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Programa Catalisador do Brasil/Planejamento 2012-2013/Parcerias/Ação Educativa/Proposal/About the Brazilian Catalyst Program: opportunities, challenges and the state of art

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About the Brazilian Catalyst Project - Opportunities, challenges and the state of art[edit]

The Portuguese Wikipedia faced in 2011 a fall in the growth of active editors, new editors, edits and new articles. This doesn’t mean that the Portuguese Wikipedia stopped growing. It did grow. But in a lower rate than it had been growing for many years. This is not an isolated phenomenon as we know many other languages face the same challenge. And this can also be seen as a “natural decrease in growth”, that many communities go through after they reach a certain level of maturity and after a period of excitement with the “new” factor. Even Facebook, the largest online community website in the world faces decrease in growth rates, even though it’s continuously growing[1].

When it comes to Wikimedia projects, there should be no reason to be surprised about the fact that growth has been lower after so many years. However, not only we have a very low rate of our population editing [2], but also the Brazilian population’s access to internet has increased considerably in the latest years, reaching now almost 50% of penetration[3], of which almost 70% have daily access to it [4].

What we see here is an opportunity for growth, bringing more diversity to the Wikimedia global movement and more content in the Portuguese Language. The global south is still under-represented in the Wikimedia global community. Despite Brazil already represents about 4% of the global internet population, we are only responsible for 2% of Wikimedia page views and 2.2% of page edits.[5][6].

As the projects grow in quality and quantity of articles, the more is required by any user, even the new ones, in terms of knowledge on how to edit. While Wikipedia faces the challenge of managing newcomers and all types of contributions, given its huge exposure and recognition, its sister Wikimedia projects are extremely welcoming to new contributors, but face the challenge of having an large enough active community to bring new people interested in collaborating. We want to face challenges in both ways in Brazil: to enlarge those small communities and raise awareness on all Wikimedia projects and to support the Wikipedia community (which is often also the entrance door for the movement) to build better conditions for the collaboration of the existing community as well as to bring in new editors and content into the project.

Our focus, so far, has been mainly on Wikipedia though. In 2012, the curve of decrease in growth has changed the trend of 2011, showing room for growth. In 2013, during March, April and May, we finally saw growth in the numbers regarding new editors and active editors[7]. In June, though, a very low decrease took place in the numbers regarding new editors (from 504 to 502) and a more significant decrease happened with regards to active editors (from 1598 to 1515).

General state of art[edit]

1. After a big fall in 2011, the number of new articles created per year have stagnated in 2012.
2. After falling from 2010 to 2011, the number of edits per year have stayed almost the same from 2011 to 2012.
3. The variation of new editors comparing to the previous year in 2012 have came back to the same proportion seen in 2010.
4. The reduction of active editors have slowed down in 2012 comparing to 2011.
5. The decay of very active editors started in 2011 continued in 2012.


The challenges here are many: the first one is to attribute growth rates to our work in a cause-effect relation. We know a variety of activities and results, such as the education program, outreach activities and media coverage, brought new people to edit Wikipedia - but considering the average amount of people regularly editing the website those actions do not create impact in the short term. They may have impact in the long term, with the academic community being more respectful, collaborative and accountable for the Portuguese Wikipedia content. They may have impact throughout a continued work by a large and consistent network of professors, universities and schools engaged in the program. They may have impact with more editors working on online outreach and continued online training. The impact of a better environment (compared to a couple of years ago) and the consistent improvement of it through better resources for both the current community and newcomers are also be perceived after a certain period of time.

The second big challenge is to build consensus over the objectives of our work. Since the very beginning of our project, we decided to work closely with the community to build consensus over what we should do to improve and contribute for the growth of the Portuguese Wikimedia projects. However, this proved to be more challenging, since there’s no consensus among community members, even among the volunteers of the Brazilian chapter to be. All agree we should never act against the will of the community. But the will of the community is not pretty well defined. While Wikimedia Movement goals point to the growth of Wikimedia projects, especially of Wikipedia, a small part of the community believes the Catalyst Project should not try to interfere at all on Wikipedia, working more closely with the Wikimedia movement/chapter to be members, others believe we should only provide support where the community asks for, others believe we should only work for improving quality, but not quantity, while others believe we should have clearer targets and implement the project for growing and improving Wikimedia projects with as many partners as we can.

