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Wiki Loves Pride 2014 and Adding Diversity to Wikipedia

Logo for the proposed user group Wikimedia LGBT

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

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

Pride Edit-a-Thons and Photo Campaigns Held Internationally

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

San Francisco Pride (2014)

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

Campaign Results

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

Coding da Vinci: Results of the first German Culture Hackathon

Mnemosyne, goddess of memory

From the Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, © public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The weather was almost as hot as it was in Hong Kong one year ago. But whereas on that occasion a time machine had to catapult the audience ten years into the future, at the event held on Sunday, July 6 at the Jewish Museum Berlin, the future had already arrived.

It was not only virtual results that were presented at the award ceremony for the culture hackathon Coding da Vinci in Berlin. Image from Marius Förster © cc-by-sa 3.0

At the final event of the programming competition Coding da Vinci, seventeen projects were presented to both a critical jury and the public audience in a packed room. Five winners emerged, three of whom used datasets from Wikimedia projects. This result signals that the predictions put forward by Dirk Franke in Hong Kong have already become a reality: that in the future more and more apps will use the content of Wikimedia projects and that the undiscerning online user will barely notice where the data actually comes from. There is a clear trend towards providing information in a multimedia-based and entertaining way. That’s the meta level, but the source of the knowledge is still clear: Wikipedia.

The aims of Coding da Vinci

The new project format used by Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) for the first time this year ended successfully. Coding da Vinci is a culture hackathon organized by WMDE in strategic partnership with the German Digital Library, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany and the Service Center Digitization Berlin. Unlike a standard hackathon, the programmers, designers and developers were given ten weeks to turn their ideas into finished apps. Most of the 16 participating cultural institutions had made their digital cultural assets publicly available and reusable under a free license especially for the programming competition. With the public award ceremony on July 6 at the Jewish Museum, we wanted to show not just these cultural institutions but also what “hackers” can do with their cultural data. We hope that this will persuade more cultural institutions to freely license their digitized collections. Already this year, 20 cultural data sets have been made available for use in Wikimedia projects.

Exciting til the very end

It was an exciting event for us four organizers, as we waited with baited breath to see what the community of programmers and developers would produce at the end. Of course, not all the projects were winners. One of the projects that did not emerge as a winner, but that I would nevertheless like to give a special mention, was Mnemosyne – an ambitious website that took the goddess of memory as its patron. We are surely all familiar with those wonderful moments of clarity as we link-hop our way through various Wikipedia pages, so who would say no to being guided through the expanse of associative thought by a polymath as they stroll through a museum?

The polymath as a way of life died out in the end of the 19th century, according to Wikipedia – a fact that the Mnemosyne project seeks to address by using a combination of random algorithms to make finding and leafing through complex archive collections a simpler and more pleasurable activity. In spite of some minor blips during the on-stage presentation, the potential of the cast concrete Mnemosyne was plain to see. Hopefully work will continue on this project and the developers will find a museum association that wants to use Mnemosyne to make their complex collections available for visitors to browse.

The five winners

After two hours of presentations and a one-hour lunch break, the winners were selected in the five categories and were awarded their prizes by the jury.

Out of Competition: The zzZwitscherwecker (chirping alarm clock) really impressed both the audience and the jury. It’s a great solution for anyone who finds it difficult to be an early bird in the morning. That’s because you can only stop the alarm if you’re able to correctly match a bird to its birdsong. You’re sure to be wide awake after such a lively brain game.

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Creating Safe Spaces

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

Ride like a girl?

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

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

Ram Prasad Joshi: Writing Wikipedia from the western hills of Nepal

Ram Prasad Joshi

Ram Prasad Joshi doesn’t have a computer. His village may be beautiful but there is no electricity. It’s a three-hour walk to the nearest road. In spite of all this, Joshi has accumulated more than 6,000 edits to the Nepali Wikipedia using nothing more than a feature phone.

