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CEE Newsletter
Volume 2 • Issue 8 • September 2018
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Regional report: Interview with the Wikipedian of the Year, Farkhad Fatkulin

Interview by: Vassia Atanassova
During Wikimania 2018, a person from the CEE region, Farkhad Fatkulin, was announced Wikimedian of the Year. In the end of August, the CEE Newsletter took an interview from Farkhad.

Hello, Farhad, this is yet another interview, which you are asked to give, and I thank you for agreeing to do so. :) What kind of media were interested in you and your award "Wikimedian of the Year"?

Some Federal, but mainly regional and local. Some called me, others invited or came for an interview in persons, as well as there were many compilations from other printed or Web-media. I keep adding links I discover though these are not even all I've seen and I haven't yet found links to some TV interviews I've given.

Are journalists in Tatarstan and Russia aware of the specifics of Wikip/media, of the voluntary nature of contributions and the free licenses? What are the main points you make in these interviews?

Wikimedia movement and its vision-mission-etc. are unknown in Russia. Wikipedia is used extensively, but it is not understood and thus only mentioned in criticism. My being named WOTY was possibly the first time Respected Federal Mass-media Outlets and News Agencies (including the Official Russian Federation Government Newspaper) wrote about Wikipedia and the movement, and it was in very positive light. The shortest interview I've given was a 15 minute recording for a Prime-time Regional TV Newscast, the longest was about 2,5 hours for one of the online platforms. I certainly stress the importance of Wikipedias for preservation of languages, the role of Wikimedia projects in Education, promoting regional cultural heritage and knowledge (GLAMs), free licenses, etc., but journalists are always catering to specific audiences, so the content their editors approve often ends up stressing the points they understand as valuable for readers. See the only one available in English.

You were selected for WOTY for your efforts in support of the minority language communities in Russia. And you mainly edit the Tatar version of Wikipedia. What is the impact of such contributions? What is your motivation to contribute to a small language version?

Tatar Wikipedia was and is my principle playground (56% of my over 100 000 edits is there). Otherwise, I do similar work in others. For the answer of why I do it, even for the languages I don't understand and will unlikely ever learn, see the page Linguistic-cultural identity, as well as quotes and sources on the principle page of the Meta Project
As for the WOTY, I perfectly understand that it's mainly because of my translation activities between English and Russian that helped bridging the knowledge, culture and communication gap and alienation caused due to the predominance of stereotypical thinking that there's only one version of Truth or approach. In my case, I see myself as much French or Turkish, as Tatar or Russian, and I don't really care about ideological, political or ethnic non-sense some people give so much attention to (I also have a strong English and Italian linguistic identities). There is a lot of creativity everywhere on our Blue Planet, and the more we are ready to share with and (equally, if not more important) also learn from others, the closer we will get to the ideals of Wikimedia movement.

Are there some local wiki projects, specific to the Tatar Wikipedia? Tell us more, I think that the CEE Newsletter has never covered any story coming from this part of the CEE.

Around 80% of the total 6-7 million speakers of Tatar are residing within the Russian Federation, with about a quarter within a single region called the Republic of Tatarstan (Kazan is the regional capital, we hosted some of the FIFA2018 games this June-July). The peculiarity of Tatar Wikipedia is that it started in Latin by diaspora and some Kazan activists in 2003 when Internet access in Russia was very expensive and hardly available anywhere but the largest cities (where Cyrillic is in use). There were a number of Latin scripts in the history of Tatar, though only one Cyrillic alphabet, which is why since 2010 our default interface, as well as the predominant part of the texts is in Cyrillic Tatar. After the formal Latin for transliteration of predominantly Cyrillic Tatar texts was approved in late 2012, we started standardizing the texts of the previously created Latin script articles, which is probably the unique project in ttWP (probably still unfinished). One more peculiarity is in different writing norms in Latin and Cyrillic, which makes a working transliteration a challenge, but we value both scripts and allow their use, though twin articles are not allowed (if the article in Latin was created first, the Cyrillic one will redirect to it).
As for our part of CEE, linguistic cultural identity becomes very important with all the ethnic diversity of Russia - we distinguish between our Russian Federation citizenship and ethnic Russian or Tatar etc. nationality (in Russian we have different words for those two meanings of "Russian", plus try not to use word "ethnicity" when you speak in Russian). Russian Federation, just like USSR, Russian Empire, Golden Horde and other political entities before that, are our home, so today we are proud Russians (which doesn't make me any less Tatar, my neighbors Bashkir etc.) At the moment, Wikimedia Russia volunteers, including myself, are both proud and concerned about having to worry about the future of some 30 various language versions of Wikipedia and other projects, but this makes us look for creative ways of using our limited volunteer resources.

