Capacity Building: Top 5 Themes from Community Conversations

Capacity building is the process by which a community or an individual acquires skills, knowledge or resources, allowing them to grow and thrive. As Wikimedia communities develop around the globe, our movement needs to ensure they are given the necessary tools and resources to be able to strengthen their capacities. Capacity building has hence been one of the 9 topics discussed in 2019 community conversations within the Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy process… and it turned out to be the most popular theme!

From Nigeria to Venezuela, from France to India and from Morocco to Macedonia, hundreds of comments and suggestions were shared across languages and cultures. This Top 5 gathers the main ideas discussed by communities, which insisted on the need for both efficient and contextualized tools and support, with a special hint at peer-learning.

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Young editors learn more about each other’s culture through recent Armenian-Indian collaboration

Young editors of Karvachar’s Wikiclub are editing articles on Armenian Wikipedia. Tamara Karvajar, CC BY-SA 4.0

“I’ve always been interested in the cultures of various countries and nations. Indian themed edit-a-ton gave me a chance to get acquainted with an interesting and amazing culture”

Anahit Sahakyan, Alaverdi Wikiclub.

From the 15 to the 30th of October, 2019 an Indian-themed edit-a-ton was organized for Armenian Wikiclubs’ young editors. Then, from November to December, students of SEABA International School (India) wrote about Armenia cuisine, culture, attire, movies and actors.

The edit-a-tons are part of Armenian-Indian collaboration started during Wikimania 2019, between Manavpreet Kaur and Tamara Grigoryan. Kaur is a representative of Punjabi wiki community and educational programs coordinator. Grigoryan is a representative of the Armenian wiki community and coordinator of Karvachar Wikiclub. Jagseer S Sidhu who is currently working at SEABA International School, Lehragaga also joined the initiative with students of his school club.

The main aim of the collaboration is to give an opportunity to Indian students to learn about Armenia and Armenian students to get more knowledge about India. During the edit-a-thons the students not only gained knowledge but also shared it with their communities.

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Wikimedian John Samuel and his experiences at Wiki Techstorm 2019

In 2019, I had the opportunity to attend Wiki Techstorm. This is the first time that I attended such an event. Held by Wikimedia Nederland, it is smaller compared to Wikimedia Hackathons and had almost around 60 participants. However, what made this event so special was the diversity of participants, with varying knowledge of Wikimedia projects.

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2019 Affiliates Data Survey, What we learned

Affiliate representatives at the Wikimedia Summit 2019 – Berlin. Jason Krüger for Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wikimedia Summit in Berlin each year is a testament to the beauty of diversity in the Wikimedia movement. The delegates came from far and wide, across cultures and backgrounds, united in a common goal of furthering access to the sum of human knowledge. Most are delegates of Wikimedia Affiliates around the world; working in countries and regions along diverse thematic foci. These organizations represent the best the movement has to offer, where working together is concerned. 

The data in this blog tell the story from our first instance of conducting a survey with all affiliates in 2018. Please use these results as you make decisions about the support that you provide to affiliates, or if you belong to an affiliate, to understand trends among your peers.

In this first survey, we wanted to know:

  • How are affiliates governed? Are affiliates working toward becoming more diverse, especially with regard to gender parity?
  • How do affiliates arrive at shared decisions? How do they manage or prevent conflicts?
  • How does program activity vary by region? What are the program capacity needs of affiliates? 

Here is what we found.

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How playwright, professor, and Wikimedian Aziz Kingrani contributes his expertise in preserving Sindhi heritage to the Wikimedia movement

Aziz Kangrani, writer, poet, author, and professor. Shabir Kumbhar, CC BY-SA 4.0

Aziz Kingrani spent 35 years of his career educating students as a professor of Sindhi literature and now spends his time improving Wikipedia articles in multiple languages. He has been writing and publishing since 1974 and has over a dozen books published in Sindhi and English. 

After searching the internet for information on historical and archaeological heritage – specifically the literary assets of Sindh, Pakistan – he did not find much information. He felt that this information should be made easily available to people and joined the Wikimedia movement in 2012. 

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Wikimedia Argentina: Knowledge Equity Calendar

One of the tiles laid by the organization “Barrios x Memoria y Justicia” in the City of Buenos Aires. In this case, in homage to Irene Krichmar and Miguel Ángel Butron, who disappeared in public on 18/6/1976. Maria Isabel Munczek, CC BY-SA 4.0

December 17

Wiki Derechos Humanos (Wiki Human Rights) is a project by Wikimedia Argentina, which was born in 2018 and has been working in collaboration with other Wikimedia chapters in the region since then. It is an Argentinian-made experience in response to generating quality and updated information on Wikipedia on crimes against humanity perpetrated in our country during the last civil-military dictatorship.

The first articles created and improved were related to the Memoria, Verdad y Justicia process. This is did not come about by chance. Argentina was one of the first countries in bringing to trial armed forces members & co-operation actors of the de facto governments that wielded power under the Operation Condor. Thus, the creation of Wiki Human Rights was kind of a natural path.

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Stacy from Toronto: Knowledge Equity Calendar

Indigenous Knowledges Toronto meet-up held at Ryerson University Libraries, January 2019. Smallison, CC BY-SA 4.0

December 16

Much of my work has been working on systemic barriers around access to quality information. Knowledge equity means ensuring access to information in an environment which respects human rights. I would say that adding more content doesn’t equal knowledge equity. I think we have to be really careful not to equate “filling gaps” with equity. 

For example, mass uploads of content doesn’t produce equity if there are things in that content that are harmful in some way (i.e. colonial). And further, we need to consider whether we have the right to someone’s knowledge or a community’s knowledge. Sometimes gaps are intentional and sometimes gaps equal equity. It’s our responsibility to take these issues as central to working toward knowledge equity. And we can do this by involving more people from the communities we intend to serve.

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Houssem from Tunisia: Knowledge Equity Calendar

Talk about LGBT rights in Nigeria during the „Write for Rights“ in Tunis. Sparrow (麻雀), CC BY-SA 4.0

December 15

When you know that many people in this world lived and died thinking they are “ill” and “not normal” because no one provided them with the correct information, or when the information is available for them but they can’t understand it because of language barriers, you know there is no knowledge equity. Also from another side, when people from the “global north” believe in the stereotypes that the media communicates about “the global south”, you know that knowledge inequality exists worldwide and is not a local issue.

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Marc from Catalonia: Knowledge Equity Calendar

Arabic context geolocated articles: 23,007 Arabic Wikipedia Geolocated articles in Arabic speaking countries. Marcmiquel, CC BY-SA 4.0

December 13

My name is Marc Miquel, I work on a project called Wikipedia Cultural Diversity Observatory (WCDO), which is a joint space for researchers and activists to study Wikipedia’s content diversity coverage, discuss the strategic needs and propose solutions to improve it and fight against the knowledge gaps. 

The project wants to explain both the causes of the gaps and to provide a picture of the cultural representation of every language in every place in the world and at the same time, stimulate sharing content across languages. To fight the knowledge gaps, we want to raise awareness by providing different types of resources: datasets, visualizations, and statistics, as well as lists of articles and tools that show the most relevant gaps that need to be bridged.

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Lists in the Wikimedia movement Part 2: Building manual lists using the editorial practices of the Community

If you haven’t already read it yet, this is the second in a series of three blog posts about the creation of lists in the Wikimedia Movement. Check out part one “Lists in the Wikimedia movement? Why? What?

In the last post, I described why communities create lists, and with the next three posts I am going to describe what kinds of lists are common amongst Wikimedia communities so that you can choose which tactic to use to make your own.

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