (and on this blog since 1 February 2011). One of the reasons I was drawn to working on the gender gap as a research project was that, despite the generation of a great deal of conversation, there seem to be very few solutions. It is, what Rittel and Webber would call, a “wicked problem.” Even in the midst of the ongoing work of volunteers who spearhead and contribute to endeavors like WikiProject Women scientists, WikiWomen’s History Month, WikiProject Women’s sport and Meetup/ArtandFeminism (to name only a few), the gender gap is a wicked problem a lot of community members–even those dedicated to the topic–seem tired of discussing.

The Women and Wikipedia IEG project is designed to collect and then provide the Wikimedia community with aggregate qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to assess existing efforts to address the gender gap. This data may also be used to guide the design of future interventions or technology enhancements that seek to address the gap. The data may include but not be limited to:

In Egypt, Ain Shams’ Al-Alsun celebrates four terms of successful work on Wikipedia

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  • Arabic

English

Students, ambassadors and professors celebrate as they wrap up the fourth term on Wikipedia.

Two years ago the Wikipedia Education program had its first inception in the Arab world with Egypt’s Cairo Pilot. With such a large number of Arabic speakers (530 million primary and secondary speakers) Arabic Wikipedia needed more support to follow its sister versions of the encyclopedia that have more contributors with fewer native speakers. The Arabic Wikipedia today has about 280,000 articles while the Dutch Wikipedia, for instance, has 1.7 million articles with only 27 million native speakers. Every day thousands of Arabic users visit Wikipedia and many of them edit articles. Unfortunately, most of the new pages and edits created by new users are vandalism and not valid entries. Arabic Wikipedia needed a trusted source to recruit new volunteer editors. This was one of the reasons for launching the education program. The faculty of languages (Al-Alsun) at Ain Shams University joined the program as one of the first three participating institutions. During the first term, Egyptian students contributed 1.1 million bytes of information to the Arabic Wikipedia and created more than a hundred articles, three of them were featured articles. Now, Al-Alsun is still having incredible results, adding 7 million bytes in the fall 2013 term alone!

Everyone is happy with the the amount of female participation and the role they played in helping bridge the gender gap.

About forty students, ambassadors and professors of the Al-Alsun college gathered to celebrate the achievements they had during their fourth term in the program. Dr. Karma Sami, the vice dean of Al-Alsun, opened the celebration with a word about the importance of supporting such initiatives to enrich free content on the internet. The professors supervising the program, Dr. Dalia El-Toukhy, Dr. Radwa Kotait and Dr. Iman Galal followed Dr. Sami with words encouraging their students to continue editing Wikipedia. I had a short presentation about the term results. Students have created more than 2,400 new articles in six months. The average number of active editors jumped to 36 editors/month. Having open discussions about content quality will help us achieve new goals as we continue to grow. It is encouraging to see more than forty featured articles created by students.

Reem Alkashif.

Every term the program brings new active editors to Wikipedia who gradually become “Wiki-addicted.” “I love the thought that somewhere somebody needed a piece of information badly, and then he/she found it and became happy.” Reem says.
Reem Alkashif is a post-graduate student who first edited Wikipedia when Dr. Radwa Kotait selected her to join her translation course in the Wikipedia Education Program. Reem was one of the students with extraordinary contributions during her first semester in the program, she has created new articles including featured articles about the 1972 book about slavery in the American South, The Slave Community, and an article on the History of Mars Observation. Reem continued editing the Arabic Wikipedia, becoming a campus ambassador in an effort to share what she has learned with her fellow students.
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Remembering Adrianne Wadewitz

Portrait of Adrianne Wadewitz at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, DC.

Each of us on the Wikipedia Education Program team is saddened today by the news of Adrianne Wadewitz’s passing. We know we share this sadness with everyone at the Wikimedia Foundation and so many in the Wikimedia and education communities. Our hearts go out to all of you, her family and friends. Today is a time for mourning and remembering.

