Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


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

Wikipedia helps immigrants learn Swedish

Some of the SFI students in Värnamo during their introductory Wikipedia workshop.

To start using the Internet as an adult can be hard. In 2013 Wikimedia Sverige decided to reach out to a very underrepresented group of people – immigrants. In Sweden, research has shown that immigrants learning Swedish as a new language are very interested in learning how to use the internet and incorporating that into their education. However, teachers find it tricky to integrate web participation into the curriculum. We figured (surprise surprise) that multilingual Wikipedia would make a great tool for teachers to use! Both to teach the students basic Swedish language skills and to naturally integrate computer use into their education.

We partnered up with GR Utbildning and managed to find external funding from the Internet Infrastructure Foundation (.SE) for a project aiming at changing the current curriculum, one teacher at the time. (We strongly suggest that you look around for funds available in your country too –  feel free to ask us for pointers). We teamed up with three Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) teachers in two different schools and started teaching them about Wikipedia.

In order to work efficiently on Wikipedia, it’s necessary to know the basics of writing. After a discussion with the teachers, we decided focus on students who possessed academic backgrounds. It turned out these students were still more proficient in reading than writing Swedish. We decided that the most suitable way for them to contribute would be to have them translate from Swedish into their respective native languages.


Individual Engagement Grants demonstrate their potential for impact

This post is available in 3 languages: English  • Zh-hant 正體中文 Zh-hans 简体中文

Round 1 IEG projects


A year ago, Wikipedia didn’t have a social media presence in China. With the support of a $350 Individual Engagement Grant, today 10,000 Chinese readers follow the Wikipedia account on Weibo, China’s most active social networking site. Chinese Wikipedians are able to use the channel to share Wikipedia’s knowledge and organize events in China like Wiki Loves Monuments. A year ago, there were no guarantees that a few one-off donated accounts to paywall journals could be grown into a digital hub providing free access to reliable sources for Wikipedians and pioneering new models of collaboration between Wikipedia and libraries. With the support of a $7500 Individual Engagement Grant, today 1500 Wikipedia editors have access to 3700 free accounts and The Wikipedia Library is laying plans to go global. Grantees like Addis Wang and Jake Orlowitz were clear about their goals, eager to engage with the community to understand their needs and priorities and willing to take risks and experiment in search of pragmatic and scalable solutions. They incorporated experts and mentors into their process to build platforms that are larger than any one individual.

The Individual Engagement Grants program was launched a year ago with the idea of supporting individual Wikimedians like Addis and Jake to lead projects focused on experiments driving online improvements. This program, too, began as experiment with some risks and no guarantees. And so as the first round of grants come to a close, with the help of an assessment by WMF’s Grantmaking Learning & Evaluation team, we’re taking a look at the impact of these projects and what we’ve learned so far.

Early indicators of impact

The first round of IEG funding distributed about US $60,000 to support eight experimental projects led by community members in six different countries. Half were focused on online community organizing, the rest either built tools or conducted offline outreach. More time is needed to determine the full impact of these grants on their target wikis or as scaled programs across wikis, but early indicators suggest that these grants can have a direct impact on the strategic goals of the Wikimedia movement.


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.

Editing Wikipedia, a print guide for new contributors

Editing Wikipedia brochure

For newcomers, figuring out how to edit Wikipedia can be challenging. Although help pages abound, many new contributors like to have something to hold on to: printed guidance. That was the motivation for the first Welcome to Wikipedia brochure we created in 2010, and since then it’s made its way into the hands of thousands of people through editing workshops, Wikipedia classroom assignments, and other outreach events. The original welcome brochure was translated into more than 12 languages.

However, Wikipedia has changed a lot since 2010, and that brochure was starting to show its age. Over the last several months, we’ve been working with the Wikimedia community and designer David Peters on a completely rewritten welcome brochure: Editing Wikipedia — A guide to improving content on the online encyclopedia. Featuring volunteers from all over the world, the new brochure covers both the how and the why of editing Wikipedia, with special focus on the things that trip up new editors most often: writing in an appropriate encyclopedic style, using and citing reliable sources, and understanding wiki markup (with an updated markup cheatsheet). Joining the Illustrating Wikipedia guide for contributing content to Wikimedia Commons that we published some months ago, the new brochure is available both online and in print.

