Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/Tomasz Ganicz Recounts the Early Days of Wikimedia Polska

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POSTED June 15, 2015

Title ideas[edit]

  • ...Tomasz Ganicz recounts the early days of the Polish Wikipedia
  • ...A Polish chemist who has been writing Wikipedia for over ten years: Tomasz Ganicz

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Tomasz Ganicz.jpg
Chemist Tomasz Ganicz has been involved with the Polish Wikipedia for almost fourteen years. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Tomasz Ganicz, better known as Polimerek on Wikipedia, has been involved with the Polish Wikipedia, and the Polish Wikimedia chapter, since their inception.

In October 2001, just a month after Krzysztof Jasiutowicz lauched the Free Polish Online Encyclopedia (Polska Wolna Encyklopedia Sieciowa), Ganicz received an invite to edit and contribute to what would become the largest online encyclopedia in the world.

The moment he got an invite, Ganicz was intrigued. “I was [determined] to create a hundred articles, and to be responsible for ten percent of the project's input,” he says. “The goal was to have a thousand articles by the end of 2001.”

Originally from Łódź, Ganicz worked as a chemist for the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. It seemed a natural fit that, on the Polish Wikipedia, he would begin by writing the first definitions for an atom, a molecule and an electron. “Now it's very hard to imagine,” he says, “but at the beginning, when I joined, there was no article on chemistry on the Polish Wikipedia.”

Soon, Ganicz was one of the most prominent authors of chemistry content on the Free Polish Online Encyclopedia, now known as the Polish Wikipedia, and helped to build a solid foundation for articles in the subject.

Early in its life, as Ganicz was beginning to write and edit articles, the Polish Wikipedia lacked in-depth articles. Most were limited to basic definitions. Today, though, the project has more than a million articles, with about 500 active editors and around 2,000 regular contributors. Polish is the 31st most spoken language in the world.

“Maybe we have grown so much because we started early. Back then, there was no competition, no other online space where people spent time, like Facebook or social media,” said Ganicz.

Today, Ganicz can barely remember the days when the Polish Wikimedia chapter was extremely small. He believes that the “evolution” of the organization played a key factor in growing the chapter. Experienced editors worked with newcomers to inform and educate them about changes to Wikipedia, such as newly established rules influencing the internal operational structure of the Polish Wikipedia. A significant change, Ganicz notes, was putting in writing several “unwritten” rules that had been unofficially followed from the beginning.

Ganicz hopes Wikipedia will last forever in some shape or form. “When you think about the internet as a city... In a city, you have commercial space, which is obviously needed, but you also need some public space. Gardens, or a playground for children which is open to the public for free,” he says.

“Wikipedia is the garden that anyone can use and [in which anyone can] play,” he adds. “We need more places like Wikipedia, these gardens of the Internet.”

Profile by Yoona Ha, Assistant Storyteller Intern Interview by Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller

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Ideas for social media messages promoting the published post: The early days of Polish Wikipedia, as recounted by a veteran Polish Wikipedian, Tomasz Ganicz Twitter (@wikimedia/@wikipedia):

(Tweet text goes here - max 117 characters)
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The early days of Polish Wikipedia, as recounted by veteran Tomasz Ganicz [link]
Tomasz Ganicz started editing the Polish Wikipedia one month after its launch. [link]
Chemist Tomasz Ganicz recalls the early days of the Polish Wikipedia [link]
Chemist Tomasz Ganicz recalls the early days of the Polish Wikipedia [link]

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  • Ganicz started editing one month after its launch.
  • Tomasz Ganicz is a chemist by trade–so it made sense for him to use that knowledge to build the Polish Wikipedia.