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News and information from the Wikimedia Foundation’s Programs department

Wikimedians in Residence: a journey of discovery

GLAM-WIKI 2013 attendees

A bit of background

In April of 2014 I found myself digging deep into analytics in search of possible improvements and insight into what we do as a chapter. What brought me there? One of our most renowned programs, Wikimedians in Residence. A Wikimedian in Residence (WIR) is a person who, as a Wikimedia contributor, accepts a placement within an institution to facilitate open knowledge in a close working relationship between the Wikimedia movement and the institution. They work to facilitate content improvements on Wikimedia projects, but more importantly serve as ambassadors for open knowledge within the host organization.

Wikimedia UK has been involved with WiR in the UK with varying degrees of support and supervision. Since the creation of the chapter, we always felt that the program was worth running, seeing it as one of the key ways we can engage with external organizations. However, I never knew for sure, if that was just a feeling. Toward the end of 2013 we decided to explore these notions.

Why and how to evaluate

As I focused on my questions about program impact, I embarked on a review process of the program, which eventually included: a questionnaire for all the key parties, online surveys, meetings, group discussions, the analysis of existing materials (e.g. residents’ reports) and creation of a review document.

In January of this year I planned to survey the Residents and host institutions about their views on the program. Since I wasn’t sure what to ask, I reached out to the Program Evaluation and Design team for help.

Their stringent approach was worth it. We boiled down the issues around what I actually wanted to find out from the survey. Doing that before creating the questions was a revelation to me. The questionnaire went much deeper than I had originally anticipated. This meant that when we worked on creating the survey questions, every point was there for a specific reason and in a sensible order. With their help, I developed three surveys: for residents, residency hosts  and another for community member input.

I was impressed with the amount of feedback that was shared. The Residents were clearly committed to the project and keen on telling me what could make the program more successful. At the same time I ran interviews with the host institutions. By that stage I was deeply entrenched in the review process. Discovering more about the program increased my appetite for a deeper analysis. This culminated in an April brainstorming meeting aimed at completing an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) of our Wikipedian in Residence program.

With the data collection completed, I then examined all the reports and case studies produced by the residents and summarized them in terms of the impact made to Wikimedia projects. (Click here to read Overview of the residencies.)

Wikipedia for Schools Project

Teachers and students in Nyeri, Kenya listening to a tutorial under the Wikipedia for Schools Project.

In 2005, SOS Children, the world’s largest charity for orphan and abandoned children[1] [2] launched the “A World of Learning” project, which handpicks Wikipedia articles and categorizes them by subject for schoolchildren around the world to use. The project focuses on content that is suitable for students between the ages of 8-17 based on the UK education curriculum. In November 2006, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) endorsed the project, which resulted in its relaunch as “Wikipedia for Schools” and its new web address ( Ever since then, the project continues to enjoy the support of The Wikimedia Foundation. The website went through subsequent revisions in 2008-09 as well as in 2013. The 2013 edition has 6,000 articles, 26 million words and 50,000 images – making it a fairly large project that caters to the needs of school children across the globe. The online Website also contains “download the website” link which enables users to download the material for use without internet connection. [1]

Hole in the Wall Education Ltd (HiWEL) supported the Wikipedia for Schools project in an effort to expand its reach in Learning Stations in India and African countries.[2] The program has received recognition from around the world for its far reaching impact. According to Subir from Nepal’s online learning project E-Pustakalaya, “Wikipedia for Schools has been really useful in public schools in Nepal. The students of remote corners of Nepal, where there is no internet access, now know about the diverse culture, religion, art, science and lifestyles of the countries around the world. All credit goes to the team that built this wonderful repository of information for schools.” [1] Similarly, Patrick of Treverton Schools, South Africa, welcomed the effort as “fantastic resource for schools with little or no bandwidth, of which there are many here in South Africa.”


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

In Egypt, Ain Shams’ Al-Alsun celebrates four terms of successful work on Wikipedia

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  • Arabic


Students, ambassadors and professors celebrate as they wrap up the fourth term on Wikipedia.

