In June, I travelled to India to kick off the Global Education Program‘s pilot in Pune. There, I met people who said: “I am a big fan of Wikipedia, but I am not good at writing. I always wondered if there are other ways I could help Wikipedia to improve.”
We invited those people to become Wikipedia Ambassadors to teach others how to start editing. The beauty of the Wikipedia Ambassador Program is that it provides Wikipedia volunteer opportunities that don’t involve editing. People who aren’t article writers might be good at teaching others. They might have skills that we desperately need to get more people excited about Wikipedia and to fill the many gaps in content that still exist. Just look at the enthusiasm of the new Pune Campus Ambassadors that comes through in these video interviews.
Ram Shankar Yadav is a great example. Ram had never edited Wikipedia before. He was always a fan of the free encyclopedia, but he wasn’t drawn to editing the content. When he heard about the opportunity to become a Campus Ambassador, he jumped at the chance to volunteer his teaching skills in support of the encyclopedia he loved. Now, Ram has stepped into a leadership role in the India Education Program, serving as a key on-the-ground organizer of the Pune Ambassadors.
It was openness that made Wikipedia a success story. With a simple click on the edit button, you could change its content. That’s what distinguished Wikipedia from Nupedia back in 2001 and that’s how it became the biggest encyclopedia ever. Openness is critical for our future, too.
To stay successful, I firmly believe Wikipedia needs to be open and welcoming to newcomers who want to edit, but also to people who fill in other roles in our movement. People who are not part of the editing community, but who are eager to help Wikipedia in other ways – people like Ram.
Global Education Program Director