WikiProject:United Nations

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This page provides an overview of Wikimedia and outlines potential areas of collaboration between UN agencies and delegations and Wikimedia with examples. There are many possible areas of collaboration centered around sharing knowledge and content.

Education is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and has its own dedicated Goal, to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Wikimedia sites including Wikipedia receive 15 billion page views per month from 500 million people and are some of the most used educational resources in the world.

Education is both a goal in itself and a means for attaining all the other SDGs. It is not only an integral part of sustainable development, but also a key enabler for it. That is why education represents an essential strategy in the pursuit of the SDGs.

Overview of Wikimedia

Wikimedia projects
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Wikipedia is written by 100,000 volunteers working together and is supported by charities and has less than 1000 staff worldwide. Wikipedia is one of several projects created by the Wikimedia movement whose mission is to make the sum of human knowledge freely available to all, it does this through several websites including:

Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Wikipedia: the most popular encyclopaedia in the world, written by 10,000s of volunteers, it has over 40 million articles, available across 299 languages.
Notification-icon-Wikidata-logo.svg Wikidata: a free, structured, multilingual database of facts. It holds information on over 40 million concepts, it can be read and edited by both humans and machines.
Commons-logo.svg Wikimedia Commons: a repository of over 40 million free photographs, diagrams, maps, videos, animations, music, sounds, spoken texts, and other free media, available in many languages.
Wikivoyage favicon.svg Wikivoyage: a worldwide travel guide written by volunteers in the same spirit of sharing knowledge that makes travel so enjoyable.
Wikisource-logo.svg Wikisource: a multilingual project to collect free and open license texts.
Wikimedia's reach
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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. Wikipedia also provides information through Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and other third party services. Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia: it’s network of sites also includes a media repository, a database, a dictionary which supports a wide variety of content. They have become an important part of many people's education. It is available through zero rated services including Facebook Free Basics and Wikipedia Zero and is available offline on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and wifi hotspots through Kiwix. It is also used by Youtube, Facebook and others to combat fake news and disinformation.

Wikimedia is created by 10,000s of volunteers. Often a Wikipedia article can be written by hundreds of people, changing and improving each other's work. Wikimedia requires all content to be available under an open license, also called Open Access, meaning the information is free to access, reuse and change.

“By 'open access' to the literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."

Open licensing/Open Access is achieved through open licenses, Wikimedia projects use content available under the following licenses:

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Public Domain

Licenses with non commercial or no derivative clauses are not accepted by Wikimedia projects. UN agencies and other IGOs are able to use a specific set of Creative Commons licenses for Intergovernmental Organisations.

Wikimedia's structure
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Wikimedia is a decentralised movement, consisting of organisations and indiviudal volunteers:

Wikimedia-logo black.svg Wikimedia Foundation: provides support for Wikipedia and other projects, and works to create or improve access to information around the world.
Wikimedia-logo-update-2016.svg Wikimedia Chapters and User Groups: are independent organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects in a specified geographical region (in most cases, a country).
Noun Project user logo 257940 cc.svg Volunteers: the tens of thousands of contributors to Wikimedia projects come from many cultures and backgrounds but all share the common aim of bringing free educational content to the world.

You can contact your local Wikimedia chapter or user group, you can also contact John Cummings, Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO, J.Cummings(@)


History of collaborations
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Wikimedia has been collaborating with organisations in education, science, culture and many other areas for over 10 years. This list provides an overview of the kinds of projects which are possible with examples from UN agencies. A specific area of Wikimedia called Wikiproject United Nations has been set up to help all UN agencies share content and knowledge on Wikimedia projects.

Joint projects
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UN organisations and Wikimedia organisations have collaborated to produce work including:

  • UNESCO and Wikimedia Sweden are working on the FindingGLAMs project to create the first worldwide map of cultural heritage institutions.
Share media
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Thousands of organisations have shared their content with a worldwide audience through Wikimedia projects, including though formal partnerships. Many organisations have unique content which improves the public's understanding of their areas of work. Tools are available to show where media from an organisation is displayed on across Wikimedia projects and the number of views for those pages.

Share text
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Text available under an open license can often be added directly to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to improve articles and provide a new audience to the work.

Share data
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Data can be added to graphs, maps and information boxes on Wikipedia. The data is linked and combined with other datasets making it more useful. From Wikipedia the data is used by Google search, Siri and many data visualisation services like Histropedia (e.g The Apollo missions) and Monumental (a built heritage explorer). There are also more technical tools like Wikidata Graph Builder, Wikidata Query Service which allow the user to query the data directly World Heritage sites.

Reuse Wikimedia images
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Wikimedia Commons holds over 50 million images, audio files and videos that can be used by anyone, including commercially. A guide has been developed in cooperation with UNESCO staff to help people people reuse the content.

  • UNESCO has used images from Wikimedia on their social media channels to promote their projects.
Promoting of open licensing and Wikimedia
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Promoting Wikimedia activities encourages the production of educational content, free for everyone to use and benefit from.

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Events like editathons, competitions and expert meetings can support the creation of content on a specific subject and facilitate knowledge sharing between Wikimedia and the UN.

Wikimedians in Residence
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Wikimedian in Residence is a role in which a Wikimedia editor accepts a placement with an institution to facilitate a close working relationship between the Wikimedia movement and the institution through a range of activities, both internal and public-facing. Wikipedians in Residence are usually financially compensated by the institution or by a Wikimedia chapter, but they may also be volunteers.

  • UNESCO: John Cummings has been working as Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO since 2015 to help UNESCO share its knowledge and content through Wikipedia.
  • UNESCO: in 2017 Sandra Fauconnier worked with Dutch cultural institutions (Utrecht University Library, Zeeuws Archief and International Institute of Social History) that hold documents included in the Memory of the World register.
  • UNDP: Commencing from Bobbyshabangu is working with UNDP in South Africa to help the country office share results and impact of the work they've done since 1994 through Wikipedia and an internal MediaWiki based Wiki.