Individual Engagement Grant Barnstar

Today we’re announcing the first round of Individual Engagement Grantees. The Wikimedia Foundation makes a variety of types of grants, many of which focus on groups and organizations. Individual Engagement Grants exemplify our commitment to increase support to individual contributors to Wikimedia projects, with a particular focus on making online improvements. These grants will support eight Wikimedians working individually and in small teams for 6 months to complete projects that benefit the Wikimedia movement, serve our mission and strengthen our communities.

For this pilot round, which began in February 2013, Wikimedians submitted over 50 ideas and drafts from around the world. WMF grantmaking staff narrowed these down to 22 complete proposals meeting the eligibility criteria for review.

18 Wikimedians formed a volunteer committee, with participants from 12 countries and from Wikimedia projects in 14 languages. Committee members reviewed each proposal carefully, scoring them against a rubric of pre-defined selection criteria and making recommendations based on available funding for this round. WMF grantmaking staff shared aggregated scores and comments with the community, while the committee continued its deliberations to finalize a recommendation to WMF to fund eight projects in total.

All eight projects have been approved for funding by the WMF. In examining the recommendations, we were struck by how varied these projects are in terms of grant size, project methodology and engagement targets. A central aim of Individual Engagement Grants is to foster innovation, with a particular focus on online impact. We think that innovative ideas and the skills that various contributors bring to Wikimedia projects can lead to better online environments for everyone, and we hope to learn a lot from these grantees about how we can support more of this across the movement.

The round 1 selected projects are:

Build an effective method of publicity in PRChina, led by Chinese Wikipedian User:AddisWang, funded at $350. Addis and a small team of volunteers based in mainland China will be experimenting with social media campaigns to grow awareness of Wikipedia in China.

Replay Edits, led by User:Jeph paul, funded at $500. Jeph is building a MediaWiki gadget that creates a visual playback of the edit history of a Wikipedia article, allowing users to see an article changing over time.

The Wikipedia Library, funded at $7500 and The Wikipedia Adventure, funded at $10,000, both led by User:Ocaasi. For the Wikipedia Library, Ocaasi will be building and consolidating partnerships with reference providers donating access to reliable sources for Wikipedia editors, and improving the systems for managing these programs. The Wikipedia Adventure is an on-wiki game that will be piloted on English Wikipedia using the Guided Tours extension to determine whether this type of interactive learning is an effective engagement strategy for new editors.

Consolidate wikiArS to involve art schools, led by Catalan Wikimedian User:Dvdgmz, funded at 7810 Euros. The WikiArS outreach program builds partnerships with art and design schools to teach students to create images for donation to Wikimedia Commons and for use in Wikipedia articles. This grant will support focused experimentation in the existing Catalan program’s models that can allow the initiative to scale and to be sustained as an international program.

Elaborate Wikisource strategic vision, led by Catalan Wikisource User:Micru and Italian Wikisource User:Aubrey, funded at 10,000 Euros. This project brings together the global Wikisource community and other stakeholders to define a vision for the project’s future. They’ll begin work on near-term goals that can be accomplished by volunteers on-wiki, and investigate paths forward for longer-term improvements to Wikisource.

MediaWiki data browser, led by User:Yaron K, partially funded at $15,000 in order to pilot the initial concept. Yaron’s project will create a framework to allow any user to easily generate apps or websites to browse sets of structured data that exist on Wikipedia and other projects running on MediaWiki.

Finally, we’ve provisionally approved an 8th project — MediaWiki and Javanese script, led by User:Bennylin, funded at $3000 — provided that a couple of dependencies can be satisfied. This project will provide technical support using a “train-the-trainers” model that teaches volunteers how to use Javanese script online, facilitating the transcription of Javanese texts to projects like Javanese Wikisource. The newly developed Universal Language Selector extension for MediaWiki makes the use of this script online increasingly possible.

The new grantees will begin work on their projects in the coming weeks and they’ll be sharing progress and learnings with us all along the way. Please visit their project pages for complete project information and updates.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this round!  We look forward to seeing even more of your ideas and input in preparation for round 2, which begins on August 1st.

Siko Bouterse, Head of Individual Engagement Grants, on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation and the IEG committee