Grants talk:PEG/Prospective Wikimedia Community User Group Nigeria/New editors recruitment training program

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Looks like an interesting proposal, very ambitious. From an outside reader perspective: I think the ambition might be a little bit too much: by setting a goal of 10,000 people educated on how to use Wikipedia for editing, you are basically implying that you want to create an editing community that is roughly the same size as the very active editors (100+ edits) on all language Wikipedias, or 1/3 of English Wikipedias active (more than 5 edits) count. As you can imagine, such a large influx of new editors might be extremely disruptive and risky.

Instead in shaping your goals, I would focus much more on quality of contributor, for example getting graduate students and librarians trained in writing content and mentoring professors to assign Wikipedia assignments in research classes; and/or quality of content, for example, adding 1000 articles of a certain length to Wikipedia about notable regional topics; and/or diversity of content, i.e. translating and localizing a large amount of content into the student's languages other than English (such as Igbo). Mentoring such a large number of editors also seems unmanagable with 5 volunteers (remember your pilot only created 50 editors a quarter, and only has 30 user names documented) and will likely not necessarily create net positive outcomes beyond a basic literacy about how Wikipedia works (not a bad thing, but not your stated goal). For some context, the Wiki-ed Foundation in the U.S. with 14 paid staff and an established network, in one semester, can only support 117 courses and ~ 2,300 students w/ ~3.500 articles created or expanded. (see [spring report])

Moreover, for some community members who don't understand the context of your work: this will look alot like the problems created by the India Wikipedia Education Pilot which left a really foul taste in the mouth of many volunteers in the English language community: see the independent report assessing the activities. Some of the problems described in the report you are circumventing, for example: you are locally led and not placing strong requirements on the partnering institutions. However, I think you are replicating some of strategies that didn't work in India: engaging very large classes of students; engaging students that may or may not have the same kinds of research training, skills or expectations that have been developed in other educational environments which inform Wikipedia's policies (see for example commentary here) ; and assuming that once someone is educated in the process, they will choose to continue editing (my experience suggests that very few people are self motivated after educational training in Wikipedia).

I would love to see a revised version of this proposal, with both more managable goals and less risk prone strategies. There has been a lot of good work coming out of the community in education lately, so I think you might want to explore the documentation on other education projects more thoroughly Sadads (talk) 16:51, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

Note: I gave this feedback in a private another forum as well, cross posting. Sadads (talk) 16:51, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
Good to see your feedback, Sadads. It's important context as this proposal develops and takes shape, both the things that have gone awry in the past (like the India Pilot) and some realistic benchmarks and targets (like Wiki Ed and their capacity). I hope this is useful for Wikicology and his colleagues. I would point out one major distinction between the India Pilot and this proposed project is that the WMF is not leading the charge and trying to catalyze activity in the global south, rather this is a community led grassroots initiative going through the established support channels of the larger movement. The learnings on workable size and scale are still relevant, however. Tighe Flanagan (WMF) (talk) 20:58, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
Wikicology Sadads has said it all the numbers you are targeting is quite huge and unsustainable judging from the total number of volunteers you have who will also serve as sort of mentors.Again not everyone who will attend will automatically edit.I have organized edit-a-thons before and I know what I am talking about.Sometimes you can have only 10 active editors whose contribution can surpass that of the entire 500 new editors you hope to recruit.I will suggest you take what has been said by Sadads.Yes it will be nice having a lot of editors to help improve Nigerian but content but that cannot be done only by recruiting a lot of editors also remember that editing is voluntary.RegardsRberchie (talk) 23:26, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your comment. I also believe in quality and not quantity. In reality, you can't get the same number of trainee as valuable contributors to the project. In fact, If you train only 10 people on how to contribute to Wikipedia for example, there is no tendency that all the 10 people trained will be active or valuable contributors. You sometimes end up getting 5 or 6 active contributors, even 4 at times in some cases, depending on the effectiveness of the training and the willingness of the people to contribute. If you are allowed to preach your religion to the world for example, there is no tendency that the entire world will practice your religion but getting 40% or above will make a difference. In actual fact, not everyone is contributing to Wikipedia (perhaps less than 0.0001 of the entire world's population) yet the project still make a difference and I think that's what the Wikimedia movement is all about. Making a difference! In general, recruiting 50 contributors per institutions and 500 for 10 tertiary institution is manageable and will create a net positive outcomes beyond a basic literacy about how Wikipedia works. Thanks for your contributions, the WMF appreciates your help. Wikicology (talk) 11:28, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Feedback from I JethroBT (WMF)[edit]

