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Am I a Wikimedian? What do I have to do to be a Wikimedian?

Loosely defined, a Wikimedian is simply someone who contributes to and/or advocates for any of Wikimedia's various projects.

There are many formal ways to become involved with Wikimedia projects. There are also any number of informal ways to get involved; but often, project contributors are reluctant or ill-equipped to advocate for Wikimedia's projects or overall vision within their various offline communities.

The WikiPods concept is being developed as way to encourage individuals to increase their advocacy, promotion, or enrichment of Wikimedia projects in an informal, ad hoc and personalized way. Anyone who loves Wikimedia or its projects may already consider him or herself a Wikimedian; any two or more Wikimedians in the same town or area can form a WikiPod!

This page explains the WikiPods model, and compares it with local team models used by similar organizations. We are also using this page to draft a proposal for the implementation process, including links to other relevant pages on this wiki. This proposal can benefit from input from everyone! Please be bold and add your comments, questions, concerns and dreams.

WikiPods Mission Statement[edit]


WikiPods offer the opportunity to extend the ways of affiliating with the Wikimedia movement. Wikipods:

  • engage people in real life activities around free knowledge
  • offer the opportunity to support chapters' activities on a local level
  • bring together groups of people with a specific interest in the movement (e.g. reaching a specific target audience, targeting isolated cultural areas)
  • increase the reach of chapters' outreach activities (scalability)
  • offer affiliation for people living in regions where there are no chapters yet or where chapters might not be feasible


The concept of WikiPods is evolving out of ongoing discussions about participation and how to engage people who are outside of our typical outreach communities. Many Public Outreach activities are aimed at recruiting a particular target audience and helping natural affiliates of Wikimedia work to engage with our projects. This proposal aims to encourage participation in completely new environments allowing people who might not otherwise see a place for themselves in the Wikimedia world. Ideally this type of outreach program would merge the successes of the free software model: loosely and spontaneously formed user-groups or local teams, with the university-based evangelist Campus Representative model used by Mozilla, and social philanthropy model- engaging people in volunteerism and evangelism driven by their social interests.

WikiPods compared with other local team models[edit]

Ubuntu Local Community Teams Mozilla Campus Reps WikiPods
Website [to be determined]
Focus more support/customization oriented more promotion oriented more promotion oriented
Form of organization larger team, lead by team leader single representative small local teams
Geographical area state level (US), country level (other) university campus below country/state level
Approval both approved (yearly) and non-approved teams mandatory (yearly) [to be determined]
Trademark use [to be determined]
Product customization Translation and localization No No
Booth at computer fairs Yes No No
Set up a blog No Yes Yes
Article in campus newspaper No Yes Yes
Helpdesk on campus No Yes Yes
Promotion initiative Ubuntu installation fest Firefox download day “Welcome to Wikipedia” party
Presentations Yes Yes Yes
“On the Street” video interviews No Yes Yes
Wikipedia Memoir No No Yes
Wikiexpedition No No Yes

Typical WikiPods activities[edit]

Ward Cunningham, inventor of wiki software, often uses in-person events to point the way forward. He was right about this wiki stuff -- maybe he's onto something with this in-person presentation thing, too!

Encouraging and facilitating participation[edit]

  • “Welcome to Wikimedia” party
Welcome newcomers to Wikimedia, and introduce the different projects that Wikimedia supports. The event can focus on how to begin particiapting and contributing to these projects as well as meeting other community members.
  • Wikipedia helpdesk on your university campus
Organize a Wikipedia helpdesk on your university campus: get into contact with other students, answer their questions, tell them about your editing experience, help them with creating a user account and distribute swag.
  • Wikipedia Memoir
Conduct a class or a lecture focusing on your development of a Wikipedia article from scratch, including dealing with other editors, finding research materials, and demonstrating notability.

