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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


Wiki Tuesday at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

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


Around thirty participants at the Wikipedia workshop AcfasBAnQ.

Physics student from WikiPhys group of Université de Montréal at the Wikipedia workshop.

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and Wikimedia Canada are collaborating to offer users of the Grande Bibliothèque in Montreal workshops in Wikipedia’s French version. Starting in February, the first Tuesday of each month will bring experienced Wikipedians together to offer workshops for those who want to learn more about Wikipedia and how to contribute to the online encyclopedia. See the project page Wikipedia:BAnQ (French).

Each workshop will have a specific theme around which the public will be invited to participate in. BAnQ, which has a large collection of books and documents, ancient and modern, as well as rich archives around these themes, will provide participants the documentation needed to write well documented Wikipedia articles. Participants will find experienced contributors readily available to assist in all matters, as well as librarians and archivists who specialize in the topics covered.

The goal of these workshops is to improve Wikipedia’s French content, increase the number of Quebec contributors to profit documentaries and professional resources BAnQ and better represent Quebec, New France, French Canada or more broadly, French America.

The first meeting will focus on the following topics:

  • Towns and villages of Quebec (February 4, 2014)
Wikipedia editors often start with their hometown. Many towns and villages of Quebec  already have articles on Wikipedia, but many of them are  short, for example “Saint-Pie-de-Guire”. Contrary to the article’s length, Saint-Pie-de-Guire is full of history. There are many figures who have emerged from here. There is much more information that could be added. 
  • People of New France (March 4, 2014)
To enhance the quality and quantity of information available on Wikipedia on the French regime (1543-1763), the theme “Personality of New France” deserves more attention from editors. Other topics related to that time may also be added to Wikipedia. 

Wikimedia Ukraine opposes new copyright and telecommunication law’s amendments in Ukraine

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

This is a guest blog post by Wikimedia Ukraine, which is an independent organization from the WIkimedia Foundation. The views expressed are those of Wikimedia Ukraine. We are presenting this commentary in the interest of informing the Wikimedia community.

A new bill is a dangerous for Internet in Ukraine


We at Wikimedia Ukraine are deeply worried by the amendments of a number of laws recently proposed by the State Office of Intellectual Property of Ukraine. We think that the proposed bill contains a number of dangerous flaws that may significantly hinder natural functioning of Internet communities that are based on the principle of open participation and free editing of content by visitors.

Indeed, copyright is a very important aspect for users and editors of such Internet projects as Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia, Wikisource, a free collaborative library or Wikimedia Commons, a freely-licensed media files collection. Participants of these projects volunteer their time to create or seek materials that are legally free to use and distribute by anyone thanks to free licenses such as the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. However, the proposed bill may hinder such projects, including Wikipedia which pages are viewed 80 million times each month.

We find it dangerous that the proposed bill makes it obligatory for hosting providers and/or domain name registrators (entitled “service operators” in the bill) to block access to web-sites without a court order under certain conditions. If the service operator receives a complaint which states that a website infringes the complainer’s copyright it should forward the complaint to the website owner. If the website owner doesn’t respond in two days (48 hours), then the service operator is obliged to block the website that is reported in the complaint.

Further, the accuracy of information in the complaint is not verified in the procedure and the service operators are forced to block websites even if the complaint may be a false report.

Additionally, not only direct copyright infringement are supposed to be blocked by the service operators, but also any information about circumventing copyright protection measures or even links to copyright infringement.

Such rules create a possibility of abuse of the procedure when it may be used by certain interested parties or just by error by parties who don’t have a complete understanding of copyright, especially in the domain of free and copyleft licenses.

The bill also doesn’t define the term “website owner” nor does it define procedure for cases when the “website owner” is responsible for hosting a site without an external “service provider”. This is especially concerning in the context of open and volunteer-based Internet communities like Wikipedia which allows any visitor to edit their content. Even administrators of Wikipedia are volunteers elected by the community.


Happy 13th Birthday, Wikipedia!

Happy Birthday, Wikipedia!

Today (January 15th), Wikipedia is celebrating its 13th birthday!

2013 was a big year for Wikipedia. It was just in October 2011 that we were passing the 20 million article mark, now we’re well past 30 million active pages! And with 532 million users a month, the unique visitor count for Wikimedia projects is at an all-time high. Having just finished an amazing fundraising campaign – which brought us face-to-face with countless stories from supporters about the impact of Wikipedia – the Wikimedia Foundation and the entire community look forward to another year of working towards our vision of enabling every single human being to freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

Today we also celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of Wikivoyage. By now, the free, worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit is available in 16 languages.

