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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘Individual Engagement Grants’

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:

Digging for Data: How to Research Beyond Wikimetrics

The next virtual meet-up will point out research tools. Join!!

For Learning & Evaluation, Wikimetrics is a powerful tool for pulling data for wiki project user cohorts, such as edit counts, pages created and bytes added or removed. However, you may still have a variety of other questions, for instance:

How many members of WikiProject Medicine have edited a medicine-related article in the past three months?
How many new editors have played The Wikipedia Adventure?
What are the most-viewed and most-edited articles about Women Scientists?

Questions like these and many others regarding the content of Wikimedia projects and the activities of editors and readers can be answered using tools developed by Wikimedians all over the world. These gadgets, based on publicly available data, rely on databases and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). They are maintained by volunteers and staff within our movement.

On July 16, Jonathan Morgan, research strategist for the Learning and Evaluation team and wiki-research veteran, will begin a three-part series to explore some of the different routes to accessing Wikimedia data. Building off several recent workshops including the Wiki Research Hackathon and a series of Community Data Science Workshops developed at the University of Washington, in Beyond Wikimetrics, Jonathan will guide participants on how to expand their wiki-research capabilities by accessing data directly through these tools.

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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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New grantees bring fresh perspectives on research, mobile, and community-building

Individual Engagement Grants to unlock 12 new projects

A new group of Individual Engagement Grantees will be starting to experiment soon, boldly piloting new ideas aimed at improving Wikimedia’s projects and online communities.

This round, the Wikimedia Foundation is supporting 12 projects led by 16 grantees with countless volunteer participants from around the world. For the first time, Individual Engagement Grants are funding mobile app development, Wikipedia research, and projects aimed at improving Wikivoyage and Wiktionary. And we’re excited to learn something new from each new initiative.

Our grantees are excited to begin these new projects too!  As grantee Paul Weiss put it, “Having the support of the community makes me even more motivated to do the research. And feeling accountable for delivering useful results back to the community is a positive thing for me. I expected to be happy if the proposal got funded, but, frankly, I am kind of surprised at how much the news is affecting me!”

For the rest of this year, grantees will be building new tools and strategies for engaging contributors in Wikisource, Wiktionary and Wikivoyage, and surfacing more reference materials for English and Telugu Wikipedians. They’re creating mobile apps aimed at engaging new readers and long-time editors of Wikipedia, and researching Wikipedia’s gender gap and category systems. They’ll aim to grow communities around senior centers and multilingual medical content, and pioneer new ways to encourage Wikipedians to mentor the next generation of editors. And they’ll be sharing their findings on meta-wiki over the coming months, so that we can all follow along.

User:I JethroBT, grantee for Reimagining Mentorship

Introducing Wikimedia’s round 1 2014 Individual Engagement Grantees:

  • Making Telugu Content Accessible, led by Santhosh, funded at 104,000 Rupees.  Santhosh will be creating an online catalog for the Digital Library of India’s collection of Telugu books and making it available to editors of Telugu Wikipedia in search of new sources.
  • Medicine Translation Community Organizing, led by CFCF, funded at $10,000. The project aims to improve volunteer systems and build sustainable community processes for integrating translated medical content into Wikipedia’s various language versions.
  • Open Access Reader, led by Edward Saperia, funded at $6550. This project will experiment with easier workflows for Wikipedia editors to access relevant open access research for use in articles.
  • Optimizing Wikimedia Category Systems, led by Paul J. Weiss, funded at $9750. The researcher will use quantitative analysis and user studies to investigate English Wikipedia’s category systems, providing the community with data to shape future improvements.
  • Promoting Wikivoyage, led by Tammy Bennert, funded at $600. Tammy’s project is our first foray into funding Wikivoyage; she’ll be experimenting with effective and sustainable strategies for engaging tourism bureaus to contribute to English Wikivoyage.

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Are you the next Wikipedia Visiting Scholar?