An image shot by Ram Prasad Joshi on his feature phone: Devotees paying homage to the Thama Mai Temple (replica of Badimalika, Bajura) in Dailekh

“On Wikipedia I write about geography, history and culture of my surroundings,” he said. “I am a Hindu so I write about the Hindu religion and Hindu culture. I edit and write new articles on the Sanskrit, Hindi, Fijian, Bhojpuri and Gujrati Wikipedias, as well as in Nepali. I can introduce my village, my locality and my culture to the world.”

An image shot by Ram Prasad Joshi on his feature phone: Stone script of Damupal near Kartikhamba in Dailekh established by King Prithivi Malla B.S. 1038 (981 A.D.). It is claimed to be the first stone script in the Nepali Language.

In addition to his writing, Joshi has contributed almost a hundred photographs to Wikimedia Commons. He took part in Wiki Loves Monuments 2013 and his images of archaeological monuments in his area won him the prize for best mobile contributor.

Due to its remote geography, his contributions may be the only representation his village will get online. “No newspapers, no magazines, nothing arrives here,” he explains. “In my village there are many people who have never seen a television. Now the mobile phone emerged, villagers watch videos on mobile, but no-one owns a television.”

For Joshi, his initial introduction to editing began on a somber note four years ago. While living and working in Haridwar, a small city in northeast India, his mother became seriously ill and passed away. “According to Hindu culture, all children should perform the rituals; they have to sit isolated for thirteen days in mourning,” he explained. “I was grieved greatly by her loss. My eyes still become wet when I remember her death. Parents are regarded as the almighty and holy in my culture.”

“I had to find ways to divert my thoughts from the memories of mom. As a way to vent my grief, I began to surf mobile internet more which helped me a lot. I explored the Nepali Wikipedia. I also saw the edit button in each article and the sub heading too. I then learned that I could edit these encyclopedia entries. When I remember my mom, I open Wikipedia and read or edit,” he added.

Fortunately, Joshi might no longer be alone in his editing endeavors; soon others will be able to benefit just as he did. Wikipedia Zero’s partnership with Nepali GSM mobile operator Ncell has given more people the opportunity to learn what Wikipedia is and how they can contribute to Wikimedia projects. “I have conveyed to my family and my villagers about Wikipedia,” said Joshi. “But for most people the Internet is out of reach, so it is a vague topic for them. After Ncell announced [their partnership with] Wikipedia Zero, some have given concern to it. Earlier when I started talking about Wikipedia they treated me as if I had gone mad.”

“Ncell broadcast advertisements for Wikipedia Zero through local radio. Many people now understand that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of knowledge.”

Ncell’s partnership is ideal for those looking to access and contribute to Wikipedia from a mobile phone, in the same way Joshi has for so long.
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Odia language gets a new Unicode font converter

Screenshot mock-up of Akruti Sarala – Unicode Odia converter

It’s been over a decade since Unicode standard was made available for Odia script. Odia is a language spoken by roughly 33 million people in Eastern India, and is one of the many official languages of India. Since its release, it has been challenging to get more content on Unicode, the reason being many who are used to other non-Unicode standards are not willing to make the move to Unicode. This created the need for a simple converter that could convert text once typed in various non-Unicode fonts to Unicode. This could enrich Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects by converting previously typed content and making it more widely available on the internet. The Odia language recently got such a converter, making it possible to convert two of the most popular fonts among media professionals (AkrutiOriSarala99 and AkrutiOriSarala) into Unicode.

