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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


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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).


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

WikiSangamotsavam-2013 brought Wikimedians from all over India together

Mr. Sashi Kumar‘s speech during the inaugural session of WikiSangamotsavam-2013

WikiSangamotsavam, the annual conference of Malayalam Wikimedians, took place in Alappuzha, Kerala, India from December 21-23, 2013. The conference, supported by the Wikimedia Foundation Grants program, Wikimedia India Chapter and CIS-A2K program brought together around 200 Wikimedians and well-wishers from all over India.

The host town, Alappuzha, is popularly known as the Venice of the East due to its picturesque backwaters and canals. Alappuzha was chosen as the location for the conference in an effort to bring attention to the regions diversity and touristic appeal to Wikimedians, and thereby increasing the towns representation on Wikipedia. The Board meeting of the Wikimedia India Chapter took place in conjunction with the event. A range of pre-conference events, including a bicycle rally, a meetup for young Wikimedians and several edit-a-thons took place prior to the event.

Day 1

The first day of WikiSangamotsavam started with Wiki-Vidyarthi-Sangamam, a meetup of student Wikimedians. The digitization of ‘Sri-Mahabharatham,’ a seven volume Malayalam epic was flagged off during the Wiki-Vidyarthi-Sangamam. Around 100 students from all over Kerala got to interact with each other and learn about Wikimedia projects in Malayalam. There was a Wikipedia workshop for impaired delegates. They were introduced to various means of accessibility by the DAISY Consortium. This session helped them learn about self-educating tools and accessing knowledge platforms like Wikipedia and contributing in Malayalam online.

There was a panel discussion on ‘Malayalam and Wikipedia’ during which language and computing experts discussed the role of Wikipedia in the growth of Malayalam language. Talks and presentations about topics relevant to Wikimedia were held in three parallel sessions.

The first day of the event also marked Malayalam Wikipedia’s 11th birthday. The special occasion was celebrated by cutting a birthday cake. At the end of the day, Wikimedians entertained themselves by singing folk songs of Kerala.


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.


New Individual Engagement Grantees to engage community with tools and outreach

Today we’re announcing the second round of Individual Engagement Grantees!

These grants from the Wikimedia Foundation support individuals and small teams of Wikimedians to experiment with new ideas aimed at having online impact on Wikimedia projects. We’ve learned a lot from the first round of IEG grantees over the past 6 months, and are delighted to see what this next group will share with the world.

Mbazzi Village writes Wikipedia: Paul Kiguba and Mbazzi villagers

7 projects have been recommended by an IEG committee of volunteers and approved by WMF for this round. These selections represent a broad range of projects focusing on activities from outreach to tool-building and are all aimed at connecting and supporting community. Grantees are trying out new ways of engaging with women and young Wikipedians, fostering participation in Africa, and supporting cartographers, researchers and developers to better engage with projects like Commons, Wikidata, and Wikipedia.

The selected projects for 2013 round 2 are:

  • Wikimaps Atlas, led by Arun Ganesh and Hugo Lopez, funded at $12,500.  Hugo and Arun will be building a system to automate the creation of maps in standardized cartographic style using the latest open geographic data. With new workflows and scripts, they aim to make it easier for Wikimedia’s cartographers to generate and update maps for use in Commons, Wikipedia, and beyond.
  • Mbazzi Village writes Wikipedia, led by Paul Kikuba with collaboration from Dan Frendin, funded at $2880.  This project is a collaboration between Mbazzi villagers, Wikimedia Sweden, and the Wikimedia Foundation to build a Wikipedia center in Uganda where volunteers can to contribute to Luganda Wikipedia, particularly focusing on articles related to sustainable development. (more…)

The Winner of Wiki Loves Monuments 2013 Is…


1st prize winner: Picture of a locomotive with a push-pull train crossing the monumental Wiesener Viaduct over the Landwasser river in Graubünden, Switzerland.

Guest post by Lodewijk Gelauff. You can read the original post on the Wiki Loves Monuments blog. Lodewijk “Effeietsanders” Gelauff has been an active member of the Wikimedia community since 2005; over the years, he helped out as a steward and an administrator of several wikis as well as a board member of Wikimedia Nederland, member of the Chapters Committee and organiser of various internal Wikimedia activities.

Wiki Loves Monuments is over. And after a photo competition, there should be a winner. Through the month September, photos were uploaded of monuments in more than 50 countries and in October national juries decided which pictures were the best for each of the 51 competitions. They submitted up to 10 pictures to the international finale, which resulted in a pool of 503 magnificent and diverse images of cultural heritage.

The 2013 competition was in many ways a unique experience. Not only was it once again the largest photography competition (more than 365,000 submissions!), but there were also more countries participating in Wiki Loves Monuments than ever before: 52 countries in 51 competitions. Those countries were not only larger in number, but also more spread over the continents and cultures. For the first time we had Arabic countries participating, many Latin-American and Asian countries joined for the first time, and we also accepted images from Antarctica!

A jury of six members was set to the task to judge the finalists, and they did so with great care. You will find their process and deliberations described in the jury report linked at the bottom of this blog post. That jury report also includes the Special Awards we announced earlier and more background information about the monuments.

It is about time to announce the winners of the finale of Wiki Loves Monuments 2013! In this blog post I will only mention the top-10 pictures, but you can find more pictures and more details of the top-41 in the jury report.

The first prize (you can see it at the top of this blog post) is a picture of a locomotive with a push-pull train crossing the monumental Wiesener Viaduct over the Landwasser river in Graubünden, Switzerland. It represents a nice harmony between monument, human and nature, while the red train draws attention to the middle of the picture. The picture was submitted by David Gubler, who is also active on a Swiss website dedicated to photos of trains.

The second prize (below) goes to a wonderful photo of the 19th century Shi family abode in Lukang, Taiwan. The picture gives great attention to detail and captures the imagery, history, tradition and narration all in one photograph. The picture was submitted by Husky221, who submitted several other photos to the competition.


Egyptian students help narrow gender gap on Wikipedia

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


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


What I Iearned at the Europeana Fashion Edit-a-thon 2013

Students from University of Padua and IUAV Venice during the Europeana Fashion Editathon in Stra. Photo by Niccolò Caranti.

There I was, at Rossimoda Shoe Museum[1] in Villa Foscarini Rossi, Stra, Venice, running the Europeana Fashion Edit-a-thon 2013 about footwear, fashion history and shoes produced in Italy. I’d tried to organize this event with university students and their professors, and I had finally succeeded. A short time ago I became a member of Wikimedia Italia and quickly discovered that, like in many associations, you have the chance to do a lot, or nothing at all.

I had no idea how to actively participate in Wikimedia Italia in the beginning. I wanted to do something, then a great opportunity arose. The digital library Europeana Fashion was contacting fashion museums and Wikimedia chapters in Europe to organize edit-a-thons for November 2013. The goal was to promote knowledge of cultural heritage through the improvement of Wikipedia articles related to fashion and history of costumes. Considering that fashion and fashion history has long been my passion, I accepted the offer to work on the project.

Here are a few of the (important) things I learned along the way:

If you like it, do it!

If conditions are good (for instance if you’re working with an international digital library, an excellent museum, a great collection of books and dedicated professors and students) do not get intimidated because you are not an expert. This is exactly the moment to learn and maybe become an expert yourself.

People are key

Without the involvement and help of the museum’s curator, I would have had a really difficult time. She looked for and found contacts inside the university, people which in turn helped us a lot. She ordered sandwiches and pizza for everyone (almost 80 people during the morning, 40 during the edit-a-thon in the afternoon). She sent me a mountain of emails and patiently followed my extensive to-do list. People are key!