Wikipedia Visiting Scholars gain full university library access.

Many Wikipedia editors are limited by the sources they have access to. The Wikipedia Visiting Scholars (WVS) program is a novel approach that aims to connect Wikipedia editors with reference resources at top research universities. The WVS program adapts an existing model at academic institutions, that of the “visiting scholar” or “affiliate researcher,” to offer an individual full university staff credentials so they can extend the reach of their research.

The WVS program is coordinated through the Wikimedia Foundation’s Individual Engagement Grant-funded project The Wikipedia Library, and offers university staff status to an active editor so they can remotely access all of a university library’s online holdings for free to help write more and better Wikipedia articles. These positions are unpaid and do not require relocation or even physical proximity to the institution.

GMU Takes on the First Wikipedia Visiting Scholar

The Wikipedia Library partnered with leading library cooperative OCLC and took full advantage of the phenomenal outreach abilities of OCLC library researcher Merrilee Proffitt. Through a series of presentations, webinars and emails, we reached out to 150 institutions about the WVS program.

GMU WVS editor Wehwalt plans to focus on history topics such as William Jennings Bryant.

In the fall of 2013, the first WVS position was proposed by THATCamp leader Amanda French at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. French describes the original idea:

One of the main things that attracted me to the Visiting Scholar model is that I immediately saw how it would fit into existing university structures and practices. It’s a very common thing indeed for a researcher to go spend some time at another university or research center in order to use their resources and contribute to their intellectual mission, so I understood at once how it would work.

After collecting applications in late 2013, GMU selected a Wikipedian to become their new Wikipedia Affiliate. Their choice was veteran featured article writer Wehwalt, a prolific contributor who lacked home access to the academic and journal databases available through GMU Libraries. French describes:

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VisualEditor gadgets

This post was written by two recipients of Individual Engagement Grants. These grants are awarded by the Wikimedia Foundation and aim to support Wikimedians in completing projects that benefit the Wikimedia movement. The grantees of this project work independently from the Foundation in the creation of their project.

Directionality tool. An example for useful site specific additional button to VE, which adds RTL mark

Many gadgets and scripts have been created by volunteers across Wikimedia projects. Many of them are intended for an improved editing experience. For the past few months there has been a new VisualEditor interface for editing articles. The interface is still in “beta,” so Wikipedians have not yet adapted it in a large scale. We believe there are many missing features, that if incorporated, can expand the VisualEditor user base. The known non-supported features are core features and extension features (such as timelines), but there are many unknown non-supported features – gadgets. Gadgets can extend and customize the visual editor and introduce new functionalities: to let more advanced users use more features (such as timeline), to introduce work-flows that are project specific (such as deletion proposals), or to easily insert popular templates such as those for citing sources. Since there is no central repository for gadgets, there is no easy way to tell what gadgets exist across all wikis.

Our project aims to organize this mess: improve gadgets sharing among communities and help push gadgets improvements for edit interface to VisualEditor. As part of this project we already:

  • Mapped all the gadgets (in any language) and created a list of all the gadgets in various projects, with popularity rating across projects.
  • Based on this list we selected key gadgets, and rewrote them to support the new VisualEditor:
    • Spell checker (Rechtschreibpruefung) – Spell checking for common errors. Spelling mistakes are highlighted in red while writing!
    • Reftoolbar – helps editors add citation templates to articles.
    • Directionality tool – Adds button to add RTL mark useful in RTL languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.
    • Common summaries – Added two new drop-down boxes below the edit summary box in save dialog with some useful default summaries.
  • Based on our experience with writing VE gadgets, we created a guide for VE gadgets writers, which should help them extend the VisualEditor with custom features. We hope it helps develop support for Visual Editor by making it more integrated with existing tools.

 

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Call for Individual Engagement Grant proposals: community experiments wanted

IEG barnstar

Do you have an idea for a project that could improve Wikipedia or another Wikimedia community?

