Learning patterns/Connectivity issues
What problem does this solve?
One of the most common activities our movement does are workshops. In these activities, we expect people to learn how to edit on Wikipedia and face the main challenges in a direct approach. However, sometimes the connection of the venue is deficient or simply non-existent. This is very relevant especially when we organize events in remote places.
Usually, we face the problem of an extremely low Internet access, which makes almost impossible to teach how to use Wikipedia (in some cases, it is a miracle if a Wikipedia article appears!). This situation irritates the participants because they can do nothing on the website. At the end it produces an inverse effect and it makes less probable that the attendees become editors.
What is the solution?
- Try the connection before: Visit the venue before the event takes place. Talk with the person in charge of the technological infraestructure and ask for the capacity of the venue. Be clear! Say how many people will be attending, if they will be using their own laptops or using desktop PCs. If you ask if there is WiFi connection, they probably will say "Yes!" but it is different to have WiFi connection than accept 20 or more different computers.
- Mobile hotspot: If the worst happens and you don't have a good connection, bring a mobile phone or a tablet able to share Internet connection to other devices. Certainly, this won't be a perfect solution but at least can help the access of some participants.
- Groups: If the internet connection have problems handling with so many users, make them participate in groups. This way, the connection should be faster and the participants will be able to try Wikipedia. It could be interesting if you can made them participate together, discuss about the articles ("what does it mean that the neutrality of an article is disputed?" for example) and even make some healthy competition between the groups.
- Use an offline word processor: When creating an article, most of the time is spent writing. And for this, you don't necessarily need Wikipedia to be working. If it takes too long to open the Edit tab, you can make the participants write in a word processor the main text of the article (if they are creating a new article or a new section). Once you are ready, copy the text, see if the edit space is already woking, paste the text and save. It is not optimal but at least the users will see that they can update Wikipedia and that is very important for retention.
- Have a printed manual: You will need something printed if you want to make the participants were used to the wiki code if they won't be able to use it online. It doesn't have to be a big manual, a cheatsheet should be enough.
- Use a projector: Have everyone but the workshop leader disconnect from the internet. The workshop leader should use a projector to share their screen with the group. As a group, choose an article to work on. The workshop leader can then demonstrate how to create and edit an article, while participants can offer information to be added. This works best in a classroom setting where participants have been studying the same subject together.
- Prepare and carry offline screencasts about basic tasks in Wikipedia usage and editing. This will also be handy in situations where lot of moving crowd visits your desk in book fairs etc.,
- Use the Wikipedia translation tool "Minority Translate" in offline mode. It can be used for downloading any amount of existing articles in any language and the writers can use this as help when editing or creating an article in a new language. Finished articles can be saved and uploaded later. Downloaded articles can be saved as separate sessions which can be shared among the participants to work on.
- Osmar Valdebenito (WMAR)
- Every outreach volunteer should be prepared to face this situation as it happens more often than one expects even in the best managed events. Ravi (talk) 08:41, 26 September 2015 (UTC)
- Barbara Fischer (WMDE) Thanks Osmar for sharing. This is exactly what we have learned too. I would like to add, if consented by the location holder, Wi-Fi could be provide connecting a router to existing LAN.