Wikimedia Foundation to Launch Arabic Catalyst
As many of you know, the Wikimedia movement strategy that was finalized in February 2011 re-emphasized the importance of Arabic Wikipedia to the achievement of the Wikimedia vision. The Wikimedia Foundation team has started in the past month to work on plans to support the growth of Arabic Wikipedia in the coming months and years. We want to learn about the region and the Arabic Wikipedia community and we would like to start some initiatives in the region to create new enthusiasm for Wikipedia and close the gap between Arabic Wikipedia and larger projects, such as English Wikipedia. There are close to 400 million people who speak Arabic and we want them included in our vision.
Our plans came in line with a common interest of Qatar Foundation’s computing research institute – QCRI team which was researching possible ways of supporting Arabic Wikipedia. They feel that the Arabic language community needs to have a great Wikipedia and they want to help us to build on your work in the community to attract new editors and try new approaches. We asked them to host a small working session with us, a group of leading contributors to Arabic Wikipedia and some outside advisors as a way for us to start making plans for the near future. We will be holding this working session in Doha on 20 and 21 October. While we will only have a few people there in person, we would like to hear your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges and have set up a space on Arabic Wikipedia; for discussion before, during and after the session. We will also capture notes to share the results of the discussion. We are excited to create the first of hopefully many opportunities for Arabic Wikipedians to get together in person.
Beyond the working session, the Wikimedia Foundation is in discussions with the Qatar Foundation the joint collaboration of a pilot and then a broader launch of our Global Education Program in the region. This initiative which has been launched in the United States and India presents a real opportunity to bring new forms of contributions to Arabic Wikipedia. We plan to support outreach activities you might want to plan locally as well as regional initiatives. We are taking another look at translation work reflecting on the experiences with Google’s translation work and experiences in other parts of the world. Finally, we want to hear from the community and like-minded groups about new and innovative ways to support the growth of the Arabic Wikipedia community.
This is bound to be a long journey together and we look forward to getting to know the Arabic Wikipedia community, to learning from you and to partnering with you to achieve our shared vision. We will have an IRC hour on Thursday, October 13 2011 at 20:00 UTC in #wikipedia-ar, to listen to the community suggestions and respond to any inquiries around the initiative. The conversation will be in English and Moushira will assist with translation if required.
Barry & Moushira