All of the non-Latin scripts came under one umbrella after the rollout of Unicode. Since then, many Unicode compliant fonts have been designed and the open source community has put forth effort to produce good quality fonts. Though contribution to Unicode compliant portals like Wikipedia increased, the publication and printing industries in India were still stuck with the pre-existing ASCII and ISCII standards (Indian font encoding standard based on ASCII). Modified ASCII fonts that were used as typesets for newspapers, books, magazines and other printed documents still exist in these industries. This created a massive amount of content that is not searchable or reproducible because it is not Unicode compliant. The difference in Unicode font is the existence of separate glyphs for the Indic script characters along with the Latin glyphs that are actually replaced by the Indic characters. So, when someone does not have a particular ASCII standard font installed, the typed text looks absurd (see Mojibake), however text typed using one Unicode font could be read using another Unicode font in a different operating system. Most of the ASCII fonts that are used for typing Indic languages are proprietary and many individuals/organizations even use pirated software and fonts. Having massive amounts of content available in multiple standards and little content in Unicode created a large gap for many languages including Odia. Until all of this content gets converted to Unicode to make it searchable, sharable and reusable, then the knowledge base created will remain inaccessible. Some of the Indic languages fortunately have more and more contributors creating Unicode content. There is a need to work on technological development to convert non-Unicode content to Unicode and open it up for people to use.

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Israel’s Ministry of Education & Wikimedia Israel Agree On New, Unique Initiative

Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, Itzik Edri, Chair of the Wikimedia Israel Board and Michal Lester, Executive Director of Wikimedia Israel

An agreement was met in a meeting between Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, Itzik Edri, Chair of the Wikimedia Israel Board and Michal Lester, Executive Director of Wikimedia Israel, regarding a shared cooperation with Wikimedia Israel in the framework of the ministry’s school curricula in the coming years. Through the planned cooperation, history, geography and science teachers will receive special professional training to instruct students on how to contribute to new or incomplete Wikipedia articles for which information is lacking or inadequate.

Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

The Education Ministry will also examine the possibility of integrating Wikipedia writing assignments in the teaching of research and community involvement. They will also consider having students who speak additional languages (primarily English and Russian) write Wikipedia articles about Israel in those particular languages.

Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron said, “It is important to us that the education system in Israel leads in innovation and cooperating with Wikipedia is a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box and enable students in Israel to do things that make a difference from which others can also benefit.”

Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees said, “Israel is today among the leading countries in the integration of Wikipedia in the education system and academia. I hope our joint work model will also serve as an example to other education systems around the world.”

In the framework of cooperation that is already in place between Wikimedia Israel and the Ministry of education, several pilot projects are being conducted. The projects involve teacher training in good Wikipedia usage, article composition, Wikipedia article writing by gifted high school students and the teaching of proper Wikipedia usage to elementary schoolchildren. It is worth mentioning that through cooperation with academics in a variety of universities and colleges throughout Israel, hundreds of articles are written each year by students in courses. Thus students write Wikipedia articles as part of their degrees, sometimes even in lieu of exams or final papers. The Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University recently conducted a special 2-credit course on the subject of Wikipedia and medicine.

Survey results published last week as part of Wikipedia Academy 2014 Israel revealed that 84% of the Israeli public relies heavily on Wikipedia and 74% say that it provides all the information they need. Over one third of the population expressed interest in learning to write for Wikipedia.

Itzik Edri, Chair of Wikimedia Israel Board

The Weasel-Lobster Race

Since July 2013 Dimitar Dimitrov is Wikimedian in Brussels. In assorted blogposts he talks about his experiences vis-à-vis the EU.

Big Fat Brussels Meeting vol. 2

It’s five to three. A dapper man, slightly out of breath, enters the room and quickly makes his way to the front. The event started almost an hour ago, but despite double-bookings in his schedule, Marco Giorello – deputy head of unit “Copyright” at the European Commission – didn’t want to miss the debate on Mass Digitisation and Access to Cultural Heritage co-organized by Wikimedia and the Flemish Commission for UNESCO. He shakes a few hands on his way to the speaker’s table and immediately finds himself in the midst of a lively discussion about the future of European copyright.

The room full of Wikimedians, representatives of cultural institutions and international associations witnessed in-depth arguments around copyright and the internet. Besides Marco Giorello, there were speakers from the British Library, the Federation of European Publishers, DG CONNECT of the European Commission, the Flemish Centre for Expertise in Digital Heritage “PACKED” and Wikimedia. The challenge to represent our movement was hereby accepted and mastered by Jean-Frédéric Berthelot of Wikimédia France.

