Hello again, everyone.
Thank you for your valuable feedback. Special thanks to Lourie for
volunteering to help concretely with Afrikaans and a venue at Stellenbosch,
as well as volunteering to be a trainer. We also have veterans of the
Kiswahili Challenge happy to train (in English), so we are probably well
covered for trainers.
I have given this much thought, and I have come to see the original plan is
not set up for success. I therefore suggest to POSTPONE the Challenge by at
least 2-3 months, and see if we can improve both our plan and the situation
in the projects before we embark on the challenge.
I would be _delighted_ if some of you would join me in thinking about this
and planning for a successful Challenge.
Let me describe my current thinking and how I propose to proceed, with your
* The editing communities in isiZulu and Setswana seem moribund. All
the recent edits are by bots or manual dumps of interwiki links. None of
the editors who have ever contributed significantly seem to be around. In
short, the projects are stuck. This means there is no one at hand to
support the Challenge newbies in guidance and article refinement.
* Potential judges for the Challenge can probably be recruited from among
linguists, academics, cultural agencies and the like -- but all would be
entirely unfamiliar with Wikipedia and its platform, requiring some
orientation (even if we don't expect them to actually edit a wiki).
* Plan and execute targetted outreach activities on campuses (and
high-schools?) to recruit a fresh group of contributors to isiZulu and
Setswana Wikipedia -- through lectures and workshops, unrelated to the
* Reach out to formerly-active isiZulu Wikipedians and tell them about
the Challenge. Perhaps they would be interested in resuming their
contributions to zuwp given the infusion of energy and material from the
* Likewise for Setswana.
The WMF itself has no presence in Africa, so WMZA activists are naturally
the ones best positioned to carry out such outreach. The WMF can and will,
however, support such activity through funds, training materials,
merchandise, and any other resource it can effectively put at WMZA's
Your opinions most welcome. If there are any takers, I'd love to start
collaborating on a plan for campus/school outreach immediately.
On Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM, Asaf Bartov <abartov(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
Thank you for your responses. I welcome discussing them:
On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 11:00 PM, Dwayne Bailey <dwayne(a)translate.org.za>wrote;wrote:
Following the success of Swahili? Have you
actually spoken to a Swahili
Wikipedia editor? I have and I haven't met one who'd agree with you.
Certainly, it was not an _unmitigated_ success. To me it is, on balance, a
success, because beyond the content contribution to the Wikipedia in
Kiswahili, it gave birth to a group of enthusiasts who ultimately formed a
group of activists _still_ growing to this day and doing excellent outreach
work already, and well on their way to becoming recognized as a Wikimedia
chapter. See their wiki for details, and in particular their school
While I appreciate that this brings exposure to Wikipedia and the language
it is a massive burden on the editors. Swahili
editors got an upsurge of
pages, but no long terms commitment of contributors. Google essentially
arrived, gave out cokes, got massive media exposure, and left. All the
editors volunteered their time and where left picking through the debris
left after the event. I'd hardly call relying on massive amounts of
volunteer time "heavy lifting funding wise", Google gives very little.
So unless lessons have been learnt and integrated into this program
"beware of Google bearing gifts".
Lessons have indeed been learnt. Following feedback from the Kiswahili
Challenge, we intend to devote more attention to judge selection and
process, to focus on locally-relevant articles, and to emphasize better (and
more restrained) use of the Google tools.
A number of things have changed for the better since 2009, too. For
example, we now have much better training materials (ready for adaption,
translation, etc.) in the Outreach wiki, and specifically in the
Bookshelf project therein, both of which did not exist in 2009. We also
have more "bandwidth" (read: attention capacity) from WMF staff to follow
this event and the preparations for it.
I disagree with Ian, I think you would get more Afrikaans participants
because of a passion for language, internet
connectedness, etc. But I'd
hate to burden the existing Afrikaans community to repair rubbish that will
be contributed by drive by writers.
All the above would work to minimize (never eradicate) the amount of
"rubbish" generated by the Challenge. Sure, some people Just Won't Get
no matter how good the training and ongoing coaching may be. But most will,
and, as with regular newbies who arrive on their own, a forbearing,
welcoming attitude is ultimately more productive than a strict and exacting
one. We know this as Wikipedians. I certainly acknowledge the veteran
editors would be called upon to bear an additional load of mentoring,
coaching, correcting, and, yes, reverting.
As for judges -- yes, Google's figure of 35 judges per language would be a
challenge, certainly for Zulu and Tswana. We shall try to achieve at least
half that many for each. I ask for your help in this -- volunteer judges
can sign up on the page I just created in Meta to start concentrating
information about this. I will also be reaching out to some
non-Wikipedians to serve as judges -- academics, linguists, etc.
I am also on the lookout for a volunteer trainer from South Africa, ideally
a speaker of at least one of the three target languages. The trainer needs
to be available for a whole week of fairly intensive training sessions in
2-3 universities in South Africa and 2-3 others in Botswana, on the week
beginning July 25th. The Foundation will fund travel; Google will fund
accommodation. The Foundation will also help prepare the training
materials. Please let me know if you're interested and available.
Once again, I welcome any suggestion for improvement, to make this as
successful and beneficial to our movement and mission as possible.
 My home wiki is the Hebrew Wikipedia, another small-language project
that has ~120K articles and has been struggling with the perennial problems
of newbies like all the other projects.
On 2011-06-14 03:07, Ian Gilfillan wrote:
That's interesting news. The challenges though will be quite different to
the Swahili event. Swahili is widely-spoken across numerous countries, and
had a sizeable Wikipedia community beforehand. Afrikaans isn't as widely
spoken, but has a relatively lively Wikipedia and active community. However,
finding 35 judges from within the community will not be possible - there
were only 24 active editors in April -
For both Tswana and Zulu, the Wikipedias are barely functional, with no
It does provide an opportunity though to kickstart some activity, create
awareness, and make some progress towards building a community. I would be
wary though, after the Swahili experience, of bringing in lots of new people
for a competition in the absence of an active community. I believe the
Swahili community had some challenges integrating the new editors and
articles, and doing so in a vacuum might be trickier.
I'm happy to assist, though I'd like to discuss more with Google their
aims and expectations, and give them a better idea of the situation as it
On 13/06/2011 22:53, Asaf Bartov wrote:
Following the success of the Google Kiswahili Wikipedia
in 2009, the WMF has been in touch with Google's Nairobi office about a
"Wikipedia Challenge" to be conducted in the languages Setswana, isiZulu,
and Afrikaans, to be held from early August 2011 to early October 2011.
This is basically a writing competition (translations are allowed) of
articles, with a proposed grand prize of a sponsored trip to Wikimania 2012
(in Washington D.C.), and several smaller prizes.
The competition is now at the planning phase, and we would very much like
to involve some of you at WMZA on several fronts. The first and most
pressing is finding volunteer judges for the articles that would be
submitted. Google wants 35 judges per language, expecting each judge to
need to put in 2-3 hours a week for the duration of the competition. Are
you able to begin interesting your local communities in these languages and
enlisting volunteers for this?
And generally, could you identify an appropriate contact person? (or one
This could be a very energizing program for your chapter to engage with.
Google are doing most of the heavy lifting, funding-wise.
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