Two years ago the Wikipedia Education program had its first inception in the Arab world with Egypt’s Cairo Pilot. With such a large number of Arabic speakers (530 million primary and secondary speakers) Arabic Wikipedia needed more support to follow its sister versions of the encyclopedia that have more contributors with fewer native speakers. The Arabic Wikipedia today has about 280,000 articles while the Dutch Wikipedia, for instance, has 1.7 million articles with only 27 million native speakers. Every day thousands of Arabic users visit Wikipedia and many of them edit articles. Unfortunately, most of the new pages and edits created by new users are vandalism and not valid entries. Arabic Wikipedia needed a trusted source to recruit new volunteer editors. This was one of the reasons for launching the education program. The faculty of languages (Al-Alsun) at Ain Shams University joined the program as one of the first three participating institutions. During the first term, Egyptian students contributed 1.1 million bytes of information to the Arabic Wikipedia and created more than a hundred articles, three of them were featured articles. Now, Al-Alsun is still having incredible results, adding 7 million bytes in the fall 2013 term alone!

Everyone is happy with the the amount of female participation and the role they played in helping bridge the gender gap.

About forty students, ambassadors and professors of the Al-Alsun college gathered to celebrate the achievements they had during their fourth term in the program. Dr. Karma Sami, the vice dean of Al-Alsun, opened the celebration with a word about the importance of supporting such initiatives to enrich free content on the internet. The professors supervising the program, Dr. Dalia El-Toukhy, Dr. Radwa Kotait and Dr. Iman Galal followed Dr. Sami with words encouraging their students to continue editing Wikipedia. I had a short presentation about the term results. Students have created more than 2,400 new articles in six months. The average number of active editors jumped to 36 editors/month. Having open discussions about content quality will help us achieve new goals as we continue to grow. It is encouraging to see more than forty featured articles created by students.

Reem Alkashif.

Every term the program brings new active editors to Wikipedia who gradually become “Wiki-addicted.” “I love the thought that somewhere somebody needed a piece of information badly, and then he/she found it and became happy.” Reem says.
Reem Alkashif is a post-graduate student who first edited Wikipedia when Dr. Radwa Kotait selected her to join her translation course in the Wikipedia Education Program. Reem was one of the students with extraordinary contributions during her first semester in the program, she has created new articles including featured articles about the 1972 book about slavery in the American South, The Slave Community, and an article on the History of Mars Observation. Reem continued editing the Arabic Wikipedia, becoming a campus ambassador in an effort to share what she has learned with her fellow students.

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.


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.

Yale Information Society Project’s Big Data Symposium: Expanding the conversation in an international context

Every time you send an email or a text message or save a file to the cloud, pieces of data related to your activity are created—the type of computer you are using, your IP address, where you are, the types of files that you’re uploading. Big data[1] and the tools that have been developed to aggregate, store and use big data create a number of significant legal, ethical and privacy-related issues.

Law School Courtyard at Yale Law School, New Haven, CT.

In the summer of 2013, it came to light that companies are not the only ones finding a use for consumer data. Documents that former United States (US) National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked to The Guardian revealed that the US government has been using various programs to collect data on US and foreign citizens alike. Yale Law School hosted a Big Data Symposium on April 6, 2014 to address the impact that the US government’s mass surveillance is having on US relations with other countries.[2] The event brought together notable scholars and experts in national security, information privacy, civil liberties and international law who shared their thoughts on the international implications of the US government’s mass surveillance and collection of big data. Roshni Patel attended the symposium on behalf of the WMF legal team to get an update on the latest developments in privacy law.

Like individuals and organizations all over the world, WMF was surprised to learn the extent of US government domestic and foreign surveillance. As an organization with users and contributors all over the world, the debate about international law and how privacy rights are protected internationally is relevant to WMF and its projects. This post describes some of the interesting and pertinent topics that were covered at the symposium.


Beginning to Understand What Works: Measuring the Impact of Wikimedia Programs

Radio Edit-a-thon in Argentina, on April 5, 2014.

