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Learning patterns/Tools for communicating what Wikipedia is about

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Tools for communicating what Wikipedia is about
problemMost of the world doesn't know Wikipedia and what is about.
solutionDevelop communication tools to introduce people to Wikipedia and tell them about it.
created on9 April, 2014
status:in progress

Please note that we are currently working on this page. This will be an outcome of the project What it's about – C'est quoi. A series of communication tools about Wikipedia. Cameroon pilot project. Have a look to the mid report to check what we are currently up to.

What problem does this solve?[edit]

There are more than 7 billion people in the world, and the majority don't know about Wikipedia, or know little about it. Targeting people who are not necessarily accustomed with concepts of free knowledge and sharing knowledge means targeting the majority of the world's population.

At the moment, the communication about Wikipedia addresses people who already know Wikipedia. Starting from this reasonable assumption, we have tools which provide information on how to edit Wikipedia, how Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects work, how you can contribute, and who is part of the community.

What is the solution?[edit]

Producing site-specific communication tools which interpret the core vision of Wikipedia for people who does not know what Wikipedia is about. It might not solve the problem but it can be a relevant contribution.


The first communication tools produced in Cameroon have a simple replicable structure. Some elements can change (the protagonists, the situation) but the script can be easily remade.

Tool Script
Video The video literally asks "Wikipedia, what is about? what is it?"
  1. Like in a typical TV spot an TV interviewer asks to a passer-by ""Wikipedia, what is about? what is it?"
  2. The interviewed provides a wrong answer. The wrong answer needs to relate to the local contest, be familiar and possibly funny.
  3. Scene presenting the wrong answer (i.e. Wikipedia is a dance, Wikipedia is a sickness).
  4. Camera on the interviewed, with a timber of "Wrong!" and the voiceover which says "Nooooooo!"
  5. Article of Wikipedia (locally relevant) with the voiceover explaining what is Wikipedia
  6. Short flashback on the wrong answer
  7. Information on where you can find Wikipedia.
Comics The comics produced by Bibi Benzo create situations in which Wikipedia helps to find the solution (Wikipedia=useful).
  1. Situation in which a person makes a mistake
  2. Another person provides the correct information from Wikipedia.

Making of the video[edit]

The structure of the video (the most expensive communication tool but also the most interesting to distribute online) is meant also to be cheap. It includes only three scenes:

  1. The interviewed (male or female) in the street
  2. Another scene which is the core of the story and which presents Wikipedia as something Wikipedia is not. In the first videos Wikipedia is a dance and a sickness, but it can be anything: a recipe, a vegetable, an object of design, an artist, a building, a TV show ... The scene visualizes the mistake.
  3. Some images of an article on Wikipedia with voiceover.

The voiceover is very useful to provide practical information (which can be changed and updated).
We trust the current videos could be used in other French-speaking African countries. The accent might be Cameroonian for other countries but it is possible to remake the voices.


Bring together a team[edit]

The first thing you need is to work with a team, because it is useful and because it is fun.

Who you need What is their role Which skills are relevant What those people will really do
Institution Project coordinator and administrator. It manages the project and its distribution. It can select the artist or artistic director.
  • Managing a project (coordination, follow up)
  • Reporting and managing a budget
  • Reporting on how the project is moving on.
  • Making the list of what has to be done.
  • Bothering the team member until they get their work done.
  • Checking timelines and budget regularly.
  • Makes sure all people involved have signed a written agreement or a contract.
Artist or artistic director In charge of content.
  • Experience in producing communication tools, videos, comics.
  • Knowledge about how the production works.
  • Network of artists and producers.
  • Designing the concepts.
  • Creating the team for the production and following their work.
Wikimedia community liaison A person who links the production with Wikimedia community.
  • Knowledge of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, active contributor.
  • Knowledge of the Wikimedia communities.
  • Capacity of editing a wiki and knowledge of policies, wording, licenses and the Wikimedia approach.
  • Editing meta (by using reports and messages from the team)
  • Checking words: if people use Wikipedia instead of Wikimedia, Wiki instead of Wikipedia, Wikipedia Foundation instead of Wikimedia Foundation and so on
  • Making sure all people are involved with written agreements or contracts which include copyright management.
Communication team[1] A team which can support the communication of the tools you have produced.
  • Communication skills.
  • Knowledge about how communication works.
  • Trust and interest in the project.
  • Writing articles, suggesting where to notify the project and its tools.
  • Bother people to foster the communication and distribution of the communication tools.
  • Managing and triggering the communication of the project.

Produce communication tools with an open license. You need written agreements or contracts[edit]

How to include the license in a contract or letter of appointment

Check the credits[edit]

How to properly include credits in communication tools
Check the credits and then check them agin and again. It is surprising how many mistakes we make.


The reason you want to collect data is very simple: you are producing something new, with a new message for a new audience. If your production is poor, you don't need data :( , but if your project is actually good and it is working, here is when you need data to state it. In general what is new can be disturbing for people who are not used to it, so having data is the way you can evaluate and communicate the relevant aspects of what you have produced and it is the way you can convince people that it makes sense, even if they don't like it and even if they would have done it differently. [Including the relevant learning pattern about evaluation]

Linking a survey to a video. Options available when uploading the video on youtube:

  1. a link as an "annotation" (which shows up on the video itself) – https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/4523183?hl=en&rd=1
  2. a link in the description section.
  3. embed Links to external websites in videos – http://www.labnol.org/internet/youtube-links-to-external-sites/26209/


Link with Wikipedia Zero[edit]

It makes sense to produce the communication tools in collaboration with mobile phone communication companies offering Wikipedia for free within the project Wikipedia Zero.

  • Communicating Wikipedia and Wikimedia Zero together responds to the necessity of telling people what they can access and where (two essential pieces of information together).
  • Establishing synergies with phone companies providing free access to Wikipedia facilitates distribution. Phone companies can better manage distribution and broadcasting on TV (they already make communication on TV) and they can be interested in communicating their service.
  • Wikipedia at the centre. It is important that the communication tools are produced independently from the phone company: this is interesting for the phone company because you provide content, but it is also very important for Wikipedia because the community/communication project can control content and emphasize Wikipedia (the core message become Wikipedia – not the phone service; the free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones is the information on where to access Wikipedia).
  • The synergy with a mobile phone company requires a specific edit of the videos, including reference to the Wikipedia Zero service.

Site-notice on Wikipedia[edit]

It is important to have a version of the communication tools without commercials and references to mobile phone companies and Wikipedia Zero. It can allow to present the videos or other tools locally on a site notice; the message could be something like "Look at what has been produced in [name of the country]. You can contribute to Wikipedia too"; this message can be important to show local readers that Wikipedia is also "made" in their country (a message which could bridge distances and trigger contributions) .

General considerations[edit]

When to use[edit]

  1. Outreach in a country where there is limited Internet connectivity.
  2. Distributed, projected or played during an event or training session.
  3. Included in offline communication materials (i.e. Wikipedia offline)

Real-world situations where it has been used: Cameroon pilot project


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]


This learning pattern comes from the experience of the project What is about - C'est quoi. A series of communication tools about Wikipedia. Cameroon pilot project.

  1. In the original project we did not have a communication team. It is a mistake because it appears much more efficient to have people producing and other people communicating.