Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/UNESCO Challenge

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  • The UNESCO Challenge, improving Wikipedias coverage of UNESCO World Heritage sites
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  • The UNESCO Challenge took place for the first time in 2017. It was organized jointly by Wikimedia Sverige, UNESCO and the Swedish National Heritage Board as part of the Connected Open Heritage project. We are thrilled to report that close to 100 participants wrote a total of 1,729 A4-pages.


Prizes and diplomas are being sent to the winners. Image by Evelina Bång (WMSE), C BY-SA 4.0.
One of the images uploaded as part of the contest. Image by Maria Gropa, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
The contest was organized as part of the Connected Open Heritage Project. Image by Shandris, CC0.

The UNESCO Challenge, a writing challenge, was organized for the first time between 18 April (the International Day For Monuments and Sites) until 18 May 2017. We are very happy and pleased with the result and hope to organize it again next year.

The Challenge was organized jointly by Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden), UNESCO and the Swedish National Heritage Board as part of the Connected Open Heritage project. It focused on developing Wikipedia's articles about world heritage sites during one month, with a focus on threatened sites.

Almost 100 participants signed up and were extremely productive. A total of 1,729 A4 pages[1] with text were created about the world heritage sites, in 28 language versions of Wikipedia. Additionally, 326 pictures that were uploaded as part of the project Connected Open Heritage were added to articles. That people like the concept and wanted it to be a success was also shown by the fact that the main page for the portal for the Challenge was translated into 15 languages.

We had special prizes awarded by the Swedish National Heritage Board for articles about the Swedish world heritage sites. 103 articles were created about the sites and 35 existing articles were improved in 24 different languages. As a result, 40 participants receive a book about the Swedish World Heritages for their contributions.

This makes UNESCO Challenge the most successful writing challenge we have organized, and from what we have seen one of the most productive challenges ever.

What did people think?

In the survey we sent out, feedback was very positive and we are very happy that many of the participants state that one of the main reasons for participating was their desire to improve Wikipedia, and that more than ⅔ of respondents plan to keep improving the articles after the challenge is over. Many appreciated that we were quick to answer questions, that we provided information continuously (we strongly recommend having a log!). Many also said that they thought that the rules were clear and easy to understand, and that the prices were interesting. They also thought the theme was interesting and the new material that was made available made it fun. Wikimedia Sverige worked with UNESCO to release photos of thousands of world heritage sites on Wikimedia Commons.

Even though the participants' answers in our survey were very positive, we will take into account the criticism of a slightly distorted scoring system for our future competitions. Several participants felt that the score for adding pictures was too generous in comparison to the effort that required to write an article. We will also look at how the points can be easily reported by the participants, and if additional topics should be added.


We would like to extend a big congratulations to the winners:

[1] Based on a calculation of 4,000 bytes/A4, single spacing.

We hope to see you in our future challenges.


John Andersson, Wikimedia Sverige