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Recovering the shared history editing Wikipedia in Argentina, Mexico and Spain

This post is available in 3 languages:
English  •  Spanish Catalan


The Spanish Republican Exile forced thousands of Spanish citizens to leave their country after the Spanish Civil War and the aftermath of persecutions by the Francisco Franco dictatorship. Nearly 220,000 supporters of the Second Republic left Spain to other countries like Argentina and Mexico.

Attendants at the edit-a-thon

To mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Sinaia vessel to the Mexican port of Veracruz, the Wikimedia chapters in Argentina, Spain and Mexico ran ​​the First Spanish Republican Exile Edit-a-thon of Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource on historical facts, biographies and testimonials related to these events.

The coordination of this event was conducted by the Iberocoop initiative. The event in Mexico City was held at the Space X of Cultural Center of Spain in Mexico. This edit-a-thon was curated by Guiomar López Acevedo, historian of the Spanish Ateneo of Mexico, who contributed sources and reviews for the activity. At the opening, Macarena Pérez, staff of the Cultural Center of Spain, said that the Spanish exile is a prolific theme and many more working sessions will be needed to retrieve all available evidence.

At around 2 pm local time in Mexico, Santiago Navarro Sanz, member of the board of Wikimedia Spain, joined in a videoconference from Vila-real and saluted the participants and noted that he was happy that a hard episode in Spanish history is a positive reason to gather Wikipedians in three countries and contribute to the growth of information on Wikimedia projects.


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.

Introducing Wikipedia Summer of Monuments

The logo for Wikipedia Summer of Monuments, a project carried out by Wikimedia District of Columbia.

This is a syndicated post from Wikimedia DC, with a few alterations. The original post can be found here.

Hello friends,

As Americans across the United States kick off the 4th of July weekend, the “Summer of Monuments” campaign has launched an exciting photo contest focusing especially on Southern states whose history is underrepresented on Wikimedia Commons. These are a contiguous block of states extending from the East Coast to the middle of the country: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.

At the forefront of this effort will be local historians, librarians, photographers and anyone else working passionately to preserve and analyze our culture. We are pleased that we can offer prizes to the best photographers and to the institution that contributes the most valuable collection. We also hope to demonstrate how Wikimedia Commons can be a valuable ally for historians—an amazing free resource for sharing and preserving their materials.

If all goes well, we can use our Monument momentum to develop Wikipedia even further in some of these less-digitized areas. We are seeking communities (be they interested in a specific location or in a theme, such as the civil rights movement) that we can support in their use of Wikipedia to catalogue and preserve the resources and information they value.

We are also calling all Wikipedians who live and work in these ten Southern states to join us in this project and to share with us their ideas for creatively expanding our collective encyclopedic project.

Summer of Monuments 2014 was made possible with the help of a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. For more information visit the Summer of Monuments homepage.

Happy summer, everybody!

Leo Zimmermann, Project Manager for Wikipedia Summer of Monuments, Wikimedia DC

Wiki Loves Monuments heads to Pakistan for the first time

Wikimedia Pakistan logo.

In the English language, there’s an idiom that says a picture is worth a thousand words; but for the active organizers of the first ever Wiki Loves Monuments Pakistan, pictures are worth so much more. Set to begin this September, the recently-recognized Wikimedia Community User Group Pakistan, led by Wikivoyage administrator Saqib Qayyum (User:Saqib) – who was featured in a prior blog post back in February about his journey across Pakistan - , Samar Min Allah (User:Samar), Rabia Zafar (User: Rzafar) and Karthik Nadar (User:Karthikndr) are part of the international, month-long photo-gathering event that document monuments from across the globe, Wiki Loves Monuments. The goal is to upload these photographs – freely-licensed – onto Wikimedia Commons and subsequently Wikipedia. This year, Pakistan has the opportunity to participate in this multi-national competition. The primary organizers of WLM Pakistan have varied interests, yet share similar goals of preserving the proud cultural heritage of Pakistan for future generations. Samar and Rabia both recall how they first got involved with organizing WLM Pakistan. “Saqib,” Samar begins, “contacted me about it and we have been planning it since 2012. We wanted to organize this in the past year, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we could not. We just got our user group recognition approved this year and we thought that it would be a very good opportunity to have this competition as a first event.” As for Rabia, Saqib contacted and asked her if she would be interested in working on Wiki Loves Monuments Pakistan. “So basically, I initially started editing the lists that were going to be used for the photographs, and I slowly moved on to helping them work on the project itself.” Both women are determined to preserve Pakistan’s culture digitally and make the first Wikimedia Loves Monuments Pakistan a tremendous success. Samar credits Saqib as the founder and the glue that keeps the user group together. “He is dealing mostly getting finances, getting resources and keeping us all together.” Being more technical, it is Samar’s role to create lists and pages on Wikipedia. Rabia is credited with dealing with media relations ( i.e. communications and public relations liaison and Facebook page moderator for WLM Pakistan). Karthik, as part of the International Wiki Loves Monuments team, has brought his experience over from Wikimedia India, fostering a bilateral collaboration between – traditionally – two rival countries. (more…)

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.