Adrianne served as one of the first Campus Ambassadors for the Wikipedia Education Program (then known as the Public Policy Initiative). In this role, she consulted with professors, demonstrated Wikipedia editing and helped students collaborate with Wikipedia community members to successfully write articles. As an Educational Curriculum Advisor to the team, Adrianne blended her unique Wikipedia insight and teaching experience to help us develop Wikipedia assignments, lesson plans and our initial sample syllabus. Her work served as a base for helping university professors throughout the United States, and the world, use Wikipedia effectively in their classes.

Adrianne was also one of the very active voices in the Wikimedia community urging participation and awareness among women to tackle the project’s well-known gender gap. She was an articulate, kind, and energetic face for Wikipedia, and many know that her work helped bring new Wikipedians to the project. The Foundation produced a video exploring Adrianne’s work within the Wikipedia community in 2012.

Many in the Wikimedia community knew her from her exceptional and varied contributions, especially in the areas of gender and 18th-century British literature – in which she received a PhD last year from Indiana University, before becoming a Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College. Since July of 2004, she had written 36 featured articles (the highest honor for quality on Wikipedia) and started over 100 articles – the latest being on rock climber Steph Davis.

Adrianne touched many lives as she freely shared her knowledge, expertise and passions with Wikipedia, her students, colleagues, friends and family. She will be deeply missed by all of us. Our condolences go out to her family during these very difficult times.

Rod Dunican
Director, Global Education

Wikipedia Education Program

  • See Adrianne’s user page on the English Wikipedia, her Twitter account, her home page and her blog at HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory)
  • Wikipedians have begun to share their memories and condolences about Adrianne on her user talk page.
  • The leadership of the Wiki Education Foundation, where Adrianne was a board member, have also expressed their condolences.
  • Memorial post from HASTAC Co-founder Cathy Davidson.
  • Wikinews story on the passing of Adrianne Wadewitz.

Celebrating Women’s Day, the Wiki way

Participants editing articles about women in science.

How many Indian women scientists can you name? Go on! Think about this one. Think really hard. How many can you name, now? One? Two? Three?

I wrote this blog post at a co-working space for tech startups in the Southern Indian city of Kochi. I was surrounded by science students. None of them could think of a single woman scientist from India. Pretty shameful, isn’t it? And, there was nobody to burst our sexist bubble, except, Wikipedia. This page lists 15 women scientists from India. While I am grateful for this archive, it is hardly comprehensive. 15 women scientists from a country of 1.2 billion people.

India is currently Asia’s third largest economy and it prides itself on making many ancient discoveries. Given this context, it is unbefitting for us to come up with such a tiny list. (By the way, If you know of a more detailed website on this subject, please send me the link on Twitter – which you can find at the bottom of this page). Could there be women whose contribution to science have slipped out of popular culture?

Wikipedia has organized edit-a-thons for the entire month of March to address these glaring gaps in our knowledge. The goal of these edit-a-thons is to celebrate International’s Women’s Day that fell on March 8. During this month, we would like to enhance the quantity and quality of Wikipedia articles on gender and sexuality and translate English articles into other Indic languages. Anyone can join the celebrations as editors, translators, bloggers, event managers or enthusiasts.

We encourage more South Asian women to use this opportunity- right now 9 out of 10 Wikipedians are men. There are many subjects that may be of interest or value to women that are not covered in traditional encyclopaedias because the majority of knowledge-producers are men. Let us make sure that Wikipedia is diverse and voices from all sections of  society are represented.

We have kick-started the event with weekend edit-a-thons. We will provide specific topics and links to editors to write or expand upon. This month the focus is on women parliamentarians and scientists.

So come on over, put your editing skills to use, make some new friends and last but not the least, learn more about women scientist from India!