We believe this project is an opportunity to build a clear agenda and set of objectives to contribute to the strengthening the overall Wikimedia community in Brazil. We strongly believe in mid and long term results out of this project, but we are also very focused on short term milestones to make sure we are accomplishing every step in path we are building. All actions will be evaluated and learnings will come out of them. If changes need to be made throughout the process, based on learnings, we won't hesitate in making them, but we have in high account the need to be bold in the very wikimedia style in order to accomplish things from which we can learn and share.


The Brazil Catalyst Program throughout the last year and a half has established a team, a plan and built an organic relationship with the community, supporting the online Wikipedia Community in various ways, piloting an Education Program and sharing learnings out of it, building a strategy to improve decision making process through data analysis, supporting the improvement of communications channels, raising awareness on Wikimedia projects and developing a better understanding of the main challenges.

However, there is a lot to be done, and much to be improved. We needed to shift our approach and methodology for the implementation of the catalyst programs with the Narrowing Focus exercise, and that meant postponing many activities. Hiring, planning and partnerships with organizations also took much longer than we imagined they would take (during 2012, we were only two in the team, establishing the basis to allow real kickoff of the program and piloting the education program. In the first semester of 2013, we hired Henrique Andrade (full time) and Jonas Xavier (part time) and Everton Alvarenga announced in February he was going to leave WMF by the end of the semester. It took us 4 months to hire a new education team (Rodrigo Padula and Célio Costa) and during this transition phase we were focused on building the terms for this partnership and Everton had to gradually reduce the amount of time dedicated to the project. We tried to handle the confusing phase in the best way we could, but we realize there were implications on the development of the work. Now we’re set with a strong team (2 full time and 2 part time), we are starting this partnership with Ação Educativa (which will add one more person to the team as well as more institutional support) and will significantly facilitate local partnerships and empower us to focus on the actual implementation of activities.

Even considering a lot of challenges in 2013 we have seen a recovery (if unstable) on the Portuguese Wikipedia. 2011 was a year in which the annual variation regarding new editors had been negative in all months. In 2012, the same indicator was positive in two months: May (just after a lot of media coverage on the Brazil Catalyst Project) and September, and the fall in many other months was lower than in 2011. In 2013, we have experience growth in three months: March (+10.79%), April (+4.48%) and May (+15.81%), and considerable lower falls in the other months so far (being -0,66% the minimum and -6,44% the maximum)[8]. It is hard, though, to attribute those general statistics to our work. While there is very little evidence of cause-effect relations to sustain our actions directly provoked changes in those trends, it’s not also 100% dischargeable the hypothesis that we collaborated with those results in a way. What we want and need to do more, from now on, is to track every result of our actions in order to better report on what has possibly been helping growth.

Active editors on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
Active editors on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
New articles per Day on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
New articles per Day on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
New editors on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
New editors on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
Very active editors on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation
Very active editors on Portuguese Wikipedia growth variation

Education Program[edit]

During the year of 2012 we have piloted the Education Program in two phases: the first one started with one single contractor in December, 2011, engaging 5 professors from some of the most renowned universities in Brazil to develop class assignments for Wikipedia articles.

This first pilot served us with many learnings: we realized the less familiar the professor was with Wikipedia, the more difficult it was to get articles migrated to the main domain. Also, despite the efforts of some campus ambassadors, the courses in São Paulo did not achieve the results we expected. One of the courses in Rio was also called off by the professor, because she didn’t find wise to expose first year students to the task of creating new articles or significantly improve them. Instead, she ran a pilot with an extension course (a smaller, but voluntary and focused on Wikimedia course).

