Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, with more than thirteen thousand islands. It spans across the equator, spanning a distance that is equivalent to one-eighth of the Earth’s circumference. Being home to over 261 million people, Indonesia has a rich diversity of native ethnic and linguistic groups. These groups are all united under the national motto of “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” which translates roughly to “Unity in Diversity” or literally “many, yet one”.
Wikimedia Indonesia embraces its country’s motto by aiming to support all the different language communities in their country, beyond national language of Indonesian. But there are 700 languages and 300 distinct ethnic groups in Indonesia, and only 11 languages are presently on the Wikipedia. It’s not logistically possible for them to serve every community, or cover all of Indonesia.
|“||If you need our help, we can help you. We will send people to train you, teach you how to train people, provide the training materials, and various other logistics. We make it known that Wikimedia Indonesia is here to help you.||”|
|— Biyanto Rebin, Chair of the Board of Executive|
Instead, their approach has been to develop community organizers within each language community. These are the people who will sustain, encourage, and organize the community locally, instead of being lead externally. This approach allows Wikimedia Indonesia to provide structure, support and expertise, but ultimately allows the community to become self-sustaining. And it’s at that point that Wikimedia Indonesia can move onto another community.
To this end, Wikimedia Indonesia has been running WikiLatih or WikiTraining since 2008. WikiLatih is a training program that progresses people from participants to editors to trainers to community organizers. This deliberate volunteer development results in a robust volunteer pipeline, online, and offline. Any participant - new or old - knows there is a way for them to contribute beyond editing; if they want to get more engaged, they have a clear path and clear invitation. By putting local volunteers quickly into leadership roles, WikiLatih has been a key way Wikimedia Indonesia has built trust in the more remote locations of Indonesia.
While this program has been ongoing since 2008, the grant Wikimedia Indonesia received in 2017 from the Simple Annual Plan grant program allowed them to expand WikiLatih to new communities in Padang, Cirebon, Bandung, and Yogyakarta, some which were previously inaccessible due to cost.
|“||Indonesia is a huge country; to have a training on Java Island is expensive. It is actually cheaper to go to Bangkok than travel length of country. With the Simple APG grant we can reach unrepresented communities.||”|
|— Rachmat Wahidi, GLAM Coordinator for Wikimedia Indonesia|
Last year, Wikimedia Indonesia focused on Javanese community by having a WikiLatih in several cities in the three main provinces of Javanese speakers: Central Java, East Java, and Yogyakarta. Interest from editors within the Javanese community prompted Wikimedia Indonesia to focus training efforts on the language group. The Javanese language articles on Wikipedia were lacking, which encouraged Wikimedia Indonesia to build up the local community through competition and training.
Volunteers were initially hesitant to participate, because most were not confident in their written Javanese. Javanese has multiple dialects and three distinct registers (or styles), where the usage of a particular register depends on social context. Many lot of Javanese Wikipedia articles have a template on top that says “This article is written in this dialect and this register”. But this made participants anxious: some didn’t know the “high” register or “Krama”, and others felt their vocabulary was limited because they learned Indonesian in school, not Javanese. But with the encouragement and expertise of Wikimedia Indonesia and local community organizers, as participants learned to edit they also discovered a love for writing, and even discovered new aspects of Javanese. “Oh, I didn’t know Javanese had this word!” was a common refrain within WikiLatih trainings, as participants became more comfortable and confident in their writing.
Since then, the Javanese community has flourished. They have expanded past WikiLaith, going on to create their own program Wikipedia Menyang Sekolah or Wikipedia Goes to School. With this step, Wikimedia Indonesia has been able to take a step back and support the Javanese community in different ways.They have also been able to move on to new communities like Minangkabau, Sundanese, and Gorontalo who need their support more now.
Island by island, community by community, Wikimedia Indonesia continues to progress and retain Wikimedia volunteers through the combination of progressive training, proactive outreach, and deliberate development. Also known as WikiLatih.
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