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The Nearby feature in Vatican City

We are quick to use mobile applications to find places that fulfil our needs, whether it’s a place to grab a coffee that your friend recommends, where the nearest bus stop is, or where to go for a perfect first date.

But how hard have you thought about the history of your neighborhood, or the events that have shaped the place where you live? There is a wealth of information all around you as you read this blog post. There are historic sites, parks, museums, theatres, cafes and religious buildings. Thanks to the terrific work of our editor community, Wikipedia has accumulated a massive amount of location data associated with its millions of articles; until now we have not fully taken advantage of this information.

We are happy to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation mobile team has been working on a Nearby page to surface this information. Along with the goal of bringing awareness of the surrounding areas to our existing readers, we hope that this simple tool can attract new editors to these articles, whether it is to update the information on the exhibits in a local museum, or simply to add a photo of a nearby park that is in severe need of a properly licensed lead image.

Look out for the camera icon to show those articles that need your photos

As a first pass, the mobile team has focused on using the Nearby page to surfaces articles in close proximity that lack images, inviting users to add one. Upon visiting those pages, the user will be prompted to illustrate the article, which they can do quickly and easily if they’re on a mobile device that supports taking and uploading photos.

The Nearby feature, although designed with the Wikipedia mobile experience in mind, also works on the desktop version of Wikipedia. In the future, we envision this as a useful step in the editing onboarding process, helping new users learn about editing by encouraging them to improve an article on a topic nearby.

Help make Wikipedia more beautiful, vibrant and educational for all our readers! Explore your local area and find the pages near you that need a photo or updated information. Stay tuned to the Wikimedia blog for more opportunities to contribute via the mobile web, coming soon.

Jon Robson
Software Engineer, Mobile
Wikimedia Foundation