- Diksha Madhok, Wikipedian

Wikipedia’s Art & Feminism Edit-A-Thon and the Gender Gap

the Art & Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, at the John M. Flaxman Library at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago on February 1, 2014

Lending a hand at the Wikipedia Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon, at Eyebeam in New York City

The Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to realize a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge represents an ongoing challenge to staff and volunteers alike. We must find ways to make information more accessible, increase the breadth of information in each language, and close gaps in editor demographics. Most importantly, we must recognize that so long as there are disparities in information, such as the representation of women and Feminism on Wikipedia, we have yet to realize our goal of truly sharing in the sum of all human knowledge.

On February 1st, 2014, the Wikipedia Community addressed Wikipedia’s gender gap by organizing the Art & Feminism Edit-a-thon, encouraging editors — female or male, novice or experienced — to contribute to pages about art, feminism, and women of all walks of life. The purpose of this event was not only to spread interest in topics needing real visibility on the encyclopedia, but also to empower women to become more involved in the community by providing a supportive framework for their contributions. With over 30 satellite Edit-a-thons running simultaneously across 4 continents and an estimated 600 attendees, this event brought us a small step closer to realizing a truly diverse user base.

Dating back to a study done in 2010 which found the Wikipedia community was comprised of only 13% women, the Foundation has worked with chapter and user groups to provide outreach to women. These Edit-a-thons offer a partial solution to one of the barriers to new editors: it’s intimidating to edit an article if you don’t really know Wikipedian policies, practices, syntax, etiquette, and topical needs. Experienced community members can model and teach best practices as well as support new editors. Some of the satellite Edit-a-thons, like the one hosted by Wikimedia NYC, saw around 150 attendees and therefore approached this learning experience by hosting hourly training sessions, while other, smaller events took advantage of the intimate setting to give participants one-on-one support.

Sharon Cogdill works with a recent University of Minnesota graduate during the Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota

One such iteration of the Art & Feminism Edit-a-thon was hosted in the library at St. Cloud State University by librarian Rachel Wexelbaum, with a total of 10 participants, 9 of whom were women. Under the guidance of Rachel and Professor Sharon Cogdill, the group discussed the various imbalances on Wikipedia, including the gender imbalance. Sharon, sensing the wavering interest in the room and worried that the newcomers present felt left out by the “they” who edit Wikipedia, moved the Edit-a-thon into action by helping everyone create their very own Wikipedia usernames; “they” began to look more like “we.”

Creating an account doesn’t suddenly endow a new user with confidence, to which Sharon can attest from experience (full disclosure: Sharon is my aunt). A professor of Victorian literature and Digital Humanities, she first became an active editor in 2011 when she made a small edit to an article about The Emerald Isle, a 19th century comic opera. Her edit contained a small error, and the owner of the article contacted her on her talk page and explained which Wikipedia policies made the original better. Reflecting on their working relationship, Sharon says, “I have a great mentor, Ssilvers, who has really encouraged me, often by suggesting a Wikipedia page to read on policies or help on some other topic he thinks I’m ready for.”

During the Edit-A-Thon, Sharon published her very first new article on Arthur Collins, which Ssilvers “pushed me to get out there 2 years before I finally did.” The article is about a man, because in Sharon’s words, “this event gave me the environment I needed to let go of it, and besides, women writing about men isn’t not feminist.”

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Egyptian students help narrow gender gap on Wikipedia

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

English

Fewer than 15% of Wikipedia editors around the world are female and the coverage of articles about women on Wikipedia is often not very good. Although the Arabic Wikipedia suffers the same imbalance in its content, this is not the case for the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt. The number of female students in the Egypt program is much higher than male ones. The program has also brought to the Arabic Wikipedia one of three female administrators as well as many high-quality articles about women.

Eman Waheed Sawabi, Amira El-Gamal and May Hachem are three students who never thought about contributing to Wikipedia until they enrolled in Dr. Radwa Kotait’s English course in Spring 2013. Dr. Kotait encouraged her students to translate Featured Articles from the English Wikipedia to the Arabic Wikipedia.

