By now you are likely aware that the Wikimedia sites suffered from a relatively significant botnet driven DDOS attack on September 6th, taking them offline in several countries throughout the day. This primarily affected Wikipedia access in Europe and the Middle East. We posted a short update of the event on our website.
I would like to thank everyone who stepped up to support the restoration of our projects, including the fast reporting of community members throughout the world and our security and engineering teams who worked long hours to address many complex issues surrounding the attack and our response—the Site Reliability Engineering team in particular.
The Wikimedia Foundation leadership team is proud to work with such talented and dedicated staff and supporters.
“Today, Wikipedia was hit with a malicious attack that has taken it offline in several countries for intermittent periods. The attack is ongoing and our Site Reliability Engineering team is working hard to stop it and restore access to the site.
As one of the world’s most popular sites, Wikipedia sometimes attracts “bad faith” actors. Along with the rest of the web, we operate in an increasingly sophisticated and complex environment where threats are continuously evolving. Because of this, the Wikimedia communities and Wikimedia Foundation have created dedicated systems and staff to regularly monitor and address risks. If a problem occurs, we learn, we improve, and we prepare to be better for next time.
We condemn these sorts of attacks. They’re not just about taking Wikipedia offline. Takedown attacks threaten everyone’s fundamental rights to freely access and share information. We in the Wikimedia movement and Foundation are committed to protecting these rights for everyone.
Right now, we’re continuing to work to restore access wherever you might be reading Wikipedia in the world. We’ll keep you posted.”
Gujarati Wikimedians have been working on the Audio Book project on Wikisource to help the visually impaired people. An Interview with the lead contributor Mr Modern Bhatt by Abhinav Srivastava with inputs from Sushant Savla.
Q.1) It is always said Indians love Wikisource, but, Audio Books? That isn’t a routine. How did the idea come up?
I am a regular visitor to a blind school in Bhavnagar which also happens to be my hometown. I help students with English and Mathematics and quite often on request by students, I used to narrate stories to them. It was then that the school director, who is also blind himself, proposed an idea of having pre-recorded books.
The audio recording then started and there is no looking back.
Q.2) Is there a specific thematic area where you work upon say a specific Gujarati author?
If I have to name just one, then it has to be Jhaverchand Meghani. Ever since my childhood till today, have fondness and admire his contribution to the Gujarati literature. He wrote on the history of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat from where I belong. He travelled from one village to another discovering facts and evidences.
Q.3 ) The Open Knowledge Movement is for a better society, however, its end-merit remain incidental. Your initiative directly helps the visually imparied. What motivates you?
Obviously those students from the blind school however it is also encouraging to know that normal people like you and me busy in daily routine for bread and butter are also the beneficiary. Audio books saves time.
Q.4) Did peers from your community also join you in the initiative? Tell us how they read this? What kind of conversations happen around Audio Books?
I am humbled with the support I receive from my fellow Gujarati Wikimedians like User:sushant_savla and others. We have an active Whatsapp Group where we regularly debate and discuss Audio books project. To share a more precise and latest update, we are sampling voice for Women authors and also selected few, to name, Bharti Chavda.
Q5.) Unheard and unfound, there are a lot of challenges, efforts and struggle that go in with passionate Wikimedians? Tell us something in brief.
I was working on a book, ‘Saurashtra ma Rasdar’ which has 28 Chapters and roughly 350 pages. While working on that book, I was a victim of sore throat and had to consult a doctor. The doctor gave me a few medicines and I recovered my voice.
That’s all. Otherwise, as they say in Gujarati, I have been in, ‘Majama’.
Q6.) Back in your mind, you would have done the maths on number of books which you wish to complete. There would a rational maths to say the number of books that are practically possible but there would also be a dream number. Tell us about that dream number and more.
I would like to answer this differently. The Audio Books Projects still happens to be very new and we are learning and gaining experience everyday. Not quoting any number but having as many number of books is the aim. I retire from my job this July 2019 and would devote much more time to the project and make the maximum possible.
