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Wikiexpedition takes Poland for the fifth time

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Czerwona Woda, park JR02.jpg

Wikimedia Polska, the official Wikimedia Chapter in Poland, recently organized the fifth annual Wikiexpedition. The goal of the Wikiexpedition was to take as many photos of cities, villages, monuments as is possible, and this year it took place in Dolnośląskie Province.

There were 14 members of the Wikiexpedition (two of them were from the Czech Republic), and the group was divided in three teams – western, central and eastern. These three teams were responsible for covering an area of the province from Zgorzelec to Wroclaw. But the groups didn’t work only on the Polish side of the border. Thanks to the Schengen Area, members of the Wikiexpedition could cross the border to the Czech Republic or Germany without any passport or visa bureaucracy.

On the first day of the event, members of the western team (of which I was a part) crossed the border to the Czech Republic and took photos of the small city of Hrádek nad Nisou. The team also visited City of Hrádek nad Nisou Museum, where they saw a famous Czech skeleton that was found a few years ago near the church (a man who died around 1310 and who was initially thought to be a witch or a vampire).

The next day, the Wikiexpedition visited the Czech city Frýdlant. Members visited the tower of the town hall and took panoramic photos. In Germany they visited some villages and a huge lake in a former quarry called Berzdorfer See. The most interesting point of cross-border cooperation was a border visit to a location at where all three borders of the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany come together.

The Wikiexpedition has been covered by the local and national media, such as an interview with the main organizer in the largest commercial TV station. The greatest support, however, has been provided by local communities, which joined the Wikiexpedition for a few days and helped with taking pictures or providing information about local curiosities.

One man from Węgliniec even supported the group in a very original way, by preparing a delicious barbecue dinner for participants of the western team.

For more information on the Wikiexpedition, see the pictures on Wikimedia Commons.

Honza Groh, member of Wikimedia Czech Republic

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Reaching the many deadlines of WikiAfrica: Iolanda Pensa profile

Iolanda Pensa preparing a presentation at a conference

Iolanda Pensa is always on one deadline or another. This is not a source of stress, though. She embraces them.

As scientific director of WikiAfrica – which the Swiss-born, Italian-based 38-year-old calls “Africanizing Wikipedia” – Pensa gave the project some challenging deadlines.

“In 2010, we decided to create a quantitative milestone, to produce 30,000 African contributions on the Wikimedia projects by the end of 2012,” she recalls “something which needed a lot of partners, institutions and people involved to be achieved.”

“We wanted to create a critical mass of information, and more attention to Africa, basically.”

The project gave WikiAfrica some of the spotlight, but according to Pensa it also showed the challenges of adding content from Africa to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia’s notability rules were a particular obstacle, she said. The importance of burial rituals of the Ga people of southern Ghana, for instance, can become lost in cultural translation for average Wikipedia users. What’s more, said Pensa, because resources often are not accessible or are not acknowledged as reliable sources, information on African history and culture can be difficult to cite.

Pensa credited the support of almost 100 institutions and many volunteers with helping make the project successful. Thanks to festivals, African films are now on Wikipedia in English, French, Italian and Spanish; a dataset of municipalities of Botswana has been created and uploaded; 70,000 articles related to culture in Africa from South Planet can now be used to enrich Wikipedia; and institutions such as the art center Doual’art in Cameroon and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe have contributed images from their collections.
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Illustrating Wikipedia from the air in Israel

Aerial view of Ashdod Port

Right after the opening ceremony of Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong last week and during a session showcasing projects from all around the globe, WikiAir (VikiAvir in native Hebrew) was voted by the participants (measured by decibels of applause) the coolest and most unique project of 2013.

WikiAir is a collaborative project between Wikimedia Israel and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA Israel), aimed at creating a freely licensed collection of aerial photos of Israel. The idea for the project started with the understanding that there is a lack of aerial photos in articles about Israel in the Hebrew Wikipedia and that Wikipedians rarely get a chance to take photos from the air. I felt that this was our place as a chapter to do something about it and started by approaching the folks at AOPA Israel. It took us a while to get over bureaucracy, legal issues and even some AOPA politics to get the project started. I also took the time to meet with a specialist on aerial photography to gather tips for our volunteers.

As part of the project, civil aviators volunteer to take Wikipedians on their routine flights so they can take photos from the air and later upload them to Wikimedia Commons, as well as integrate those photos into Wikipedia articles. We were able to have our pilot flight at the end of 2012 and regular flights began in May 2013. The flights are always on a light aircraft (usually a Cessna) and are being done as part of Israel’s General Aviation (GA) – either private pilots or AOPA events (e.g. navigation competitions). The Wikipedian is using the spare seat next to pilot or the back seat, if available. We require our volunteers to have an DSLR camera to make sure we make good use of the opportunity and get a good result.

