Guide: A Great Virtual WikiGap
Wikipedia is one of the largest indexes of women, but whilst it has 1.7 million biographies, only 20% of them are about women. This gender gap reflects the representation of women online – only 1 in 5 experts interviewed in the media are women.
Wikipedia – the platform for free knowledge
Wikipedia is one of the most used educational resources in the world, it has 50 million articles across 300 languages, which are read 20 billion times a month by 500 million people.
The WikiGap Essence
The WikiGap campaign aims to change this. Since 2018, local Wikimedia communities across the world have organized WikiGap events – together with Swedish embassies and other partners. The WikiGap campaign, which so far has led to more than 50,000 new or improved articles, read more than a 100 million times, and written by more than 5,000 editors, is globally coordinated by Wikimedia Sverige and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Organizers have invited people, new to the platforms, or with lots of experience, to join in the same goal: to bridge the gender gap on Wikipedia. The idea is that anyone can come, and no matter their previous knowledge on Wikipedia, they should be able to leave with at least one new woman biography edited.
WikiGap has previously focused on meaningful physical events. 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic taught us that WikiGap must be able to live in a virtual setting too. This guide will give you, as an organizer of a virtual WikiGap event, some guidance and ideas.
In the digital era, WikiGap has the possibility to gather participants to create greatness online. This is true for these pandemic times, but there are advantages of continuing with online events even when we may travel again. However, there are certain aspects that you need to consider to make WikiGap online a meaningful event.
Many physical WikiGap events have been the result of a partnership between a local institution, such as a Swedish embassy or a UN office, a local Wikimedia community and a third partner. The institution has been responsible for the venue and catering, whereas the Wikimedia affiliate has been responsible for trainings and workshops and third partners for proposed articles and resources.
Do you want to organize an event in a virtual setting, but don’t know what to do? We try to give some guidance below. It is not a full list, but some ideas and advice. Start to reach out to each other, and decide upon a division of responsibilities that work for you. We have proposed a few ideas for division below – but decide according to your needs and experiences.
|Local institution (Embassy, UN Office etc.)
|Local Wikimedia community
|Partner (university, NGO)
|Platform (Zoom, Google Meets)
|Lists of people to write about
|Internet access / free data (in countries where internet might be expensive)
|Organizing a writing workshop – called an editathon
|VIP to speak (if you want to start with a webinar)
|VIPs to speak (if you want to start with a webinar)
|Volunteers helping newcomers to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia.
When the event takes place virtually, it is of even higher importance to consider how to generate involvement and enthusiasm among the participants. Consider the following:
- Ask potential participants to register. Knowing about their previous knowledge, experience, and goals, will make it easier for you to estimate preparatory work, as well as how many Wikimedia volunteers you will need.
- Create a chat group for participants, such as on Facebook, Telegram, Whatsapp, etc, which you can invite participants to already in invitation letters or upon registration. This can be used both for answering concrete questions on editing, and to create a community. It can also be used to follow up after the event, keeping participants engaged.
- Provide swag, such as WikiGap branded t-shirts, pens, stickers, etc. It is a good way of building pride as well as visibility among participants and volunteers. This is also important for an online event, perhaps sending out gifts in advance to registered participants.
- An online event may need an even larger number of Wikipedia volunteers, tutoring participants individually. These volunteers will need specific invitations and communication.
WikiGap is an opportunity for providing meaningful information to Wikipedia. It is also a chance to give something back to the participants, for example knowledge and inspiration. Think about the following when planning the event.
In order for the participants to create content to Wikipedia, they should have a proper introduction to the platform.
- Send out educational material prior to the event. Here are some examples of training modules on the basics of Wikipedia editing.
- Have someone from the local Wikimedia community to introduce Wikipedia and its values.
- [Watch this film (upcoming)] about creating a Wikipedia article.
- Be prepared to answer editing questions during the event.
It might be a good idea to hold a training event before the actual WikiGap workshop, for new and inexperienced users to attend. This makes it easier to contribute during the actual WikiGap event.
It is important to consider the support for the participants. The area most likely to demand the support is the editing of articles itself. Therefore, volunteers from the Wikipedia community will be of great value in assisting the participants of the event. Hopefully, WikiGap will also work as a community builder, connecting bonds between participants and volunteers.
An additional value for the participants of the event, as well as for the volunteers, is if WikiGap is more than just an editing workshop. Take the possibility of creating a full event, giving inspiration and joy to the participants. What gender equality role models do you have in your community that you could invite?
There are a multitude of platforms that can be used for the online meeting. A good place to start is to investigate the existing platforms within the Embassy or the local Wikimedia Community. Consider the following:
- Is the platform one that can be used by anyone, only by link?
- You will have to use a service that allows you to invite participants without them having to create an account. Suitable for this is for example Zoom, Google Meets, Skype or Jitsi.
- Inform the participants if they need to download an app, should they use their smartphones for the call.
- How much bandwidth do you need as a participant?
- For example, Zoom is better than Skype or Microsoft Teams when internet is poor, with Google Meets somewhere in between.
- How many participants do you expect?
- If you use free accounts, there may be limits on the number of participants that can join or the length of the meeting.
- Will you be needing breakout rooms?
- Sometimes, the participants will need individual support. If the video system you use is supporting breakout sessions, it is easy for volunteers and participants to go to such a room for tutoring.
For keeping track of the progress of the participants, we use a platform called Programs and Events Dashboard. After creating a Wikipedia Account, the participants sign up for the dashboard using this account.
As an event planner, you need to create a program within the WikiGap campaign. Follow the steps below. Note that the words might differ depending on your preferred language.
- Log in using your Wikipedia Account.
- Press the green button on the right, saying “Create program +”.
- Choose “Create new program” and then “Edit-a-thon”.
- Fill in the details of your event, including the date.
- Share the link on top with the participants of your event. This is the link that participants use to sign up for dashboard, which enables the tool to track their edits.
See this example if you wonder how it might look.
For a successful online WikiGap event, the participants need to have sufficient internet access. We encourage the Embassies, the local Wikimedia association and other hosts to help provide internet access or data, should it be needed.
Look at Guidelines for inclusive meetings. Consider if there is anything you need to do to ensure a safe WikiGap event. Also, go through the Universal Code of Conduct and see if there are any precautions you must take.