In 2014, Wikimedia Armenia started the "Western Armenian program" in order to introduce Western Armenian as a language on Wikipedia. The goal of this program is to involve editors from the Armenian Diaspora from different countries such as the USA, Lebanon, Syria, Canada, Australia, and others to help improve and create content in Western Armenian. As Western Armenian is an endangered language in some countries, this program is meant to not only promote it but to ensure its preservation.
Western Armenian articles
There are currently 1,387 Western Armenian articles in Armenian Wikipedia, most of which were written and edited during Summer Wikipedia 2014 by schoolchildren from the Armenian Diaspora in Syria. As a first step we decided to review these articles for grammar and spelling mistakes, including "Wikification", with the help of experienced wiki editors. 998 of the articles are already reviewed by editors, the other 389 are going to be reviewed in next 2 months.
Western Armenian portal was created which coordinates and guides the editors' work. The main categories, templates were also translated and created in Western Armenian which help to classify and find the appropriate articles easily. The work is now going on to full fill missing templates.
Our page in Facebook
As a second step we needed some kind of promotion which would help us to involve more Western Armenian native speakers in the Wiki editing process. One of the main goals was to let people know that Western Armenian articles and content are available on Wikipedia and that users can search for articles they are interested in. For these reasons we decided to create a group on one of the social media networks which is popular amongst both Eastern and Western Armenian speakers.
On February 12, a "Western Armenian Wikipedia" group was created on Facebook, which now has over 335 members, and the number of interested individuals is growing. The group is a place where editors share their articles and experiences to motivate other people to cooperate and start editing. Any news concerning the Western Armenian Wikipedia project can also be found on the group's page.
The visit to Beirut
WM AM president Susanna Mkrtchyan had an exploratory visit to Beirut, Lebanon on 7-14 March 2015. As a pre-step of the development of the "Western Armenian Wikipedia" project, she met different educational, social, and media representatives from the Armenian Diaspora.
During her visit, WM AM president introduced Wikimedia Armenia, its goals, projects, and strategy, which are to create contacts with people who will spread the Wiki movement in Lebanon. Susanna Mkrtchyan also introduced the "Western Armenian Wikipedia" project in detail, and the important role it has in the development and preservation of Western Armenian as a language.
As a result of a number of meetings, it was decided to organize a training week in Armenia for teachers and journalists who would agree to be the coordinators of the Western Armenian Wikipedia project in Lebanon, to recruit new editors, and to spread the Wiki movement.
In addition, the participants also decided to organize a Summer Wiki camp for schoolchildren in Lebanon, which will also promote the program.
Wiki training week in Armenia
Teachers and journalists of the Armenian community in Lebanon who joined Wikipedia and the Wikipedia Education program.
Western Armenian is one of the two standardized forms of Modern Armenian, which is mainly spoken in the Armenian Diaspora. In 2015, Wikimedia Armenia began cooperating with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for its "Wikipedia in Western Armenian" program. This program aims to establish and develop a Western Armenian Wikipedia community, in order to improve the quality of articles written in Western Armenian and to create a separate Western Armenian Wikipedia.
Why Lebanon? The number of Armenians in Lebanon is 156,000 which is around 4% of the population. Since Armenians have a strong community presence in almost every sphere in Lebanon, we decided that it should be the first country for the Wikipedia Western Armenian program. Wikimedia Armenia, with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, organized the Wikipedia training week for teachers and journalists from the Armenian community, in order to involve them in Wiki editing process. The aim of the event was to teach Wiki editing tools, to tell about the Wiki movement and to prepare Wiki coordinators, who will spread the Wiki movement in Lebanon by involving new educational, scientific and other institutions.
On April 3, twelve participants arrived in Armenia from Beirut. During the training week a number of discussions tool place such as: where to start from, how to involve more people, how to spread the movement, what problems do we face, and how to solve them, how the Wikipedia Education program works in Armenia, how and when to organize a Wikicamp for students in Lebanon. The participants learned Wiki editing tools after which they created their own articles in Western Armenian. The editors stated that Wikipedia is the best way of preserving Western Armenian, which is considered to be an endangered language in some countries.
The participants discussed the organization of the Lebanon Wikicamp in detail. The teachers and journalists who attended plan to continue their Wiki activity and want to involve their students in the Wikipedia Education Program after they return to Lebanon. The best students will have an opportunity to participate in Wikicamp 2015, Armenia, which will be a great help and motivation for them. It is planned to have 15 students from the Armenian Diaspora in the camps scheduled for June 21 - July 4, and August 16 - 29.
During their stay, the editors visited the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts - Matenadaran, which is a repository of ancient manuscripts, a research institute, and a museum in Yerevan. A visit to the AYB high school was also organized, where the school manager Aram Pakhchanyan introduced the school's educational programs and its cooperation with Wikimedia Armenia.
Western Armenian editors of Wikipedia returned to Lebanon filled with enthusiasm to share their Wiki knowledge with their students and surrounding activities.
- See Armenia TV news reportage (with English captions) about the Western Armenians training week.
Based on the experience of Eastern Armenian project "Translator's corner" and as a result of a discussion with teachers and journalists from Lebanon, we decided to begin the same "Թարգմանիչի անկիւն" project in Western Armenian as well.
The program identifies important articles that need to be created and provides links to well written articles on the same topic but in other languages. Editors sign up to edit the articles by updating them with translations from the identified sources. The target articles are chosen from Eastern Armenian, English, French and Arabic Wikipedias. At this moment 2 language workspaces are ready - Eastern Armenian and English. 64 articles are chosen to be translated from - Eastern Armenian and 52 from English. The work is going on to create the other 2 language workspaces.
The project has already 2 translators who has begun the translation of 3 articles.
- Artsakhpress |Western Armenian Wikipedia to be set up (en)
- Mediamax | Creation of Western Armenian Wikipedia is in process (en)
- Mediamax | Creation of Western Armenian Wikipedia is in process (hy)
- Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation cooperates with Western Armenian Wikipedia (hy)
- Western Armenian Wikipedia (in Western Armenian)
- With Wikimedia Armenia (in Western Armenian)
- Meeting with Susanna Mkrtchyan (in Western Armenian)
- 101th room: The project of Armenian Wikipedia creation and development (in Western Armenian)
- Armenian News - Thursday March 12, 2015 ― reportage about Western Armenian Wikipedia (in Western Armenian)
- Վիքիպեդիայի դասընթաց՝ լիբանանահայերի համար (hy)
- Վիքիպեդիայի դասընթաց՝ լիբանանահայերի համար (hy)
- Վիքիմեդիա-Հայաստանը սկսում է արևմտահայերեն Վիքի արշավը (ռեպորտաժ) (hy)
- Գործնական Նախաձեռնութիւն մը Փրկելու Արեւմտահայերէնը (in Western Armenian)
- Մասնակցութեամբ Լիբանանահայ Ուսուցիչներու Եւ Լրագրողներու. Աղուերանի Մէջ Աւարտեցաւ «Արեւմտահայերէն Ուիքիփետիա»-ի Զարգացման Նպաստող Ծրագիրը (in Western Armenian)
- «Ուիքիփետիա» Արեւմտահայերէնի զարգացման ծրագիր (Օ.Թի.Վի.) (տեսանիւթ) (in Western Armenian)
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