Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


Wikimedia-RU changes Russian Civil Code

FOP in RussiaOn March 12, 2014, the Federal Law that introduced changes to the prime source of Russian civil law, the Civil Code, was signed. This sign-off brought to life many amendments that Russian members of Wikipedia have been eager to see for a long time.

The main changes relevant to Wikimedia projects are listed below:

  • introduction of free licenses: before license agreements were only in the form of a written agreement; now CC-BY-SA-3.0, which is used by Wikipedia, has a legal basis and Wikipedia editors can defend their own author rights;
  • freedom of panorama: now photos of architectural and urban development objects and objects of garden design in public places can be published under free licenses without consent of architect or designer;
  • now an author can revoke publication of own materials only before such publication actually occurred;
  • libraries now have right to create electronic copies of certain types of works.

These changes are a result of a lot of hard work on behalf of Wikimedia-RU, the local chapter of Wikimedia movement in Russia – proposing, discussing and defending amendments to the Code.

Wikimedia-RU officially started work on changes to the Civil Code in 2009 when the first open letter to the State Duma was published.

In 2010, we sent a detailed list of our proposals to the Codifications Council. The list was a result of real wiki-corroboration: editors published their comments and proposals on the village pump and all ideas were brought together by WM-RU. Afterwards, the list was published on a number of popular websites where it gathered feedback from external users who helped evaluate possible drawbacks of proposals and suggested some additional changes. The Final list of proposals became “a light at the end of the tunnel” for WM-RU.


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

Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone arranged a Wikipedia Contributor Day in Dhaka

Participants at the Wikipedia Contributor day organized by Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone

On Sunday and Monday, 16/17 February 2014, Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) and Grameenphone (a Telenor concern) jointly arranged a two-day long event titled ‘Wikipedia Contributor Day’ with i-Genius students.

Grameenphone/Telenor is a Wikipedia Zero partner. We organized two days of workshops on Bengali Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Grameenphone chose the participants from last year’s i-Genius students, which are selected from all over the country through a year-long program conducted by Grameenphone and the daily newspaper Prothom Alo. Usually one i-Genius is selected from every district of Bangladesh.

The goal of the workshops were to introduce Wikipedia (especially Bengali Wikipedia), and show the attendees how to edit the articles and contribute photographs to Wikimedia Commons. Most participants were new to Wikipedia, but at the same time we found several of them were already contributing to Wikipedia. It was very inspiring for us.

Munir Hasan, President of Wikimedia Bangladesh, conducted the introductory session. He said that the chapter is trying to focus on creating new editors and volunteers and this initiative will be helpful to create new Wikimedians.

I (Nurunnaby Chowdhury) and another Bengali Wikipedia sysop and Wikimedia Bangladesh EC member, Nasir Khan, conducted workshops at this two-day event with i-Genius students. Grameenphone Limited provided the event venue, at their corporate headquarters located in Dhaka city. On the event days, another sysop of Bengali Wikipedia, Nahid Sultan, was present and helped the attendees to edit and create new articles and so on.

Altogether, over 53 participants attended on the two days of the workshop. We planned for 70 participants, but some of the i-Genius students could not join due to the exam schedule. A few of the interested attendees had experimented with editing Wikipedia, and they had started asking questions to the organizers even before the event was launched!

The workshop was an all-day event with a lot of fun activities. More than 30 participants attended on the first day. After the introduction session, we divided the participants into several groups and one facilitator was assigned to each of the groups. The facilitator helped their group to create and expand a Wikipedia article by themselves. The participants moved around and made friends with each other and the organizers during the lunch break. During the afternoon session, the participants asked to clarify their doubts about editing. Organizers gave a brief introduction about the Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter, and they conducted sessions on how to add references to a Wikipedia article and how to upload pictures to Commons. On the second day, another 30 students joined this program. During the program we delivered hands-on presentations on how to edit, how to contribute, and how to donate photos to Commons. Moreover, we enriched some articles that seemed incomplete. After the successful completion of the program, all i-Genius students receive certificates and my written book about Bengali Wikipedia. This book was published at the last Ekushey Book Fair in 2013.

There were many interesting and engaging queries from a few of the participants who had already edited articles on Wikipedia. It was nice to discover that some of the participants wanted to connect with the local Wikimedia community. Several participants and the organizers wrote to thank us for conducting the workshop. The event was a success in that it introduced the audience to various ways of getting involved with the Wikimedia movement, thereby changing the perception that the only way to get involved is by writing articles online.

