Welcome back from Wikimania 2018!
Your username goes hereTechyan
Your home wiki goes herezhwiki
This year's Wikimania in Cape Town is my first ever Wikimania experience. I am glad to share what I see and thought through this brief report.
Before Wikimania started, I traveled through entire China – I can't take my flight to South Africa near home anyway, so why not meet some other Wikimedians? This brought a series of meetups in mainland China (see its page on zhwiki and meta for more details), with nearly 100 attendees in total, stretch all east part of her. The outcome for these pre-Wikimania meetups are pretty well: we see these meetups took many experienced Wikimedians from illusory usernames to real persons that everyone meets. Some places, say, Shanghai, haven't seen a large-scale, newbies-welcome meetup for years, yet many local Wikimedians eager to meet each other.
The series of meetups end in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong, where I took my flight to South Africa.
Days in Cape Town
What surprised me after this trip to Cape Town is that, when gathering Wikimedians all over the world to one place, doing stuff like edit-a-thons will be lame. Instead, people will get more socialized. Many Wikimedians I met would rather make new friends and hang out with them, do something totally not related to Wikipedia, instead of confining in a room, listening to someone else giving day-long speeches. The last day of Wikimania, we were brought to a night club until midnight. This experience makes me have to reconsider what a Wikimedia meetup should like and how we supposed to organize them in the first place. We don't need to expect a certain outcome after the meetup, instead, people meeting others itself is already good enough to join a community together. We could write entries and anti-vandalism online, so doing something that is only able to be done offline should be what we concentrate. And that especially applies to mainland China, where Wikimedians are simply not dense enough in most places to have a regular meetup, and every single planned meetup is precious.
So the day before Wikimania, my roommate and I hang out together with some other Wikimedians. We checked out penguins in Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope.
The session I enjoyed the most was Poster and Art Reception, a great place where all new ideas on Wikimedia projects gathered for you to discover. People behind these projects were standing right next to the posters, and you are free to ask any questions you like on site.
There are some posters I found interesting with: Language Converter. Which heavily used on Chinese Wikimedia projects. Multilingual infobox for Wikimedia Commons. Something I haven't heard of – it addressed the importance of Wikidata, and also the use of OpenStreetMap in Wikimedia projects. OpenStreetMap seems growing a lot during the past few years, which finally become usable in some projects. Wikipedia offline editor. Which may be helpful in rural areas without internet in China. Wikipassport. This is what I most possibly going to put into use in future activities. It is low cost, easy-to-produce, yet memorable and collectible than badges and normal stickers. Probably next meetup I will print passports with attendees' name on it, giving them out with stamps and stickers dedicated for each meetup. Projects surrounding Wikidata and UNESCO's project. I am going to talk about that later. Taiwanese aboriginal languages. Which may be a what we need to concentrate on in mainland.
Bring it back to China & Plans
I have already done a report on September 1st, using group audio conferencing to share and discuss my views on Wikimania with other Wikimedians in China – a common way we use to get around the vast geographical widespread of Wikimedians in China to effectively share information and make discussions.
This Wikimania heavily discussed the use of Wikidata. Many of us take Wikidata as an "advanced version to manage interlanguage links". But obviously, we can make use of Wikidata in many other ways that we have never think of. Telling others and get more involved in Wikidata's work is the first step to do.
There are several challenges of contributing Wikidata as a Chinese speaker. There are tons of variant (simplified/traditional, etc.) of Chinese language on Wikidata to fill in, which make contributing a lot more time-consuming and frustrating. We can and should have a bot to help that (and we already have one on Chinese Wikipedia doing similar jobs), which my friend and I consider doing later.
A couple of months ago, I sent out a questionnaire about Chinese Wikipedia targeting mainland readers and editors. There were several questions on awareness, ability, and opinions on minority languages used in mainland China. We don't have a clear plan yet, but with some success examples (most recently Taiwan), I feel that we can do something for these languages.
I have already shared some of my thoughts after experiencing Wikimania, but that's not all. When I was filling the scholarship application form, there was a question that draws my attention: one of the themes of Wikimania 2018 is to support underrepresented voices. Which voice, community, subjects are important but missing? During this Wikimania, we saw people from over 100 different countries gathered together, but there are still some places are left out from here. Before coming to South Africa, I met a Japanese journalist stationed in Shanghai. When talking about Chinese and Japanese Wikipedia's community, every one of us all agreed that Japanese Wikipedia is unreasonably inactive – even overall environment for the development of Wikimedia projects is way better than China. We could have a couple of meetups annually in China, but people in Japan barely see one. Digging further, visitors from Japan is actually the second largest among all countries, just behind the US. Japanese Wikipedia has over a million entries, which is one of 15 largest Wikipedia projects in terms of the amount of entries. However, despite all these, we saw no one from Japan this year. The gap surprisingly appeared in the developed world. Meanwhile, in-person, global activities like Wikimania are purposely biased towards the developing world, leaving fewer seats to the seemingly over-represented places. Activities like Asian Month and ESEAP did something, but not much.
We also see some other voices being left out. Also, before coming to South Africa, I carried out a meetup in Hangzhou, China, where I met two experienced Wikimedians. They are very excited about this meetup, but we hardly see their voices on, say, Village Pump. I actually felt kind of shameless for being here. The ones how left out, are the ones who work hard and speak less. I talked about how social Wikimedia is, but there are always "nerds" who doesn't feel like involving into Wikimania; while the one who goes to every Wikimania may not do many contributions.
We already have several approaches to solve this problem. Sending out postcards in Asian Month, giving out t-shirts and other Wikimedia merchandises to the hard-workings are great, but with very few promotions, many just simply not aware that there are some ways to treat themselves.
So, to sum up:
- At this moment, Wikimedia movement in mainland China have to build surrounding large cities and more developed areas (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong) where Wikimedians live denser, but supporting the western part of China and minority languages are equally important. In the future, minority languages may be the driving force of the Wikimedia movement in mainland China.
- We should encourage Wikimedians to be more involved to international activities like Wikimania. Be sure in Chinese Wikipedia, voices from all parties can be heard.
- We need to reconsider what "underrepresent" actually means. Some places are surprising left out.
- Arose interest of Wikimedians who "do more, speak less" into more socialized activities.