Tech News (2020, week 02)

Please find below the latest tech news from the Wikimedia technical community. Please tell other users about these changes. Not all changes will affect you. 

Translations are available: Bahasa Indonesia • ‎Canadian English • ‎Deutsch • ‎English • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎français • ‎lietuvių • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎suomi • ‎čeština • ‎русский • ‎српски / srpski • ‎українська • ‎עברית • ‎ئۇيغۇرچە • ‎العربية • ‎ไทย • ‎中文 • ‎日本語

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Events for January 2020

Fireworks in Thailand beginning 2020. PEAK99, CC BY 4.0

For some it’s a New Year, for others, just another rotation around the sun. Either way, we’re happy you’re with us.

Here is a compilation of events happening around the world and across the movement in January. Did we miss any? Add your events to the calendar, and leave a comment with suggestions!

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Strategical ideas from Hindi Speaking community – Wikimedia 2030

File:New Delhi Hindi Strategy Meetup 18.jpg by RSharma (WMF)

During the March-September 2019 community consultation process of the Movement Strategy 2018-20, members of Hindi Wikimedia community brainstormed and discussed about their shared vision of the Wikimedia movement’s future by 2030. The community talked about the concerns they had, and the kind of grants, power structures, diversity of projects and roles they wanted to align with the strategic direction from the local context of the South Asian continent. 

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Celebrating Public Domain Day 2020

Edward Hopper: ‘New York Pavements’ (1924), Chrysler Museum of Art, now in the public domain in the U.S.

What is Public Domain Day?

Happy Public Domain Day! On each January 1st, together with Free Content advocates from all over the world, Wikimedians celebrate Public Domain Day. This is because when a work of art (a book, a painting, or a song) is protected by copyright, that protection always has an expiration date after a certain number of years – and for legal reasons, that expiration date always falls on 31 December.

Last year’s Public Domain Day celebrations were a special occasion, because it was the first time that any protected works were released into the Public Domain in the United States since a major change in U.S. copyright law back in 1998. With copyright lapsing for masterpieces such as Charlie Chaplin’s silent film The Pilgrim and Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, the event was even covered on the front page of the New York Times.

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Wrapping up version one: Structured Data on Commons

As the three-year grant period for building Structured Data on Commons (SDC) comes to a close with the end of 2019, I’d like to share some lists of the past two year’s worth of planning, discussion, building, testing, and releases the team has done with the Commons community.

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Alice from Uganda: Knowledge Equity Calendar

Alice (2nd from the right) with other members of the Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda. Bukulu Steven, CC BY-SA 4.0

December 24

There are several kinds of knowledge gaps, for example the generational gap in knowledge between the old and the young, the technological gap between the Global North and the Global South. The most important one for me though is the “Know-Do” gap.

If we are to carefully consider knowledge as “all the facts that someone knows about a particular subject” and equity as “a fair and reasonable way of behaving towards people, so that everyone is treated in the same way” (cf. Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners) – it only makes sense that if we as a Movement, we deal with free knowledge, we should then work towards it collectively. While some factors are the same across the board, to state a fact we already know, there is “no one size fits all” approach on how this can be achieved.

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Affiliations Committee – Call for candidates 2019

Hi everyone!
The Affiliations Committee (AffCom) – the committee responsible for guiding volunteers in establishing Wikimedia chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups – is looking for new members!

The main role of the Affiliations Committee is to guide groups of volunteers that are interested in forming Wikimedia affiliates. We review applications from new groups, answer questions and provide advice about the different Wikimedia affiliation models and processes, review affiliate bylaws for compliance with requirements and best practices, and update the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees as well as advise them on issues connected to chapters, thematic organizations and Wikimedia user groups.

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Tech News (2019, week 52)

Please find below the latest tech news from the Wikimedia technical community. Please tell other users about these changes. Not all changes will affect you. 

Translations are available: Bahasa Indonesia • ‎Deutsch • ‎English • ‎Nederlands • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎français • ‎lietuvių • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎suomi • ‎svenska • ‎čeština • ‎русский • ‎српски / srpski • ‎українська • ‎עברית • ‎العربية • ‎فارسی • ‎ไทย • ‎中文 • ‎日本語 • ‎한국어

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Wikimedia Israel: Knowledge Equity Calendar

Seniors and their knowledge are an important value for society, thus also for Wikipedia – but they face many challenges and barriers editing Wikipedia.
Shai-WMIL for Wikimedia Israel, Wikimedia Israel Senior Citizens editing course, summer 2018 – 1, CC BY-SA 4.0 

December 23

Seniors represent a valuable resource having accumulated a wealth of knowledge throughout their careers. Wikimedia Israel’s Wikipedia Editing Program for Seniors provides them with Wikipedia editing training and opportunities for engagement within the community of Hebrew Wikipedia editors. Their knowledge is of important value for society, but this group is facing some barriers – but a lot of them are insignificant barriers and we give them the tools to be a part of the editing community so they can contribute information that can be useful for their group of age as well as everyone else.  