Nurunnaby Chowdhury & Nasir Khan, Wikimedians

Insight into Wikimedia Germany – Impressions of a FDC member

A session  from   FDC site visit  to WMDE.

I had the first opportunity to learn about Wikimedia chapters when I participated in the Wikimedia conference in 2011, representing the newly formed Wikimedia India chapter. While  presentations and interactions were useful, the visit to Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE)  chapter office was very helpful, as I had the chance to meet the staff and learn about the chapter’s various activities. After that, as a member  of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) from 2012, I had the opportunity to learn even more about chapters. Though the initial FDC framework and process was the result of extensive deliberations of FDC Advisory  group supported  by consultants from Bridgespan, some of the gaps became apparent after the first round of FDC deliberations. My major concern was that the process/framework  did not account for the diverse attributes of chapters and relied on impersonal wiki pages for discussions, even when substantive funds are at stake.

When the opportunity to visit WMDE came up, I signed up immediately, as it  gave me the opportunity to meet with the chapter’s leadership and stakeholders in person  - allowing me to better understand their plans and the challenges they face. I, Mike Peel, another FDC Member along with WMF staff team of Anasuya, Garfield and Frank visited WMDE during  Feb 5-7,  2014 in Berlin.

In this report, I would like to highlight my impressions on the chapter programs and their evolution as well as share thoughts on WMDE chapter performance and areas for improvement.

Chapter Structure and Infrastructure

Pavel explaining the  WMDE Events for the year marked on wall calendar

Pavel informed us that the chapter had recently moved into their new facility. He  took us for  a tour of the facility, highlighting the thought process behind the design which allows flexible use of space and also meets the requirements of various stakeholders. The chapter has about 64 full time and part time staff (equivalent to 45 FTE). They are organized into four program teams and one operational/admin team. Each team has appropriate workspaces and computing infrastructure. There was a good number of small meeting rooms and a large conference room. The facility also includes an event room which can accommodate up to 99 participants. The room is used at least two days a week for various chapter programs and its partners. A large calendar on the event room wall has  the details of programs that have been planned till the end of the year, leaving no doubt about the effective use of infrastructure. The event room is designed in such a way that part of it can be used as workspace if required by putting up partitions.


Call for Individual Engagement Grant proposals: community experiments wanted

IEG barnstar

Do you have an idea for a project that could improve Wikipedia or another Wikimedia community?

The Wikimedia Foundation and the Individual Engagement Grants Committee are seeking proposals for community-led experiments to have online impact in the Wikimedia movement. Individual Engagement Grants support individuals and small teams of Wikimedians to lead projects for 6 months. You can get funding to turn your idea into action with a grant for online community organizing, outreach and partnerships, tool-building, or research. Proposals are due by 31 March 2014.

Past grantees have been testing new ways to encourage women to edit Wikipedia, improve workflows for Wikimedia’s cartographers, raise awareness of Wikipedia in China and Africa, coordinate a global Wikisource strategy, increase free access to reliable sources for Wikipedians, and more. Proposals for up to $30,000 are considered; most grantees are awarded between $300 and $15,000 to support a wide range of activities and expenses, including project management, consultants, materials, and travel.

Grantees say that participating in the program has helped them build confidence and expertise in experimental setup and execution of community projects. As a grantee from the first round put it, “IEG gave me the opportunity to work in a more professional way on projects I really like, and in the end it gave me more expertise and experience and hope that issues can be solved. It offered solutions, and it taught me that solutions can be built, if you work on them.”

What’s new for 2014

The Individual Engagement Grants program is now available in more languages thanks to the efforts of volunteer translators! To celebrate this broader global reach, and in honor of WikiWomen’s history month, we hope you’ll share even more ideas for projects aimed at increasing diversity in the movement.

Ideas for all new projects are always welcome in the IdeaLab, and throughout the month of March, we’ll be hosting proposal clinic Hangouts to help you turn your idea into a grant proposal in real time. Please stop by to say hello, ask a question, or share some advice during these IdeaLab Hangout hours. We look forward to seeing your proposal by March 31st.

Siko Bouterse, Head of Individual Engagement Grants

Editing about Mexican laws in Greater Mexico City

This post is available in 2 languages:
Español  • English


Teacher Jorge Luis Esquivel Zubiri at their classroom in Universidad de Ecatepec.

Ecatepec de Morelos is a city and municipality of Greater Mexico City, about one hour from downtown Mexico City. It is the most populated municipality in the State of Mexico and ranks second in most population in the country. Instructor Jorge Luis Esquivel Zubiri from the Universidad de Ecatepec invited his law students to edit the Spanish Wikipedia and Wikisource about Mexican legal concepts and laws. But since the second term of 2013, after learning about the Wikipedia Education Program of Wikimedia México, the teacher and the students decided to give more structure to their local organization and work in Wikimedia projects grouped under the name of Club WikiUNE.

Since August 2013, the students edited articles on Wikipedia about legal concepts such as absence and custody agreement. In Wikisource, they upload some Mexican law, such as the Commercial Establishments Act or the Industrial Property Law. Teacher Jorge Luis notes that this work serves to give greater publicity to the Mexican legal provisions, and he wants to increase the quality and depth on the origin and development of laws that govern more than 100 million Mexicans.

Guadalupe García, president of ClubWikiUNE, and teacher Jorge Luis.

“It’s a form of open government and for the students a way to develop their professional skills to contribute to a noble project,” says Esquivel Zubiri, also a teacher at the Facultad de Estudios Superiores campus Aragón (School of Higher Studies Aragón) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where he will soon establish another Wikipedia Student Club.

On February 15, the students of the Club WikiUNE invited the board of Wikimedia Mexico to a report of work held in the auditorium of the university, in which the directors of the school, the teacher Jorge Luis and Guadalupe Garcia, president of the club, gave details to Ivan Martinez and Carmen Alcázar from Wikimedia Mexico about the work. They also requested support of the Mexican chapter to continue working on the Wikimedia projects at the University of Ecatepec. It was very rewarding to arrive at school with the logos of Wikimedia and Wikipedia on the front door and hallways of the schools, plus students printed shirts, flyers, and even bottled water with the logo of WikiUNE.

For Wikimedia Mexico, it is very valuable to start a joint work in the metropolitan area of Mexico City, and expand the Wikimedia mission to more educational institutions in the country.

Iván Martínez
President, Wikimedia México


Odia Wikipedia: Three years of active contributions gives life to a ten year old project

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


Group photo of Odia Wikipedia 10 day celebration at KISS, Bhubaneswar

Odia Wikipedia celebrated its 10th anniversary on January 29th, 2014. Odia is a language spoken by roughly 33 million people in Eastern India, and is one of the many official languages of India. Odia Wikipedia started as one of the first Indic language Wikipedias. In 2011 there were only 550 articles with practically no contributors. The initial Wikipedians struggled to reach out to more people. Luckily, with more people coming on the Internet – primarily on social media platforms, collaboration became easier. Odia Wikipedia’s facebook page and group became the social gateway for more people to get used to working within the Odia language. This is one of the languages which has very little online presence when it comes to having content as Unicode text. Many people still struggle with the outdated pirated operating systems installed in their computers which added more hurdles in the way of all the community led Wikipedia outreach programs. There has been more developments in  recent days in language input and online contribution in Odia. More people started searching for online content using Odia in Unicode. This is where Odia Wikipedia played a crucial role in promoting a massive growth in content which is reflected in the readership. Monthly page views which remained consistently low over the years started growing from less than 1000 to more than 400,000 and at times hitting the 500,000 mark. This is the highest among all the websites that have Odia content. With a variety of new projects and more contributors than ever, Wikipedia Odia happily celebrated its its 10th anniversary over two days. Odia Wikipedians gathered in two different educational institutes. Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences in Bhubaneswar on the 28th of January and Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Dhenkanal on the 29th.

Day 1:

Debiprasanna Patnaik introducing himself for Voice intro project

First day of Odia Wikipedia 10 began with the traditional Chhena poda cutting by noted linguist Padmashree Dr. Debiprasanna Patnaik. Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has recently collaborated with The Centre for Internet and Society for the resource gathering, documentation and archival of 62 tribal communities of Odisha and neighboring eastern Indian states and initiating Wikipedia projects in the indigenous tribal languages. The first few phase of the workshop brought about 15 students pursuing their masters in Arts, Science and Commerce disciplines and 10 faculty members.

Wikimedia Israel Winter Hackathon 2013

Wikimedia Israel Winter Hackathon TLV – 2013

Over sixty volunteer programmers gathered in “Campus Tel Aviv” on December 26 to learn the software behind Wikipedia, fixing its bugs and making nifty tools with it. This was the second event of its kind organized by the Wikimedia Israel chapter, following the success of the first Israeli Hackathon last May. The event was Lead by Wikimedia Israel’s volunteers Oren Bochman and Amir Aharoni.