Q7.) India has Wikisource active in so many languages? Any message for them on Audio books?
Gujarati Wikimedians have the highest regard for each and every Indian language , they show the diverse Indian culture. We all are always there to assist to the best of our potential. A learning to share would be, struggle in finding volunteers. That’s an important area that needs to be contemplated.
Q8.) Gujarati language has a very close connection with Kutchi language. Kutchi does not have a Wikimedia project and remain in incubation. Do you believe something like Audio books could provide a stimulus in their growth?
Well, that needs to be seen but Yes there is a possibility. I can say there are a lot of material for Kutchi language to be worked on Wikisource. Necessary we find a group committed volunteers to take it up. Also, I would like to mention, Blind people association have shown support to host activities in the Kutch area of Gujarat.
Q9.) Tell us something more, do you also edit on other Wikimedia Projects ? Briefly share your experience.
At the moment, I devote all my time and energy to Wikisource. However, someday maybe definitely. All Wikimedia Projects are public goods for welfare.
Q10.) Tell us something about your personal life? Where do you belong? What do you do in your personal life etc?
I stay in Bhavnagar, city of Gujarat and I am a banker with The Bank of India. India is a developing world and there are so many unbanked. My professional life deals with developing saving habits and promoting financial inclusion for a better India.
The Punjabi-language Wikisource is the fastest-growing Wikimedia project in the world. Rupika Sharma, a volunteer Wikimedia editor and community member, writes about one of the initiatives that has helped made this a reality.
Imagine a world where you grew up in a world where the greatest literary works in history never existed.
For many of the world’s language speakers, this can be their functional reality. Titles like these have either never been translated, or were translated decades ago and now hide in ancient paper-bound texts on dusty library shelves.
As an example of this problem, let’s take a look at the Punjabi language. Separated as part of the 1947 partition of British India, the language is today spoken by 120 million people in regions of Pakistan and India. I’m one of them. I grew up in northwest India and can still remember hearing about Chambe Diyan Kaliyan, a short story collection by Leo Tolstoy that was adapted into the Punjabi by Abhai Singh. That particular book is frequently cited in the history of Punjabi literature as one of the first collections of short stories to be published in the language.
You’ll note, though, that I didn’t say I can remember reading it—I’ve never been able to track down one of the published books to read it for myself, nor have I been able to find anything but a bunch of pop-culture songs with similar titles when I search for it online in Punjabi. All of which is to say that when I was growing up, reading and learning from Tolstoy’s story was functionally impossible for Punjabi speakers.
Thankfully, times are changing. While there are still many barriers to surmount, the advent of the internet has made the fundamental problem of publishing and distributing of translations far easier. The Wikimedia community has an entire project devoted to this sort of thing: Wikisource.
Bringing the lost literature of long-forgotten times into the modern era for interested users, Wikisource is a free e-library that provides freely licensed or public domain books free of cost, in different formats, and able to be used for any purpose. It is one of thirteen collaborative knowledge projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, the largest of which is Wikipedia, and Wikisource is available in nearly seventy languages.
The Punjabi-language Wikisource was and is small compared to other language Wikisources, and to grow this resource, I formed a partnership with a government library in the Indian city of Patiala to digitize public domain books. By making rare literature books accessible in languages that have little to no presence online, Wikisource serves the common people, allowing them to freely browse these resources.
As a titled Wikimedian-in-residence at the library, I helped their staff scan a selection of important books. The collaboration brought forty-two public domain Punjabi-language works online—including a reprint of Chambe Diyan Kaliyan, the Tolstoy short story collection. But just making the scanned images available online isn’t enough; they are not easy to read and often rank low in search engines. Wikisource plays a crucial middleman role: they host the images and pair them with searchable text versions, created and vetted by volunteers. They’re helped in this process by Jay Prakash’s IndicOCR, a new tool that helps to easily transcribe any Indic language to Wikisource. (It replaced an older Linux-based tool that could not be used on many devices.) In addition, Wikisource makes everything available in different file formats so that readers can download whatever works best on their device, whether it’s a computer, tablet, phone, or otherwise.