We are working on trying to get as many seniors to join our course, women and men equally. 

Our challenge lies in getting senior program graduates fitting in the local Hebrew Wikipedia community after they finish the course. A big advantage of this program is that Wikipedia thus will be provided with a lot more diverse knowledge from different point of views of multiple generations. The second advantage is that this program means a lot to the seniors who participate and changes their life. After retiring, some of them feel like they are not active and productive anymore, this program is a great match for those people and gives them a meaningful purpose to use their free time.

A group of seniors from Haifa, jokingly called by WMIL’s staff “The fantastic ten”, as their course added together 740 articles to Hebrew Wikipedia.
Shai-WMIL for WMIL, Senior Citizens editing course – winter 2019, Haifa 2, CC BY-SA 4.0

Nevertheless, Seniors face mostly social barriers, they feel the online world is rather a “young world”. But teaching them in the program, the technical part of editing Wikipedia articles is not the core of the course: Wikipedia as a community and the structures that lie beneath is most often the hardest to learn. 

Getting people to apply to our courses is a long learning process for us. When they apply, they get tested on their technical skills, so we can dedicate our lesson to Wikipedia tech only. Our goal is adding quality content to the Hebrew Wikipedia; our training enables them to make changes and provides help to make them appear in the articles. Our secondary goal is helping seniors to be an important and valued part of society through Wikipedia.  

We see that senior citizens are the group that keeps on adding content after having learnt the editing skills, a third of all graduates keep on editing! The challenge is to make elderly users understand the meaning of open content, and knowing that everything can get edited by another Wikipedian even if he or she is not a professional in that matter. People from that age group are mostly used to the old world knowledge hierarchy. But they have the possibility to contribute to the sum of knowledge by writing about their topics of interest: whether it be virus subjects, fiber art or a retired Geography professor editing dozens of geography related articles.

Yes, this program started small, but we see the great feedback of the participants and a growing number of articles, so the program pays off for both sides. Senior citizens have so much to give back to society, so we opened more and more courses in different parts of Israel and will continue providing help.

Do you want to know more?


Mahuton from Benin: Knowledge Equity Calendar

Mahuton presenting at the Showcase session of the Wikimedia Hackathon 2018 how Amir Aharoni and he developed a keyboard layout for Fon
Michael Holloway, Wikimedia Hackathon 2018 10, CC BY-SA 4.0 

December 22

My name is Mahuton, I’m from Benin, but I live most of the time in France. I started editing Wikipedia in 2015. Back then, I was looking for a way to make knowledge accessible to people who don’t speak French or English in my country and I thought Wikipedia would be, by far, the best place for that. But I realized there was no Wikipedia in any language of Benin. So my question was: What can I do to establish a Wikipedia in Fon? Fon is the most spoken national language in Benin.

In 2018 I attended the Wikimedia Hackathon in Barcelona, as was I invited after the official registration period by Tony Hermoza, a Spanish wikimedian. By coincidence, on the first day of the event, I met Amir Aharoni, software developer for languages at the Wikimedia Foundation, on the corridor. We got to know each other and shared the projects we are working on, so I told him about the lack of Wikipedia editions in any of the Beninise languages – “in my country more than 4 million people speak French, but we no Wikipedia in a local language”. So Amir told me that we could fix that together.

Mahuton Possoupe
ZMcCune (WMF), Mahuton Possoupe WikiIndaba 2018, CC BY-SA 4.0 

Despite the fact that Fon uses the Latin alphabet, there are some special characters that are not common. So for many it is actually challenging to write Fon correctly because of the missing keyboard layouts. So Amir and I, we started to develop a Fon keyboard layout based on an existing library. The first tests went smoothly, so Amir quickly deployed a Fon Wikipedia project in the Wikimedia Incubator. He also asked another Wikimedian who designed a Wikipedia logo in Fon.

Right after, I started writing first articles in Fon. And to be honest, the Fon Wikipedia is the first website entirely written in Fon and I’m really proud of that. I think it’s important to promote the most spoken language of Benin also online. Even if it is a little bit difficult to recruit new contributors for the Fon Wikipedia, we are making progress. First contributors started writing articles, making knowledge accessible for all in our own language is something that really makes me proud.

Soon, I hope to be able to travel to my home country and to visit the Fon-speaking parts of Benin to raise awareness about the Wikipedia in Fon – and I think also to make it aware to Beninese decision makers. I would also love to see some financial support to organize editathons and workshops to teach how to edit in the Fon Wikipedia. I expect to launch the really first Fon contributors community in March next year!

Do you want to know more?