Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/FOSSASIA 2016 and new editors on Wikipedia

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  • Two sessions at FOSSASIA 2016 and how it tells us a lot about editor retention on Wikimedia projects.


Satdeep Gill at FOSSASIA16

“Wikipedia and FOSS go hand in hand”, a senior Wikimedian told me once. So, when I got to know about FOSSASIA 2016, I thought it would be good to represent the Wikimedia community at this event. I submitted two proposals and both of them were accepted; a twenty minute talk and a one hour workshop. I was a bit excited because this was the first time I was going to take sessions at an International Conference.

FOSSASIA 2016 was a three day conference with 11 parallel sessions (2 extra sessions for kids) and more than 200 speakers. A strange thing was that the speakers were asked to buy a 230 US Dollars Speaker ticket. On the pretext that FOSSASIA is organized with the help of this money.

On the first day, I attended a few sessions related to Unesco’s Youth Mobile program and another related to Nefertiti. Then I attended a session on Collaborative Spelling dictionary by a fellow Wikimedian from India, Ankita Shukla. I am interested to work on this once they put it on a server.

I started the day with my talk on Wikilore on the next day. At the exact time only 3 people were there and I decided to wait for a couple of minutes. Someone told me,“In FOSSASIA, If you have more than 2 people to listen to you, you are good to go.” I started 5 minutes late with around 10 people. The session went nice. People asked some questions about the authenticity of Wikilore and how it would be different from other Wikimedia projects.

I had a one hour workshop at 10 am the next morning and only 3 people showed up at the exact time. I waited for 5-7 minutes and started my workshop on Content Translation. In all 8 people attended the workshop. 8 new accounts were created on Wikipedia during the workshop and I helped 7 of them to create an article in a language of their choice. Interestingly, creating articles in Russian was easy as machine translation is available. Two articles were created in Russian, two in Tamil, two in Chinese and one in German. But now only one article in Russian survives(It seems that the other Russian editor forgot to publish the article). The articles were deleted in all the other languages.I know one of them was pretty small. Rest of them were good enough according to me. But I don’t know the languages and I don’t know the exact reason for deletion in various languages.

What I conclude from this small workshop is that maybe various Wikimedia communities are being too harsh on newcomers. We should not expect them to know everything the moment they start editing. Deletion of a newly translated article is really demotivating for a newcomer. I believe this is one of the reasons why the editor count is decreasing on various Wikimedia projects.

As far as FOSSASIA is concerned, my opinion is that this conference is basically related to developers and I would not recommend my fellow Wikipedians to attend these conferences in future. Inviting 200 speakers just to fund the event defeats the purpose of this conference.

Satdeep Gill, Punjabi Wikimedians