Learning patterns/Conducting expeditions
What problem does this solve?
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?
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
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
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.
- 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
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 and photographers.
- 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.
- 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, mobile phones);
- promotional materials (e.g. magnetic signs, T-shirts); and
- supplementary resources (e.g. backpack, spare parts, camera supplements, tabletop games).
Step 4: Making a visit
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
Content should be created after the expedition actually took place.
Key things: uploading images, editing articles.
- Uploading images
The images taken during the expeditions should be processed and uploaded on Wikimedia Commons.
- In the processing phase, it is highly recommended to avoid excessive editing that may harm the originality of the depicted place or object. Multiple images may be stitched into one and panoramic images are allowed.
- In the uploading phase, images have to be tagged with a template denoting that they were taken during the expeditions, whereas creating different templates for different types of expeditions is preferable (e.g. template for Macedonian Astroexpeditions in 2015, template for Macedonian Geoexpeditions in 2016). They have to be also categorised in a specific category about the particular expedition (e.g. Category:Wikiexpedition to Sutkivtsi and Zinkiv, Category:Wikiexpedition to Wolodymyr-Wolynsky). Furthermore, the images should have descriptions in at least one of the world languages (e.g. English) and they should be properly categorised based on the photographed topic.
- Editing articles
The editing of articles can involve improving existing ones or creating new ones. 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. 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
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
- ... when introducing Wikiexpeditions.
- ... when introducing other expeditionary projects.