One of our impressions of the first pilot was that professors did not have a realistic idea of how much efforts doing class assignments for Wikipedia would require (and actually neither we did until our first experience), and also they weren’t committed to the same targets and metrics we had expected as results for the program. The other conclusion was that we should not define in advance which universities we should focus at. Instead, we should raise information on the plans made by the professors, their available structure and the existence of ambassadors to support them, to make the decision on where we should focus our attention. Additionally, we also realized we should not restrict the program to professors of our previous acquaintance circles. Having all that in mind, we decided to launch an open call for Brazilian professors. We would select 15 proposals to provide support to during the second semester. We received 36 proposals, out of which we selected 16. However, many of them were impacted by the national strike led by Federal Universities. Only the private and state ones could really develop the project throughout the second semester of 2012. This has also impacted our plannings for training (originally one in São Paulo and one in Rio) and we had to adapt the training sessions to a diversities of calendars, organizing 4 training sessions: in São Paulo, Rio, Paraná and Espírito Santo.

Because of the professors strike, during the first semester of 2013, many selected courses were still going on, students were developing articles and professors revising them. Some professors gave continuity to this work, but we decided to improve our support structure before opening a new open call.

The Wikiprojects Bot[edit]

We’ve put our efforts in improving online and print materials as well as to run a pilot with professionals from the Brazilian health system in order to improve articles in their respective areas - for that, we invested in the development of a bot, similar to the Teahouse bot, which will invite people editing health related articles to participate in the Wikimedicine project. After a long development phase and many tests, the bot got a flag and will be running this semester. The national meetup of the targeted departments of the health Brazil system has also been postponed for this semester, so we’ll take part in that, present the project and send over an email with instructions and tutorials to the participants.

To know more about the program[edit]

To know more about the planning of this second and third phases, please check the goals established for that

Get to know more about the 34 courses to which we provided support and the systematized learnings. Among our findings, we have concluded that although a few ambassadors were extremely helpful in the Brazilian program, the engagement of professors themselves is key for the success of the program. In general, professors that were more directly engaged online achieved better results than the ones that relied mostly on ambassadors to get the program developed.

Localization and original creation of tutorials[edit]

The Brazilian team is localizing and creating online and print materials in order to allow the sustainability and growth of the project, which so far has been too dependent on our consultants.

We have also supported the community in creating the Tutorial, through suggesting, offering translation and helping in the localization. After the kick off, the community ended up doing almost all the job and we’re now finalizing and suggesting localization and changes.

We have also produced, in partnership with the University Gama Filho, a series of videos to teach their distant learning students about the Wikimedia projects, as well as how to edit Wikipedia and engage in the Wikimedia Education Programa. We have invited the community to participate and the results can be checked out at Commons:Category:Vídeos_para_curso_de_tradução_da_Universidade_Gama_Filho.

Data analysis[edit]

The community engagement activities are carried out through a set of approaches: data analyses: supporting community in better understanding and evaluating the development of Wikimedia projects, especially Wikipedia, by providing data for analyses.

Please check some of the products:

  • Timeline relating general stats and events/changes in Wikipedia: This timeline was created from a list built by community members about the main events throughout the history of Wikipedia. The idea is to allow easy editing from the community to help anyone understand whether (and in which extent) changes on the rules, changes on the community, changes of technology impacted the growth of Wikipedia.
  • Research on reverts, vandalism and effects of captcha ( phase 1 and phase 2): During the controversial removal of the emergency mode of captcha in Portuguese Wikipedia we developed a research on reverts and vadalism, helping the community to make data-driven decisions concerning vadalism fighting. It made the community rethink its concerns about growth and admin work, and led to a task force of Abuse Filter improvement.
  • Geolocated Edits: we created a page that shows countries share of edits on Portuguese Wikipedia.
  • pt:Wikipédia:Ptwikis : We are helping community to learn how to access wikipedia data using the tool labs databases and they are creating monitor tools in this shared development environment. The tools available in ptwiki can be found here.
  • Mobile Edits count: we created in a community shared environment at tool labs a graph that shows the edits done using the mobile interface by registered and anonymous users. This interface is ready to show data from all Wikipedia, but the legends still needs to be internationalized.
  • Annual stats board: Based on the monthly stats data, we are analysing annual variation of the main statistics on Portuguese Wikipedia.
  • Education Program Evaluation: we started a pilot to measure students behavior during the courses offered in the context of the Wikipedia Education Program. We expect to have this data automatically generated with the WEP mediawiki deployed in the Portuguese Wikipedia.
  • Translating technical content: a big amount of mediawiki's documentation isn't translated to Portuguese. We been translating some of this page to allow non-English speakers members of the community to have access to this information.

