I just published some of my findings from the very encouraging
conversations I had during WikiIndaba. As you probably know, Wiki Loves
Monuments has been especially successful in some parts of the world. The
international team expressed the desire to explore the opportunities and
challenges that Wiki Loves Monuments faces in (sub-Saharan) Africa, and how
we could further develop the concept to make it both more accessible and
For this purpose, I attended WikiIndaba, the Wikimedia Conference for
organizers of Wikimedia activities across Africa. This is the best group to
learn how we can improve our concept and methods to suit the needs of
African organizers. A session to introduce WLM and explore the challenges
and opportunities with national organizers was accepted, but was last
minute merged with the session dedicated to the future on Wiki Loves
Most of the people I talked with either organized Wiki Loves Monuments in
the past, or expressed an interest to do so in the future, if there would
be no obstacles. The conversations focused mostly on challenges and how to
address those, and I skipped for these purposes the positive feedback we
received (an effective way to build community capacity, a nice way to get
people involved in the community, returning new contributors, pride of the
result achieved, a good entrance to start conversations with partners,
In this report, I'll aggregate with a focus on future continuation. None of
the points is generalizable for the countries - Africa is an incredibly
diverse continent, and it would not be helpful to assume that all problems
described are equally (if at all) relevant to all countries. I tried to
cluster the information somewhat, and provide context where possible.
This is intended as input for a conversation, which would be a next step.
Your thoughts on these issues, and especially other challenges you think
may be missing from this overview, would be most welcome!
Finance/Grant: Organizers were challenged by the grant practices. One
grantee described how they were granted funds, but due to the timing of the
approval process (near the end of September), they were only able to
execute it in a limited fashion. This reduced their effectiveness
significantly. Approval speed (and execution speed) was reported in general
as suboptimal. Some reported that grant committees would add 'suggestions'
to change their activity. Organizers felt pressured to follow them, even
though they didn't feel it helped the cause. User Groups can also only
request 3 grants at the same time. This limits the larger UG's in their
activities, and can mean that they have to skip WLM because of it, or
request it in an untimely manner. A smoother and guaranteed pipeline would
A follow-up conversation with WMF Rapid Grants was scheduled in the weeks
after Wiki Indaba, and resulted in a number of action items for future
Collaborations: Many wanted to increase local collaborations, but several
countries reported that they did not get the kind of appreciation as you'd
hope due to not being incorportated. They feel that more international
support (letters of support, introductions, etc) could be beneficial. This
is even more relevant for sponsorships.
International bodies/networks: Especially when contacting the government,
some support from UNESCO-like organizations could be helpful. We should
look into how to build those relationships in a consistent manner.
Quality: National organizers felt that the quality of their images was not
able to compete with European images. That is discouraging to photographers
and organizers alike.
Transportation: People need to travel to monuments to photograph them.
People need to travel to ceremonies to accept their award. Not everyone can
afford that. Several countries described that they organized tours to bring
photographers to the monuments, with the expectation that they then upload
the images. Movement is not a free resource, and people need to be at the
monument to photograph it. This did bring several challenges though, in
order to perfect the pipeline (how do they actually upload the images).
Definitions: We may be dealing with different concepts of what constitutes
'heritage'. Some are because of practical concerns (copyright, official
status), some are more conceptual. The concept is all too often tied to the
Diverse African Heritage: Freedom of Panorama is a blocker. A significant
number of African countries faces a limitation of heritage that can be
photographed due to copyright restrictions. Organizing Wiki Loves Monuments
can both be a motivation for us why we want to reduce those restrictions,
but it can also be a PR-tool in persuading policy makers. Copyright
restrictions lead to a distorted depiction of African heritage.
Also the monument lists are often restricted to more or less the colonial
era. Diversifying the lists is essential to engage the audience. Ancient
monuments are sometimes kept off the lists (or mentioned without location)
to preserve them through obscurity.
List quality: the quality (incl. richness) is not great in several
countries. That means a lot of manual work in improving the lists. Cleanup,
improvements, adding information and fixing mistakes, hard to deal with in
our framework: we like to think of the official lists as an authoritative
source. The standards are different compared to some European countries.
Scope size: When the list is too short, the heritage is not 'close' enough,
and the list may be completed rapidly because the bar for a monument is
really high. They are likely already photographed. How to expand the scope?
Informal lists: Besides the formal lists, there are sometimes also
unofficial lists by other organizations or without legal standing (official
status comes with expectations/responsibilities for the government). These
could perhaps be included in the scope.
List updates: Lists are not always updated (this is a general problem
across WLM). This becomes especially challenging when the government list
is not 'officially published' all the time. How can we make updating scale?
Wikidata: Getting the data into Wikidata was generally received as a
positive thing, but also as something hard to comprehend/execute. Wikidata
does offer a framework for future localization.
List: Do we actually need a list?
Mobile: Uploading via phone or a reliable app could be improved. This would
have to include the whole pipeline a participant has to go through: finding
the monument, uploading, identifying etc. The current upload process is
just too complicated, and the forced desktop process discourages part of
People: Many activities are being organized, and it is not always easy to
find people who can organize a competition like this without support.
Technical support: A few times it was brought up that there are little
technical tasks that block teams from moving forward (running queries on
Wikidata, converting lists, setting up pages). Some support could help
volunteers with less technical expertise participate in the organization
Communication: Promotion of the competition is more of a challenge. Social
Media may be an additional approach to the banner, but requires investments
of effort. Journalists expect to be compensated for their coverage. This
all has some effort and budget implications.
Documentation: We need better documentation on how to organize. This
includes how to make a communication plan, decision trees what to include
in your competition, a menu of different options, etc.
Confusion: Some countries didn't participate because of a misunderstanding
of the concept: who participates, and which photos can participate. Clearer
and more communication could help.
Follow-up: People are excited after participating in something like Wiki
Loves Monuments. How to keep them engaged? Even three events per year (lot
of work!) may not be sufficient. We need some clearer pipeline for them to
enter, better mechanisms.
I spoke at least with volunteers from the following countries: Uganda,
Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon, Algeria
Hope this email finds you well. We are sending this message to select
community mailing lists and all previous recipients of a Wikimedia
Foundation Rapid Grant.
We have an announcement regarding the closure of the Rapid Grants 
program between May 14 - June 30, 2018. This year we've received a lot of
interest in the program and this quarter we've almost doubled the amount of
grants offered to the community compared to last year's quarter. You can
look at our spending analysis
reference. Unfortunately, this means we've expended our funds for this
fiscal year. The last date we will be receiving an application for a rapid
grant before the closure will be *Friday, May 11, 2018*.
We encourage *Wiki Loves Earth* participants to apply for a Rapid Grant by
May 11, 2018 to receive support for their project.
The grant program will be open again to receive grant requests starting *July
1, 2018*. At this point we will be implementing the following changes:
1. There will be a minimum of *$500 USD* for grant requests
2. Applications will only be accepted between the *1st - 15th of each month*.
This is to help with our current workflow and to allow us to be more
responsive to your requests.
If you have any questions, please email us at rapidgrants(a)wikimedia.org.
Wikimedia Foundation <http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Home>
User: WJifar (WMF)