The Wikimedia Foundation and the Individual Engagement Grants Committee are seeking proposals for community-led experiments to have online impact in the Wikimedia movement. Individual Engagement Grants support individuals and small teams of Wikimedians to lead projects for 6 months. You can get funding to turn your idea into action with a grant for online community organizing, outreach and partnerships, tool-building, or research. Proposals are due by 31 March 2014.

Past grantees have been testing new ways to encourage women to edit Wikipedia, improve workflows for Wikimedia’s cartographers, raise awareness of Wikipedia in China and Africa, coordinate a global Wikisource strategy, increase free access to reliable sources for Wikipedians, and more. Proposals for up to $30,000 are considered; most grantees are awarded between $300 and $15,000 to support a wide range of activities and expenses, including project management, consultants, materials, and travel.

Grantees say that participating in the program has helped them build confidence and expertise in experimental setup and execution of community projects. As a grantee from the first round put it, “IEG gave me the opportunity to work in a more professional way on projects I really like, and in the end it gave me more expertise and experience and hope that issues can be solved. It offered solutions, and it taught me that solutions can be built, if you work on them.”

What’s new for 2014

The Individual Engagement Grants program is now available in more languages thanks to the efforts of volunteer translators! To celebrate this broader global reach, and in honor of WikiWomen’s history month, we hope you’ll share even more ideas for projects aimed at increasing diversity in the movement.

Ideas for all new projects are always welcome in the IdeaLab, and throughout the month of March, we’ll be hosting proposal clinic Hangouts to help you turn your idea into a grant proposal in real time. Please stop by to say hello, ask a question, or share some advice during these IdeaLab Hangout hours. We look forward to seeing your proposal by March 31st.

Siko Bouterse, Head of Individual Engagement Grants

Individual Engagement Grants demonstrate their potential for impact

This post is available in 3 languages: English  • Zh-hant 正體中文 Zh-hans 简体中文

Round 1 IEG projects

English

A year ago, Wikipedia didn’t have a social media presence in China. With the support of a $350 Individual Engagement Grant, today 10,000 Chinese readers follow the Wikipedia account on Weibo, China’s most active social networking site. Chinese Wikipedians are able to use the channel to share Wikipedia’s knowledge and organize events in China like Wiki Loves Monuments. A year ago, there were no guarantees that a few one-off donated accounts to paywall journals could be grown into a digital hub providing free access to reliable sources for Wikipedians and pioneering new models of collaboration between Wikipedia and libraries. With the support of a $7500 Individual Engagement Grant, today 1500 Wikipedia editors have access to 3700 free accounts and The Wikipedia Library is laying plans to go global. Grantees like Addis Wang and Jake Orlowitz were clear about their goals, eager to engage with the community to understand their needs and priorities and willing to take risks and experiment in search of pragmatic and scalable solutions. They incorporated experts and mentors into their process to build platforms that are larger than any one individual.

The Individual Engagement Grants program was launched a year ago with the idea of supporting individual Wikimedians like Addis and Jake to lead projects focused on experiments driving online improvements. This program, too, began as experiment with some risks and no guarantees. And so as the first round of grants come to a close, with the help of an assessment by WMF’s Grantmaking Learning & Evaluation team, we’re taking a look at the impact of these projects and what we’ve learned so far.

Early indicators of impact

The first round of IEG funding distributed about US $60,000 to support eight experimental projects led by community members in six different countries. Half were focused on online community organizing, the rest either built tools or conducted offline outreach. More time is needed to determine the full impact of these grants on their target wikis or as scaled programs across wikis, but early indicators suggest that these grants can have a direct impact on the strategic goals of the Wikimedia movement.

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New Individual Engagement Grantees to engage community with tools and outreach

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

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

Mbazzi Village writes Wikipedia: Paul Kiguba and Mbazzi villagers

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

The selected projects for 2013 round 2 are:

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

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

English

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 zh.wikipedia.org 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.

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