Finally, Wikisource also allows anyone to contribute, and so I helped organize an online contest, held from December 2018 to January 2019. Prize offerings and in-person trainings brought around three dozen new volunteers to the project, including twenty-four who made more than fifty edits. Kuljit Singh Khuddi, a new volunteer who joined Punjabi Wikisource during the contest, says that “I am proud to be able to contribute to my mother tongue on Wikisource. Such contests help make my language known worldwide.”
The results were stark—the contest made the Punjabi Wikisource the fastest-growing Wikimedia project in the entire world in both content and editors. As of October of last year, the Punjabi Wikisource contained a bit over 1,200 pages. By January of this year, it had over 6,770 belonging to 200 different books. Moreover, over 6,000 of these pages had been proofread by volunteers.
The growth of the Punjabi Wikisource through the contest and other volunteer work is just a beginning. There are a number of opportunities for supporting the project with technical contributions and GLAM partnerships with different government organizations and institutions.
Moreover, they’re just one of several expanding Wikisources in the region. The Wikisources for the Indic languages of Marathi, Kannada, and Assamese each more than doubled in size in the last year, and with every edit, they’re bringing the sum of all knowledge into their own mother tongues.
Since returning from my first Wikimedia event, the ESEAP Region Strategy Summit in Bangkok a few weeks ago, I have been asked many times by family, friends and workmates “so, what was it like?”. And every time I (figuratively) scratch my head, wondering how to describe the unique experience of two days spent with 30 Wikimedians representing a remarkable 14 countries – that is, one or two Wikimedians from each of the ESEAP member communities (ESEAP stands for East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific).
I could tell people about the goal of the weekend: for participants to exchange stories from their Wikimedia communities and provide the movement strategy Working Groups with a response on movement strategy discussions. I could also describe the activities we engaged in: sharing stories and mapping them to thematic areas such as capacity building or roles and responsibilities on Saturday, and generating recommendations for working groups on Sunday. These discussions led us to explore a wide range of innovative ideas related to all aspects of the 2030 strategy.
At times I must admit I began a session thinking “I have no idea what I could contribute here” but after listening to others and through the facilitators’ encouragement, I was generally able to find a meaningful experience to share or a suggestion to make. I was also impressed with the way people from such diverse backgrounds were able to respond to each other’s problems and experiences with meaningful suggestions. It wasn’t unusual, for example, for someone from one country to describe a need in their editing community which a Wikimedian from somewhere else had already experienced and could provide a possible solution to. For example, while discussing ways of recognising the efforts of Wikipedia editors, participants from Indonesia shared their method of providing a letter of acknowledgement from their chapter President detailing the impact of an editor’s work.
But these answers are not the whole picture. In addition to the organized activities and planned outcomes, there was much more to the event. There were new friendships, for example – I found I had much in common with the women from Taiwan, who have created a strong network of editors writing about women (their meet-ups are called “A Room of WikiWomen’s Own”), and also with the members from Australia, who wonder how to engage offline with editors in rural and remote parts of the country.
In addition, there was a generous sharing of expertise for people working on development projects. This was a particularly exciting aspect of the event for me, as in New Zealand the editing community is small, and largely unconnected, which means that there are great opportunities for community growth. I was able to spend time with Wikimedians from communities such as Indonesia and Thailand which had already been through similar growth patterns, and hear their thoughts and suggestions, and hear their responses to New Zealand’s plans. I also learned a great deal about the workings of these more developed communities and I was able to reflect on whether our New Zealand community would follow a similar development path or something slightly different.
All in all, it was a very worthwhile event which provided much inspiration and insight into the movement as a whole. I definitely feel much more aware of the “big picture” of Wikimedia’s goals and strategies and more connected to communities in the region. This event was so inspiring, that since my return home from the event, the New Zealand editing community has now finalized our plans for a User Group and made an application to the Affiliations Committee for recognition. We look forward to becoming a strong group making solid contributions to the 2030 strategy.