We hope this new brochure will see even more local editions than its predecessor. The text is set up for translation, and the design files are also available (for InDesign, with the open source Scribus format coming very soon). Because Wikipedias and Wikipedia communities vary so much from language to language, we wanted to design the brochure to be easy to adapt and localize for different language Wikipedias. Most of the content applies equally well to English Wikipedia — for which this version is written — and other languages. It also includes a section specifically devoted to English Wikipedia; translators are encouraged to localize this section to cover topics tailored to their particular audiences and language versions. The original version’s cartoon character has been replaced with a photo of a real editor from the English Wikipedia who offers advice to newcomers through the brochure; as the brochure is translated, local language communities are encouraged to change the photo to be one of an editor from their community.

For the examples and screenshots, “encyclopedias” is the motif that appears throughout — although that may change for other languages. I’m especially proud of the center spread, which shows an article — “Encyclopedia” — in edit mode with VisualEditor and wiki markup side-by-side. Anyone can learn wiki markup with a bit of practice, but the first time you see a page full of it can be overwhelming. So in this spread, we focus in on some of typical markup in the context of a real article, right across from how that markup shows up when the article is rendered. I’m also excited to see new faces of local Wikipedians in the local editions!

If you work with Wikipedia newcomers and would like printed copies of the new brochure in English mailed to you, please contact Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager LiAnna Davis.

Sage Ross
Online Communications, Wikipedia Education Program

Presenting about Wikipedia to academic audiences

Leigh At the SALALM conference

Through its Participation Support program, the Wikimedia Foundation has graciously funded three opportunities for me to present about Wikipedia at various seminars, including the New Mexico Association of Museums in November 2012, the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) in May 2013 and the Congreso de la Asociación Centroaméricano de Lingüística in August 2013. In all three cases, the hope was to take advantage of my bicultural experiences working as a professor in Latin America.

The first event was a statewide event for museums in New Mexico. I used various examples of GLAM activities in Mexico and the United States to appeal to this region’s sense of bi-culturalism, which I am well aware of, having lived in Arizona 11 years. The second event with SALALM had an audience of mostly library professionals from universities, many from the United States, and a few academic professionals from Latin America. The third event took me to the Central American country of Honduras. I was initially invited to speak at a linguists’ conference at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa, but ended up also speaking at a conference for regional historians.

A guide to getting started on Wikimedia Commons

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


Illustrating Wikipedia: A guide to contributing content to Wikimedia Commons

With more than 18 million freely licensed media files, Wikimedia Commons is the repository for files illustrating Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. But as many new contributors find out, understanding the world of free licenses and encyclopedic content can be a challenge. With the release of a new tutorial brochure, we hope to dispel common misconceptions and make it much easier to collaborate and contribute your media files to Wikipedia and other sources.

Puzzly, the cartoon puzzle piece who guides users through the licensing rules of Wikimedia Commons, is the star of the new brochure, Illustrating Wikipedia: A guide to contributing content to Wikimedia Commons. In the instructional document, Puzzly learns about free licenses and how works shared on Wikimedia Commons can reach hundreds of thousands of people from across the world. The brochure is available both printed and online in English, and Wikimedia community members interested in translating and adapting it to other languages are encouraged to do so. The design files are available in InDesign and Scribus formats.

The big challenge with this project was to balance the need for a simple introduction to Commons with the intricacies of free licenses and copyright rules. Even for experienced contributors, it’s often tough to figure out whether a work can be added to Commons. To help navigate these complexities, we turned to the Wikimedia Commons community. Wikimedia Commons is the most linguistically and geographically diverse Wikimedia project, with people from across the world collaborating on one wiki. Commoners work across language barriers and at the intersections of copyright laws that vary tremendously from country to country.

Knowing how complex the rules can be, I was a little anxious when we started asking for feedback that the brochure would get more and more complex — that we would lose the focus on a simple guide for newcomers. But as soon as the first feedback started coming in, I knew those fears were misplaced. Sharp and generous feedback from around 20 experienced Commoners, on the initial text and several design drafts, led to a much stronger final product.

