Grants:IEG/Rural Community Engagement

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Rural Community Engagement

project contact:



grantees: User:SatuSuro
volunteers: User:Gnangarra
advisors: under negotiation


Rural Community Engagement is a project that is establishing criterion for the engaging of rural communities involvement in wikimedia projects, during the process of increasing involvement in the wheatbelt of Western Australia.

engagement target:

Specific projects in WP en - WikiProject Trains, WikiProject Australia (and its various sub projects), WikiProject Western Australia

strategic priority:

Strategic Goal (a) establishing specific parameters of information gathering, information organisation and utilisation in Wikimedia projects that deal with or have rural areas with spread out population and dispersed communities.

(b) providing WMF, GLAM and Wiki Takes communities with a 'handle' on the issues and the policies and procedures involved with non urban areas. Also suggestions as to how to deal with the issues that dont fit usual conceptions of traditional engagement practices.

(c) by working on (a) and (b) - the process of the project would cover Increasing reach, Increasing quality, and Increasing participation by the actions within rural communities and regions in Western Australia, and by extension Australia

total amount requested:

30000 USD

2013 round 2

Project idea[edit]

Rural Community Engagement is to develop a framework for dealing with rural areas that have inadequate coverage on Wikipedia due to low population, and spread out demographics. From that framework, to provide leadership in creating adequate procedures and practices that can be utilised across cultural and national boundaries.

Problem: Many rural communities in the range of Wikipedia projects are isolated, with low coverage and low population. The traditional processes, as exercised by current outreach measures of increasing involvement and content, may not function adequately to gain sufficient responses or subsequent involvement in projects.

Solution: Working in a very specific region of Western Australia, this project is involved in the evaluation and exercising of traditional outreach methods, in hand with experimental methods. This will provide a quantifiable template for future consideration of the issues arising from Rural Community Involvement.

Project goals[edit]

  • Second goal - to develop a framework for rural community engagement.
    • The process where people in agricultural and isolated regions are able to be included in Wikipedia projects by events and processes that may differ from traditional engagement processes.
  • Third goal - to test and apply the components of the rural community engagement process.
    • To create a set of templates and general procedures. To make a measurable and quantifiable program for Wikimedia outreach in areas where Wikipedia coverage is traditionally low or non-existent.
  • Fourth goal - to increase involvement and content on Wikimedia projects in rural communities.
    • To widely seek interaction with the foundation, projects, chapters, and other components of the Wikimedia community, so that there is a positive outcome through disseminating findings of the larger project.

Expected changes

  • Wikipedian articles or projects that incorporate groups or regions of rural communities will have a set of findings and results that will have come from this project, to provide a benchmark of policies and practices.
  • Outreach criterion usually very suitable for urban and close population densities will have been improved upon to have a new set of criteria for the different rural regions and communities where outreach methods will have variances.
  • Increased interest in the management of rural community engagement, and the methods of communicating with rural networks.

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Part 2: The Project Plan[edit]


Newdegate March 2006

As early as 2006, the participants SatuSuro, Gnangarra have purposefully traveled the Western Australian wheatbelt region collecting photographs and information on places of notability and then creating content[1], few more examples of content collected from the Wheatbelt region [2][3][4][5][6].

The activity of both editors in the wheatbelt region has been significant in contribution towards successfully created articles, for instance [7] a featured article. The contributions cut across subject matter and are not necesarily confined to a limited subject range.

SatuSuro contributed to the material that addresses transport in the region, originally in [8] and this developed into the sub-project [9]. However it must be emphasised that the subjects of wheatbelt work cross across any expected boundaries [10], and both editors have created baseline collections of photographs relative to a number of wheatbelt nature reserves [11], as well as other subject areas.

In subsequent years, various discussions about the wheatbelt increased, specially when a range of services were being either drastically reduced or closed down in the wheatbelt.

In 2013 when at the Wikimania Hong Hong Ideas Lab SatuSuro discussed the idea of dealing with gathering information in rural areas, with wikipedians from a range of countries. Participants from Europe, India and Africa showed interest in the issues arising.

The initial idea for the project was encapsulated in the proposed project title of Capturing a rapidly changing world: Wheatbelt Western Australia - the communities of the wheatbelt and the preservation and recording of cultural heritage. The preference for cultural heritage as a focus was due to the fact that many smaller museums and history societies either have closed or exist under very straitened circumstances.

