Learning patterns/Conducting expeditions

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A learning pattern forproject management
Conducting expeditions
problemThe pattern aims at providing organisers of expeditions with detailed guidelines for efficient conducting of expeditions.
solutionOrganisers of expeditions should follow a step-by-step process with tips on what resources are needed and how to efficiently manage them in order to produce decent results.
created on10:46, 31 January 2017 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?[edit]

The Wikiexpeditions (or simply 'expeditions') are on-site research activities carried out by Wikimedians with the ultimate goal of creating or improving content on topics related to underrepresented regions. The term is a portmanteau of 'wiki' and 'expeditions' to denote expeditions conducted by Wikimedians and for the Wikimedia movement. The first Wikiexpedition was organised by Wikimedia Polska in 2009. Afterwards, the project spread with expeditions organised in other countries.

The conducting of expeditions encompasses the entire process of organising the expeditions from their planning to their evaluation. In that process, organisers may face challenges regarding the scope of the expeditions, the selection of regions, the planning of resources, the creation of content and the calculating of metrics. Undermining these challenges may result in inefficient expeditions with low value added due to the lack of relevant focus, shortage of resources, lack of quality content and use of inappropriate metrics.

This learning pattern provides detailed review of the entire process of organising expeditions with the goal of mitigating the negative effects from the aforementioned challenges at the minimum level.

What is the solution?[edit]

The process of conducting expeditions includes the following steps:

  • Step 1: Setting up goals.
  • Step 2: Developing a model.
  • Step 3: Planning resources.
  • Step 4: Making a visit.
  • Step 5: Creating content.
  • Step 6: Evaluating results.

Step 1: Setting up goals[edit]

The goals should reflect the outcome that organisers would like to achieve and should be set up to guide all future activities.

Key things: determining needs, identifying regions, developing metrics.

Determining needs

The needs of the expeditions may include:

  • visiting settlements to document their geography and history with the main landmarks;
  • visiting natural places to document their geography of the places with the flora and fauna represented;
  • visiting archaeological sites to document their history with the archaeological remnants;
  • visiting observatory sites to document their history with the sky observances;
  • visiting farms to document the production of agricultural products and food processing etc.
Identifying regions

The regions are usually identified based on the quality of their representation, where preferences should be given on those that are 'underrepresented'. An underrepresented region is one that:

  • lacks articles In terms of both quantity and quality on topics related to the region in question; and
  • lacks images in terms of both quantity and quality on topics related to the region in question.
Developing metrics

Metrics may be developed either in line with the global metrics or as analytical metrics.

Global metrics are standardised measures of the impact on the Wikimedia projects through measuring content and participation. They typically include:

  • number of individuals involved;
  • number of active editors involved;
  • number of new editors;
  • number of new media uploaded to Wikimedia Commons;
  • number of new media added to Wikimedia articles (share of new media added to Wikimedia articles of the new media uploaded to Wikimedia Commons); and
  • number of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects.

Analytical metrics are self-defined measures of the impact on the representation of topic through measuring coverage. Analytical metrics may include:

  • number of places covered
    • number of settlements (e.g. villages, towns, resorts) covered;
    • number of natural places (e.g. rivers, lakes, mountains, caves) covered;
    • number of archaeological sites covered;
    • number of observatory sites covered;
    • number of farms covered etc.
  • number of objects covered
    • number of institutions covered (e.g. schools, health facilities, post offices, sport facilities);
    • number of religious buildings covered (e.g. churches, mosques, synagogues);
    • number of economic facilities (e.g. manufacturing plants, mines, hydroelectric plants, power plants plants);
    • number of statues, plaques and busts covered etc.
  • number of people covered.

Step 2: Developing a model[edit]

The model for expeditions should be developed based on the goals set in the previous step.

Key things: defining scope, choosing dates, defining roles.

Defining scope

The scope of the expeditions should reflect the determined needs in a clear and precise way. Since the needs of the expeditions are usually heterogeneous, include visits of different sort of places (e.g. settlements, archaeological sites, farms) and documenting various sort of things (e.g. monuments, astronomical terms, agricultural products), defining a multi-purpose scope is not a good idea and should be avoided. Instead, it is recommended to homogenise the scope of the expeditions by defining different types of expeditions.

Types of expeditions based on their scope
Type of expedition Image Scope
Wikiexpeditions visiting settlements to document their geography and history with the main landmarks
Veloexpeditions visiting remote settlements by bicycles to document their geography and history with the main landmarks
Geoexpeditions visiting natural places to document their geography with the flora and fauna represented
Archaeoexpeditions visiting archaeological sites to document their history with the archaeological remnants
Astroexpeditions visiting observatory sites to document their history with the sky observances
Agroexpeditions visiting farms to document the production of agricultural products and food processing
Choosing dates

The duration of the expedition may vary as a function of their type, the places visited, the availability of resources and the project goals. The usual duration of an expedition is 1-3 days, although it may extend to about one week. Expeditions should take place under favourable weather conditions — warm weather and sufficient sunshine — during the period of the year with long daytime. The amount of sunshine plays important role in the taking of quality images, while the length of the daytime determines the operational time. Depending on the country location, the preferred period for having expeditions may start from March-April and end from October-November.