Illustrating Wikipedia covers the essentials for getting started with media contributions — from uploading files, to illustrating wiki pages using both wikicode and the new VisualEditor, to choosing a free license, to finding and using freely licensed and public domain works by others, to common misconceptions that often confuse new contributors. If you work with newcomers who want to contribute to Wikimedia Commons, or if you’re a newcomer yourself, give the brochure a try, and let us know what you think.

Sage Ross
Online Communications, Wikipedia Education Program


Catalan Wikipedia hits the 400,000 articles milestone during 35-hour edit-a-thon

This post is available in 2 languages: català  • English


The GLAM movement in Catalonia has been very active the past few years. Edit-a-thons and workshops have taken place in all kinds of institutions, but the one that was held this April in Fundació Miró in Barcelona (Catalonia), co-organized by Amical Viquipèdia, was really special: the edit-a-thon lasted for 35 consecutive hours, split in three session. Moreover, during the first hours of the edit-a-thon, Catalan Wikipedia reached 400.000 articles – a magical coincidence that made the event even more special.

35 consecutive hours editing Wikipedia? It IS possible!

Fundació Miró’s Espai 13 is celebrating the 35th anniversary since its creation. Fundació Miró had already collaborated with Wikipedia back in 2011, when they hosted an edit-a-thon about the Catalan artist Joan Miró. But this time Amical Viquipèdia and Fundació Miró agreed to make a huge celebration to commemorate the event: 35 consecutive hours editing Wikipedia.

First session of the Miró Editathon

First session of the Miró Editathon

During that time, around fifty Art and Philosophy university students from all over the country, and around fifteen volunteer Wikipedians, gathered in the workplace to start or expand articles on 300 artists who have exhibited at Espai 13, Fundació Miró’s space dedicated to promoting young artists’ work.

To start the event, we held a press conference at 12am on Friday, April 12th, 2013. The first shift of participants was already prepared to start working on the 300 proposed articles about the Espai 13 artists – and some of those artists were present at the event too, so the students were able to take freely licensed pictures of them and post them to Wikimedia Commons. The 26 Art and Philosphy students who participated in the first turn, plus the 5 volunteer Wikipedians who were there to help them, stayed until 10pm – that is, 10 hours. The second turn comprised a similar number of participants. They worked admirably during the whole night without rest until 10am next day, when the third shift took over and stayed until the end of the edit-a-thon eleven hours later, finishing at 9pm on April 13th, 2013.

The students and the volunteer Wikipedians didn’t just write on Wikipedia – there were parallel activities scheduled in order to get out, relax the mind and get ready for more work on articles. In addition to lunch and dinner at the magnificient gardens of the museum, those activities included a guided visit to the museum at midnight, conferences by Wikipedians, a couple of performances from two of the artists that were being written about, and two yoga sessions –one of them being held at 6am in the morning at Fundació Miró’s balcony, when Barcelona was waking up and the sight was breathtaking.

Catalan Wikipedia reaches 400.000 articles

Nonetheless, the edit-a-thon at Fundació Miró was not the only celebration of the day. As luck would have it, the 400,000th article in Catalan Wikipedia was written during the event. Catalan language is the 75th most spoken language in the world with 11,5 millions speakers, yet Catalan Wikipedia occupies the 15th place by number of articles. Catalan-speaking territories are situated in Spain, France, and Italy, whose languages make a strong influence to its speakers, specially Spanish – most of Catalan speakers are bilingual, knowing Spanish as well.

At 5.23pm, in the middle of a conference about “Open knowledge and the cultural institutions,” a participant announced the good news and we opened champagne bottles in the presence of Barcelona TV, who covered the news live. Catalan National TV also joined the event at midnight and the next day broadcasted a two-minute video about the the event being the longest edit-a-thon ever and the 400.000 articles milestone.

Arnau Duran (User:Arnaugir), member of Amical Viquipèdia
Note: for more information about the edit-a-thon see this page (in Catalan).