Despite the many obstacles faced, the future and success of Wikipedia as a global encyclopedia still remains an exciting and encouraging vision that continues to grow. Here’s to another year which will hopefully see an even stronger and more vibrant Wikipedia for all! Happy birthday, Wikipedia!

Carlos Monterrey, Communications Associate for the Wikimedia Foundation 

“Just Edit” (A Wikimedian at Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong, presenting his response to the question “How can we make Wikipedia better?”)

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.


All eyes on Rob Ford

Rob Ford‘s 2013 began to go haywire in late March, when reports surfaced of the Toronto mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. That revelation kicked off months and months of incredible and often complicated plot twists in Ford’s year, which included tales of drugs, drunken stupors, gangs, kidnapping and murder.

To research the ins and outs of this, you would have to read through 194 (and counting) articles, police reports, radio transcripts and other documents pertaining to the mayor. Or you could read the “Timeline of Rob Ford video scandal” on the mayor’s Wikipedia entry.

Rob Ford at the Mayor’s 2011 Levee at City Hall. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“It’s like a Dickens novel,” says The Four Deuces, one of the primary editors of the timeline. “It’s a complex story involving a large number of characters, high and low, centered around a mystery.”

It’s easy to read, but to create what Wikipedians call a Biography of Living Persons is much more difficult. The Four Deuces started the breakout Timeline section on June 12, a day before police stormed the west-end apartment buildings in a pre-dawn drug raid and recovered a video of the mayor smoking crack.

Before that, there were many editors contributing articles about Rob Ford, but none had taken that step.

Among those who’ve edited Ford’s page since its creation in 2005, writing about his controversies has been delicate territory. In Toronto, the unspoken consensus was not to create a separate page for Ford’s extracurricular activities unless they became too substantial to fit on the page. One benchmark was whether the Ford misdeeds could rival that of Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor incarcerated on corruption charges.

“The talk pages behind the Rob Ford article detail the extended discussions we had about that,” says Alex Lainey, or Alaney2k on Wikipedia. “It was a good idea to put the crack video scandal in its own timeline article. I supported that and kept that article going during the time period after Ford’s denials and the Toronto Police revealing the video did exist.”


New draft feature provides a gentler start for Wikipedia articles

For most of Wikipedia’s history, we encouraged editors to create new encyclopedia articles by publishing immediately. Just find a page that doesn’t exist, type in content, and after you hit save, it’s shared with the world. This helped Wikipedia grow to the millions of articles it has now, but the project has matured in many ways, and we need additional tools for creating great new encyclopedia articles.

Starting on the English-language Wikipedia, all users (registered or anonymous) now have the option to start drafts before publishing. A draft simply has “Draft:” before the title of the page you’re creating, like this example. Drafts are not visible to readers using Wikipedia’s default search nor in external search engines such as Google, though you may find them using the advanced search options.

Why we need drafts on Wikipedia

Wikipedia’s goal is to be the most comprehensive and reliable reference work in your language, so you might ask why we would encourage people to not publish their articles immediately so readers can enjoy them.

In small Wikipedias like Swahili or Estonian, you’d be right — we’ll probably encourage all authors to skip writing drafts. However, in larger Wikipedias where quality standards are very high, thousands of new articles are deleted (sometimes within just minutes) because they don’t meet essential requirements for what makes a good Wikipedia article.

Our most recent data indicates about 80% of the articles started by brand new users are deleted, when examining Wikipedias in English, Spanish, French, and Russian. By creating a draft, authors will have more time and space to gradually work on a new topic, and can get constructive feedback from other editors. In fact, even advanced Wikipedia editors sometimes use sub-pages of their user profile (sometimes called “sandboxes”) as an unofficial draft space.

We should note that we don’t want drafts to prevent editors from following their curent process for article creation. Wikipedia articles are all works in progress, even after publication, and this fact won’t change any time soon. We’re simply adding another option for people that want the time and space that drafts affords.

What’s next

This is a very early version of drafts on Wikipedia, and frankly it’s missing a great deal of functionality. In the future, we’ll be adding features to drafts that will make them more useful. We’re exploring different design concepts to make it easy to request and provide help during the draft process, better support the publication of drafts as articles (and moving them back to draft state if they need more work), and encourage collaboration between editors.

design comp

Design concepts for Search and editing of Drafts

If you’d like to help us in this effort, please sign up for a usability testing session. In these sessions, we’ll show you prototypes of new features and get your feedback. No prior experience with Wikipedia editing is required!