After only a few months of operation, we now have over 1500 photos uploaded to Commons and around 200 Wikipedia articles illustrated with those photos (some of which previously didn’t have any photos). Next week we are expecting to have our first night flight, which will hopefully produce a new type of photo with a different added value to the project.

You are more than welcome to follow the project on our page (Hebrew).

With the help of the exposure of the project in Wikimania, we hope this will be a starting point for other Wikimedia chapters and groups within the Wikimedia community to start a WikiAir in their own country or area. Please update this page on Commons with any of your initiatives and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Amos Meron
WikiAir Project Manger (Volunteer), Wikimedia Israel

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A series of parallel WWI edit-a-thons in seven countries

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This postcard was uploaded from Europeana by a volunteer and it now illustrate the English GA article SMS Hessen. This is just an example of the beautiful images of old ships uploaded during the day.

This image is now used on plenty of language versions and it is one of two Europeana images used in the Greek article about Chemical weapons in World War I (el:Χημικά όπλα στον Α΄ Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο), it was uploaded by yours truly in advance of the pilot event we had in Sweden last November.

Hard working volunteers created and improved a bunch of different articles during the day. Here you see some of them in Stockholm, Sweden.

On Saturday 29 June 2013, a series of parallel World War I edit-a-thons was organized throughout Europe and Australia by Wikimedia Sverige as part of the Europeana Awareness project. To get people involved, we contacted a bunch of Wikimedia Chapters and individual volunteers, including many at the GLAM-WIKI 2013 conference, which just goes to show the great value of physical meetings. We told them about our plans and we were happy to receive great interest and positive responses, not to mention a few great suggestions for improvements!

Physical WWI edit-a-thons took place in five countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Successful online edit-a-thons also ran in Australia and Greece. All in all, well over 50 volunteers took part in the edit-a-thons.

We had four reasons for holding these events. First, there is always a spike in Wikipedia visitor numbers around the dates of a major event and we wanted Wikipedia’s articles about the First World War to be as good as possible before the centennial anniversaries. Given that many articles were created and improved during the edit-a-thons, we believe this to have been a step in the right direction.

Second, we looked at an edit-a-thon as a perfect way of getting representatives from different galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) to cooperate with each other and with us, and a great way of engaging experts. The idea was that this would give us a chance to approach the GLAMs and initiate collaborations to urge them to release pictures from their collections and to work with us in other ways during 2014. At the European level, we are already cooperating with Europeana and the Europeana Network in order to reach even more GLAMs. Europeana’s material was frequently used in the edit-a-thons, so the events further strengthened our partnership with them and the GLAMs participating in their Network. As part of the events, several Wikimedia Chapters also initiated new relationships with their local GLAMs.

Our third reason behind hosting the edit-a-thons was that we wanted to increase the use of Europeana’s enormous digital collection on Wikipedia, while making the community aware of this partnership and the many similarities between our two organizations. Europeana has thousands of pictures connected to WWI that have the free licenses that enable their use on Wikipedia. It would be a shame not to have these amazing pictures illustrating Wikipedia articles. The pictures come both from the public and from Europeana’s vast network of content providers. During these events, we showed GLAMs why they should use a truly free license (suitable for use on Wikipedia) and what the end users–Wikimedians–could do with their content.

The edit-a-thons were very successful with plenty of images from Europeana used and contextualized in our articles. We were all happy to see that volunteers explored Europeana’s material themselves and uploaded many more great images during the day. Also, there was a lot of work done in London with bringing more Europeana material to our projects from the British Library.

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Making memory count: successful edit-a-thon in Buenos Aires

Group photo at Memorial Edit-a-thon

On Saturday, July 20th, in spite of the cold, over 40 people took part in Memorial Edit-a-thon, held in Buenos Aires in what used to be a “black site” (clandestine detention facility) during the last military dictatorship in Argentina.

The Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (Army Mechanic School) was originally conceived and developed as a secondary school, but also functioned as illegal military prison between 1976 and 1983. Nowadays, the Espacio Memoria y Derechos Humanos (Space for Memory and Human Rights) works in the same location, preserving the site as living testimony of illegal practices and developing other programs related to the promotion of Human Rights.

A photo from inside the black site.

The working day began with a historic tour through the different facilities of the complex, and focused specifically on the building where the black site was located, as well as the historic events and practices that made it one of the worse destinations for illegal prisoners, back then known as “desaparecidos” (“disappeared,” since there was no official record of their whereabouts).

