Photo by Zuraj studio, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Zuraj studio, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The Wikipedia community defines a stub as a very short content page on Wikipedia. It usually gives some basic information about the subject but needs to be improved to have an encyclopedic coverage of the subject.

The Africa destubathon, the first contest of its kind, aims to address the lack of content in these article. It started in mid-October and is running for a duration of six weeks, ending on November 27, and modest prizes are available for individuals who complete certain tasks.

The goal of the contest is to de-stub 2,000 out of the over 37,000 stub articles about Africa on the English Wikipedia. As of publishing time, 87% of this goal has been reached.

“The destubathon could be even more successful if we brought in new editors within Africa and show them how to edit,” says James Anderson, the main organizer who came up with the idea of a destubathon. “[They can] really make a difference [by providing] information about their countries. As more people come online in the next 5-10 years, this sort of thing will be really important.”

This is not Anderson’s first major effort to improve Wikipedia’s content; he has led three other editing projects in the last year. Awaken the Dragon was a one-month editing contest in April that encouraged the creation of over 1,000 new articles about Wales, and the 10,000 Challenge and 10,000 Africa Challenge aimed to improve 10,000 articles about the UK and Africa, respectively.

“James did not only have the ‘idea’, he also invested a lot of energy and time to organize the destubathon, get the community involved and to raise funds to get some gifts to the winners,” says Florence Devouard, another main organizer of the even and a key member of the WikiAfrica movement, where she focuses on increasing gender diversity on Wikipedia.

Many recent studies of internet content show that Wikipedia is mainly edited by the western, white, male contributor. Efforts like the Africa destubathon, could help change this situation.

Devouard said that a main driver behind the project was the hope that “[every] English editor would consider de-stubbing a few African articles during the drive to help the cause and help reduce the massive stub count, of which many are rated highly important.” She continues:

I believe that Wikipedia could be one of the most promising ways to help address the critical imbalance in the availability of factual information about Africa’s past and present. But the very poor quality of articles related to Africa in Wikipedia has several unfortunate impacts, including:

  • African readers miss particular information about their countries and culture when they consult Wikipedia;
  • Potential African participants lack a feeling of ownership and continue to consider Wikipedia a western project, written by and for Americans and Europeans; and
  • Non-African readers fail to view or understand important information about Africa that would help them better comprehend this continent and the immense richness of its people.

I am happy to help change that.

In brief

Funds Dissemination Committee recommendations: The body charged with overseeing the largest movement affiliate grants announced its recommendation that US$3,210,000 be dispersed to eleven organizations in Europe, Asia, and South America. Detailed assessments of each organization’s proposals are available on Meta.

Scholarship applications for WikiIndaba 2017 are now being accepted: In January, Wikipedians from all over the African continent will gather in Accra, Ghana for WikiIndaba 2017. The conference aims at fostering collaboration between the African Wikipedians to help grow the Wikimedia movement in the region. The deadline for scholarship applications is November 30, 2016.

Monument photos from Ireland are now in use: The Wikimedia Community Ireland held three writing contests in September and October to use the photos from the Wiki Loves Monuments photography contest to illustrate Wikipedia articles. The goal is to create and expand Wikipedia articles about the Irish monuments photographed during the photography contest.

Wikidata community celebrates its fourth birthday: Wikidata, the open data repository, went live four years ago. The Wikidata community celebrated by dedicating a page to share success stories from last year, document the events held and to express birthday wishes from the community.

Registration for WikiCon17 is now open: The annual conference of Wikimedia organizations, Wikimedia Conference (WikiCon17) will be held between March 31 and April 2 in Berlin. The organizing team is inviting all Wikimedia affiliates to select their delegates who will attend the event, and to register by January 8, 2017. More details about the program design process are available on the project page.

Tree campaign helps upload new photos to Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia Czech Republic’s Facebook page shared a map of unphotographed famous trees across the country, to which many reacted by taking photos of the trees and uploading them to Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation