I am Lourie, as Kerryn already introduced me. Currently I am studying physics at the University of Stellenbosch. In my extra time I work on various projects, such as competing in the Google X Prize. In the past I contributed on a regular basis to Wikipedia and later worked as a developer on the Toolserver. Unfortunately I am currently too busy for even one these activities. Thatís why I donít contribute anymore to Wikipedia or the Toolserver.
From the beginning of this year I started to look into the possibility to include Wikipedia in the university curriculum in some manner. Currently all the first years has a course that handles about scientific communication. One of the many aspects we are focussing on is the correct use of references. As David said; the fact that people doesnít understand or know how to use references are a great problem. I started to chat with the coordinators of these courses, with the idea to incorporate Wikipedia. Unfortunately the head coordinator was in a car accident this holiday, so things are going slower than usual. My idea was to implement the concept at Stellenbosch and then spread it to the rest of the South African universities. Currently we and Potchefstroom (and probably some other universities) are already using the same sort of information for this course. Thatís why I thought that if I could get Wikipedia implemented at Stellenbosch, it would easily spread to the rest of South Africa.
As Kerryn said in the one email; most of the people in South Africa has a completely wrong idea of Wikipedia, and the other Wikimedia projects. If we succeed in starting the South African Chapter; it would be great if this could be one of the initial projects handled by the chapter. Not only will we get the academia involved at contributing to articles, but we may even succeed in promoting the quality of Wikipedia articles. This way we could even encourage the rest of the South African population to contribution to Wikipedia and make use of its information. That way we could address issues, such as the tiny amount of Afrikaans and other African language articles on Wikipedia. People like to read articles that are in their home language, so we might improve the popularity of Wikipedia this way.
I literally wrote some of these ideas down as they went through my head. So please do make comments and say where we could improve on them. I am really excited to see you all at the workshop. I believe that if we could get all the correct people together we could make a great success of the South African chapter!
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