Copyright terms: Who can offer less?

Apart from digitization projects, the debate also turned to practical and legal issues. It was User:Hubertl from Wikimedia Austria who managed to not only hand out WLM calendars and chocolade to the speakers during the event, but also used the opportunity to bring up Freedom of Panorama in the EU and more specifically, its lacking harmonisation. Various conversations continued well after the official discussion had finished. Representatives from the European Commission Directorate-Generals for the Internal Market (DG MARKT) and Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT) seized the opportunity to exchange views regarding Wikimedia photographs, “Commonists” and other chapter folk. They took away a number of concrete examples illustrating the absurdity of current copyright legislation across the 28 member states and a lot of ideas on how to remedy the framework.

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Women Scientists Workshop Development Update

Editors at a LUC Women Scientists Workshop.

The Women Scientists Workshop Development IEG [1] is a project aimed at empowering women college students by encouraging them to create content about women scientists on English Wikipedia.

We worked tirelessly through the cold Chicago winter, motivated by the desire to address Wikipedia’s gender gap. We held a series of seven workshops in addition to three that were held the previous semester. We’ve since gained valuable insight as we move into the next phase of developing a best-practice kit for countering systemic bias in institutions.
Many important principles were discerned from the workshops we held in our first semester. We spent weeks categorizing this information into a trial kit for other institutions to use. Of the 23 individuals who attended the first semester workshops, two were male and 21 (91%) were female. Five (22%) came to more than one workshop. 30 different articles were created or significantly improved. Interestingly, only one participant found out about the workshop through flyers placed in high-traffic areas throughout the school. The rest of the attendants found out through word of mouth (friends, Facebook, email etc). This was not what we expected. One of the workshops was not promoted on social media channels and consequently experienced a low attendance rate because of it.

Food is a huge motivator for college students!

Several common threads were apparent when students were asked questions regarding the motivation behind their attendance. The most common factors are food, social environment and social justice. These motivations held steady through the second semester workshops. We believe that there are several different elements that help encourage new editors, especially women, to join and work on systemic bias issues. Incentives like free food from popular local restaurants and unique merchandise from the Wikimedia Foundation were a big draw for students, but many women were also motivated by the fun and friendly social environment and the opportunity to learn something interesting. We have found that advertisements that emphasize all of these factors are the most effective, especially when distributed via popular social media channels and direct email to participants who have already signed up.
We have finalized the kit and will be working with a student graphic designer to make the kit more visually appealing. We are also setting up alpha tests – if you are interested in participating, please contact me at keilanawiki@gmail.com. The mid point report for this project provided detailed metrics on this pilot phase of the program. Metrics from alpha testers will be made public as soon as we have them. In our workshops, more than 70 articles were created or expanded and there was a core group of women that returned to the workshops each week and forged strong friendships that have continued beyond the workshops.

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Cancer Research UK, Royal Society and Women Fellows

The photo shows the entrance of one of the Cancer Research UK buildings

The Cambridge Research Institute, one of CRUK’s main research centres.

This post was written by John Byrne, Wikimedian in Residence at both Cancer Research UK and the Royal Society and was first published on the Wikimedia UK blog

I’m fortunate to have been appointed as Wikipedian in Residence at Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the world’s largest cancer research charity, funding over 4,000 research staff working on cancer. The role will run until mid-December 2014 and is funded by Wellcome Trust, a large UK medical research charitable foundation. I’ll be based at CRUK’s London headquarters, the Angel Building in Islington, working there four days a week. Alongside this, until early July I will also be continuing my six month term, on a one day a week basis, in the same role at the Royal Society, the UK’s National Academy of Science.

Part of the role at CRUK will be to work with the existing medical editors on the English Wikipedia to improve our articles on cancer topics, in particular those on the four common cancers which are widely recognised as having the greatest “unmet need” due to little improvement in survival rates in recent decades. These are cancers of the lung, pancreas, brain and oesophagus. CRUK has just announced a new research strategy with an increased focus on these types of cancers, and my role will complement that. I will also be addressing other cancer-related content, for example in relation to the Medical Translation Project of WikiProject Medicine.

