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Grants:TPS/Iopensa/WikiSym 2013

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This request was partially funded in the amount of 883.47 EUR. Please see the discussion page for details.
User name
iopensa - Iolanda Pensa
User location (country)
Event name
Event Web site
Event date(s)
Event location (city)
Hong Kong
Amount requested (remember to specify currency!)
Maximum budget € 1'096,47
  • Wikimedia CH is supporting an application by Iolanda Pensa, in her quality of researcher for the SUPSI, for a Swiss South African research project related to Wikipedia Primary School. We already grant her a scholarship for Wikimania that can be used, with no extra cost, to arrive earlier in HK and attend the WikiSym conference. We believe that attending this conference can be beneficial for Wikimedia projects--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 13:00, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Iolanda has been doing really important work and I think WikiSym attendees would benefit greatly from hearing about her experiences and challenges. African topics are usually very sparse at WikiSym so it would be a welcome addition to. --Hfordsa (talk) 15:26, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
  • As a contributing member to several Wikimedia projects in Africa, Iolanda's attendance at this event will help to bring those particular challenges to a wider audience and add an important research component to and perspective for the larger Africa-based community. Islahaddow (talk) 16:31, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Iolanda has been actively participating in the wiki research community and Wikipedia Primary School is completely aligned with both the interests of WikiSym's audience and the Wikimedia community. It can be an excellent opportunity to improve the dissemination of this initiative among researchers and practitioners.--GlimmerPhoenix (talk) 08:08, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Wikimedia Italia really appreciates Iolanda Pensa passion and management in every project we participated together (WikiAfrica, Share Your Knowledge, etc.), when she was working for Lettera 27. She's also a member of WMI where she always brings in new ideas and projects, trying to involve as many Wikimedia entities as possible, since she has an international vision. Having Iolanda at WikiSym will surely be a benefit for the entire Wikimedia movement. --Frieda (talk) 09:44, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Budget breakdown[edit]

  • Travel: / already covered by Wikimedia CH - Wikimania 2013 scholarship
  • Accommodation: per night x 3 nights = € 100 * 3 = € 300[1]
  • Meals and incidental expenses (including local transportation) = [70% of 497 $ = 347 $ --> € 265 per diem --> €150] Maximum € 150 * 3 = € 450
  • Registration fee: € 346,47 (before June 30th)[2]

Please note that this is a maximum budget; all expenses are in euro.

Proposed Participation[edit]

Who are you and what are you doing?[edit]

I am an art historian with a Ph.D. in anthropology and urban planning. I have been working between 2007 and 2012 for lettera27 Foundation as scientific director of the projects WikiAfrica (initiated by lettera27 Foundation in 2006 in collaboration with Wikimedia Italia and now co-promoted by lettera27 and the Africa Centre) and Share Your Knowledge (2011-2012). Since January 2013 I am researcher at SUPSI University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, Department for Environment Constructions and Design, Laboratory of visual culture. My research work focuses on system of knowledge production and distribution in Africa (the art system, the definition of contemporary African art, media, geographic dynamics of cultural institutions, and the impact of fundings on culture in Africa). I have been contributing as a volunteer to Wikimedia projects since 2006. My work between 2007-2012 was strongly linked to the Wikimedia projects; more specifically my work focussed on the relationship between Africa/African content and the Wikimedia projects, and the possibility of potentiating contributions from GLAMs and other institutions to the Wikimedia projects (mainly using the Creative Commons attribution share alike license). My research work has links with Wikipedia (I have contributed to articles specifically related to my research focus and I am currently contributing to Wikimedia projects with background documentation related to the research Mobile Access to Knowledge: Culture and Safety in Africa. Documenting and assessing the impact of cultural events and public art on urban safety), but it is still not clearly connected to the network of scholars and academics working on Wikipedia and Wikipedia related topics. Furthermore my work and volunteer experience (I am also a member of Wikimedia Italia and Wikimedia CH) has allow me to look at online and offline community dynamics of the Wikimedia projects; this is a topic I consider very relevant in particular in relationship with Wikipedia and Wikimedia geographic imbalance, but at the moment the information I have acquired do not meet ethical requirements.

What is WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 conference all about? can't you go to a conference in Milan instead?[edit]

WikiSym – the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration – is a conference focussed on open collaboration; in 2013 the conference is organized in Hong Kong and it communes WikiSym and OpenSym and it is also supported by Wikimedia Foundation.

What is peculiar about this conference is its capacity to bridge researchers, implementers and users. Compared to other conferences, the WikiSym steering committees gives the impression to be more broad in its composition with several people involved who are not only studying open collaboration, but they are also active members of it. At the same time the conference is recognized among the academic milieu and it produces contributions which have a strong eco in research. The almost historical attention of the conference for Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects is particularly relevant and this year it is further developed with a specific track on Wikipedia, which is chaired by Heather Ford and Mark Graham who have been extensively working on issues related to Wikimedia and Africa. The track reflects the interests of the two organizers and it specifically interesting to detect some of the dynamics of Wikipedia and Wikimedia geographic imbalance. WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 provides also an open space track, which is a participant-organized track and it allows researchers to talk to each-other; I am specifically planning of taking advantage of this track.