Pau Giner, User Experience Designer
Steven Walling, Product Manager

Using social media to engage Wikipedia readers and editors in China

This post is available in 3 languages: English  • 简体中文 正體中文


Addis Wang’s postcard project

Wikipedia editor Addis Wang has developed an approach to spreading awareness of Wikipedia in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He and several collaborators use an account on Weibo–a Twitter-like social media platform that is the 7th highest trafficked website in China–to promote both Wikipedia’s content and its global community to Chinese readers.

This is no small challenge. For the 20 percent of the world’s population that live in the People’s Republic of China, Wikipedia is a distant runner-up to Baidu-Baike, a for-profit Chinese encyclopedia that hosts 6.7 million articles. Like Wikipedia, Baidu is collaboratively written. But its policies on content licensing, censorship and review are not as open as Wikipedia’s (Wikipedians have also noted that several of its articles are copied from English Wikipedia without attribution).

Baidu’s dominance may be due in part to Wikipedia’s limited availability in the PRC in past years. The domain could not be visited normally in Mainland China from 2005-2008. Today Wikipedia is approximately the 150th-most trafficked domain in China (according to comScore, Wikimedia projects are the 5th most-visited globally; according to Alexa, Baidu is the most-visited site in China). Many Chinese citizens aren’t even aware that Wikipedia exists in their language, which obviously makes contribution more difficult.

Addis’ idea, which is funded by a Wikimedia Foundation Individual Engagement Grant, aims to tackle these problems using social media to reach China’s huge online audience. Weibo is an ideal platform for giving people a taste of what Wikipedia has to offer. “In Chinese you can fit a lot more information into 140 characters than you can in English,” says Wang. And like Twitter, Weibo allows users to upload images. In April 2013, Wang and his colleagues began posting abstracts for a different Wikipedia article every day through their dedicated Weibo account.


In Wikipedia, a roadmap to life

At the age of 25, Chelsea Rapp has a Bachelors of Science degree in molecular genetics and a Bachelor of Arts in German language and literature. Currently she’s pursuing her Ph.D in retroviral genetics at the University of Maryland Baltimore. By most accounts, she is an accomplished individual, but for a short while things didn’t seem so clear.

Chelsea Rapp

Like many teenagers, high school for Chelsea was a series of highs and lows that produced more questions than answers. After graduating, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in life. The frustration brought more stress onto her already unstable relationship with her father. Unsupportive, and to a large extent downright discouraging of Chelsea’s college hopes, her father was a source of resentment.

Lacking guidance during this time of indecision, she had a lot of questions, but no insight into how she could answer them.  In high school, she had excelled in biology but she hadn’t really considered making it an avocation. What careers existed within biology? What are the different areas of emphasis? Most importantly, how does one go about achieving any of it?

She logged onto Wikipedia and typed in “genetics.” And then she finally understood what she wanted to do. “It was from there that I found out how one even goes about getting into a field like this. It’s where I found out that you can go to graduate school and get your Ph.D. largely funded through government agencies like the NIH,” she says.

Once insecure and discouraged, Chelsea found clarity within the articles on Wikipedia. “Negative energy has a huge impact on you and can really dishearten you from doing things that you’re so capable of,” she says. “All it really takes, I think, is a little bit of inspiration to show you that perhaps you are more than what people say you are.”

Subsequently, she went on to enroll at Ohio State University as a Molecular Genetics major. Upon a professor’s recommendation, she decided to study abroad in Germany. Although she originally planned for a six week trip, she later changed it to a year. Her travels also took her to Sub Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. She came face-to-face with the realities of the HIV epidemic in Africa, something she had previously only had a detached understanding of. She explains, “When you see it and you’re there, and you know that have the capacity to do something about this, you just say to yourself, ‘Why wouldn’t you?’”


Gamestorming: Making of The Wikipedia Adventure

Could learning to edit Wikipedia be engaging and fun? I set out to answer that question this spring with the support of an Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. I wanted to figure out a way to turn frustration and confusion into confidence and enjoyment by drawing from game design and onboarding methods to create a game that will train new editors in an easy and immersive way.

The notion of turning Wikipedia into a game may sound like an inappropriate idea to many, so I was sure to draw a clear line between the Wikipedia Adventure game–which exists in its own world–actually in the user’s own user-space, and the rest of Wikipedia articles.

Inspiration and research

An early mockup

The idea originated in 2011 when new editors kept asking me the same questions and over again, convincing me that there had to be a better way to get new editors through the gauntlet of common problems during the initial months. I wrote a 12-level script during a long summer, then set out to find a coder to develop it. (Derek Coetzee took a good crack at it). When the Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Experiments team released Guided Tours in 2012, I suddenly had an engine for the script to take off.