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.


Libre Graphics Meeting 2014 at Leipzig

Gráfica Liebre and Wikimedia Spain Workshop.

The Libre Graphics Meeting (LGM) started in 2006 as an annual event aimed at bringing together graphic developers of free software for design, desktop publishing, photo editing, 3D modeling and animation. Last year the workshop took place in Madrid, hosted by MediaLab-Prado. This year it happened in Leipzig from April 2-5. Our purpose in hosting the meeting in Leipzig was to connect the local community around free graphics with the Wikimedia movement and the creative graphics community around Wikimedia Commons. This academic year the wikiArS initiative was launched in Madrid to involve the schools of art and design with the objectives of promoting Wikimedia and free knowledge. A collaboration between Wikimedia Spain and Gráfica Liebre studio have begun to hold workshops where attendees produce graphics using free software, then uploaded the graphics onto Commons. The wikiArS initiative has been developed over the last three years with seven schools in Catalonia who participated with Amical Wikimedia and with the participation of the University of Cadiz in collaboration with Wikimedia Spain. We went to Leipzig to present on our experiences and offer it as a model for other countries to emulate.

WikiArS talk at Libre Graphics Meeting 2014.

The presence of wikimedians in LGM was low, even though Wikipedia is cited by participants (for example Free culture aware educators in art and design) as a reference model in terms of effective collaboration and governance. The overlap of principles regarding free culture makes us think that in the coming years we should strive for even greater collaboration between the two communities. After our workshop, some participants expressed interest in starting a similar meetup in their respective fields, so we may soon see the start of wikiArS in other parts of the world. As is the case in many art schools, students work on assignments to produce graphic images and ultimately count on the advice of an expert. This process can take weeks or months. For our two-hour workshops, the participants should be able to work independently without expert advice. Taking that into account, it’s useful to select images that the Commons community has already established a model for. In the LGM workshop we proposed vectoring coats of arms of cities close to Leipzig, typographical diagrams of free fonts and maps of urban parks in Leipzig. Most participants chose the first two options and mainly used Inkscape to create vector images, then uploaded them to Commons using the version of UploadWizard adapted to wikiArS. Something that was also noteworthy was the contribution of one participant, Brent Yorgey, who used the Haskell language to generate SVG graphics, later publishing the code in a Commons subpage for anyone who wants to create variations of it. Previously, Brent had presented on the Diagrams library package for Haskell. (more…)

Wiki Tour Chile 2014 photo contest in its final stage!

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  • Spanish


Moai in Rano Raraku, Easter Island, Chile.

Wiki Tour Chile 2014.

Wikimedia Chile organized the photo contest Wiki Chile Tour 2014 which ran between April 5 and May 4 with a theme centered around Chile’s heritage and identity. The competition focused on photographs of nature, urban landscapes, holiday destinations, typical locations, economic activities, crafts, customs and cuisine that showed the cultural particularities of Chile.

Old house in Alegre Hill, in Valparaíso, going up through Almirante Montt street.

The contest produced 3,000 photographs, counting those directly uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and the ones shared on the Flickr group that requested compatible licenses. These pictures will serve to better illustrate articles on Wikipedia, but mainly the articles on Wikivoyage, the free travel guide that anyone can edit, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation that was launched in early 2013.

Two winners will be determined by popular vote by way of most “likes” received on Facebook. The voting will take place between May 26 and June 22 via the albums Wikimedia Chile made ​​available to the public through Facebook. You can find the links below:

Contestant’s photographs are housed on Wikimedia Commons, another project of the Wikimedia Foundation, which are available for you to see and use, provided that you respect the license with which the photos were released with by their authors.


Wiki Loves Earth Goes International

Wikimedia Ukraine is organizing an international photo contest with a natural heritage theme, Wiki Loves Earth 2014. This is the second year of the competition. Last year, Ukraine was the only participant, but now the contest encompasses 14 countries!

The contest is being held from May 1 to May 31, 2014 in the large majority of participating countries, although some (Germany, Ghana, the Netherlands) are going to conduct it in May and June. Serbia will join us in June.

Elephants in Mole National Park, Ghana. Author: Dieu-Donné Gameli

Currently the contest is in its middle stages, so we’re able to draw our first observations.

Wiki Loves Earth is not only a great opportunity to show the charms of nature, but also a chance to draw public attention to environmental problems and Wikipedian activities. The focus is not only on sites of national importance, but also on the areas protected on the regional level and on the widest variety of natural sites possible: forests, parks, gardens, rocks, caves and whatever is protected within the participating countries. This means that most users will be able to find several natural heritage sites close to them.