The group during the tour.

The meeting brought together people from very different backgrounds. First, more senior editors from the local community showed up than the previous edit-a-thon. On top of that, relatively new editors participated for the second time to learn more about taking part in Wikipedia. Finally, the event also brought together people who had studied at the military school as well as survivors of the black site.

In only two days, the article about ESMA on Wikipedia grew 50 percent. Two more articles are also being written: one on Espacio Memoria y Derechos Humanos, and another one on Black Sites in Argentina. As part of the collaboration agreement, Espacio Memoria also liberated fifty images from their archive that describe the different spaces in the facility and the activities developed there.

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Wikipedia meets archeology: the Archeowiki project

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WMIT volunteers Atropine and Piero Tasso during the first Wikipedia workshop for archeologists

Imagine an assembly of wikipedians, add some archeologists, a group of high school students, six museums with cultural heritage from Latin America, Africa, Italy and more. Think also about different kinds of people who don’t usually visit museums, such as the elderly and disabled. How beautiful would it be to bring them all together with a new vision of enjoying culture?

Wikimedia Italia is giving it a try by sharing and developing this vision with Archeowiki, a project that combines different areas of interest in the Wikimedia Movement: GLAM, education and diversity. The initiative is a partnership with the cultural institution Fondazione Passaré, the association for the promotion of material and non-material world cultures MiMondo, the volunteer-run archeological organization G.A.Am and the Extraeuropean Collections of Castello Sforzesco in Milan.

Archeowiki is a multidimensional project that involves different categories of participants and beneficiaries, for the purpose of promoting the lesser-known archeological heritage of Lombardy and for engaging the public. The initiative is structured into three parts, connected with different areas of action.

1. GLAM Institutions

During the first phase of the project, which started in the spring and is currently on-going, three Wikipedians-in-residence and some Wikimedia Italia volunteers are working with the archeologists of G.A.Am. and the museums to set the basis for the public part of the project. WMIT volunteers held workshops for the archeologists to teach them how to edit and participate in Wikipedia, while the Wikipedians-in-residence are working to create the first nucleus of documentation on Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia about the museums’ collections.

2. Education

In Autumn, archeologists and wikipedians will interact with several high schools in Lombardy to teach the students about Wikipedia and about archeological heritage using the materials produced during the first phase. The students will then visit the museums and add content to Wikipedia and to Commons, under the guidance of their teachers. The Building Environmental Sciences and Technology (BEST) department of Politecnico di Milano will also offer 3D reconstructions of the findings and monuments, to give even more interactivity to the experience.

3. Diversity

In addition to gender and geography, age is another disparity among Wikipedia editors. And so it is for museums, which can also present significant barriers for people with disabilities. Starting in the winter of 2014, members of Istituto dei Ciechi di Milano will lead a new round of guided visits to the museums, this time directed toward the elderly and disabled, especially the visually impaired. Some of the 3D models made by Politecnico di Milano will be printed, in order to offer a tool to enjoy the artifacts from a tactile, direct perspective. The participants will then attend workshops on Wikipedia and will be encouraged to contribute with the materials collected in the museums.

Besides the variety of public and institutions involved in the project, what is interesting about Archeowiki is its dual nature as an initiative that promotes both local and foreign heritage. In fact, among the participating museums, there are many institutions that focus on both Lombardy cultural heritage and international collections, especially from Perù and Sub-saharan Africa.

Mixing together the near and the far, the elder and the young, the different ways of feeling and learning: This is a great way to experience culture as a product and a necessity of every human being. Connecting it with Wikipedia is a concrete way to affirm this principle.

Ginevra Sanvitale (Atropine), Wikimedia Italia

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Our Man in Brussels: Dimitar Dimitrov

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In English

The first Wikimedian in Brussels (sailing at Lake Neusiedl)

Wikipedians are always ambassadors. Whether they edit encyclopedia articles or photograph monuments, as individuals they also always represent the shared idea behind Wikipedia – namely, the advancement of Free Knowledge. Wikipedians play a variety of roles: they actively participate on Wikimedia platforms, advise users as part of the support team, discuss copyright questions on special pages or comment on the Foundation’s draft policy guidelines. Meanwhile, other Wikipedians explore how the political and legal environment could be improved so that far more cultural and state-owned works become freely available. Dimitar Dimitrov is such a Free Knowledge ambassador. He works in Brussels, the heart of European politics. And the good news is that he works for us!