“My first article was about Alice of Battenburg (the mother of Prince Philip). Then I worked on Queen Victoria,” says May. “I like writing about women. I started recently writing about the Arabic writer May Ziade, so women are my basic concern. I’m anti-marginalizing women in any terms. Concerning writing, male and female editors are distinguished by hard work only.”

May enjoyed working with the wiki community. When she nominated one of her articles to be Featured on the Arabic Wikipedia, she started to make friends from different countries in the Arab world and meet new cultures when the members of the Wikipedia community left her comments or suggestions on the nomination page. This was a new experience for her.

May has also signed up as a Campus Ambassador in Ain Shams University in Cairo in order to help other students edit Wikipedia. “The idea of guiding someone or providing someone with knowledge is brilliant,” she said.

Eman Sawabi started her course with an article about Maya Angelou, as it reflected many social maladies that had been present in the American society, such as segregation and child rape. The article was a featured article on the English Wikipedia. Eman translated and expanded it to be featured on the Arabic Wikipedia too.

“I distinctly felt that being a female would add to Wikipedia more than what male editors do,” says Eman. “I intended to pay attention to one of the articles that talk about female figures that many male editors do not notice.”

After that, Eman wrote an article about Muhammad Al-Durrah Incident in Palestine. The article was a stub and she wondered “how such a controversial issue was outlined in a short paragraph on Wikipedia?”. The third article Eman created on the Arabic Wikipedia was Birmingham Campaign, which shows how accomplished, ardent, and sharp-witted African-Americans had been throughout claiming basic human rights.

According to Amira El-Gamal, “Men and women are equal. Everything is based on how much one is willing to give and how much one is being honest while translating.”

The education program for Amira was an exciting experience, she was waiting for an opportunity to help others and serve her society. She chose to translate an article about Geology of the Capitol Reef Area because she is fond of science and wanted to help students of Geology. Then she worked on two other articles about Sentence Spacing and Funerary Art to present an image of cultures history and how they thought.

Like May, Amira is now serving as a Campus Ambassador in her faculty. Being in contact with new students in the program and guiding them to editing techniques is another way to help her community.

Closing the gender gap on Wikipedia is an issue of quality, and these volunteer editors from the Wikipedia Education Program Egypt are helping close the gap.

Samir El-Sharbaty
Volunteer leader, Egypt Education Program

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Brainstorming about Wikipedia’s diversity

This post is available in 3 languages: English  • Svenska Deutsch

English

A large group of people from all over the world gathered in Berlin to find ways to improve our diversity.

It was a busy schedule (my workshop is the second one from the bottom in the middle).

Recently I was able to participate in the Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Berlin as part of a cooperation that Wikimedia Sverige has with Europeana, where we worked to create new collaborations and share experiences with GLAMs and Wikimedia Chapters.

During the fantastically well-organized conference (kudos WMDE, WMF, WMUK and WMNL for your hard work) I gave a thirty minute presentation, followed by a workshop on how the Wikimedia movement can use thematic edit-a-thons to attract under-represented groups to Wikipedia. This is something that we have already tried at Wikimedia Sverige during our three thematic edit-a-thons, where the focus was to encourage more women to get involved in topics like women’s history, female scientists and fashion. Thematic edit-a-thons differ from general edit-a-thons, as they focus on one particular topic, producing a burst of improvements within a field that is particularly weak. Thematic edit-a-thons also foster a sense of team spirit among participants since they usually share the same interests and expertise, which in turn facilitates cooperation.

Drawn from survey answers and conversations, the major conclusions that we have drawn from these events are (and remember that these are based on a small sample that might be culture specific, so it might very well differ from other chapters):

  • Cooperate with organizations that already have a a lot of women connected to them. They can help invite their members and share material and expertise (don’t forget the universities)!
  • There seems to be a great interest to be involved, we just have to find a good way to meet the female volunteers halfway. A central point seems to be to host events on a regular basis, but also try to add other fun additions like speakers, snacks, mingling and guided tours etc. (however these should not take too much time away from writing, as volunteers usually want to finish what they started during an edit-a-thon).
  • There are different subgroups within groups of specific interests and expertise. The different subgroups might not necessarily care to participate in the other groups events.