Defining roles

The roles of participants should be defined in a way that provides efficient use of the available resources for achieving the project goals. Importantly, roles should be clear and avoid overload of participants. Most often, the roles include the following responsibilities:

  • preliminary research;
  • on-site photographing;
  • on-site research; and
  • generating content.

Step 3: Planning resources[edit]

The resources are all necessary means for organising expeditions.

Key things: gathering people, preliminary research, providing resources.

Gathering people

People should participate by taking the responsibilities of the previously defined roles. The team of participants should neither be too small so that people will be overloaded with responsibilities nor too large so that some people will not take any role. Optimally, the size of the team should be 4-5 people, including researchers, photographers and drone operators.

Preliminary research

The preliminary research should be carried out to provide relevant information about the region that will be visited. The activities of the preliminary research include searching for reference works and other materials, identifying the places that should be covered and planning the route of the expedition. After making the preliminary research, it is useful to make notes of the places to be visited in a notebook or mark them on a map.

Types of participants and their main activities
Type of participant Image Activities
Researcher collect materials before the expedition, provide resources before the expedition, geolocate places and monuments during the expedition, collect information during the expedition, write articles after the expedition
Photographer take images, process images, upload images
Drone operator operate a drone, take images, record videos, process images and videos, upload images and videos
Providing resources

The organisers of the expeditions need to provide most of the resources before the expedition actually takes place. The necessary resources can be classified as follows:

  • transport vehicle(s) (e.g. car, bicycles, train);
  • accommodation (e.g. hotel, motel, monastery, tent);
  • food and drink (e.g. snacks and refreshments, meals)
  • navigational instruments (e.g. maps, GPS devices, compass);
  • research instruments (e.g. notebooks, pens, reference works, voice recorder)
  • technical equipment (e.g. camera, drone, mobile phones, tablet, battery charger);
  • promotional materials (e.g. magnetic signs, T-shirts); and
  • supplementary resources (e.g. backpack, spare parts, camera supplements, tabletop games).
Transport vehicle(s)
Item Image Note
Car The car is the most common and preferred transport vehicle for most expeditions. It is advantageous in terms of speed, comfort and time management, but has a drawback that cannot be used to access some remote places.
Bicycle Bicylces can be used either as a main transport vehicle (for Veloexpeditions) or as a complementary one. It is advantageous in terms of low price, ecology and access to remote places, but has a drawback in the much lower speed
Train The use of trains as a main transport vehicle is not preferred because of the absence of rail network in some places and the difficulties in time management. However, trains can be used to transport bicycles to regions that are far away to allow using bicycles as a main vehicle.
Boat Boats may be used in case it is necessary to visit a place across a body of water. Because it is sometimes easier to use another transport vehicle to round the body of water, boats are typically used for visiting islands.
Item Image Note
Hotel Hotels are commonly used and preferred accommodation facility for most expeditions because of the services provided. However, they have several drawbacks in terms of the high price and the location in larger settlements.
Motel Motels may be used to accommodate participants in case there is no larger settlement nearby and it is not feasible to travel to the nearest hotel. They are generally cheaper than hotels, but may not provide some necessary services.
Monastery The use of monasteries for accommodation is possible when there are no other facilities nearby and due to the low price. Monasteries are also monuments that are regularly documented during the expeditions and using them as accommodation facilities leaves more time for its better documentation.
Tent Tents may be used in case of visiting natural places with no settlements in the proximity (for Geoexpeditions) or it is necessary to observe the sky overnight (for Astroexpeditions).
Food and drink
Item Image Note
Snacks and refreshments Snacks and refreshments such as sandwiches, crisps, cereal bars, chocolates, water, fresh juices and energy drinks are necessary for gaining energy and maintaining fitness during the expeditions. However, snacks and refreshments are just supplementary food and drink consumed in case it is not possible to have meal.
Meal Meals that include consuming of meat dishes, salads and pasta are necessary for feeding up.
Navigational instruments
Item Image Note
Map Maps provide information regarding the location of places and the road connection between them. They are also helpful in planning the route as well as marking the visited places.
GPS device GPS devices are very useful navigational instrument providing multiple information regarding the current location, the location of the places to be visited, the distance and the estimated time to the places etc. These devices can be properly substituted with mobile phones possessing GPS capability.
Compass The compass may be used in case a remote place is visited with lack of or poor telecommunication network that prevents the use of GPS devices.
Research instruments
Item Image Note
Notebook Notebooks are necessary for taking notes from the visits and the conversations with the local residents. They may also contain a plan of things that have to be visited.
Pen Pens are necessary complementary resource for filling in the notebooks.
Reference work Reference works contain important information about the visited region. These materials may be helpful in determining the exact location of some monuments and identifying their name (mostly churches).
Voice recorder Voice recording devices complement the taking of notes, because they can fully capture the conversations with the local residents. These devices can be properly substituted with mobile phones possessing voice recording capability.
Technical equipment
Item Image Note
Camera The camera is necessary for taking images from the visited places. Because the taking of quality images is often a requirement, the use of camera with good performances is recommended.
Drone The drone is necessary for taking aerial images of the visited places and monuments. As some settlements may be completely flat and some monuments inaccessible, a drone may be useful to take better documentary images.
Mobile phone Mobile phones are very useful due to their multi-functionality. Besides their primary purpose as a communication device, they can also be used for navigation, recording conversations, taking notes and even taking images.
Tablet Tablets are very useful for better navigation, easy transfer of images, access of content on the Wikimedia projects and storage of information.
Battery charger Battery chargers are necessary during days that require an intensive use of the technical equipment. Different chargers are typically needed for different types of equipment.
Promotional materials
Item Image Note
Magnetic sign Magnetic signs with a trade mark of the expeditions should be displayed on the vehicle doors for promotional purpose.
T-shirt T-shirts with a Wikipedia trade mark should be worn by the participants for promotional purpose.
Supplementary resources
Item Image Note
Fuel Fuel is a necessary complementary resource in case the expedition is carried out by car.
Backpack Backpacks are necessary for storing clothes and other resources. Because of the convenience in their carriage without hands, they are preferred over the other types of bags.
Spare parts Spare parts such as tyres for cars and bicycle tyres, chains, brakes, spokes, valve stems and dustcaps for bicycles are necessary to substitute for the damaged parts in case the expedition is carried out by cars or bicycles.
Camera lenses The camera lenses are supplementary resource that can significantly support the taking of quality images.
Polarising filter The polarising filters are supplementary resource that can significantly improve the quality of the images taken.
Camera tripod The camera tripod is a supplementary resource that helps in stabilising and elevating the camera while taking images.
Tabletop game Tabletop games such as various types of board games, card games and dice games are very helpful for entertainment and socialising of the participants during the hours without on-site activities.