As a result, on return to Western Australia, and after extended conversations with fellow Australian wikipedians, SatuSuro started the Western Australian Wheatbelt Project, and commenced discussions with a range of people involved in Wheatbelt services.

A number of reviewers of this project proposal have serious expressed concern that the 'spread' and 'context' of the Western Australian wheatbelt region might not be adequately appreciated by people who have not experienced the size, extent and issues relative to this rural region. This is ironic, as it is the very size of the region, its spread out population and its value to the larger Australian community, that has not been adequately covered in material currently in wikipedian projects. It is a task of this project to adequately encourage people to engage and communicate about the region, so that the complexities become apparent in wikimedia materials.

Project plan[edit]


Scope and activities[edit]

  • The scope of this project is the 'coverage' of the communities of the whole of the larger Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.
  • The Wheatbelt in its broadest sense is 40 to 50 different local authorities.
  • Time/Activities - travelling, organising activities in regional centres in rural areas of Western Australia, and hopefully other states.
  • Organising materials and information collected onto Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Commons and other projects relative to the project.

The completed project would see a significant increase in the coverage of agricultural regions in Australia in most Wikimedia projects.

Where the Western Australian Wheatbelt and other regions would have increased, as well as an increase of contributors in the regions; and an awareness of the Wikipedia coverage in communities that would otherwise be absent or neglected.this sentence has no independent clause[unclear]

Tools, technologies, and techniques[edit]

In the original drafts of this project consideration was given to the idea that traditional forms of engagement as mentioned, might not necessarily function adequately in rural areas to gain involvement or content. A major consideration of this project is exploring as to whether such a hypothesis can be tested - that alternative measures with potentially opposite or reverse functions compared to traditional GLAM and Wiki Takes procedures are feasible and effective.

  • Outreach
Outreach at the 2013 Toodyay show

In the communities that exist within the project scope area, there are potential linkages via (1) Community Resource Centres that exist in an extensive network in the wheatbelt and adjacent regions, (2) non-government groups with branches or affiliated groups in the region:

    • Editing Workshops
    • WikiTakes, Wiki Loves Monuments type activities
    • Educational programs
    • Talks and Introductions

With interest being shown beyond the existing related projects commenced in Toodyay, there is a potential for a considerable number of communities to come on-line in the short term that will require introductions to Wikipedia, as well as editing and uploading to Commons workshops. Some larger networks might see up to 10 or more locations or groups showing interest at the same time.

  • Connection

In the event of gaining support or collaboration from governmental or non-government bodies, extensive connectivity may be achievable. The negotiations and initial contacts are occurring with a number of offices on this issue.

  • Techniques

Travelling throughout Wheatbelt regions and margins, as well as specifically visiting regional town centres.

    • in person contact with individuals
    • media participation, on air and online projects
    • event presence recording and promoting
  • Information gathering and surveys
    • The project information 'sits' [unclear] on the information currently available on English Wikipedia relevant to the 'wheatbelt'. An important part of the project will be to incorporate the significant amount of information available in libraries, government departments and Community operated museums. The long term availability of this information is threatened by population decline due to services closing or being amalgamated, environmental impacts on economic future of some regions and generational shift away from farming to more financially rewarding activities.
    • Some organisations and government institutions have existing networks that cover the whole of the Western Australian wheatbelt. It is hoped that collaboration or interactions with the different bodies might facilitate a wide spread of information about this project.
    • The sequence of 'making connections', then ascertaining what relationships the project might be capable of - would be followed up by regular surveys with those bodies that have helped to contribute to the project utilising practices developed by Programs:Evaluation portal, for evaluation.


Total amount requested[edit]


Budget breakdown[edit]

  • National travel costs and accommodation = $12,000
    • Travel in Australia = $8,000
    • Accommodation and incidental costs = $4,000
  • Domestic travel costs = $6,000
    • Travel in WA by public transport = $1,000
    • Travel in WA by own transport = $4,000
    • Accommodation and incidental costs = $1,000
  • Project management requirements = $4,000
    • Data storage and backup = $2,000
    • Dedicated ISP costs = $1,000
    • Support equipment = $2,000
  • Wikimedia merchandise = $3,000
    • Materials for promotion = $1,000
    • Printing costs for materials = $1,000
    • WMF or other Wikipedia items = $1,000
  • Other costs = $5,000
    • Various aspects of project costs

Intended impact:[edit]

Target audience in Western Australia[edit]

  • Significant number of rural communities in Western Australia, and beyond using framework that is developed.
    • Statistics on the narrowest definition of the Wheatbelt region. Originally the wheatbelt region was defined by the Isohyets - rainfall regions of Western Australia, it is now by defined by Local Authority boundaries.
      • 43 shires/local Government areas, 160 towns, 72,000 residents[12], It is expected that the project will be of interest to 50+ shires where those outside of the defined area that are not included in the official statistics are nevertheless significant contributors to the wheat/grain growing economy of the state of Western Australia.
        • 4 sub regions, Avon, Central Coast & Midlands, Central East, Central South. It is possible to find many variations of the constituent parts of the wheatbelt.
      • Between 2001-02 and 2010-11 Western Australia's wheatbelt region accounted for the largest proportion of Australia's wheat product, 36% of total yield.[13] The Grain industry, and Agriculture in general in Australia (and most other countries) remains under-explained, and inadequately documented on Wikipedia and sister projects.
      • An area of 154,862 square kilometres (59,793 sq mi). Comparatively the narrowest definition of the Wheatbelt region is larger in area then England which is 130,000 km2. the physical distances from Perth to the northern-, eastern- or southern-most local government areas are each more than from London to Edinburgh.

Fit with strategy[edit]

  • This project seeks to find a method by which isolated rural communities and rural regions might be better covered by Wikimedia projects rather than just "visiting a town hall", and finding ways of increasing knowledge of Wikipedia in such regions and communities. Many are small and marginally notable, or even hardly visible. The history, context and connectedness into larger wholes is simply lost when considered in traditional ways of understanding Wiki Takes, GLAM and similar ventures. This project seeks to find ways of increasing reach, quality and participation from within a network of connected features rather than from a single site.


The wheatbelt of Western Australia (like a large number of rural regions around the world) is currently seeing a range of policies and political issues play with infrastructure - either the development or removal. The larger Western Australian Wheatbelt project is expected to run for three to five years, depending upon a range of factors, including sourcing funding, participation levels, and the extent to which support is gained.

This IEG part of the project is seen as an essential component in seeding and developing sustained long term success:

  • through the establishment of a framework and an editor base that will facilitate future expansion;
  • creating an alternative guideline as to how WMF, Chapters, and individuals can engage dispersed populations in non urbanised areas where traditionally designed programmes might not be as effective.

Yealering, Western Australia 2013

Measures of success[edit]

Targets of project[edit]
  • Targets of coverage and quality are dependent upon a much smaller demographic than can be assumed or expected from urban areas.
  • The level of interaction would be a mix of collaborative learning approaches as well as any requested 'teaching event' set of processes where on site responses and results might allow for a more immediate opportunity for evaluation.
  • Included in the targets are increased participation, and increased understanding of the range of Wikimedia projects that can be utilised in rural communities.
  • Sufficient understanding of the varying involvements of individual and groups so as to be able to understand issues that can be evaluated and analysed for understanding processes that encourage rural community engagement with Wikimedia projects.
Initial achievements[edit]
  • During the initial three months since the establishment of the three active programs within the region, responses have been positive.
  • There is clear evidence of active community engagement in Toodyay - this has included multiple public workshops, Wikitakes events and a recognisable presence of Wikimedian activity in the community.
  • Additional active editors resident within the region that are independently improving content.
As project develops[edit]
  • Acceptance by communities, community groups and regional organisations as a valid online documentation of the regions covered would be evaluated through a range of methods, and tested and compared during the project so as to evaluate the efficacy of one method or another.
  • Metrics and the variant methods of outreach, and the variant experiences would be adequately documented for further evaluation.
  • Every six months a third party sponsored meetup event that brings attendees from within the region to share experiences and plan further expansion, would be an excellent assessment process as well.
Outcomes of the project[edit]
  • A created dataset of materials about differing approaches to outreach in the rural communities, and the evaluation of the approaches.
  • Increased understanding within the Wikimedia projects of the special needs of rural communities and related subjects without having to require forms of exceptionalism.
  • Guide for engaging isolated community groups, facilitating them to develop ways into sustained contribution and long term positive participation. This would be parallel to the excellent range of materials already developed in the outreach community.
  • In general a ready acceptance by a wide range of communities and bodies in the rural regions of Western Australia of a very valid way of documenting the rural communities in Wikimedia projects.


  • User:SatuSuro Based in Perth, Western Australia - once a temporary co-ordinator for a community newspaper on the West Coast of Tasmania, post graduate student and researcher in the Bantul region of Central Java in Indonesia, and a recent short listed candidate for the Wikipedian in Residence position at the NLS in Edinburgh in Scotland. Editing areas on wp en are diverse, as are the contributions on Commons - subject areas vary widely, was the initiator of the Australian Maritime History Project, and one of the early supporters of the Death Project.
    Currently running the Wikipedia:Wiki_Takes_Western_Australian_Wheatbelt_Railways_2013 project, which is a component project of the larger Western Australian Wheatbelt Project, which is due to be up and running by the end of the year. A significant number of the operational and procedural aspects of the Wiki Takes... and the Wheatbelt project are tied into this current proposal.
  • User:Gnangarra Wikimedian since 2005 based in Perth, Western Australia - creator of WikiTown Freopedia who's successes and lessons learned have been utilised to create Toodyaypedia, organised WikiTakes Perth Foreshore[14], WikiTakes Waroona[15]. Have run workshops in regional areas of Western Australia for the public, local media and local government organisations, as well as 15 public events related to Freopedia. Have done interviews in local media in relation to those workshops and for Wiki10, additionally developing 2 more WikiTown QR projects in Western Australia including Toodyay that is within the boundaries of this project such that the work there will create synergies and opportunities for further development of this project.
Road and rail near Bruce Rock, Western Australia


Community Notification:[edit]

Notes that notifications have been sent privately to individual editors and non-wikipedians with interest in the subject area.


Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.
  • I would like to endorse this idea. Unlike many other proposals where there is no deadline, the rapid social and economic changes taking place in rural parts of the world means that if we don't look to collect that part of the world's knowledge now, it may be lost forever. Mobile views and editing are a good start, but more resources are required in order to help overcome the technological and social barriers and transform more rural people from passive consumers of Wikimedia content, to active contributors to Wikimedia content. Craig Franklin (talk) 11:46, 8 October 2013 (UTC).
  • I also support this idea, and think it could have a massive impact on involving and engaging rural communities. This project recognises that there may be unique challenges in covering regions geographically larger than England, but with around 1/1000th of the population (in the wheatbelt, less in other areas of the world). I can see this becoming a symbiotic relationship, with WMF projects gaining content and contributors, and towns and regions benefiting: for example, potentially attracting tourism from coverage on Wikivoyage, supplamented with free-use images uploaded to Commons; or preserving historic documents on Wikisource, which can used as sources to create and improve Wikipedia articles, with external links to official websites improving web presence. And once there have been a couple of successes, participation could easily snowball, with many organisations - and their individual members - wanting to emulate that success. So in summary, this is huge opportunity to increase contributions and numbers of contributors, with mutual benefits, in topics which, for the most part, Wikipedia and sister projects have little to zero coverage. - Evad37 (talk) 00:55, 22 October 2013 (UTC) (WikiProject Western Australia member)
  • This looks like a fairly interesting (and potentially quite fruitful) project.Crisco 1492 (talk) 15:44, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • This strikes me as being a well considered and important project. Regional Australia is currently greatly under-represented in all Wikimedia projects, and the WA wheat belt is an interesting area which is going through some important changes due to economic transitions and the effects of climate change. Due to the huge distances involved, there's a strong case for providing financial support for outreach and projects to photograph the region - it simply isn't possible to travel around regional WA without making overnight or multi-day trips. The two people who would lead this project have an excellent track record in relevant previous projects, as well as the English language Wikipedia, and would deliver good results here. Nick-D (talk) 10:04, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • (When not under personal pressure), even Australian politicians acknowledge Rural & Regional Australia is "disadvantaged", compared to Urban Australia. Less subjective assessments by scientists and statisticians provide hard evidence. This project would appear to have relevance across all of Australia, as there seems to have been little (or no?) attempt to do anything about promotion of, or involvement from, rural communities in any of the Australian states. As Nick-D says: "This strikes me as being a well considered and important project.", and I also agree with the rest of his assessment and comments. It would seem to me that this project is well worth supporting – in any way, and by any means – to improve understanding of a large (and neglected/under-represented/etc.) sector of Australian society. Pdfpdf (talk) 10:32, 24 October 2013 (UTC)