MedinaPedia is a project in Tunisia that aims at documenting the monuments of Tunis’ ancient city center on Wikipedia. Their passion for that historical part of their country encouraged the participants to add over 400 articles to Wikipedia in five languages over the past three years. The organizing group is currently planning to extend their efforts to include other cities and towns in Tunisia.
The idea of MedinaPedia started at Carthagina, a local movement concerned with preserving the heritage of Tunisia, in 2014. Three Wikimedians (Émna Mizouni, Yamen Bousrih and Brahim Bouganmi) had a vision and took the lead on making it a reality. In 2015, Carthagina partnered with The Association of Preservation of the Medina of Tunis (ASM Tunis) to start the project.
At that time, MedinaPedia planned to document 150 selected historical monuments in the Medina of Tunis, the city’s ancient core, for people to have easy access to information about them. The Medina of Tunis is a particularly apt place to start; Wikipedia states that “it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 … [containing] some 700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains dating from the Almohad and the Hafsid periods.”
The first part of the MedinaPedia project was to write articles about these monuments on Wikipedia. The second, called QRpedia, was to attach QR codes to the monuments so that tourists and locals could easily access the articles.
The project was kicked off in September 2015 with a group of motivated volunteers who had been selected through an open application process. They were students from different fields, young doctors and engineers who all had one thing in common: curiosity and passion for the Medina.
We met on the first Sunday of every month in Dar Lasram, the office of our partner: ASM Tunis. We would discuss what we had achieved in the previous month, write some more articles, and make plans for the following month.
Throughout the year, we had a lot of help from our partners in Wikimedia Tunisia Yassine, Mounir, and Wael, who guided us through the process of writing, editing, and publishing the articles on Wikipedia. Jamel Ben Saidane (Wild Tunis) helped us with anything related to the Medina.
The first workshops were very interesting for us. We left each one having learned something new about the Medina and the world of Wikimedia. However, as time went on, knowledge and discovery were not the only things we looked forward to from our workshops. We wanted to see each other. The strictly professional environment turned into a monthly reunion of friends.
Brahim, the project coordinator and one of the authors of this post, kept track of what we achieved at the end of every set of workshops. On the one hand, he was aware of the large amount of articles we would write, translate, or edit within a certain timeframe. On the other hand, he (like every member of the team) was so busy planning meetings, writing more articles, and setting the next steps that none of us realized the amount of work we had done until the first part of the project came to end.
Our goal at the beginning was to cover about 150 monuments. We thought it was a long shot but we were hopeful nonetheless. Now, as the project is coming to an end, we are proud to say that our team has written over 400 articles in 5 languages. According to the team members, Yamen Bousrih and Sami Mlouhi who counted the results, we have uploaded over 5000 pictures so far on Wikimedia Commons. More than half of the articles that were created in French about Tunisia in 2016 were written by MedinaPedia members. Moreover, we are going to attach the first set of QRpedia codes by the end of April.
Even though we have not reached the end of the MedinaPedia Tunis project, we have already started expanding to other cities and towns. By the end of February we held the first workshop of MedinaPedia BeniKhalled, in partnership with ASM Beni Khalled, and now we are getting ready to start MedinaPedia Sfax. This is just the beginning as we are planning to cover other places across the country.
We hope that what used to be a small project in the beginning will inspire people to start a series of successful global projects.
Three years of weekly editathons
In 2014, a small group of Swedish Wikipedians started holding weekly editathons in Gothenburg, Sweden. There are many other Wikimedia meetups and regular editathons around the world, but this group has been at it each week for over three years.
Litteraturhuset (The House of Literature) in Gothenburg, is where the Wikipedians gather every week for a simple but fun program: Participants meet, edit Wikipedia articles, and have some coffee.
We have met nearly 150 times, edited several hundred articles about female authors and literary figures, and improved the quality of 20 of these articles, two of which became featured articles, the highest quality level determined by the Wikipedia community. The editathons attracted great female participation, which inspired male Wikipedians to edit female profiles on Wikipedia.
Some of the participants shared their thoughts about this experience:
- “Thanks to the editathons, I’ve become bolder in writing long entries and creating my first article! It was a good opportunity for me to keep editing Wikipedia along with other nice and interesting people.”
- “I always had a good time when I was there. Everyone is helpful and pleasant. I’ve learned so much more than before attending the weekly editathons.”