Enriching and improving content[edit]

  • Wikiexpedition
Organize a journey to a certain region near you; collect material (written materials, audio recordings, photographs, etc) to enrich Wikimedia project content. Include visits to historical sites, museums, libraries, interviews with notable locals, etc.
  • Wikipedia Guided Tour
Plan a tour of a city or neighborhood using information from Wikimedia that provides history, photos and interesting facts about the area. You can use printed materials or look up facts as you go on your mobile device. As you tour, record information you learn/observe that is not already included on the site. This is a great way to improve content that is missing, enriching existing articles.
  • Host a WikiPod at a local museum or library
There is an abundance of information available at museums and libraries. This comes both in the form of content, images, articles, books, etc that are available for loan and copy. These institutions also offer public services such research assistance, classes and 1:1 time with research librarians. Hosting a WikiPod at one of these locations is a great way to learn what they have available, and how to access the information.
  • Become a WikiNews Citizen Journalist
Wikinews promotes the idea of participatory journalism because of the belief that citizens know what is news like no others. All Wikinews articles are created by everyday people just like you, from around the globe. You can become a local Wikinews reporter, contributing information on local happenings in you area by attending events, conducting interviews, and researching local issues. (You may be interested in seeking Wikinews accreditation; this status, while not required to do original reporting, may make it easier for you to be treated as a serious journalist by other organizations.)

Promoting culture of free content / Wikimedia projects[edit]

  • Wikipedia presentation
Give a Wikipedia presentation and introduce your audience to Wikipedia face-to-face. As a passionate Wikipedia community member, you're the best person to do this! Share your story on how and why you started contributing to Wikipedia. This could be done at a local user group meeting, social get together, community gathering, staff meeting or class. You may wish to approach a general audience, or a very specific one. An example: Steven Walling did a presentation oriented toward journalists at a WikiWednesday event, and again at a journalism conference, in 2009.
  • Wikipedia “On the Street” interviews
Go to a place in your city where there is a lot of foot traffic and ask people about their experiences with Wikipedia. Film the interviews and upload them on Wikimedia Commons. Post them on your blog, or a group blog in your area, too. Questions you might want to ask: “Do you use Wikipedia?”, “Has Wikipedia improved your life?”, “Do you know who writes the articles on Wikipedia?”, “What does Wikipedia stand for?”, …
  • Article in your campus or other local newspaper
Write an article about Wikipedia in a newspaper. This may be a college/university paper, or a local weekly or neighborhood paper. Tell people the personal stories of Wikipedians you know, remind them that all Wikipedia authors are volunteers and that the Wikimedia Foundation relies nearly exclusively on donations. Discuss the impact Wikipedia has made on the world by making information free and accessible to anyone anywhere. Mention common misconceptions, and how the community works to overcome them. After the article is accepted, be sure to share it with the wikimedia community.
  • Arrange for a local blogger or journalist to interview you
Wikipedia is one of the world's top five web sites, the general public still doesn't really understand how it works. Local bloggers, TV anchors, talk show hosts, or writers may be very interested in interviewing a "real, live Wikipedian" for publication. Cultivating relationships with bloggers and journalists is a great way to start; if you know any, seek out opportunities to learn what they're interested in covering, how well they understand Wikipedia, etc. Also, be on the lookout for local issues that might spark an interest in Wikipedia, and be sure to contact the media when such issues arise. Here is an example, an hour-long radio interview of Oregon Wikipedian Pete Forsyth and the editor of another online Oregon encyclopedia: Encyclopedic Ambitions
  • Visit a local classroom
Sharing your Wikipedia expertise with students is a great way to spread the word about Wikipedia. This information can help students to gain important computer skills, learn about open source techologies, and learn about the importance of collaboration. Youth today can provide important content to current social trends, media and information. Educators can use Wikipedia as a teaching tool as well as a resource.
  • Volunteer with a local non-profit or foundation
Non-profits (such as musueums, cultural centers, special interest groups, etc) are always looking for inexpensive ways to provide services. Reaching out to a local non-profit can be a great way to get the word out about Wikipedia, as well as provide guidance on how to contribute information. Offering to give a presentation or teach an educational workshops is a great way to volunteer and help Wikipedia grow.