In the CEE region, there are other small languages, as well, facing similar challenges. What lessons learnt can you share in this relation?

Russian Federation alone, not to mention wider EuroAsia (significant part of which falls under CEE region of Wikimedia geography) is the most linguistically diverse region of the world. If we loose a language, however small is its speaker base, our sum of all human knowledge is all of a sudden one cultural approach smaller, as cultures don't survive without language. In the world where creativity and sustainability is valuable, it's much cheaper to prevent this loss than to try reinventing it later.
The issue is not regional, it's on a human society level. If I put one language or one culture or any specific point of view above all else, I'm not really a Man (as in Kipling's If—), nor am I a Human as described in Quran. There's no point of being a proud Tatar or Russian or whatever, "if you’ve cheated the man in the glass". In this sense, we can all benefit by supporting the weaker ones from among Wikimedia Indigenous Languages.
In both Tatar and Russian we have a verb, standing for "to become family / kin". I apply that to languages and cultures, seeing all of those in the Volga region, wider Russia and Turkic world, CEE and beyond as part of my cultural heritage. I would love to see more people to experience the joy this gives to my life: your family is bigger, experiences richer, whilst satisfaction with even minute things is sky-high.

Macedonia report: Wikicamp in Dihovo

By Македонец

During the holiday weekend on the occasion of the Independence Day of Macedonia from 7th to 9th of September in the village of Dihovo on the foothills of Baba mountain and peak Pelister near Bitola, the second Wiki-Camp was organized. The camp was attended by 20 young people from several towns in Macedonia who, through mutual acquaintance and socializing, had the opportunity to get to familiarized, instructed and be trained for editing articles on Wikipedia in Macedonian language by editing through the visual editor and source coded editing via the html code as well the new translation tool. Moreover all of the participants have been trained for creating a good quality articles by adding references, categorizing articles and formatting text in the articles. The second main focus of the training during the wikicamp was the uploading and licensing images on Commons Wikimedia. For the first time on this wikicamp has been conveyed presentation and workshop on Wikidata, whereby the participants have edited several subjects of articles. Apart from the editing activities the second main acitvity about which the participants have been trained was the manner of conducting expedition field research in the area of geography, nature, agriculture, cultural heritage, architecture and archeology through hikes on different places in the surroundings whereby the attendants have visited Dihovo with the remains of the first textile factory and an industrial building in Macedonia with all social facilities and natural landmarks such as the Kapejnci waterfall and the monastery in the vicinity on the second day and the villages of Brusnik and Nizepole in Bitola and their surroundings on the last day where over 130 photos were made available for free use. Within the editing activities during the Wikicamp in Dihovo, more than 50 new articles on Wikipedia have been created and more then a dozen were improved in Macedonian Wikipedia. Considering the success of this camp and the usefulness of using Wikipedia in everyday life, to hold more Wiki-camps during the spring and autumn in different parts of Macedonia for the next year and workshops and lectures in more cities of the state.

Russia report: Preparation for the autumn educational session of Selet WikiSchool is started

By Тимерхан

After our summer events team of Selet WikiSchool organizers started preparing to the autumn educational session of the project. First step — organizing wiki-master classes in educational institutions of Kazan city to inviting Tatar language youth to taking part in the session.

In mid-September we visited 12th, 2nd, 180th gymnasiums, 4th boarding gymnasium and 167th school of Kazan. Organizers gave a prizes children who active took part in master-class.

Also during September we met with students of Gabdulla Tukay Higher School of Tatar Studies and Turkology 3 times. We are very interested in participating in our project of students of universities too.

18th September I gave an interview to youth radio-show of Tatarstan radio about autumn educational session of Selet WikiSchool. 4th October the interview was aired.

22nd - 23rd September head of the project Timerkhan & student of WikiSchool, winner of "The best article" the WikiSchool contest Khabil Sakhabiev participated in Wikimedia Conference Russia 2018. There is Timerkhan presented experience of spring educational session and plans for 2018/2019 school year at the conference.

1st October 2018 Tatar language Wikimedians met with State Counselor of the Republic of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev and discussed plans of promoting Tatar language Wikimedia projects in Tatarstan. Also Timerkhan presented plans of Selet WikiSchool.

The application stage of the session has begun and will be until 21st October 2018.

Serbia report: Decentralization of GLAM activities

By Ivana Guslarević, Ivana Madžarević

Serbian Wikipedia enriched by another museum’s heritage


During August and September, the Wikipedian in Residence program took place in the Museum of Vrbas, which opened its door for an enthusiastic Wikipedian, in order to help her increase free content online based on the sources stored in this museum. The culture and history of the city of Vrbas, as well as the museum itself, are now represented on Serbian Wikipedia through 25 new and 7 improved articles, but also with almost 350 free images for wiki projects.

Cooperation between Wikimedia Serbia and the City Museum of Vrbas was encouraged by the Ministry of Culture and Information, with the initial support provided to the Wikimedia GLAM Program. After the representatives of the Museum of Vojvodina attended the first seminar at the Ministry, this provincial museum initiated the organizing of another GLAM seminar. The historian and curator Pavle Orbović, one of the most valuable participants in this seminar, was delegated to this two-day activity by the Vrbas City Museum. He quickly and easily mastered the basics of editing Wikipedia, but, more importantly, the importance of the presence of the institutions in Wikipedia, as well as the mission of spreading free knowledge about cultural heritage.

The idea of having the Wikimedian in Residence program in our museum was not only supported from the beginning, but was immediately considered as being realized

Oksana Mudri-Nedić, Wikipedian in residence and Pavle Orbović

"The first seminar that took place at the Museum of Vojvodina was very well organized and I found out everything related to copyright. However, the way of writing an article seemed a bit complicated, which was the reason for me to attend the advanced Wiki course in Belgrade. After this seminar, where I trained to write articles using visual editor, I realized that writing is much easier and faster. Also, it was immediately clear to me that we could conduct an internship program in our museum and that this would be a great move for the Museum in which I work."

Pavle Orbović, Museum in Vrbas

Wikipedian Oksana Mudri-Nedić worked for a month at the museum, uploaded images, wrote, improved and illustrated articles, but she says that all employees had given her immense help, and their enthusiasm and commitment to this project gave her even greater incentive to record the history of Vrbas.

Internship programs have been intensified this year and, after successful internship at the Museum of Yugoslavia, currently has a two-month internship at the Museum of Vojvodina, financed by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia.

The Museum of Vojvodinian Slovaks became a part of the global GLAM program


The Museum of Vojvodinian Slovaks in Serbian city of Bački Petrovac became the newest partner of the global GLAM project (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) that aims to represent cultural and historical heritage on Wikipedia. With the help of an experienced Wikipedia editor and a GLAM volunteer from Wikimedia Serbia, this museum released 65 photographs for wiki projects in just five days.

The partnership was a result of the support of the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia and was initiated on a seminar in the Museum of Vojvodina which took place back in April. Director of the Museum of Vojvodinian Slovaks, Anka Seč-Pinćir attended the seminar and realized the potential of the presence of the museum’s collections on Wikipedia and helped organize the partnership.

It is important that the workers in cultural institutions understand that they need to share information

"The partnership with Wikimedia started spontaneously. I met the representatives of Wikimedia Serbia during a workshop in the Museum of Vojvodina where I got the thorough and useful information. Because the people were very open and professional and because Wikimedia is a global organization that stands behind many enormous online projects, we were happy to work together. So we planned the “introduction” to a partnership that will last for years. Soon after we started a 5 day project. The Wikipedian that stayed with us added information about our institution; more specifically he edited articles, uploaded photos of the items in the museum, old photos and paintings from the museum’s collections. Aside from that he went around Bački Petrovac and Kulpin where he also took photos of various sites, specific places and the environment."

Anka Seč-Pinćir, Museum of Vojvodinian Slovaks

Because this museum doesn’t have enough employees who would dedicate their time for the selection of the materials (and the metadata that goes with them) and their publishing on Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Serbia sent a GLAM volunteer to Bački Petrovac so that a part of this job would be done efficiently. That's how Miloš Todorović, a former Wikipedian in residence and devoted GLAM volunteer, spent five days in this place in Vojvodina. In addition to uploading photos released by the museum, Miloš took 92 photos of cultural monuments and other sites in Bački Petrovac and Kulpin.

These results with such a narrow time limit show that the global GLAM project has another partner eager for a long-term collaboration that will further present the culture and history of Slovaks in Serbia on wiki projects.