Learning patterns/How to write a thousand articles about your country without getting tired (workshops)
What problem does this solve?
|I wanted to write articles in French about Canada, there were several thousand subjects who did not have articles in French. But this is so much work, that after creating 300 articles myself, I decided it would be more effective to train new Canadian Wikipedians to achieve the goal ... and that's where the difficulties started!|
|— Benoit Rochon.|
Finding a free training room, having a good internet connection, bypassing the limitation of six accounts, not having participants, having too many participants, managing the popularity and multiplication of training sessions, participant's retention and follow up tools, manage complaints from those who can not go to your workshops, train people on Wikipedia and not on computers, having too many Indians and not enough chiefs... and so on. It's easy to say "let's train new Wikipedians", but it's not as easy to do. Over time, many problems and pitfalls will come through your path. Let's see how you can benefit from several years of experience in "creating new Wikipedians"!
What is the solution?
- Finding a free training room
- Libraries have rooms, but most rooms suitable for accommodating a dozen people are sometimes expensive. Some major library agreed to lend the room for free if they see a benefit. As for example a free extended service offer for their members, the use of resources (books, dictionaries ..), addition of permalinks in Wikipedia sources to their online resources. In some cases, libraries will even lend librarians to assist neo-wikipedians in their research. Presented as well and to the right person (manager), good chances that the room would be free!
- Having a good internet connection
- In several public places, the Internet connection is shared by hundreds of people, which greatly slows down the internet access of participants of the workshops. Sometimes, computers connected with a network cable are available, but this is not always the case. One solution may be to bring a router with you and create a local network using an ethernet jacks and a network cable.
- Bypassing the limitation of six accounts
- As a security measure, Wikipedia limits the creation of new accounts at six per IP, per 24 hours. As public places share the same IP address, you will be limited to six or less (considering that other people in the building might have created their account). So if you are an administrator you do not have this limitation and you can create as many accounts as you want through the account creation tool. If you are not administrator, you can request the "Account creator" right
- Not having participants
- That's a communication problem! You can ask the library or the place where your doing your workshop to add it on a page on website (example), have posters on the walls and/or you can request a geolocated CentralNotice (banner in Wikipedia). This last solution should be only for large activities. Also you can invite groups like historic societies, science groups, students. Having the workshops organise always the same pattern, for instead the first Tuesday of each month, is very helpful for communication and for people to remember.
- Having too many participants
- That's a nice problem! The only effective thing is mandatory registration by email. There are also event management providers like Bookitbee, CTS Eventim or Eventbrite. Keep in mind that if it gets too complicated, you might have less people showing up (ref. previous issue). If the room is big enough, people will bring chairs in the room and follow on somebody else's computer.
- Managing the popularity and multiplication of training sessions
- Especially if you do recurring events, people will spread the word and your room will fill up quickly. Moreover, other institutions will approach you to have their own little workshops: professors, neighborhood libraries, municipal institutions, interest group... you could be quickly overtake. The solution is to either focus all requests to your recurring event, or consider training trainers. In this way, the workshops can multiply in the city or in the country, and thus you will no longer be the single point of contact.
- Participants' retention and follow up tools
- If your workshops last few hours, it might be good to have refreshments for everyone. It is also interesting to know the impact your workshops will have, especially if the room is loaned to you free of charge or if you make a grant request for refreshments to your participants. Measures of Success! You might also want to know how many people continue to edit Wikipedia after they followed a workshop. If you keep a track of the participant's usernames, you can create a cohort and get statistics using Wikimetrics.
- Manage complaints from those who can not go to your workshops
- When a recurrent workshop become popular and some people from outside the city would like to come, you might want to consider stream your workshop on internet and share you screen. That way people who can't attend still can follow and ask questions. There are many tools for video-conference, and Jitsi has proven itself. If you don't have a pro webcam for video-conference, a simple laptop is doing the job!
- Train people on Wikipedia and not on computers
- Make sure participants have a satisfactory level of computer literacy to edit Wikipedia, otherwise some might slow down the whole group with questions that are not related to Wikipedia, but to their computer or tablet. Just by adding a line in the invitation or in your communications like: "Knowledge of a word processor such as Microsoft Word is required".
- Having too many Indians and not enough chiefs
- The opposite of the actual motto! If the workshops become popular, you will soon be overwhelmed. Be sure to have trainers who accompany you otherwise the participants will get bored and leave. You can also make people work together; Pair a person who is skilled with technology and someone before less computer knowledge. Also, we tend to think that participants rather work on Wikipedia than listen to a too long presentation; and most of the time, they have specific questions they want to ask one by one.