Questions and Answers[edit]

What is a WikiPod?

WikiPods are groups of Wikimedia fans and enthusiasts working together in local teams to help advocate, promote, enrich and otherwise improve Wikipedia or other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.

WikiPods at a glance
Type of organization activity-oriented, small, flexible teams
Geographical scope local (your campus, your town, etc.)
Activity areas
  • Encouraging and facilitating participation
  • Enriching and improving content
  • Promoting culture of free content / Wikimedia projects
Where does the name come from?

“WikiPods” is a blend of the words “Wiki” (a website that uses wiki software) and “Pod” (botany, a seed case). In a metaphorical sense it can be understood as “a group of evangelists who plant Wikimedia seeds”. The name highlights the mission- and outreach-oriented nature of the WikiPods.

Who can make a WikiPod?

Anyone who endorses Wikimedia's vision and mission statement.

Why should I join a WikiPod?

Because you want to spread awareness about the Wikimedia Foundation's cause, help others to start participating in the Wikimedia Foundation's projects, but also to join a team of people who are passionate about collecting and developing free informational content.

Does the Wikimedia Foundation run the WikiPods?

No, WikiPods are independent groups run by the WikiPod's members.

How do I set up a WikiPod?

Please have a look at the WikiPod How To.

How many members should a WikiPod have?

That's up to you. If you need 10 team members to plan and execute a weekly Wikipedia course for beginners at your local university or if you want to conduct a series of "On the street" interviews with two of your friends – it's your choice.

What is the difference between Wikimedia Chapters and WikiPods?

Unlike Chapters, WikiPods require no long approval process by the Wikimedia Foundation. Do you and a couple of friends want to found a WikiPod and promote Wikipedia by encouraging people at your university to start participating? Be bold! Move forward! WikiPods are meant to be easy to start and manage. Just be creative! On the other hand, there are some kind of activities that require a legal entity: for a bigger event like a Wikipedia Academy (as you might want to sign a contract with your partner), for developing a partnership with a cultural institution, for fundraising purposes, etc. – these are some examples of typical chapter activities.

How can WikiPods support Chapters?

WikiPods offer a big opportunity to do something on the local level that an existing Wikimedia Chapter in your country is already doing on a broader level. If your country has a chapter, you might want to get in contact and ask about what its past activities have been, what experiences have been made and how you can further the longterm goals of the chapter with your local initiative.

How can Chapters support WikiPods?

Chapters that support WikiPods can substantially increase their effectiveness of furthering the culture of free knowledge. Supporting WikiPods means making the promotion of our common ideas and ideals scale. Every new editor and supporter of Wikipedia and its sister projects is valuable to our movement.

Here are some ideas how Chapters can support WikiPods:

  • Promote the WikiPods concept on your website and mailing list
  • Provide the WikiPods with swag (stickers, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Help WikiPods with information about best practices in public outreach
  • Support WikiPods' events for Wikipedia beginners with printed reference and educational materials
What about WikiProjects?

WikiProjects are typically collaborative efforts that operate entirely within the Wikipedia editing community. However, some place-based WikiProjects have had success using the connections they've developed to engage with their local communities. WikiProject Oregon, for instance, has maintained a public-facing blog, advocated for local legislation, participated in planning and hosting events, etc. If there's an active WikiProject in your area, you may find eager participants for a WikiPod; or if not, you may want to start up a WikiProject once your WikiPod is up and running!

External links[edit]

  • WikiWednesdays are events held all over the world to promote the use of wikis and free culture in general. It may be worth exploring what WikiWednesday organizers have learned. If you're setting up a WikiPod, you may want to get involved with a WikiWednesday in your area!