And in terms of answering that omnipresent question of what a Wikimedia event is like, I’ve now settled on a concise New Zealand response – “awesome”!
Cape Town, South Africa, 29 July 2019 – In the 5th year of hosting the Wiki Loves Africa photographic competition, Wiki In Africa is pleased to announce the final international winners. During the six weeks of the competition held in February and March 2019, 1335 people contributed just shy of 9000 images, sound files and videos files that broadly capture Play! across the continent.
A jury of photographers from across Africa deliberated on the 8,9811 images. The jury selected images that provide a brief glimpse at sheer variety of ways in which people across Africa spend their spare time – some are universal, others particular to their way of life. After an exhaustive jury process that lasted several intense weeks, they decided on the following winners:
English: South Sudan, Unity State. Yida refugee camp in South Sudanese territory, 20 km far from the border with Sudan. The camp hosts 68,000 refugees from the Nuba Mountains.
For over two years now, Sudan’s government has waged a bombing campaign against the civilians it accuses of supporting the Nuban rebels. Cheap shrapnel bombs are dropped out of Antontov cargo planes nearly every day. The campaign caused terror to the people of the Nuba mountain range, forcing many to flee, and making it almost impossible for others to plant crops and tend their farms.
العربية: الفانتازيا؛ وتسمى أيضا الخيالة والباردية والتّبُوريدَة وصحاب البارود اسم يطلق على عروض فروسية، تحاكي هجمات عسكرية، تمارس في بلدان المغرب العربي، في مختلف مناطقها، العربية والأمازيغية والصحراوية، إضافة إلى بلدان أوروبية كفرنسا وبلجيكا، بين جالياتها المغاربية
تمتد التسمية أيضا يطلق على النوع الرياضي المرتبط بهذا الفن. تكمن رمزيتها في تجسيدها لتعلق شعوب المغرب العربي بالأحصنة والفروسية، التي تمثل رمزاً تاريخياً وتراثياً تتوارث الأجيال العناية به. يتم في مشاهد الفانتازيا استخدام بعض ألعاب الخيل أو البارود من خلال تمثيليات لبعض الهجمات يشنها فرسان على متن خيولهم المزينة، مطلقين لعيارات من البارود. وهي ذات شعبية واسعة لدى الجمهور، وتشكل الفرجة الرئيسية للمهرجانات الثقافية والفنية (المعروفة ب«الموسم» أو «الوعدة»)، التي تنظم في المناطق القروية المغاربية. وتتمتع بجاذبية قوية بسبب قدرتها على إبهار المشاهدين بفضل صبغة الغموض والأساطير التاريخية القديمة التي تجعلها تضفي تأثيرا وسحرا خاصين علي محبي تلك المشاهد
كانت الفانتازيا ثابتا في الاحتفالات والأعياد الكبرى، مثل حفلات الزفاف والولادات والأعياد الدينية والمواسم الثقافية الفنية، ثم انحسرت تدريجيا، في بعض المناطق المغاربية إلى الجانب السياحي الثقافي البحت. مازالت الشعوب والقبائل المغاربية تحافظ قدر المستطاع على هذه العادة رغم المؤثرات الخارجية، أهمها العولمة، وهي تعتبر استحضارا لملاحمها العسكرية التاريخية، ورمزا للقوة والشجاعة والإقدام.
Special prize for traditional forms of play goes to Horses by Sofiane Mohammed Amri in Algeria. Download link
Just as the prizes represent many different ways of playful and recreational relaxation, so too do the experience levels of the prize winning photographers. Marco Gualazzini is a professional photographer for the last 15 years from Italy who’s award winning career has led him to “focus my work almost exclusively on conflicts and humanitarian crisis in Africa”.