Across the globe, Wikimedia organizations and volunteers are engaging in online and offline activities to get more editors to contribute to Wikimedia projects. There are expansive efforts to attract new editors and to mobilize existing editors who can contribute diverse and high-quality content. With so much activity and energy, it is important to take a deep breath and reflect:

  • What are the programs expected to achieve (i.e., what are the program goals)?
  • What does it mean for a program to have “impact”?
  • How much “impact” equals success?
  • How might our programs achieve the most impact?

These are the big questions the Program Evaluation members of the Learning and Evaluation team in the WMF Grantmaking department have begun to explore along with the community. This past month, we completed a beta version of evaluation reports that has begun to put systematic numbers behind a handful of popular programs.

The picture is clear that Wikimedia volunteers do incredible work to create free knowledge and to promote the free knowledge movement. But this picture is incomplete without the data to help tell the story. Putting numbers behind our stories and activities helps the community and the public to better understand what is actually happening on the ground and how our movement programs are making an impact. The evaluation reports measure programs systematically against shared goals to help us see which programs drive impact along various movement goals. From here, we can reflect on what the existing programs are doing and what remains to be done in our strategies to nurture and grow a community of editors and advocates around free knowledge.

A grand total of 119 implementations of 7 programs were analyzed from over 30 countries!

For the first round of reports, data were reviewed from 119 implementations of seven popular Wikimedia programs: Edit-a-thons, Editing workshops, on-wiki writing contests, the Wikipedia Education Program, GLAM content partnerships, Wiki Loves Monuments, and other photo initiatives. Data represented more than 60 program leaders, individual volunteers or organizations, program implementations in over 30 countries. These reports provide a basic sketch and a pilot of high-level analysis of how these programs are influencing the movement. They are also painting a picture of what these programs are in terms of their goals and help to surface the gaps in data and metrics. Here are just a few highlights:

Edit-a-thons seem to be very popular and each edit-a-thon produces an average of 16 pages of text.
Editing workshops typically aim to educate the public about how to edit Wikimedia in order to increase the number of new editors; however, retention is not yet evidenced in the low number of reported workshops.
GLAM partnerships generate a large quantity of media via content release partnerships; most GLAM program leaders believe their partnerships will continue and just under half are secure in believing that new partnerships will develop as a result of their current partnerships.
On-Wiki Writing Contests engage experienced editors, and the average contest creates or improves 131 articles, producing 28 good articles and 10 featured articles.

Wiki Loves Monuments and Other photo contests (like Wiki Loves Earth) produce an average of about 5,600 and 2,000 photos, respectively. While photo use is relatively high, moving photos into the quality rating process seems to be lacking for most of these events.
The Wikipedia Education Program focuses on increasing quantity and quality of content through retaining instructors rather than retaining students. On the average, each student participant in the Wikipedia Education Program produces about a quarter page of content each week.

So, what’s next?

  • Examining additional programs! In FY 2014/2015, the goal is to expand the data related to these seven programs and to examine three additional programs: Hackathons, Conferences, and Wikimedian-in-Residence. Through these reports, the evaluation portal, and other pathways, we will continue conversations with the global community to work toward a shared view of program “impact” throughout the movement.

  • Help us improve the reports! If you are running a Wikimedia program, start tracking it using the Reporting and Tracking toolkit. You will not only learn a lot about your own programs, but in sharing your data with us, we will be able to conduct stronger analysis on popular Wikimedia programs and we can better learn from one another to make better programs.

Have you recently implemented a Wikimedia program? Tell us about your program or publish any tips you may have to share in the Learning Pattern Library!

Questions? Comments? Reach out to us in the comments below or at You can also find us on the Evaluation Portal!

Edward Galvez, Program Evaluation Associate

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


Learning from patterns: a new way to share important lessons

A learning pattern about how to allow multiple users to create accounts from the same IP address at editing events.

A learning pattern about asking for gender identity in surveys.

Problem: As a community, we need a better way to share what we learn when we work on projects that are aimed at spreading free knowledge around the world.

