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 help:

* The editing communities in isiZulu[1] and Setswana[2] 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 Challenge.
* Reach out to formerly-active isiZulu Wikipedians[1] 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 Challenge?
* Likewise for Setswana[2].

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 disposal.

Your opinions most welcome.  If there are any takers, I'd love to start collaborating on a plan for campus/school outreach immediately.


   Asaf Bartov
   Wikimedia Foundation

[1] http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaZU.htm#wikipedians
[2] http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaTN.htm#wikipedians

On Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM, Asaf Bartov <abartov@wikimedia.org> wrote:
Hello, everyone.

Thank you for your responses.  I welcome discussing them:

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 11:00 PM, Dwayne Bailey <dwayne@translate.org.za> 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 outreach work[1].

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[2], and specifically in the Bookshelf project[3] 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 It, 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[4].  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[5].  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.


   Asaf Bartov
   Wikimedia Foundation

[1] http://wikimedia.or.ke/Main_Page
[2] http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
[3] http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Bookshelf_Project
[4] 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.
[5] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/African_Wikipedia_Challenge_2011

On 2011-06-14 03:07, Ian Gilfillan wrote:
Hi Asaf

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 - http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaAF.htm

For both Tswana and Zulu, the Wikipedias are barely functional, with no active editors.

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 is.

ian gilfillan

On 13/06/2011 22:53, Asaf Bartov wrote:
Hello, everyone.

Following the success of the Google Kiswahili Wikipedia Challenge[1] 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 per language?)

This could be a very energizing program for your chapter to engage with.  Google are doing most of the heavy lifting, funding-wise.


   Asaf Bartov
   Wikimedia Foundation

[1] http://www.google.com/events/kiswahili-wiki/
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