- “I came into contact with the Wikimedia group during the Gothenburg Book Fair in 2016. I got help writing an article about my father, Viktor Tesser (an artist). Since then, I’ve written about a science fiction trilogy, expanded the definition section of the article about families, and now I’m writing an article about a female scientist who’s researching girls with autism. We talked about symbols, female warriors, the early photographs, manga artists, ghost nets, famous female TV personalities, manors in the Bohuslän area, and much more.”
Different media outlets featured the project and the small group behind it, which encouraged other Wikipedians to host a similar activity. Over the past three years, a few other regular editathons have cropped up in Stockholm, Jönköping, and another one has recently started in Gothenburg.
We are not done yet
In 2016, two organizers of the weekly editathons hosted a Wikipedia camp. Inspired by the Armenian Wikicamps, the Swedish camp helped increase female participation on the Swedish Wikipedia as the newcomers were all women. They were invited by Wikimedia Sweden (Sverige) to attend a free week at a folk high school. The new participants continued editing for long time after the event.
The impact of our 2016 camp encouraged us to host a new one in 2017. Applications for the new camp are now open. More information about the camp is available on the Swedish Wikipedia and photos from the camp can be found on Commons.
In the meantime, the weekly editathons are being held on a regular weekly basis and new people join this effort every time. One of our participants comments on this saying:
“For me, the editathons are now a weekly habit, with nice people, interesting discoveries and much to learn. What started with the goal of “20 recommended articles” has grown to much more. We meet new faces nearly every week. We had annual meetings with the Swedish Wikimedia chapter and celebrated Wikipedia’s 15th anniversary, organized the Gothenburg Book Fair and wikicamps, made plans for International Women’s Day, and some attendees joined us from Svenshögen (quite far for weekly trips) as well as British Columbia. Our group doesn’t consist of females only and we don’t only write about women, but a clear focus has its own value. Our Tuesdays at Litteraturhuset are probably like Wikipedia—not perfect, but fantastic.”
Lennart Guldbrandsson, Swedish Wikipedian
Art + feminism workshop in Ghana: Last weekend, Wikimedia Ghana user group hosted an Art + feminism workshop in Accra Ghana where the participants edited African women profiles on Wikipedia. Photos from the event on their Facebook page.
2016 picture of the year competition is now open: Hundreds of images that have been rated Featured Pictures by the international Wikimedia Commons community will run for 2016’s picture of the year competition. Two rounds of voting will be held: In the first round, users can vote for as many images as they want. The first round category winners and the top ten overall will then make it to the final. In the final round, each voter needs to pick one image only. The image with highest votes becomes the picture of the year. More about the competition and voting are on Wikimedia Commons.
Workshop on fake news and new journalism by Amical Wikimedia: Amical Wikimedia, the independent thematic organization supporting Wikimedia in the Catalan-speaking countries, is holding a workshop on new journalism. The workshop will be held between 15 and 30 May 2017, where the journalist participants will be informed about the human rights related to access to information, how to maintain and encourage critical thinking, and more. The workshop will be organized in collaboration with Faber, the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities residency of Catalonia in Olot. More information and how to apply on Faber’s website.
Hindi Wikipedia presentation at Rashtriya Sangoshthi: The Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai (BARC) and the directorate of culture and archaeology in the governorate of Chhattisgarh, India organized a presentation at the Rashtriya Sangoshthi (national event) to share their editing experience with the event attendees.
WikiJournal user group getting ready for piloting a new platform: WikiJournal is an idea for an open peer-reviewed academic journal where the participants can publish research, peer-reviewed Wikipedia articles (such as the featured articles), etc with the main author’s name. The organizers are now getting ready for their website pilot. More about WikiJournal on Wikimedia-l.
The Netherlands and the world exchange platform kicks off: Wikimedia Netherlands, the independent chapter supporting Wikimedia in the Netherlands, has launched this platform to encourage global use of Dutch collections on non-European cultural heritage. The platform will particularly encourage sharing collections from countries with historical ties with the Netherlands including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Ghana, Suriname, South Africa, and others. More about the new website on Wikimedia-l.
Bay Area WikiSalon meets next week: San Francisco Bay Area’s WikiSalon will be held on Wednesday 29 March at 6 PM local time. The meetup will be held at Noisebridge makerspace/hackerspace followed by guided tours of Noisebridge. More about the event on Wikipedia.
Conflict of interest confusion on the English Wikipedia: A request for comment on the future of the conflict of interest policy and investigations related to it is ongoing on the English Wikipedia after an attempted close, which would have established “a task force of trusted editors to act as referees in matters related to conflict of interest and outing,” was reversed.
Compiled and edited by Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern