The Asian Athletics Championships is an intra-continental sports event organized bi-annually since 1973. The 22nd championship was held in July at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, where 655 athletes from 41 countries participated in 21 games. The Odia Wikipedia community worked with the event organizers in different ways, to document the event on Wikipedia, by holding edit-a-thons (editing workshops), to improve Wikipedia’s content about the championships and releasing official photos of the event under free Creative Commons licenses.
The original plan was for the Indian city of Ranchi, Jharkhand to host the 2017 athletics, but plans changed 90 days before the event when Bhubaneswar was selected as a venue instead. Preparing the Kalinga Stadium and getting ready for the championships in that short period was a challenge for the organizers. However, the state government of Odisha stepped in to assist, and as part of that freely shared the event website content under Creative Commons licenses.
The local Wikipedia community, along with the WikiTungi project in Bhubaneswar, were invited by R. Vineel Krishna, the State Department’s Director of Sports and Youth Services, to organize an edit-a-thon for the Championships. The scope was to improve Wikipedia’s content about the participating Asian athletes.
Before the event, existing Wikipedia articles provided little information on the biographies and accomplishments of some of the participating athletes. Odia Wikipedians collaborated with the Sports and Youth Services Department of Odisha to bridge the dearth of information.
Edit-a-thon participants gathered at the office of CSM Technologies, an event partner for the championships. Fifteen Wikimedians from Bhubaneswar and Puri WikiTungi, with some CSM staff members and new editors participated in the edit-a-thon.
The event started with a basic Wikipedia orientation session for new participants. There was no Wikipedia article for the championships in Odia language, so participants created it in addition to improving the English Wikipedia article. Along with that, 10 new articles were improved and created on both Odia and English Wikipedia. The 2017 Championships page on the English Wikipedia received over 100,000 views during the championships week.
“Wikipedia has been the one-stop source of knowledge for me,” says Alankar Devta, an edit-a-thon participant. “It has helped me learn a lot and prepare for competitions. This is the first time, I got a chance to take part in any Wikipedia edit-a-thon. Apart from that, the articles about the athletes taking part in this year’s Championships are of great help for the readers who may want to search for the athletes with expectations to find useful information about them.”
Wikimedia community members were offered passes to attend the opening ceremony and take photos. We spent four hours taking photos of the 41 participating teams, athletes and cultural events. All were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Nearly 19% of the photos taken at the opening ceremony are used on Wikipedia articles.
A major outcome of the edit-a-thon was releasing the content and images of the championship’s official website under a Creative Commons license. 286 images from the websites were added to Wikimedia Commons, of which 47.2% are used on Wikipedia in several languages.
The collection includes images of the athletes during their Heats, Semi Finals, Final, and Medal ceremonies of all four days. 127 images are used in 269 pages on Wikipedia in 27 languages, and many articles added their first image from this collection. WikiProject Women in Red used the images in many female athlete articles. The Odia Wikipedia community and the Centre for Internet and Society are also planning to work with the Wikipedia Asian Month competition to use these images to illustrate Wikipedia articles they work on, in their next edition.
Victuallers, one of the volunteers of Women in Red project, identified athlete photos from the games website collection and used them to illustrate their articles. He has also created new articles of other participating female athletes.
“I have worked with the Women in Red project since it started,” says Victuallers. “Over the past two years, we have helped raise the percentage [of female biographies on the English Wikipedia] from 15.5 to 17%. One of the things that hold us back, though, is that women are less likely to have images available. It’s, therefore, amazing to find that a major athletic event has released hundreds of images with a CC BY-SA license. Participating athletes are all notable and women are fairly well represented. I have downloaded over 100 pictures and cropped group photos to create portraits. We’ve been tweeting the new articles and pictures on @WikiWomenInRed and trying to encourage all to “one up” the Odisha people. It’s a great success and we need more people to follow suit.”
With such collaborative spirit from the Government institutes, the Odia community is planning to get more content from Odisha under a free license. The community has also partnered with the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, to run a global edit-a-thon named Bhubaneswar Heritage Editathon, for documenting the culture and heritage monuments of the city.
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Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern