Wikimedia chapters/Reports/Wikimedia Belgium/Activity/2021
You can find here the Wikimedia Belgium activity report 2021.
The huge impact of the Covid pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to bring restrictions for organising physical activities. Until and including March 2021 only virtual meetings and video conferences were possible. This was severely impacting our projects. It was only as of April-June 2021 that conditions were gradually relaxed for universities and museums. For the other partners the national restrictions prevented to organise physical activities.
As of April we had some sessions at the university and museums in non-public sessions where volunteers were sitting on multiple floors on sparse tables distributed throughout the museum, each of them with a local LAN video-conferencing session for the training, and wearing face masks during personal coaching. We have at all times strictly observed the national health and sanity rules.
Because of the Covid pandemic, we were not able to spend our budget as expected. We could never have predicted that Covid would severely grab public life for 2 years already.
We had a lot of online activities throughout the year, but for elderly participants this format was rejected because they are not so fluent with Zoom and related platforms. Elderly people want physical activities with direct interaction. Young people and professionals are better adapted to video conferencing.
International travel was not allowed. Physical conferences with overnight stay were not organised. Therefore we had only one single hotel night expense.
Due to government regulations, physical activities could be organized only from April to November and were mostly limited to museums and universities only. Only two other conferences could be organised physically. Libraries were still closed, or were not accessible for external events. Other activities could not be organized. So it was an extremely difficult year to organise activities.
Remembering 20 Years Wikipedia 15 January
We prepared for a press release, and attracted national radio, TV, journals, and magazines to report about the anniversary of Wikipedia with a broad national communication to the general public. It continues to be a problem that journalists do not understand how Wikipedia is written. They are not aware that the community has established formal procedures and guidelines on how to manage building the encyclopedia.
The national RTBF television was broadcasting from the Mundaneum museum in Mons on 13 January to describe how Wikipedia can collaborate with museums to report their collections to the public.
The evening news of the national television brought a report on 15 January, highlighting the Pajottenland Zennevallei heritage project that is using Wikidata, Wikipedia, and Wikimedia Commons to document the local heritage.
Karrewiet Ketnet (children’s program) reported on Wikipedia, specifically focused on the children’s experience, to explain how Wikipedia is built and maintained.
We have made good press with the 20th Wikipedia anniversary. Page-large publications in national newspaper and magazines:
- Het Nieuwsblad
- Het Parochieblad
- Plus Magazine
We could rely on multiple Wikipedia volunteers to collaborate with the press to describe how Wikipedia works.
Wikimedia Belgium organised a video conference with 35 participants where multiple organisations, having connections with WMBE, could present themselves, and their activities related to Wikimedia projects.
List of presentations:
- Linde Dessoy from Iedereen Leest presented 20 years Wikipedia - presenting the project Iedereen Leest.
- Manon Brulard from Open Knowledge Belgium presented Presentation Open Knowledge Belgium - Equal Street Names Brussels - Wikipedia 20 years.
- Brigitte De Meyer from Museum of Industry Gent presented Presentation Industry Museum on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Wikipedia by Wikimedia Belgium.
- Hilke Arijs from Erfgoed Pajottenland Zennevallei presented Opening up heritage through Wikipedia and related platforms in Pajottenland and Zennevallei.
- Sam Donvil from meemoo presented 20 Years of Wikipedia Celebration Wikimedia Belgium by meemoo.
Watch the [vidéo] Celebration of 20 year Wikipedia - The best of Wikimedia Belgium (01:42:35) on YouTube.
Wiki Women Design
Wiki Women Design was a year-long programme and collaboration between the Vlaamse Architectuurinstituut, Wikimedia Belgium and 15 museums and institutions to write about women architects and designers. It builds further in the Women in Red theme. We attracted university architecture students and multiple museum professionals to organise edit-a-thons about specific subjects and women related to architecture and design.
We supported our volunteers with the possibility to register expense claims for public transport, car travel allowance, museum passes, museum entry tickets, books or other costs related to writing articles or taking pictures.
- Individual volunteer support via Video conference
- Distributed 185 copies of the book “Schrijven voor Wikipedia” amongst participants of edit-a-thons.
