[Wikimedia-l] An idea for a different type of community-pedia project

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 15 16:42:47 UTC 2013

An idea that arose from a discussion on whether to lift restrictions on
Gibraltarpedia hooks on the English Wikipedia main page (1), in the wake of
the recently published Wikipedia community governance review (2):

Would it not make sense to run content generation projects with a local
focus – think Maltapedia, Guyanapedia etc. – under the aegis and
supervision of the foundation, and with funding from donations and
university grants, much like the Public Policy Initiative? This could
involve hiring a freelance consultant to coordinate the project, paid and
supervised by the foundation rather than a tourism office.

Note that the Wikimedia UK governance review** commented on page 31 on an
absence of "career paths" for Wikipedians, with the result that people had
begun "inventing them". This type of project could provide a bona fide
career path for Wikipedians that would remain under the supervision and
control of the foundation.

Content selection could be done strictly on the basis of an encyclopedic
needs assessment, rather than on the basis of commercial interest. For
example, if a particular country is poorly covered, or if there are dozens
of sizeable Chinese cities that Wikipedia doesn't have articles for yet,
there could be a corresponding Wikimedia project to expand coverage.

Given that the foundation is "flush with funds, short on volunteers" (3),
it strikes me that this could also be a powerful recruitment tool: a
project like Maltapedia could be widely advertised in the press and
specialist journals, along with a call for knowledgeable members of the
public to come forward and join the effort, complete with a competition and
prizes sponsored by the foundation. Publicity around such projects could
also draw topic suggestions from the general public.

This would be an alternative to projects like Monmouthpedia and
Gibraltarpedia, which are funded by local government, tourism offices and
the like, and are managed by private contractors. It might also avoid some
of the pitfalls associated with these projects.

Of course, there is no need to bar the latter type of project. There could
still be a free market for this type of more commercially motivated
community project, independently of the foundation's own projects.

However, in order to cut out the paid product placement element, articles
generated as part of such free-market projects should not qualify for
Wikipedia main page DYK slots. Even without main page placement, there is
still a benefit for people locally from better online coverage of their
area; the incentive for participation should no longer include the promise
of coverage on Wikipedia main pages (4), or incentivise the submission of






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