CRUK has access, through its own staff and its access to other researchers and clinicians, to tremendous amounts of expertise, both in terms of science and the communication of science, where they have teams trained and experienced in communicating with a wide range of distinct audiences, from those who write their patient information pages in very plain English to the different teams who produce material for scientists and for general audiences. My boss, Henry Scowcroft, writes for CRUK’s award-winning science blog, and is a Wikipedian. I’ll be exploring a number of approaches in hopes of bringing all this expertise to bear on Wikipedia’s content.

Wikimania 2014 in London, about a mile from CRUK’s HQ, is a great opportunity to bring CRUK and many medical Wikipedians together face to face. A novel aspect of the role is that we are planning to conduct research into the experiences on a range of different types of consumers of Wikipedia’s cancer content. There has been very little formal qualitative research into the experiences of Wikipedia’s readers – we hope this project will begin to address this gap, as well as encourage others to carry out similar projects.

I will also be making presentations and conducting training for key groups of CRUK staff and researchers at their five main research centers in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Oxford and Cambridge. Some of this will be traditional how-to-edit training, but I will also be doing some workshops aimed at people who want to contribute reviews and comments, but who don’t expect to do much editing themselves.

On another tack, I will be working on releasing suitable CRUK images on open licenses and uploading them onto Wikimedia Commons. I think the medical diagrams CRUK has created will be especially useful in Wikipedia articles. We’re already making substantial progress towards a substantial release of content.

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Luganda Wikipedia project

A logo for Wikipedia in the Ganda language.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to write articles in one of Wikipedia’s least represented languages? Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to combine sustainable development, village and school development and mobile learning with Wikipedia in a developing country? Well, here’s my experience doing just that!

Caroline Gunnarsson & Paulina Backstrom, two Wikipedia ambassadors who taught Wikipedia in English and Luganda in Uganda through a project directed by Wikimedia Sweden & WWF.

Our names are Paulina Bäckström and Caroline Gunnarsson. We are two 20-year-olds from Sweden. Our journey began in 2012, after our first trip to Uganda during high school. As part of an exam we were asked to write Wikipedia articles based on our experiences from the trip. Wikipedia’s unique value as a source of knowledge and educational tool inspired us to embark on a project. To read more about the background of our project, please go to our page at Uganda pilot.

Our project is called “Luganda Wikipedia.” We all know what Wikipedia is, but what’s Luganda? Luganda is Uganda’s second largest language, with about seven million native speakers and ten million second-language speakers. Around 16 million Ganda (people living in the Buganda region), speak Luganda.

However, Luganda is often considered a neglected language. Why? I do not have an answer for that. But when you talk about Luganda being neglected on Wikipedia, I have a bit more insight. In January, the Luganda Wikipedia page contained only 166 articles (!). A deserted Wikipedia indeed. It was disheartening to see so many speakers and readers of the language but so few articles, we wanted to make a change. Wikipedia must be one of the best ways to share knowledge in the modern world. Imagine how much knowledge people in Buganda (and other parts of Uganda) can share with each other, with only access to a computer and internet. The mission for the two of us, was to teach Ugandans how to write in Wikipedia, start a local Wikipedia community and plant a seed for the future of  Wikipedia in Uganda. You can summarize the project like this, as noted on our pilot page: “The purpose is to expand Luganda Wikipedia with articles on sustainable development and open up a world where knowledge is freely accessible to everybody in Uganda.” Beautiful words in theory, but did it work in practice? Let me just say that the number of articles in Luganda have risen from 166 to 198. We have inaugurated Uganda’s first (and perhaps Africa’s first) Wikipedia center (computer center) in a small village called Mbazzi, where villagers, who are almost all farmers, are contributing their knowledge. We have also started “Wiki clubs” at different schools.
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