We are missing multi-day activities to train volunteers in using Wikimedia tools. We would have liked to send again 2 volunteers to the Wiki Techstorm training, but we could not, because it was not organised, due to Corona. Volunteers could have received a nice technical training. It is very useful to be 2 or 3 days together and to learn from other participants how Wikimedia content maintenance can be automated.
We participated with #WPWPBE.
Wiki Women Design is a year-long project running from October 2020 till September 2021, together with major Flemish socio-cultural institutions, and museums related to design and architecture. We organise(d) 15 sessions with more than 200 participants.
Read more in This month in GLAM.
Iedereen Leest in March, the yearly youth book month campaign organised Wikipedia writing sessions about authors.
Due to corona, only a limited set of physical activities could take place. The majority of activities were done via video conferencing, that is more efficient travel-wise, but not efficient/effective as per human interaction.
Our most successful program in 2021 was Wiki Women design that ran throughout the year from October 2020 to September 2021.
Kathedralen van de industrie
Kathedralen van de industry was a nice project with the Industry museum of Gent about the rich textile industry history in Gent.
The Industriemuseum Gent organised in 2021 a temporary exposition “Kathedralen van de industrie” about historic textile industries and factories in Gent. They published a very nice book. We created a Wikidata project as an inventory of all the historic factories in order to be able to write Wikipedia articles.
We gathered information about 101 industries in Gent. We gathered all attributes that we could map onto Wikipedia properties. Then we uploaded the list to Wikidata using OpenRefine. And used ListeriaBot to automatically maintain Wikipedia project tables, so we could easily identify existing and unexisting Wikipedia pages in multiple languages.
With the Plantentuin Meise we had a project to build scripts to upload and register species related data on Wikidata. During one week there was a project in the Plantentuin with a European team, having different skills.
We collaborated with WikiDonne to organise an edit-a-thon at the Brussels Planetarium.
At the BeMUSEUM 2021 a presentation was given about how Wikimedia Belgium collaborates with GLAM. There were 10 participants that evaluated the possible collaboration of Wikipedia with museums.
Building a generic Wikidata data model for museum catalogues
With the Jenevermuseum, Industry Museum, Plantentuin, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, and potentially several Erfgoedcel organizations, we are currently building a generic data model to allow them to upload catalog data to Wikidata to make it available as Linked Open Data on multiple platforms.
We invested in 2 Chromebooks to be used at edit-a-thons by volunteers who do not have access to a laptop. Furthermore they can be easily used when travelling because they are lightweight, easily transportable in a backpack and they have a performant battery. They are also flexible because no extra software has to be installed. They're very adapted to editing Wikipedia and using most standard communication programs like video conferencing. Little maintenance is required and most operations like software updates are performed automatically.
Education is extremely important for recruiting new volunteers. We should have more activities with universities. Young academics are a strong base for getting new volunteers. Some of them are starting professional jobs in the GLAM sector. Or they might continue with Wikipedia as a hobby in the context of their professional expertise.
Activities with universities:
- Wiki Women Design: Antwerpen, Gent, Brussel, Leuven
- WikiMatrimoine: Luik.
A trainee Eva was extremely effective in writing new Wikipedia articles, and using a lot of illustrations.
We facilitated uploading pictures to Wikimedia Commons, and using them on Wikipedia.
With the University of Gent, section History writing, we conducted a project where students wrote articles about local history in Sint-Amandsberg. The professor and the assistent want to collaborate further with the Wikimedia community to take history closer to the public. The project is called “publieksgeschiedenis”. Therefore they want to have regional topics described from a historical perspective. This has links with Heritage.
Results: Campaign and events dashboard.
- Erasmus Hogeschool Anderlecht
Erasmus Hogeschool: 25 journalism students had to write an article about a Brussels subject as part of their curriculum “history and politics”. We organised two lessons about editing Wikipedia articles, and coached the students on their journey to write a first article. We organised 2 sessions on 22 and 29 April 2021.
Results: Campaign and events dashboard.
- Haute-Ecole Ichec-Ecam-Isfsc in Schaarbeek. At the school of Schaarbeek a lecture was given about Wikipedia. The students and the professor asked a lot of questions.
Public Domain day 2 February and Prize session for Wiki Loves Heritage 2020.
QRpedia project in Pajottenland Zennevallei.
6-7 March WikiMatrimoine Liège, a campaign about heritage of female origine.
Wiki Loves PZ
The Erfgoedcel Pajottenland Zennevallei organised a photo contest Wiki Loves PZ (Pajottenland Zennevallei)
Results: Commons campaign, 673 images, 13 participants.
The prize session of the photo contest Wiki Loves PZ did not take place on 3 December 2021 due to corona. But it will be executed later.
Wiki Loves Heritage 2021
The Wiki Loves Heritage contest attracted 2076 images from 35 photographers. We were able to attract a jury of 9 people to select 10 winning photos. The prize session took place on 10 February 2022 during the Public Domain day.
Results: Commons campaign.
Wikimedia France wants to extend Wiki Loves Monuments 2022 into a worldwide Wiki Loves Heritage 2022. This is what Wikimedia Belgium has organised every year since 2018.
One volunteer followed a FARO Heritage training in order to better understand the requirements of Heritage inventories and descriptions. We want to collaborate better with heritage institutions.
All our programs can hugely benefit from integrated tools to build content (gathering, uploading, linking of Linked Open Data).
We should be able to implement more tools to automatically maintain Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikipedia.
Luckily we have developed a standard way to organise projects and activities as we could explain during the Wikimedia Nederland conference. We presented how Wikimedia Belgium performs its projects using Wikidata, ListeriaBot, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and the Campaign and Events tool. We have lots of support from the Campaign and event tool, and are able to extract useful reporting from that.
Presentation at the Wikimedia Nederland Conferentie, 13 november 2022.
We are using a lot of Wikidata, Wikidata Query, and short URLs on https://w.wiki.
Writing Pywikibot scripts is maybe the best way to automate repeated wikidata updates. It can also fill the gaps left by other tools like AutoWikiBrowser or PetScan. It can also be a nice prototyping tool to design new Wikipedia tools.
We have been writing multiple interesting Pywikibot scripts to amend or validate Wikidata items.
We had 3 presentations about how Wikimedia Belgium conducts projects using the Wikimedia platforms.
Due to corona no training has been provided.
Throughout the year we have distributed 185 books “Schrijven voor Wikipedia” to all participants of our edit-a-thon training sessions. Target public: museum collaborators, students, heritage writers, internships. The book is appreciated very much.
Administration and services
All settled. The chapter is compliant with national legal and administrative regulations.
We organised a General assembly on 26 June. A new board member was appointed: Sam Donvil, responsible for GLAM and the Public Domain day.
We are renting an official address, at limited cost, but in the future we want to have a physical office where we can locate staff, and have meetings.
Collaboration with other organizations
We supported the Welcome To My Garden project financially to register Belgian train station infrastructure on Wikimedia Commons and wikidata for cycling travellers. The goal is to develop an application for easy travel planning.
Welcome to my Garden, and Slow travel: a project with Wikidata, Wikivoyage, and OpenStreetMap related to travelling by bicycle and by foot.
We had a first session on 24 June where Wikidata was presented by Ainali.
Seeking a Wikimedian in Residence: we are working to appoint a Wikimedian in Residence to collaborate with and amongst museums and the Wikimedia community.
We collaborate with other chapters, in the first place Wikimedia Nederland, and also Wikimedia France. In September WikiFranca was founded and Wikimedia Belgium immediately became a founding member. The goal is to have shared projects and activities within the French speaking community worldwide.
New European copyright laws On 19 January we sent a letter to the responsible Belgian ministers about remarks on the pending copyright changes.
De Standaard solidariteitsprijs. For the second year in a row, we participated in a challenge organised by De Standaard, a national newspaper, to win a national newspaper publicity as a socio-cultural organisation.
We recently discovered Spatial Chat as a well appreciated and functional meeting and conferencing tool. It is very flexible and is extremely easy to use. It runs on all platforms and requires few configuration. Users can use it without requiring to read a lot of documentation. Several chapters are using this tool. There is a free basic version that allows gathering with 50 participants allowing chat, lobby, video conferencing, screen sharing, and auditorium functionality. Up to 10000 user-minutes per day can be used. Volunteers can talk freely to each other in the lobby at all times; the host needs to give them access to other rooms. It is an ideal communication tool for anybody in the community wanting to discuss interactively, even by desktop sharing to troubleshoot a problem or to answer a question. It allows communicating news via (URL links on) the background.
- We created a YouTube video channel for Wikimedia Belgium. Here we (will) publish(ed) videos about conferences and how to use Wiki tools. This is very interesting for our volunteers to learn about the different tools that can be used, and also contains links to other Chapters and playlists.
- Facebook (811 followers) is reaching the largest effective and general public.
- Twitter (2088 followers) has a more specialised public, but can be useful to easily communicate small and instant messages.
- Telegram has an intermediate but more specialised functionality.
- WhatsApp is a more personal and a small group communication tool that can be effectively used in small project groups for quickly sharing information.
- Every month we are sending a newsletter to our chapter distribution list.
- We contribute to the monthly worldwide GLAM newsletter when we have specific actions to describe.
- The Wikimedia mailing lists are less easy to use; sending, looking up messages and reading is more difficult. But here the discussions are more technical.
- https://lists.wikimedia.org/postorius/lists/ (list management) https://lists.wikimedia.org/hyperkitty/ (public discussions)
- The Diff platform is less used and practically unknown, information is really scattered and difficult to keep an overview. We are not actively using this. https://diff.wikimedia.org
- We are regularly watching office hours, which can bring a lot of added value.
- We are following the discussion pages, and the Community portals on the different Wikipedia/Wikimedia platforms.
- We are not using IRC, Discord.
What have we learned?
Heritage organisations, and Museums are good collaborators and partners.
Wikidata - Wikipedia - and Wikimedia Commons are closely interlinked. There exists quite a lot of interesting tools that can help setting up and supporting a project: OpenRefine, Wikidata, Wikidata Query, LysteriaBot, wdfirst, Pywikibot, ISA Tool.
Use interrelated tools to organise a successful edit-a-thon:
- Excel, Google Spreadsheets
- Wikidata Query
- Project page
- Campaign and events tool
- Wikimedia Commons Campaign
- ISA Tool
- Automated Pywikibot Wikidata editing
- Automating Wikidata updates, to avoid spending time and effort on manual updates.
- An algorithm makes fewer (random) errors; but the base quality of the data is of primary importance.
Project impact reporting:
- List of WMBE projects https://be.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Belgium_Projects/ListeriaBot/Query
- Wikimedia Belgium Wiki projects item count https://w.wiki/3dhS
- Setup a campaign page list for each of the Wikipedia languages:
Volunteers depend a lot on help from Chapters and User groups. Hands-on, informal training, and advice are a lot appreciated. Volunteers are helping each other. Now with corona, often via peer-to-peer video conferencing, and desktop sharing.
Talking to people helps. Inviting them to participate is the best way to attract new volunteers.
We are a small organization with no own personnel. We have only a handful of volunteers, so we need partnerships and shared activities with other organizations to build upon our Wikimedia/Wikipedia expertise.
Getting adequate Wikimedia technical support can be really difficult. Getting help is really scattered. People do not easily know how to get help.
The Phabricator tool can be handy to log software and application problems. If you are lucky the problem is solved in due time. If you are unlucky the problem might stay open for years!
Some other applications are supported via GitHub.
Some other applications are using discussion pages to solve problems. Again, if you are lucky, you are helped by other volunteers (administrators required for system configuration, or software changes). Example: https://be.wikimedia.org/wiki/Copyright/nl
The community wishlist should be, but is not, an efficient way to propose software changes or to implement new functionality. Problems remain unsolved for more than 5 or 10 years due to missing software developer capacity or inadequate priority setting. This requires an urgent solution otherwise it is not useful to let volunteers invest time to describe software problems that ultimately remain unsolved.
Proposing new Wikidata properties can be really difficult. Required properties to document e.g. heritage are not accepted, what leads to delays in project implementation.
Currently the Pattypan application can’t be used anymore. The National Belgian Library would have used it to publish exceptional images for the Public Domain day, but couldn’t do this because there was no tool available. Also the Industry Museum wanted to use the tool, but was blocked for the same reason. Urgent action required!
Nice to know. We try here to estimate our carbon impact for 2021:
- Car: 27 journeys, 569 €, 1571 km (0,36 €/km) ~ 510 kg CO2 (100-325 g CO2/km)
- Train: 41 journeys, 251 €, 2510 km (0,10 €/km) ~ 351 kg CO2 (140 g CO2 /km)
- Plane: none (280 g CO2 /km)
- Total for Wikimedia Belgium: 862 kg CO2