Step 4: Making a visit[edit]

The expedition should actually take place once the preparations are made and all necessary resources are provided.

Key things: consuming resources, taking images, gathering information.

Consuming resources

The resources should be carefully consumed in order to avoid shortages. A special attention should be paid on the fuel consumption, food and drink consumption and use of technical equipment. Some tips on the economic consuming of these resources are given in turn:

  • the fuel should always be supplied in excess of the minimum quantity necessitated to pass the distance for the expedition;
  • the snacks and refreshments should be consumed during the operating hours, while the meal should be consumed after the end of the daily activities; and
  • the batteries of the technical equipment should be sufficiently charged before the start of the operating hours on each day.
Taking images

The main purpose of the images taken during the expeditions is to use them across the Wikimedia projects. For that sake, images should be documentary and depict the originality of the photographed topic. The camera should be adjusted to track geographic coordinates of the images so that it would be easy to determine the geographic location of the photographed places and objects. It is highly recommended to avoid taking images from places or objects that are well represented with quality images and taking images from the same place or object from a single angle. Besides taking documentary images of the visited places, it is recommended to make a group photograph of the participants.

Gathering information

The gathering of information during the expeditions can be done through direct observation or conversation with local residents.

  • Direct observation involves gathering information through physical investigation of the subject (e.g. architectural style, topographical relief). The researchers should take notes with descriptions of the observed places and objects.
  • Conversation with local residents allows gathering information on topics that cannot be physically investigated (e.g. local tradition, main families, main fests). The researchers should ask questions about things that lack information in the reference works and take notes or record the conversation.

Step 5: Creating content[edit]

Content should be created after the expedition actually took place.

Key things: uploading images, adding information, loading data.

Uploading images

The images taken during the expeditions should be processed and uploaded on Wikimedia Commons.

Adding information

The adding of information can involve improving existing or creating new articles. In both cases, it is important to adopt a form of editing that will result the articles have a standardised outline. Such form of editing may include the use of standardised templates, infoboxes and sections.

Loading data

The edited articles have to be linked to their correspondent Wikidata items. These items can be improved or created as with the Wikipedia articles. It is important to adopt a form of editing with for the Wikidata items as well, which includes the use of standardised statements for different types of subjects.

Step 6: Evaluating results[edit]

The evaluation is the last step in the process of conducting expeditions and should provide evidence on how well the goals were met.

Key things: reporting outcome, calculating metrics.

Reporting outcome

The outcome of the expeditions has to be reported on their specific pages on-wiki. These pages typically comprise of general information and brief summary about each expedition, tables with the edited articles and links to the categories with images. The information from these pages can be used in other reports and for calculating metrics.

Calculating metrics

Metrics should be calculated based on the information provided on the specific pages about the expeditions and should be reported on complementary pages pertaining to the statistics about the expeditions. Depending on the developed metrics, specific tools may be used (e.g. GLAMorous for calculating the new media added to Wikimedia articles). It is recommended the global metrics and the analytical metrics to be reported separetely.

When to use[edit]

  • ... when introducing Wikiexpeditions.
  • ... when introducing other expeditionary projects.


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]