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What’s missing from the media discussions of Wikipedia categories and sexism

Last week the New York Times published an Op-Ed from author Amanda Filipacchi headlined Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists, in which she criticized Wikipedia for moving some authors from the “American novelists” category into a sub-category called “American women novelists.” Because there is no subcategory for “American male novelists,” Filipacchi saw the change as reflecting a sexist double standard, in which ‘male’ is positioned as the ungendered norm, with ‘female’ as a variant.

I completely understand why Filipacchi was outraged. She saw herself, and Harper Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Judy Blume, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Higgins Clark, and many others, seemingly downgraded in the public record and relegated to a subcategory that she assumed would get less readership than the main one. She saw this as a loss for American women novelists who might otherwise be visible when people went to Wikipedia looking for ideas about who to hire, to honor, or to read.

In the days following, other publications picked up the story, and Filipacchi wrote two followup pieces — one describing edits made to her own biography on Wikipedia following her first op-ed, and another rebutting media stories that had positioned the original categorization changes as the work of a lone editor.

For me–as a feminist Wikipedian–reading the coverage has been extremely interesting. I agree with many of the criticisms that have been raised (as I think many Wikipedians do), and yet there are important points that I think have been missing from the media discussions so far.

In Wikipedia, like any large-scale human endeavor, practice often falls short of intent.

Individuals make mistakes, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t call into question the usefulness or motivations of the endeavor as a whole. Since 2011, Wikipedia has officially discouraged the creation of gender-specific subcategories, except when gender is relevant to the category topic. (One of the authors of the guideline specifically noted that it is clear that any situation in which women get a gendered subcategory while men are left in the ungendered parent category is unacceptable.) In other words, the very situation Filipacchi decries in her op-ed has been extensively discussed and explicitly discouraged on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a continual work-in-progress. It’s never done.

In her original op-ed, Filipacchi seems to assume that Wikipedians are planning to move all the women out of the American Novelists category, leaving all the men. But that’s not the case. There’s a continuous effort on Wikipedia to refine and revise categories with large populations, and moving out the women from American Novelists would surely have been followed by moving out the satirical novelists, or the New York novelists, or the Young Adult novelists. I’d argue it’s still an inappropriate thing to do, because women are 50 percent of the population, not a variant to the male norm. Nevertheless the move needs to be understood not as an attack on women, but rather, in the context of continuous efforts to refine and revise all categories.

Wikipedia is a reflection of the society that produces it.

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit, and as such it reflects the cultural biases and attitudes of the general society. It’s important to say that the people who write Wikipedia are a far larger and vastly more diverse group than the staff of any newsroom or library or archive, past or present. That’s why Wikipedia is bigger, more comprehensive, up-to-date and nuanced, compared with any other reference work. But with fewer than one in five contributors being female, gender is definitely Wikipedia’s weak spot, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it would fall victim to the same gender-related errors and biases as the society that produces it.

Are there misogynists on Wikipedia? Given that anyone with internet access can edit it, and that there are roughly 80,000 active editors (those who make at least 5 edits per month on Wikimedia projects), it would be absurd to claim that Wikipedia is free of misogyny. Are there well-intentioned people on Wikipedia accidentally behaving in ways that perpetuate sexism? Of course. It would be far more surprising if Wikipedia were somehow free of sexism, rather than the reverse.

Which brings me to my final point.

It’s not always the case, but in this instance the system worked. Filipacchi saw something on Wikipedia that she thought was wrong. She drew attention to it. Now it’s being discussed and fixed. That’s how Wikipedia works.

The answer to bad speech is more speech. Many eyes make all bugs shallow. If you see something on Wikipedia that irks you, fix it. If you can’t do it yourself, the next best thing is to do what Filipacchi did — talk about it, and try to persuade other people there’s a problem. Wikipedia belongs to its readers, and it’s up to all of us to make it as good as it possibly can be.

Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

FLOSS internship programs as catalysts for richer community collaboration

OPW's robocats happy to work on their first contributions.

OPW’s robocats happy to work on their first contributions.

These days we are welcoming a new wave of candidates for Google Summer of Code and FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW) internships. Interested? Stop reading and hurry up! Or keep reading to learn why these free software mentorship programs are doing so much good.

Since 2006, Wikimedia has mentored 32 GSoC students. From those, only one (3.13%) was a woman (accepted in 2011), and she didn’t stick around. This number is even lower than the general percentage of women accepted in GSoC 2012 (8.3%) although perhaps it is in line with the composition of our own tech community (data missing). Can we do better?

We think we can. This is why we joined OPW last November. It was the first round open to organizations other than the GNOME Foundation, founders of the initiative. After 5 rounds of OPW, GNOME women are not an exotic exception anymore. It is too soon to evaluate results in the Wikimedia tech community, but the six interns we got during the 5th round delivered their projects in the areas of software development, internationalization, UX design, quality assurance and product management, and so far they are sticking around. We also learned some lessons that we are applying to the next internship programs. As we speak, several women are applying for Wikimedia in the current GSoC edition. A promising trend!

But there is more positive change. Paid internships are like subcutaneous injections for a free software community: in just one shot you get a full time contributor dedicated to help you within a defined scope and amount of time, with the incentive of a stipend ($5,000). The lives of the injected contributors change in the new environment. They learn and they adapt to new situations. They acquire a valuable experience that will help them becoming experienced volunteers and better professionals. At least this is the goal. But the life of the community receiving the injection also should change for good with the arrival of these full time contributors. This is also the goal. So what has improved so far in our tech community?

Scaling up complex projects

Mentorship programs require a good alignment of project ideas supported by the community and by available mentors. Thanks to the efforts of many, we have now a list of possible projects, including a selection of featured project ideas ready to start. The list includes proposals coming from different Wikimedia projects, Wikimedia Foundation-driven initiatives and MediaWiki features for third parties.

These project ideas link to Bugzilla reports in order to keep track of the technical discussion, involving the candidates, the mentors and whoever else wants to join. Full transparency! We also provide basic guidelines for candidates willing to propose their own projects.

All this has been done for the current GSoC and OPW round, but is potentially also useful in the context of other initiatives like OpenHatch, SocialCoding4Good, or Wikimedia’s Individual Engagement Grants. If you want to propose a technical project that could keep a person or team busy for 3–4 months, now you know where to start.

Improving our Welcome carpet

We are still learning how to attract newcomers.

We are still learning how to attract newcomers.

Each mentorship program brings a wave of newcomers willing to get up to speed as soon as possible. We are betting on the “the medium is the message” approach, giving as much importance to the proposals as to the participation and collaboration of the candidate in our regular community channels. But all this requires better landing surfaces in mediawiki.org.

This pressure and the repetition of similar questions by newcomers have encouraged the creation or promotion of references such as Where to start, How to contribute and Annoying little bugs. We keep working on an easier introduction to our community through the fresh and work-in-progress Starter kit, a team of volunteer Greeters and other initiatives discussed at the new Project:New contributors. And you know what? Several former interns are involved!

Diversity enters our agenda

We believe that “a healthy mix of demographic and cultural characteristics everywhere throughout the movement is key to Wikimedia’s success.” Diversity is good for creativity and sustainability, which are primary goals of any free software community. Yet diversity in these communities tends to be quite limited, and our case is not an exception.

We have mentioned the problem of male predominance, but there are other biases and types of discrimination that we would like to help leveling. What about working on other barriers caused by abilities, age, language, or cultural, ethnic, or economic background? Just like we are doing with OPW, we can start with programs for specific audiences that we can sync with mainstream activities like GSoC, increasing their diversity. Ideas are welcome.

Quim Gil, Technical Contributor Coordinator (IT Communications Manager)