Dimi, as he prefers being called, did not take a direct route to the Belgian capital. He has lived in many different European capitals, making him truly cosmopolitan. Apart from his native Bulgarian, Dimi also speaks fluent English and German, and acquired French en passant. Multilingualism is a vital trait when dealing with EU institutions, where Babel-like confusions occur more often than one would care to admit.

Demanding Questions

Dimi’s involvement with Wikimedia Deutschland was coincidental. While the German chapter was working on its Roadmap to Brussels, Dimi was already plugging away on his proper EU Policy page on Meta-wiki, pointing out the urgent need for the entire Wikimedia network to improve its EU monitoring. The general lack of progress with regards to harmonizing copyright law during this European legislative period, which has led to an annoying copyright extension for musical recordings and a half-baked solution for the use of orphan works, gave us an extra impetus to take action rather than just talking about what could or should be done. We quickly agreed to stage an international get-together in Brussels in April 2013. Dimi did an excellent job in organising the event, which served as the kick-off meeting for the self-proclaimed “Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU”.

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A successful “Collection Days” edit-a-thon in Warsaw, Poland

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en:Sarmīte Ēlerte from Latvia was one of the VIPs present at the Collection Days’ kick-off event.

Six hardworking Wikip/medians.

Finding great images to illustrate articles were a central part of the event.

It has already been a couple of weeks, but I wanted to explain and share some lessons learned about an edit-a-thon that Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia Polska organized in conjunction with the Europeana 1989 Collection Days in Warsaw, Poland.

The Collection Days are a series of events continuing through the end of 2014, where the public is invited to come and share their memorabilia of 1989, and have it digitized and uploaded online under a CC-BY-SA license. When I heard about this topic, I thought that the first Collection Days would be a perfect event for the Wikimedia movement to participate in because of the similarities of involving the general public and the use of the license. The idea was that we could try out the concept and see what worked and didn’t work, and by sharing this experience and gaining these contacts, we could help other European chapters in the Wikimedia movement to organize events in connection to future Collection Days.

With this blog post, I hope to do just that.

The goal with the edit-a-thon, in addition to writing articles together and making Wikipedia better, was to get new people and new organizations involved in the work of the Wikimedia movement. The idea is that the people who bring their objects to the Collection Days easily could stop by and learn how to edit Wikipedia and learn that their memorabilia of 1989 also might appear on Wikipedia.

The day before, I arrived with another Swedish volunteer to attend the kick-off event (with a bunch of VIPs present, who now have images on Commons!). We met with the Polish Collection Days’ organizers, prepared the venue and uploaded images that had been digitized during the day. The Polish chapter had been great at promoting the event in advance and had translated the event page to Polish.

On 9 June, six experienced Wikimedians from Poland and Sweden gathered in Warsaw for this international edit-a-thon to write about both Polish history in general and especially about the events that took place in 1989. Our goal was to use as many images that were digitized during the Collection Days as possible. I gave a short presentation about what we hoped to achieve there and then we started with fixing up some of the images uploaded the night before and writing articles (a few more images were uploaded from the event throughout the day that we worked on). The catering had some issues, but we had a great time and we were very productive, with nine new articles and 15 articles expanded on the Polish, Swedish and English Wikipedias.

We hope that other chapters will take the opportunity to organize edit-a-thons in their countries in connection with these events. After Poland, the Collection Days will be organized in the Baltic states (the plan is August, but the exact dates are still to be decided). So Wikimedia Eesti and all you volunteers in Latvia and Lithuania, be sure to contact me and I’ll help you to get in contact with the right people!

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Great turnout at legislative edit-a-thon in Buenos Aires!

(Lea la versión en español aquí)

Editatón Legislativo 14.JPG

On Saturday, June 29th, Wikimedia Argentina and the Buenos Aires City Legislature held the second edit-a-thon in Buenos Aires, known as “Primer Editatón Legislativo” (First Legislative Edit-a-thon). It focused on the history and architecture of the Legislative Palace in Buenos Aires, a building conceived as a home, which, however, was never inhabited by anything other than a public institution.

The edit-a-thon drew over thirty people, way beyond the turnout of the first edit-a-thon in Buenos Aires, held in December 2012 at the Museo del Bicentenario (Bicentennial Museum).

The editing marathon started at 4 pm with a tour through the palace. In this opportunity, not only were historical details addressed, but also architectural aspects of the building and basic functioning of the legislative body.

Editatón Legislativo 11.JPG

The event was successful in more ways than one. New editors took part in the edit-a-thon, amongst them, Elizabeth Kriez, who, as a young architect had been part of the team that refurbished the palace in the 1970s. We also saw new articles published, one about Esteban Echeverría Library and another one for the historical Buenos Aires City Council. This was in addition to substantial modifications of three other articles related to the legislative body. Finally, dozens of images of the Palace were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for free use.

