North-West Russia Wiki-Historians User Group/Annual reports/2020/en

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For North-West Russia Wiki-Historians user group 2020 was planned as a year of growth and widening, and, despite COVID-19 pandemic, we partially achieved this goal.

This year our UG got 9 new participants, so now we are 27. 2 of newcomers took part in our events before, but registered in Wiki projects as a result of this participation.

Offline activity

Drbug during photo walk around Lomonosov
Road of Life expedition
Autumn tour to Kurortny district
Christmas meeting in Ladoga Karelia

Members of user group held 3 meetings before pandemic: 2 in Saint Petersburg and another one in Petrozavodsk. Sadly, the beginning of the spring walking season was clouded with complete lockdown in Russia. Despite that, Vladimir Medeyko and Yekaterina Borisova made 3 photo walks to the different locations in Saint Petersburg region during April and May. They made some useful photos of popular touristic places without crowds of people and explored unknown surroundings of Pavlovsk and Lomonosov poorly represented in Wikipedia.

Looking at this experience UG members decided to do the same and did a number of individual photo walks without UG support. Some of our members made tours into different places in the Leningrad Oblast, Novgorod Oblast and the Republic of Karelia during spring-to-autimn season of 2020. Photographs and data, gathered during these photo walks were immediately used in different Wiki-projects.

In July, together with the user-group of St. Petersburg Wikimedians, we had the big meeting, at which the participants discussed the changes that had taken place in society and developed a set of solutions and recommendations that later allowed to restore the level of UG activity shown before the pandemic. As a result, during the remaining summer season, UG members gathered four times to have trips across the Leningrad Region, in which 9 people took part. The most productive one was the trip along the memorial route "The Road of Life". During this journey we examined and filmed almost all the cultural heritage monuments on the route (Wikinews report in 3 languages)

During the autumn season some of user group members helped to prepare the annual Russian wiki-conference 2020 in Saint Petersburg. Also we held 2 meetings in Saint Petersburg and one in Petrozavodsk to discuss some current problems. At the end of the October we made a photo tour into Kurortny District of Saint Petersburg to take pictures of a last ride of rare Soviet train. After that, UG members made a long walk through a swamp to reach some unphotoed cultural heritage monuments (report in Russian Wikinews in 3 languages including English).

To the end of a year user group tried to make meetings through a Zoom-calls, that became one of the most popular world trends this year. Our experience was successful too, so during the Christmas gathering in Ladoga Karelia we used Zoom-chat to connect with those participants, who couldn't get there for some personal reasons.

We had big touring plans for 2020, but the only one excursion planned in 2019 was held in 2020 — to Sortavala and whole Ladoga Karelia. But looking onto the representation of some regions in Wiki-projects before and after visiting by members of our UG, we think that even the short and unplanned tours were very useful.

Wikimedia activity

We believe that the main result of our online activity in 2020 is a thematic edit-a-thon competition of writing Wikipedia and Wikivoyage articles in a different languages. It was initiated and mostly held by our user group with a support of a Wikimedia Russia. This competition collected 30 participants, who wrote articles in a different languages and it significantly expanded the amount of free knowledge about regions of our activity. Also one of our best attainments was expanding the possibilities for remote access to a discussions: we made our mailing list, and to the end of a year most of our meetings were supported by a Zoom-chat, used 14 times during the year. The volume of personal communication on work issues between participants has also grown.

In addition, in 2020 we created a personal activity page, where each participant could independently indicate the results of his/her activities related to the user group goals, which increased the displayed activity statistics almost 3 times. Thanks to this page, we can confidently say that during 2020 the members of our user group wrote 42 new articles and substantially supplemented 12 articles in Russian Wikipedia, 9 articles were translated into Wikipedias in other languages ​​(among which English and Erzya are leading). Also, 5 new articles were created in the Russian Wikivoyage and 7 articles were significantly supplemented. In all projects, participants tried to work in conjunction with quality projects.

The largest amount of activity of the user group falls on photographing with the subsequent uploading the pictures to Wikimedia Commons. It is extremely difficult to name the exact number of downloads made by members of our user group on its topic, especially since the individual photo activity of UG members also does not always occur in the regions that are in the sphere of interests of the user group. We estimate the total number of downloads to be approximately 6000 files, and approximately 5000 of which were made during the contests «Wiki Loves Folklore», «Wiki Loves Earth» and «Wiki Loves Monuments»; the last of the competitions accounts for about half of the all our downloads. Also, we downloaded many discovered historical photographs that are in the public domain. In addition, participants are gradually trying themselves in video shooting. The shooting was carried out using semi-professional equipment, including a quadrocopter, which made it possible to create high-quality and rare images, which are very widely used to illustrate Wikipedia articles, Wikivoyage guides and Wikinews.

Also, a lot of attention is paid to the creation of new categories in Wikimedia Commons (both for the files uploaded by the members of the user group and for files that were there earlier) and to the correction of categorization of the pictures that are already there. It is not possible to indicate the exact number of newly created and refined categories due to the lack of detailed accounting, but the approximate figure is at least 1000.

Organization and representation

Nikolay Bulykin makes a presentation of UG activity at Russian wiki-conference 2020

As a part of our activities in 2020, UG has significantly expanded cooperation with Wikimedia Russia and received financial support from them for some events. Contacts with the Erzyan and Tatar language communities have also been significantly expanded, and strong ties have been established with the Wikimedia community in Bashkir.

Andrew Krizhanovsky tried to settle contacts with a Petrozavodsk state university, that made an open request to write articles in Wikipedia about some of its professors, but haven't succeed.

Also at the end of 2020 Pavel Chernikov, chairman of non-wikimedian local historian community «Harlu ecological settlement», joined our UG and expanded his contribution to Wikimedia projects with our help.

8 members of the user group took part in the Russian parts of the international photo contests «Wiki loves Earth» and «Wiki loves monuments» 2020; more than 4,000 photographs of various cultural heritage sites and natural monuments of the North-West Russia were uploaded, some of which were filmed along the UG collective trips, and some as a private initiative of our participants. Also in 2020 we initiated the special nomination «Unknown North-West» within the Russian part of the «Wiki Loves Monuments» photo contest (the results will be announced during January 2021).

User group members took part in a number of different events made by Wikimedia Foundation and it's affiliates. Nikolay Bulykin was the UG representative at Wikimedia-2030 strategic conversations.

Financial activity

North-West Russia Wiki-Historians User Group have no sponsors. All of the current expenses are spent voluntarily with personal funds of the participants. Edit-a-thon competition and the gathering in Sortavala at the end of 2020 were funded by Wikimedia RU.