The people who came were programmers with experience in different software fields: performance tweakers, web server and frontend programmers, mobile developers, semantic web gurus and others fields who wanted to learn something new.

One surprise was the range of ages. A very young group of young robotics hackers from the GreenBlitz group from Hakfar Hayarok youth village who came, all dressed in matching t-shirts. At the end of the day they demoed their work: a gadget that analyzes a photograph and shows the Wikipedia article about the place where it was taken.

Several other teams showed similar projects that used Wikipedia’s API for coordinates and map. Such projects included a Google maps layer that shows locations without a photo in Wikipedia, a gadget that shows Wikipedia articles in an area ranked by popularity and others.


Change Models at Wikimedia Deutschland

Change model of the Legal and Social Framework Program visualized as a flowchart

One of the greatest challenges of project work is making sure that people understand the intended long-term outcomes of a project and how they can be achieved. This is especially true for organizations such as Wikimedia Deutschland, which works on a number of interconnected projects at the same time and therefore has to deal with a corresponding level of complexity. Even people within the organization can quickly lose track, wasting attractive opportunities for collaboration in the process. Most importantly, the great complexity of various isolated projects and goals makes it very difficult for organizations to establish a shared pool of knowledge and to increase the effectiveness of their actions in the long term. At worst, different organizational units can end up working at cross-purposes without even realizing it.

Wikimedia Deutschland believes it is important to avoid problems of this kind, not least in order to be able to evaluate the impact of our own work meaningfully. The most important question for us to ask is whether we are achieving our societal goals. In order to develop useful indicators and metrics to answer this question, you have to first be unambiguous in what you want to achieve in the long run. For this reason, the evaluation unit was appointed to work together with our employees on developing change models for the work we do at Wikimedia Deutschland. Here, we were able to build on the foundations laid by the Program Evaluation & Design Team at the Wikimedia Foundation (thank you for the good work, Jaime!). Since various parties (including the FDC) have recognized and expressed an interest in our change models, we would like to briefly explain what change models are, why we chose to use them and how we went about it.

What is a change model?

Change models determine the direction of impact for potential projects and serve as a theoretical basis for planning and subsequently, evaluating projects. Ideally, a change model will be drawn up before the conception phase of a project. It always pursues a specific intended long-term outcome and explains how this goal is to be achieved through the interplay of several sub-outcomes (preconditions). In addition to outcomes and sub-outcomes, a change model can also include measurement indicators, activities and other information (see Theory of Change, for an example).


Handling our user data – an appeal and a response

(Today we are posting an English translation of a blog post from German Wikipedians outlining concerns about the handling of Wikipedia user data, or metadata. Above that post you will find the Foundation’s response to those concerns). 

Response to user appeal

In June this year, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) started to solicit community input on our privacy policy, and since September we have been inviting participation in a discussion of the draft for a new privacy policy. The purpose of this discussion has been to review and improve our privacy policy, and ensure that all members of the Wikimedia community have an opportunity to be heard and contribute.

This discussion has already helped us to understand the diverse range of views in our large, international community (each month, more than 75,000 users contribute to Wikimedia projects in more than 200 languages). As part of this discussion, about 120 German Wikipedia contributors who advocate for more stringent privacy rules have made a statement and published it on the German chapter’s blog (English translation below). We welcome the contribution of these editors, and hope that the resulting discussion will strengthen the policy. However, while we hear and respect these concerns, the WMF was not invited to explain its position during the drafting of the statement, and so we’d like to do so here.

Existing practices

As the authors of the statement mention, the past year has seen increased global concern about privacy and the activities of intelligence agencies in both the US and Europe. The Wikimedia Foundation is extremely sensitive to those concerns, and we have taken several steps to address them, including joining activism here in the US, encrypting more traffic to and from the Wikimedia sites, and assuring readers that we have not been contacted under the surveillance programs at issue.

The Wikimedia Foundation also protects its readers by collecting very little information, particularly relative to most major websites. Editors who create an account do not have to connect their account to a real-world identity unless they choose to do so. It is possible to read and use the Wikimedia sites without providing your real name, home address, email address, gender, credit card or financial information. In all but a few cases (related to abuse prevention), we delete IP addresses of logged-in editors after 90 days. All in all, there is small incentive for governments to contact WMF and request information about Wikimedia users.