This edit-a-thon took place as part of the work agreement that Wikimedia Argentina has started with the Buenos Aires City Legislature. It is expected that this framework will deliver new wiki projects in the short term for the editing community in Argentina.

(See more images of the edit-a-thon here

María Cruz, Wikimédia Argentina

Fifth Wikipedia Academy Israel Conference: “Why Do Women Edit Wikipedia Less”?

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The fifth annual Wikipedia Academy conference in Israel was held last month (on June 2, 2013) by Wikimedia Israel in the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. The central theme of this year’s conference was “Why Do Women Edit Wikipedia Less.” The Wikipedia Academy conference has become a tradition in Wikimedia Israel, and each year we are honored to see the registration list fill up quickly. This year’s event attracted an audience of 150, among them Wikipedians, members of academia and the business world. We regretted that we had to decline many of the professionals wishing to give lectures.

The conference opened with a display of statistical data from a survey conducted by Wikimedia Israel, according to which 23 percent of Israeli Wikipedians are women (compared to 10–15 percent in other parts of the world), 57 percent of Wikipedians are single and have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, 15 percent are under the age of 15 and 5 percent are over 60. Only 29 percent of the editors said they wrote new articles; the others engaged in adding content to existing articles, correcting mistakes and adding media.

Wikimedia Foundation Board trustee Bishakha Datta

The conference continued with a fascinating talk by Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees member Bishakha Datta, who opened by presenting the cultural differences on Wikipedia, especially with developing countries such as India, where Bishakha herself is from. She talked about women’s education, starting from a very young age, which calls on women to abandon their goals and ambitions and focus on raising their children, causing many women not to understand that they hold vital knowledge and skills. Bishakha continued by showing the results of a global Wikimedia Foundation survey, which indicated a significant gender-based divide and contempt for women’s knowledge in many parts of the world. She summarized by saying that women hold unique information essential to our movement’s goals of spreading free knowledge, an egalitarian mission not limited to any one gender.

After the talk, there was a women’s panel with Karin Nahon, a politicization of information expert, Yael Meron, a board member of Wikimedia Israel, Shaula Heitner from the board of the Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL), Douglas Itoh, a Wikipedia editor, and Ronit Haber, the editor-in-chief of the Saloona magazine. The panel discussed the reasons behind low female participation in Wikipedia, and whether just the women—or the community as a whole—were responsible for changing this phenomenon.

The second session of the conference was moderated by Dr. Keren Eyal and began with a speech by Member of the Knesset Dr. Aliza Lavie, who heads the Knesset committee for the status of women. The second session dealt with the theoretical and practical aspects of women’s participation in Wikipedia, from the point of view of the academic establishment. Lectures were given by Dr. Tal Ertan Bergman from the faculty of health and welfare at Haifa University, Shlomit Lear from the gender studies program in the Bar Ilan University, and Dr. Atara Frenkel-Paran, chief of the digital communications program at the Sapir Academic College.

Wikipedia Academy Israel 2013 (107).JPG

The conference ended with the third session, where Wikimedia Israel presented its new community projects and how women in the community were changing the education and culture establishment. Talks were given by Shani Evenstein, a board member and the chapter’s GLAM coordinator, and other participants in the panel included Dr. Allison Kopiacki of the Israel Museum and Deror Lin, a volunteer in the movement and the coordinator of the Wiki Loves Monuments competition in Israel. A Wikipedia editor workshop was held at the end of the conference for those who signed up in advance.

There is no doubt that the conference was eye opening. However, it is worth noting that the male attendance was comparatively low. Conference attendees discussed the implications of what it means if events focused on women-related issues only interest women. Regardless, we are convinced that many women came out of the conference with new understandings and a motivation to take the responsibility of closing the gender gap upon themselves by starting to edit Wikipedia.

Wikimedia Israel would like to thank Bishakha Datta, who came all the way from India to honor us with her presence. In addition, many thanks to the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, which has hosted the conference for the second year in a row, to the Israel Internet Association and Saloona Magazine for their support, to all the speakers who agreed to volunteer some of their time for this important cause, and of course to Deror Lin and Itzik Edri for their hard work organizing the conference. Most importantly, we’d like to thank the 150 participants, Wikipedia editors and Wikimedia movement volunteers, whose contributions have been felt throughout the entire year.

Chen Davidi, Wikimedia Israel’s Activity Coordinator

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