More than 20 countries were ready to organize Wiki Loves Earth. There is: Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Iraq, FYR Macedonia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Mud volcanoe in Azerbaijan. Gobustan Rayon, Azerbaijan. Author: Interfase

However, only 13 of them were ready to start on May 1st. The reasons varied, from lack of time to governmental bureaucracy (in some countries it was too hard to gain the lists of natural heritage sites from public authorities).

Nevertheless, Wiki Loves Earth is successfully reaching 13 countries: Andorra&Spain, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Estonia, Germany, Ghana, Macedonia, Nepal, the Netherlands and Ukraine. A few days ago India joined the international contest.


“No interviews. Except for Wikipedia!” – Documenting the Eurovision Song Contest on Wikimedia Commons

One of my photos of Conchita Wurst. A few days ago this photo was selected as a “Quality image

I like to illustrate Wikipedia articles, and I like to take unique photos. When Swedish singer Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan, it meant the Eurovision was coming to Sweden, my own country, and that meant I had the chance to take unique photos. I uploaded about 870 media files to Wikimedia Commons from the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. My plan was to show the Wikipedia community what was possible, and that the following year (this year) people from the new host country would continue the project that I started. Emmelie de Forest from Denmark won in 2013, and the competition moved across the Øresund and is held in Copenhagen this year. So I thought I could continue the project myself.

As I’m writing this, there are Wikipedia articles about the Eurovision Song Contest in 95 languages, and about the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in 52 languages. Tonight, on 10 May 2014, over 180 million people will be watching the show broadcast live from Copenhagen. People write about it on Wikipedia, and many more read about it. After the winners from a semifinal are announced, the Wikipedia articles are updated in seconds. But there have been almost no photos from any of the competitions.

The sign I brought to Copenhagen, and showed to all the artists.

Compared to last year, I am better prepared this time. I printed a sign with the lines I wanted the artists to say, and I even got it laminated. Also, I arrived in Copenhagen two weeks before the grand final, instead of one week. Last year I didn’t even know that there were a lot of photo opportunities in the first week. I attended the press conferences after the semifinals, and got photos of the twenty artists that qualified from each of the two semifinals, and after that I tried to get video presentations with as many of them as possible. I managed to get twelve of them, and there were a total of 39.

The first days of the first week consists of “Meet & Greets” with all the artists. This year I knew that, and on Monday (April 28) I took photos of the artists in the press conference room, and then I waited in line outside the interview rooms. There are so many reporters who want to do interviews. “Only 5 minutes”. “Only 10 minutes”. When it was finally my turn, I showed the artists my laminated sign, made them present themselves and their song in English, and then in their mother tongue (and in some cases one or two other languages), and then I was done. I got out of the interview room after about 30 seconds, and the other reporters always looked so surprised that I was done so quickly.

After I was done, I rushed back to the press conference room to take photos of the next artist, and then back to the interview rooms. Between some of the meet & greets there were breaks, and after the breaks the host of the next meet & greet would say “I hope you all had a great lunch”. But I never had time for lunch. I had just been standing in line outside the interview rooms.

Me holding the Wikipedia microphone from Wikimedia Sveriges technology pool.

On Tuesday, things got better. I learned that I could wave my microphone (with the Wikipedia logo) and show my laminated sign to the “head of press”-people and explain that I only need 30 seconds. I quickly noticed how differently I was treated. There is one head of press for every competing country, and they all have different rules. But it was obvious that almost all of them knew that when people google the artists, they are very likely to end up on Wikipedia. And the Head of press-people want the Wikipedia articles to be as good as possible. Suddenly they let me cut the line, and the other reporters weren’t that annoyed, since I only needed 30 seconds. Some even said “only the biggest newspapers” or some only allowed interviews with reporters from their own country. “And the guy from Wikipedia.” (That’s me). There were even those who said “No interviews. Except for Wikipedia!”

For example, when I was standing in line to interview the wonderful Conchita Wurst from Austria, her head of press said that this day they only did interviews with the biggest newspapers. One reporter was inside the interview room, and while we were waiting the head of press said with a smile on his face, as a joke “So, who of you comes from the biggest newspaper?”. I raised my Wikipedia microphone and said “Seventh largest website in the world!”. That was actually quite popular, and one of the other reporters said “Good point”.

As I’m writing this, the grand final will be over in approximately 24 hours, so I have no idea who will win or where the Eurovision Song Contest will be held next year. All I know is that there are already photos of the winner on Wikimedia Commons, and also a video presentation. I have taken photos of all the artists in the press center, and also on stage. Right now I have uploaded 835 files from this year’s competition, and I have many more to upload.

This year I have also managed to get a video presentation of all of the 37 songs! I actually recorded the last one today. For two weeks I have chased the artists like Pokémons (although I have never played Pokémon) and I finally caught them all. Yesterday I had all but one. Molly from the United Kingdom never had the time for interviews, and today the head of press said that they weren’t giving any interviews, because Molly had to save her voice. But of course he said she could do a short presentation for Wikipedia!

Molly presenting herself and her song in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.

Albin Olsson, Wikimedian mostly active on Swedish Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons