Since the middle of 2012, José Flores has wanted the Wikimedia movement to become active in Puebla, one of the most important cities in Mexico for its cultural and educational development, as well as its singular historical richness. Flores spent several months of planning and exchanging information with Wikimedia Mexico (WM-MX), and they worked to get sponsors and support from several local communities like Hackers & Founders Puebla and Puebla Capital del Diseño. Due to this effort, they were able to host the first Puebla City Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, which occurred on March 24, 2013.
The editathon was held in the HUB Emprendedor, a recently created co-working space for entrepreneurs. On the day of the event, 25 people arrived with laptops in hand, ready to contribute to the Spanish Wikipedia. After an introductory talk by Carmen Alcázar on the philosophy behind the movement and a workshop by Ivan Martínez on wiki syntax, the edit-a-thon began. The proposed themes for editing were the significant dates and places of the city of Puebla. In the end, although there weren’t a large number of new articles created, all participants pressed the “Edit” button and took their first steps in Spanish Wikipedia.
“It’s a little tiring, but it’s heartwarming. To sit down to work and know that what you’re posting will be read by thousands or tens of thousands of people and especially by those contributing to the collective knowledge in Spanish — you make a small contribution but it leaves you feeling very good” said José, a blogger who contributes to The Huffington Post and a project manager in Astrolabio media agency. “The process of the edit-a-thon by Wikimedia Mexico was very good for introducing us to the Wiki world and they held our hands and taught us the philosophy behind the project.”
“Many people hear Wikipedia, Wikimedia and they don’t know much about them,” he added. “I was very happy to see people glued to their computers for three or four hours, sometimes working on an even small contribution. In my case I wrote a few paragraphs, but already that was a contribution to Wikipedia.”
He noted that edit-a-thons sow a curiosity in people, leaving a seed that will germinate. “At the end of edit-a-thon all participants will go with something, not only with technical knowledge and not just with a good experience, they leave with a switch turned on. The next time they come to Wikipedia and see something wrong they know they are capable of fixing it with certain methods, tools and rules”.
Public of all ages attended the Puebla editathon. This was the case for Lilia Martínez y Torres, originally from the city of Puebla, a photographer and researcher of Mexican photography from the nineteenth and twentieth century. She wrote the biography of Lorenzo Becerril, one of the pioneers of photography in Mexico. Martínez y Torres is an authority on Becerril and she works in the archive that bears his name.
After writing the article according to Wikipedia conventions and pressing the “Save page” button, she was surprised by “the immediacy of an item that already had just been writing, only 20 minutes later, it was a part of the net.” For Lilia, Wikipedia represents immediate knowledge on any subject, in any situation. She said she was willing to continue working on the free encyclopedia. “Careful, you may teach me something! Onwards because there is much to share,” she said. For her, learning to edit Wikipedia was rewarding not only because she could share knowledge, but also because she learned from younger people, who are more familiar with the encyclopedia.
José Flores and the local community want to foster the growth of the Wikimedia movement in Puebla. In his opinion, over the last six to nine months Wikimedia México has seen explosive growth in Mexico City, so it “would be fine to capitalize on that growth in Puebla, as the proximity to the capital would help create a new Wikimedia user group here.” He set the goal with the recently formed community to have an active project conducting events and establishing links with the government and the cultural sector by the end of this year. “More than a possibility, we should see it as an obligation to make Puebla the next big step in the growth of Wikimedia México.”
Ivan Martínez, Wikimedia Mexico