For all those reasons WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 is not like any other conference.

Why should we support your participation in the WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 conference?[edit]

My contribution to the Wikimedia projects focuses on supporting healthy diversity in the editing community (in particular by participating in reinforcing the contribution to the Wikimedia projects form Africa) and on increasing the amount of information Wikimedia projects offer (with a specific focus on African content). My participation at the conference will allow me to better contribute in those areas to the Wikimedia projects in the future, and to become able to share and discuss my experience related to increasing the quality and quantity of African content on Wikipedia and the Wikipedia projects and involving GLAMs with a relevant network. It will reinforce my voluntary work on the Wikimedia projects and my capacity of proposing and developing research projects (linked to the Wikimedia projects and open knowledge) both within my voluntary work in the Wikimedia Italia and Wikimedia CH chapters and within my work at SUPSI. The project I am currently work on is Wikipedia Primary School and it aims at providing on Wikipedia the information necessary to complete the cycle of primary education in the languages used by the different education systems. This is project I believe can strongly contribute to the Wikimedia mission but it is quite complex to implement. I believe it needs the consensus and the involvement of different stakeholders and it can be developed with different kind of promoters and initiatives, developed also by researchers (i.e. evaluation of content, monitoring of the project results, tools which answer questions by taking advantage of structured semantic data). To discuss the feasibility of it and to see the reactions and the potential involvement of other people, I have already submitted a presentation at Wikimania; presenting the project at WikiSym provides me the chance to address a specific target focussed on research and which could be eventually involved in a different way in the project implementation.

Are we paying for your job or what?[edit]

Writing on Wikipedia and uploading images on the Wikimedia projects is not my job. I am payed by SUPSI for a research on the impact of cultural events and public art on urban safety in Africa. My participation at this conference will obviously contribute to my professional career, but it's more focus on Wikimedia side than the SUPSI side.

Goal and Expected Impact[edit]

I will be presenting the project Wikipedia Primary School within the open space track. I have been preparing some documentation on meta to contribute and to facilitate the discussion around those topics both at Wikimania and WikiSym (Africa Portal, Wikipedia Primary School, Wikipedia Scientific Journal, WikiAfrica, WikiAfrica Cameroon). By participating to the open space track I can keep all the documentation available and under the Creative Commons attribution share-alike license[3].

The "presentation" within the open space track aims at
  • Discussing the weaknesses and potentiality of the project Wikipedia Primary School with scholars and academics and reporting it in the project description on meta.
  • Acknowledging other projects and research in smilier or synergetic directions and to report it on meta.
  • Involving other researchers in the international implementation of the project Wikipedia Primary School.
  • Reinforcing contacts with researchers I have already met and discussing potential collaborations in the future.
  • Drafting a new research project related to evaluating the dynamics and impact of Wikimedia chapters and their potential development in Africa.
More broadly I expect the conference to allow me to
  • Discuss research related to Wikipedia and Wikimedia geographic imbalance and related to online and offline community dynamics of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, with my specific experience in increasing the quality and quantity of African content on Wikipedia and the Wikipedia projects and involving GLAMs in contributing to it.
  • Listen to relevant panel/papers related to Wikipedia, and to report in particular on research related to the Wikipedia and Wikimedia geographic imbalance and related to online and offline community dynamics of Wikipedia and the
  • Network with relevant scholars and academics focusing their work on Wikipedia and involving them in future projects.

Furthermore my participation at the conference will allow me to better understanding how to contribute to Wikipedia research in a ethical way (how to acquire or re-acquire data I can use in research, how to structure anthropological contributions with a relevant and appropriate methodology, how and where to posit contributions related to Wikimedia and Africa) according to Wikimedia guidelines and policies.

On the middle and long-term I expect to
  • Contribute to discussions and research related to Wikipedia and Wikimedia geographic imbalance and related to online and offline community dynamics of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects
  • Produce applied research, which aims at rebalancing Wikipedia and Wikimedia geographic imbalance with a specific focus on Africa.

But it is expensive![edit]

Yes, it is. Even if Wikimedia CH is already supporting my trip to Wikimania with a scholarship, the participation at the conference is expensive. And it is even more expensive if you consider the cost for my husband and two children in August. Nevertheless those three days will allow me to take full advantage of my trip to Hong Kong and to the conference programme organized there. It is unlikely that I can attend other editions of the conference if I have to travel specifically for it; so this combination of Wikimania, WikiSym and OpenSym is particularly convenient.


  1. Arrival August 5h and departure August 8th for Wikimania; the hotel Island South, starting from around 76.99€ + tax, has free shuttle bus to Cyberport in the morning. http://wikisym.org/wsos2013/location. Since I am travelling by myself I prefer an hotel which has already transport organized and which probably already hosts other conference participants.
  2. Please note that this is the conference regular registration fee; I am not a student and – in case of scholarship – I presume I can not be listened among the self-paying http://wikisym.org/wsos2013/participating/registration.
  3. Papers submitted and peer reviewed within WikiSym are not open access and they are not made available under Creative Commons attribution share alike; the open space track does not require the submission and it allows me to keep all my texts and documents under a free license as they all already are.