He explained that “I took this picture in South Kordofan where I developed a story on the aerial bombing campaign conducted by the Sudan’s army. Civilians fled to caves in the Nuba Mountains to avoid the aerial bombardment. Humanitarian aid organizations pulled out their workers and the government of Sudan banned journalists from entering the region. Nowadays there is no reliable data on the number of people who have lost limbs, or been physically affected in other ways, since the war began in the Nuba Mountain region in June of 2011. To this day it remains illegal for NGOs to work in the field and for journalists, both national and international, to report on the rebellion taking place in the Nuba Mountains.
“I shoot this picture in the Yida Refugee Camp. We got in the South Kordofan through the South Sudan. One day I saw the children play on the Antonov’s wreak, and I knew the Sudan’s government was using those Antonovs to drop the bombs that were killing those same children or their parents, or their friends. The contrast was so striking I decide to take this picture. Most of the time I sat down and I waited in order to give to the children the time to get used to me being there. After a while they started to play again, and then along came this shot.”
Second prize winner, Summer Kamal, used to work as a teacher. She recently resigned to practice her favorite hobby, photography. She explained that she took this shot on a trip with “Adasa” Club for Photography to Nuba City in Upper Egypt: “As I was walking through the streets of Nubia City in Upper Egypt, two children were playing together and I was waiting for the right moment.”
Third prize winner, Mohamed Hozyen Ahmed, started photography since 4 years ago and has joined several contests and exhibitions. Last January he won the 3rd place of contest in Egypt about Beautiful Egypt, and was honored by the Pope of the Egyptian Church in the Patriarchate in Egypt. He especially loves street and documentary photography which shows in his winning shot that was captured one friday morning. As he recalls, it was “a walk in the historically famous area in Cairo call Moaaz Street. I found these guys having a real football match, which I love and took me back to my old days when I was young and used to play in the streets. The game that is adored in Egypt is football! So I stayed and kept watching them. I found that they are really talented. So I took some shots of them while they were playing. This picture is one of the shots and I was blessed to get the right moment to take the picture before the boy scored an amazing goal as he showed his beautiful skills.”
Wiki Loves Africa chose Play! as the central theme for the 2019 visual celebration of Africa’s cultural diversity on Wikipedia. The competition ran from the 1st February to 15th March 2019 and entries were welcomed from anywhere on the continent and beyond. View the video below for more details on the competition:
Everyone was encouraged to contribute photos that reflected the theme to the competition. Events were held in 19 countries – Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guinée, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – to inspire further contribution and build Wikipedia savvy communities around the competition. These events took on the form of introductory workshops, photographic excursions and upload sessions . The events also encouraged ongoing pride in local heritage and cultural practice, as well as to foster a culture of contribution to the internet to shake up the single story of Africa.
For the last five years, the Wiki Loves Africa contest has encouraged the donation of nearly 50,000 photographs to Wikimedia Commons for potential use on Wikipedia. In the first year, under the theme Cuisine, 873 people contributed 6,116 photographs. Cultural fashion and adornment was the theme for the next year, 2015, which saw 722 people contribute over 7,500 photographs. In 2016, Music and Dance contributed 7917 files from 836 people. In 2017, under the theme “People at Work” 18,294 photographs were entered by 2,473 people.
Wiki Loves Africa is activated by the Wikimedia community that created Wikipedia in support of WikiAfrica movement. The competition was conceptualised and is managed by Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood of Wiki In Africa as a fun and engaging way to rebalance the lack of visual representations and relevant content that exists about Africa on Wikipedia. The competition is supported by Ynternet.org, is funded by the Wikimedia Foundation and supported in-kind by UNESCO and a host of local partners in individual countries. The images donated are available for use on the internet and beyond, under the Creative Commons license CC BY SA 4.0.
ORGANISATIONS INVOLVED IN THE COMPETITION
About Wiki In Africa
Wiki In Africa empowers and engages the citizens of Africa and its diaspora to collect, develop and contribute open educational and relevant content that relates to the theme of Africa under a free license; and to engage in global knowledge systems by encouraging access to, awareness of, and support for open knowledge, the open movement and the Wikimedia projects, working in collaboration with like-minded organisations.