I received an e-mail from Wikicology some time ago to provide some feedback on the proposal, so here I am! (Sorry for the delay). I'm very happy with many aspects of the proposal, namely that there is a sizable team of Wikimedians volunteering, that you've setup a clear structure for teaching students/staff about contributing, and that you already have a good idea of expected participation. I am curious about the mandatory nature of the training for staff/students and wonder what kind of impact that will have on attitudes about Wikipedia / editing. I think you've made a solid list of media resources for disseminating information about this project. I expect details about this project and its outcomes would be welcomed on the WMF blog as well (and please get in touch with me if that's an avenue you are considering-- it's not too difficult to arrange as long as you plan ahead.). I do have a few questions:

  • This pilot program was noted in the request, and I wanted to hear a little more about whether the challenges noted there will be expected in this current proposal as well. Specifically, the challenges with internet facilities and writing skills of the participants seem most important to consider here. Have the ten institutions selected for this proposal been reviewed to see if there will be similar issues in this case? If they are expected, does the team have a plan to address them?
Comment Answer-- Of course we won't face the same challenges. The challenges we faced then was due to poor funding of public secondary schools in Nigeria and that's not the case in tertiary institutions. More importantly, the written skills of secondary school students are incomparable with that of undergraduates/academic staffs and it's one of the reasons why we are taking our outreach to tertiary institutions.
  • One of your measures of success is "leading to an idea endorsed by the various institutions." Could you describe this in a little more detail?
Comment Answer-- In the course of the training, participating academic staffs will be trained on how to use Wikipedia to design assignment in terms of how much of contributions they want their student to make to Wikipedia. The training will leads to the endorsement of this idea by the various institutions.
  • Something under activities caught my attention, write down a list of articles we need to create or edit before the training dates, and I am wondering how those articles will be used. Will they be used as examples during the three-day training? If so, are there existing articles that could be used instead?
Comment Answer--The aim of the training is not to create articles for students/staff but to train them on how to create articles and make other useful contributions to Wikimedia projects such as general editing or contributions of free licensed photo/image to Wikimedia Common. The articles (2 or 3 articles) will be used as examples during the training. Existing articles may be used but I think is better to start with new articles. Although, the choice and nature of articles will be determined by the Wikimedians. A consensus will be reached on that.
  • All participants will be asked to try editing on their device (Laptop or Smart phone) using their newly created accounts. With regard to participants who will use smartphones, what kinds of editing do you think they are likely to engage in?
Comment Answer-- I understand that Laptops and other similar device have enormous advantages over smart phones but there are smartphones that can perform similar functions with Laptops. In fact I sometimes edit and create articles with my phone and hundreds of editors use it too. I created Nitrogen dioxide poisoning with my phone. I really don't see this as a problem.

Thanks for putting together this proposal and inviting me to review it. In general, I am pleased to see an expansion of this idea from the pilot. Thanks, I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 00:58, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

What I mean by "mandate" is that student/staff will be sent a circular through their Heads of department, to attend the training. I don't think that will cause any harm and that's the usual practice in Nigeria (I obtained a B. sc degree in Biochemistry from Nigeria and I'm based in Nigeria), I don't know of other countries. Pardon my wrong usage of the word "mandate". I corrected the sentence in the proposal. Thanks for your interest in our pilot. Wikicology (talk) 09:38, 17 September 2015 (UTC)