Expanding Wikipedia to KwaZulu Natal
Since the formation of the WikimediaZA chapter in 2012, there has been a need to activate Wikipedians all over South Africa. This is also because of the realisation that there are more South Africans who read Wikipedia than those who contribute to the online encyclopaedia. Nevertheless, despite having no control over what content goes to Wikipedia, the chapter aims to have more Wikipedia content that represents the diverse cultures and languages of South Africa in the near future and this can be achieved by starting somewhere.
About 3 years ago the chapter ran a survey to get an idea of who edits Wikipedia in South Africa and where they are based. The answer was not surprising at all, the majority of Wikipedia editors in South Africa are white male spread between the provinces of Gauteng and Western Cape. Therefore, Durban was an obvious choice as a starting point to initiate the Wikipedia roadshow since it is one of the 3 biggest cities in South Africa and it’s exposed to many GLAM institutions. So we made contact with the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) library to do the edit-a-thon.
The edit workshops
After back and forth communication with UKZN library staff to organise logistics such as venue, internet connectivity, theme, marketing etc, the day finally arrived for the event. The edit-a-thon was opened to everyone however and we had 19 participants who were mostly library staff from different campuses of the University, more than half of which were also female.
Participants at UKZN Wikipedia editathon After everyone introduced themselves we then gave a brief presentation on what Wikipedia was about then proceeded to open Wikipedia user accounts for the participants. Normally Wikipedia doesn’t allow more than 6 people to open user accounts connected to the same IP address, but we used this cool feature to request for permission to allow us to connect as many people beforehand. The theme was centred around improving articles about Durban, this included historical buildings and culture of the people of KZN. Since everyone’s mother tongue was English edits were done in sandbox to avoid participants articles being tagged for speedy deletions.
The result of the edit-a-thon was that we had 18 new Wikimedians with 5 new articles that were created and 13 articles that were improved in the English Wikipedia. We also collected usernames from the participants to continuously provide support to them and track their progress. There’s 1 active Wikipedians in KZN who attended the event, he also received a sponsorship from the chapter to attend Wikimania 2018, we will be supporting him as a chapter to run Wikipedia meet-ups and edit workshops to increase our presence in that province.