Wiki In Africa is a non-profit organisation that is based in South Africa. It is the financial and legal structure that operates global initiatives in support of the WikiAfrica movement. The organisation is currently lead by Iolanda Pensa, Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood.
WikiAfrica is an international movement that takes place on the African continent and beyond. It encourages individuals, interested groups and organisations to create, expand and enhance online content about Africa. This involves motivating for the representation of the continent’s contemporary realities and history, its peoples and its innovations on the world’s most used encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. WikiAfrica is not owned by one organisation and it belongs to all people and organisations contributing to its scope.
In its various guises and hosted at several institutions (including lettera27, Africa Centre, Ynternet.org, Short Story Day Africa, Wikimedia CH and Wiki In Africa), the WikiAfrica movement has consistently instigated and led multi-faceted innovative projects. These projects have activated communities and driven content onto Wikipedia. Examples include Share Your Knowledge, #OpenAfrica training Courses and Toolkits, Kumusha Bus (in Ethiopia and Ghana), WikiEntrepreneur (in Ethiopia and Malawi), Kumusha Takes Wiki (Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda), Wikipedia Primary (funded by SUPSI), Wikipack Africa, WikiAfrica Schools, WikiFundi, WikiChallenge, WikiAfrica Schools, Wiki Loves Women and Wiki Loves Africa.
Ynternet.org Foundation was created in 1998 on the invitation of Swiss Confederation to facilitate, identify and promote new learning culture within digital environments. In 2006 it changed its status from association to foundation, as an independent body within civil society. Based in the university campus of Battelle (Geneva, Switzerland), it is serving public interest in multilateral projects and private-public partnership. 60-80 contributors each year, including experts, social entrepreneurs and volunteers, are contributing to Ynternet.org mission of promoting responsible behaviours in digital environment. Ynternet.org has been successfully audited for its activities (2013 – 2015), at European level, both as coordinator and partner on two separate EU projects.
Wikimedia projects are supported by you—a network of generous individual volunteers, groups, and organizations around the world. Together, you collaboratively enrich, grow, and advance the Wikimedia projects and free knowledge mission.
You may have heard about the Affiliations Committee’s decision to recommend the de-recognition of Wikimedia India. Some community members have asked what this means for the future of WIkimedia communities in India. We want to share more information about the AffCom decision, and reaffirm our commitment to and support for our many communities across India.
The Affiliations Committee is a community-run body of volunteers that represents and supports Wikimedia affiliates. After several years of working with Wikimedia India to bring its activities in line with chapter requirements, the Affiliations Committee recommended in June 2019 that the Wikimedia Foundation not renew the chapter agreement.
Wikimedia India was first recognized as a chapter in 2011. In 2015, it experienced difficulties meeting chapter agreement obligations. Working with the Affiliations Committee and the Foundation, the chapter developed a plan of action and returned to good standing by 2017. However, between 2017 and 2019 the chapter was unable to secure a license to act as a fiduciary organization, and is not currently legally registered as a charity in India to accept funding from the Foundation. The Foundation and Affiliations Committee both hope that this licensing and registration can be secured, and that the chapter will take all the steps needed to be eligible for recognition.
We are grateful for the vibrant, growing community in India who has shown great leadership and created significant impact within our global movement. The Foundation currently supports eight Indic language community user groups, and we expect two more to be announced by AffCom in the coming weeks. We receive more than 700 million pageviews to Wikipedia every month from readers in India, and the growth of the Indic community is a top priority for the future of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects.
The Republic of India is of great importance to the Wikimedia movement. The Wikimedia Foundation remains committed to supporting volunteer editors, contributors, readers, and donors across India. We’re grateful for all of your continued and growing efforts to support Wikimedia projects and our free knowledge mission. We look forward to continuing our work with you together.
On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation,
Valerie D’Costa Chief of Community Engagement Wikimedia Foundation