Have a question about Wikipedia? Ask a WikiWoman on January 17!

Wikipedian Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz will participate in the first ever Ask a WikiWoman event on January 17

“What’s it like to be a Wikipedian?”

“How did you get started editing?”

“How do you make an account on Wikipedia?”

“How do you upload a photo on Commons?”

…those are just some of the many questions that people often ask those of us who edit Wikipedia and contribute to its sister projects. Do you have questions similar to these that you’ve always wanted to ask a Wikipedian?

Well now your chance. WikiWoman Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz will be answering your questions by participating in the first Ask a WikiWoman online event.

On Thursday, January 17, the WikiWomen’s Collaborative will host Ask a WikiWoman via their Twitter! Participants from around the world will have a chance to ask Adrianne, a Wikipedian since 2004, anything about Wikipedia. The event will take place from 10 AM PST (18:00) until 5:00 PM PST (01:00) via the @WikiWomen Twitter.

How do I ask a question?

To participate, you have to have a Twitter account. Twitter is free to join if you aren’t a member yet. After logging in to your Twitter account, ask your question and include hashtag #askawikiwoman in your question. Adrianne will then answer your question!

Who is Adrianne Wadewitz?

Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz, aka User:Wadewitz, has been a Wikipedian since 2004. She’s a “feminist, scholar, educator, and digital humanist,” and has a deep passion for empowering women to contribute to Wikipedia and for helping to provide women around the world with access to free knowledge. As an educator, she has participated in the Wikipedia Education Program, where she has used Wikipedia in the class room as a learning tool since 2011. With a PhD in English Literature from Indiana University, Adrianne has channeled her passion for literature into her Wikipedia contributions. She was a leading force in bringing articles about Mary Wollstonecraft and the life of Jane Austen to Featured Article status, making them some of the finest articles on English Wikipedia.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the first “Ask a WikiWoman” event,” she said. “Nothing quite demystifies Wikipedia and encourages people to participate as a real person who can answer questions about this strange and wonderful website. I’m a Wikipedian. Ask me anything.”

And we hope you will do just that – ask a WikiWoman anything. We’ll see you on Twitter on Thursday, January 17!

Sarah Stierch, Wikimedia Community Fellow

Wikimedia Chile hosts Wikipedia editathon, photo awards ceremony

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


El pasado sábado 15 de diciembre, en la BiblioGAM del Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistal (GAM), Wikimedia Chile celebró la premiación del concurso Wiki Loves Monuments Chile 2012, oportunidad en que se premió a las 10 imágenes ganadoras que representaron a Chile en la etapa internacional del concurso, junto a las 5 menciones honrosas destacadas por el jurado nacional, además de un premio especial al participante que contribuyó con la mayor cantidad de imágenes de monumentos distintos.

The awards ceremony for Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 Chile

“Esta iniciativa es una oportunidad que permite rescatar el patrimonio nacional y preservarlo para que futuras generaciones puedan conocerlo”, destacó Eduardo Testart, presidente de Wikimedia Chile. “Estamos muy orgullosos del resultado obtenido y esperamos seguir desarrollando actividades para difundir los proyectos de Wikimedia en Chile”, señaló Testart.

El concurso fue organizado por Wikimedia Chile y patrocinado por la Fundación Imagen de Chile y el Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales, quienes aportaron con difusión y premios del concurso, el cual contó con 4.083 fotografías de 330 participantes.

Tras la ceremonia de entrega de premios y guiados por voluntarios de Wikimedia Chile, los asistentes participaron de la primera editatón organizada en Chile. La introducción guiada permitió a los participantes esbozar y editar los artículos de los monumentos fotografiados y que cuyo contenido no estaba disponible aún en la Wikipedia en español, consiguiendo la creación de 3 nuevos artículos y el mantenimiento y ampliación de artículos ya existentes. La actividad dio un cierre simbólico al concurso y permitió acercar a los chilenos a la experiencia de participar de Wikipedia, algo que todos podemos hacer, solamente se deben tener ganas de compartir el conocimiento a través de contenidos con licencias libres.

Dennis Tobar Calderón, Wikimedia Chile