Data analyses community building: supporting the community in developing skills to independently create and analyse data: a portal centralizing access to a variety of data (both raw and collected/organized) and how-tos was created (it’ll still be edited, but the release of the version 1.0 is almost done). Also, the portal regarding data analysis created on Meta has been translated into Portuguese, making it available for Brazilian researchers and volunteers eager to work on data analysis.

Community Support[edit]

Media coverage[edit]


January *Wikisalvador 2.0: encontro de voluntários e fãs usuários da Wikipédia na Bahia


27 Dec
17 Nov

"Oona Castro explicou bases do funcionamento da enciclopédia digital. Colaboradores devem incluir informações vindas de fontes reputadas."

16 Nov

"Faz sentido a Wikipédia explicar as várias formas de consumir canábis? E quem não é adepto do “paz e do amor” pode aprender quais são os ingredientes de um coquetel molotov?

10 Nov

"Segundo um estudo da Universidade de Tecnologia e Economia de Budapeste, na Hungria, o número de vezes que o verbete de um filme na Wikipedia foi lido e editado é um indicativo do sucesso que ele poderá ter."

Notícias relacionadas:
"Wikipedia pode ajudar a prever que filmes serão blockbusters"- Público
8 Oct

"Cidade de 8,8 mil habitantes no País de Gales é a 1ª no mundo a ser totalmente coberta pela Wikipédia"

22 Sept

"No último 7 de setembro, o escritor Philip Roth postou na revista The New Yorker uma carta aberta à Wikipedia."

13 Sept

"A enciclopédia grátis nunca foi uma fonte confiável de consulta. Mas continuamos a usá-la cada vez mais"

6 July

"Cooperação conturbada - Quem são e por que brigam os editores da Wikipédia em português"

2 June

"A representante no Brasil da Wikimedia Foundation, que mantém a enciclopédia colaborativa, trabalha para aprimorar verbetes e atrair usuários."

14 May

"Na conversa com a IMPRENSA, a jornalista contou sobre sua trajetória, falou sobre o jornalismo colaborativo e sobre a importância dos projetos Wikimedia para a democratização do conhecimento humano."

10 May

"Ao apresentar os sete membros da Comissão da Verdade, o Palácio do Planalto usou a Wikipédia (uma enciclopédia virtual) para formular alguns dos perfis dos integrantes (...) Um dos perfis, o do ex-ministro José Carlos Dias, traz a descrição exatamente igual à da Wikipédia."

30 Mar

"A Wikimedia Foundation tem um novo projeto em desenvolvimento: a Wikidata. Anunciado em fevereiro deste ano, o novo produto será 'uma base de conhecimento gratuito editável por homens e máquinas', segundo a descrição da própria companhia."

Related news
22 Mar

"Jornalista brasileira vai inaugurar o escritório oficial da enciclopédia no país, em São Paulo."

12 Mar

"Um dos fundadores da Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, prestará assessoria para o governo britânico se comunicar com transparência através da internet, segundo informou nesta segunda-feira o jornal The Daily Telegraph."

5 Mar

"Professores do Rio de Janeiro e São Paulo aderem a versão brasileira do Global Education Program "

9 Feb

"Diretor da Wikimedia Foundation, Kul Wadhwa, diz que Brasil está abaixo da média mundial na colaboração da Wikipédia."

Related news:
Wikipedia em português precisa melhorar. E isso depende de vocêGazeta do Povo
1 Feb

"Professora da Unirio usa aulas para editar verbetes na maior enciclopédia colaborativa do mundo e cria – ou recupera –cerca de 30 artigos sobre o Império Romano."


  1. Facebook’s growth rates
  2. [stats:Sitemap.htm Stats number of speakers/editors ratio]
  3. Internet penetration in Brazil - source: The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee - CGI.br
  4. [ http://www.cetic.br/usuarios/tic/2012/C3.html Internet use per frequency of access - source: The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee - CGI.br]
  5. [Brazil_Catalyst_Project/Barry_Newstead_Announcement|Barry’s announcement]
  6. Wikimedia global stats
  7. Stats on the Portuguese Wikipedia
  8. w:pt:Usuário(a):HAndrade_(WMF)/Estatísticas_Mensais