Solution: Capture important lessons in learning patterns – concise, actionable descriptions of common problems and their solutions. Organize these patterns into a library so people can find patterns that are relevant to the projects they are working on. Encouraging more people to create patterns, and to endorse and expand existing ones, turning the library into a living, collaboratively-created resource for our entire movement.

A learning pattern library is being built on Meta-Wiki, which is intended to help Wikimedians share what they learn about organizing activities like Edit-a-Thons, WikiProjects, GLAM collaborations, gender gap outreach, or Wiki Loves Monuments. It was launched as a joint effort of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Grantmaking Learning & Evaluation and Program Evaluation & Design teams.

What is a learning pattern?

A learning pattern is a kind of design pattern: that is, a simple document that describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of a solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.[1]

The simplicity and flexibility of design patterns has lead to their adoption in fields such as architecture, urban planning, computer software development, interaction design, and education. Pattern libraries, or pattern languages, provide a way to gathering key learnings – important tips, tricks, and considerations – and for sharing that information with others.

The problem/solution statement at the top of this blog post is a good example of the core of a design pattern: it lays out the problem to be solved (or the question to be answered), and then summarizes the solution, broken down into steps or basic components.

What makes a good pattern?

Patterns are not right or wrong. A good pattern provides enough information to help someone implement successful strategies, avoid common pitfalls, and do their work better. A great pattern also provides links to related resources, such as similar patterns, project reports, and study results, as well as other relevant tools and resources on Wikimedia projects and external websites. A key feature of effective patterns is that they are written to be actionable: someone reading the pattern should be able to easily understand whether it is relevant to them, and how to apply it to the work they are doing.

Why should I write learning patterns?

Avoid reinventing the wheel

We pursue a wide range of activities to further our movement’s strategic goals – increasing participation and reach, improving quality, stabilizing infrastructure and encouraging innovation within Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Foundation supports many of these activities by providing grants. However, it takes more than money to organize, execute, and evaluate a project effectively. For instance, putting on a successful wiki conference or edit-a-thon involves many different skill sets, logistical considerations, and tasks. You need to advertise your event to the right people, distribute project roles and responsibilities, and structure the event so that participants get the most value. Evaluating the impact of such activities presents additional challenges such as designing effective feedback surveys, measuring the contributions by event participants, and reporting the outcomes of your event clearly and concisely.

The first wiki was a pattern library, and many modern pattern libraries use wikis to make it easy for people to write patterns collaboratively. However patterns have not been used widely within the Wikimedia movement. We are a community of writers, but the diligence with which we document important lessons – strategies we have tried, what we learned from them, and what we would do differently next time – is wasted if those lessons cannot be found and used.

Unfortunately, many of our most valuable resources for learning and evaluation are scattered across wikis, buried in archived reports, incomplete, out of date, or are only available in a single language. As a result, we sometimes find ourselves re-inventing the wheel: missing opportunities, repeating common mistakes, and working harder than we need to because we are not aware of related projects done by others who came before us.

The learning pattern library in the Wikimedia Evaluation portal will be a central repository where key lessons like these are captured in a common format that can be browsed, updated and translated more easily.

How can I get involved?

The library is growing, but we need your help! Create a learning pattern to share your knowledge with others who are performing similar activities, so that they can benefit from your experience. You can also endorse existing learning patterns to let others know that the pattern worked for you, or that you think the advice offered in that pattern is especially useful.

Over the coming weeks, the Learning & Evaluation team will be working with members of the volunteer translator community to make it easy for patterns to be translated into multiple languages. As our library grows, we will be working on tools to help community members find relevant patterns more easily. If you would like to be involved in pattern translation or tool development, contact Jonathan Morgan for information on how to get involved. You can also ask questions about and discuss patterns on the Evaluation portal Q&A board or the portal talk page.

Last week, we held our first online Learning Pattern Hackathon, and created seven new patterns. We will be scheduling more of these hackathons in the coming weeks. If you’re interested in attending, keep an eye on the Evaluation Portal press room for announcements of future hackathons.

Jonathan Morgan, Learning Strategist, Wikimedia Foundation