Wikimedia Chapters conduct outreach activities across the world to attract readers, photographers, free knowledge advocates and many others to participate on Wikipedia and its sister projects. Sometimes they find that simply explaining how Wikipedia works is an important first step to recruiting new collaborators.
In 2011, several members of the Wikimedia Argentina board were discussing new strategies to explain their work when they hit upon an important idea. Inspired in part by instructional and outreach videos produced by Wikimedia Italia, Wikimedia Germany, and the Wikimedia Foundation, they decided to produce a video that explained the central tenets of Wikipedia and the community that supports it.
“In outreach activities, we find that most people think they know what Wikipedia is about, when they really don’t,” said Patricio Lorente, President of Wikimedia Argentina. Lorente said they hoped the video would correct general misconceptions about Wikipedia and would be useful for screening at outreach events, during workshops and potentially for air on Radio y Televisión Argentina (RTA), a public broadcasting network.
Patricio Molina, who was in charge of the project, wanted to create the video with a clean background to prevent anything from distracting the viewer. Molina also suggested that the video include floating words and images around the presenter to reinforce certain concepts that chapter members deemed most important to convey. Through Molina’s contacts, Wikimedia Argentina was able to a find and hire a production team that could handle these requirements.
The production team recommended singer and actress Mariana Esnoz, who was found through a public casting, to star in the video. The chapter members, along with collaboratively writing the script, chose to have an actress instead of an actor handle the dialogue. It was important “to deconstruct the idea that Wikipedia projects —or anything Internet-based— has to do with computer ‘geeks’, but also because it was useful and in line with [Wikimedia’s] gender policy,” said Galileo Vidoni, Vice President of Wikimedia Argentina.
The production took five months, with three different “final versions” of the video under consideration just days before project completion. The three final versions had different instances of the Jorge Luis Borges article animation at the end of the video, “the hardest part of the editing process,” according to Molina. In the animation, viewers can see the development of the Borges article over time as it was edited, with its significant growth and depth depicted graphically.
“We saw that kind of animation in a video about the London Bombings in 2005, so we wanted to make something quite similar in order to show how an article is created,” said Molina. “It was really hard: we exported, vectorized and modified each HTML, handling them with Adobe After Effects.”
The finished product is excellent and hopefully proves very helpful in recruiting new editors to Wikipedia, and new chapter members to Wikimedia Argentina.
Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager