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Spotlighting knowledge equity among the newest twenty community-led Project Grants

Wikimedia community gathering in Patiala, Punjab, India, in 2018.

The Wikimedia Foundation and the Project Grants Committee are excited to announce the newest successful grantees from the Project Grants program.

Project Grants provide community members with funds to pursue their ideas for improving Wikimedia projects.  These grants support individuals, groups and organizations in implementing both new experiments and proven ideas.  Projects vary widely in their focus, but generally fall into four categories: online projects, offline projects, research, and software development. In addition, major themes explored in funded projects included promotion of knowledge equity, initiating and deepening open knowledge partnerships, and supporting efforts to improve the quality and breadth of structured data on Wikidata.

What trends are we seeing?

Knowledge equity

Many proposals we received this round continue to support the concept of knowledge equity, a central tenet in the Wikimedia movement’s strategic direction focused on supporting communities that have been ignored or poorly resourced by structures of power and privilege. Grantees will be pursuing this goal using different skills and approaches to improve knowledge equity.  New tools will help us understand and address these disparities in our movement, such as a monitoring tool that will assess cultural gaps in Wikipedia projects in the Culture Gap Monthly Monitoring project. Another tool, Scribe, will provide guidance on structure when starting a new article and will be tailored to the needs of contributors in underserved communities.

Some grantees will be inviting in knowledge from languages that lack visibility in our movement. The user group Wikimedians in Colombia (Wikimedistas de Colombia) plan to engage with the Wayuu and Nasa indigenous communities to better represent them in article content and work alongside them as fellow volunteers in our movement. Wiki Kouman 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire, led by contributor Modjou, will develop rich Wiktionary content on local languages, including audio recordings of words in Baoulé, Bété and Dioula. The Heritage GLAM digitization project will involve collaboration with many cultural institutions in the Punjab region of India. This includes the Municipal Library Patiala, whose holdings and works by Punjabi authors are in poor condition and are at risk of being lost forever. Finally, CEE Spring 2019 includes a strategic focus on developing minority languages content in the central and eastern Europeans countries it will engage through its competition.

Grantees are also focused on disparities regarding how different genders are represented in Wikimedia projects. A Wikimedian-in-Residence program at the Smithsonian will specifically focus on building partnerships and programs to better represent women from the United States online using the extensive resources the institution has to offer. The #VisibleWikiWomen campaign organized by Whose Knowledge? will work to ensure that images depicting women on Wikimedia projects reflect a wider range of social origins and racial backgrounds in order to reduce prejudices about the roles women can have in society.

Open knowledge partnerships

Grantees are deepening or initiating partnerships with organizations and institutions aligned with open knowledge efforts, and who are committed to supporting Wikimedia projects and their communities. For instance, OCLC will support the development of a Wikipedia+Libraries training program in Mexico that meets the needs of public libraries in outreach to several organizations in country. The Wikimedian-in-Residence program with UNESCO will commit to many activities that will build a clear pathway for UNESCO and other UN agencies to share their contributions. Finally, a partnership through a Wikimedian-in-Residence project with the Lionel-Groulx Foundation will serve to run a series of events to improve historical content involving French-speakers in North America.

Wikidata development

Many funded projects involve tool building or other efforts to fill in gaps in structured data coverage on Wikidata. While the Wikidata & ETL project seeks to provide a tool to improve automated imports of data into the project, GlobalFactSyncRE will produce a tool for contributors that detects and displays differences across information in infoboxes to help make information on Wikidata more consistent. Continued development of the Commons Android app will allow mobile users to more directly update geolocated Wikidata items with images as well. Finally, programming at the Smithsonian through its Wikimedian-in-Residence program will include micro-crowdsourcing tasks (such as the current Wikidata games) for newer volunteers to introduce them to Wikidata and how to improve structured data generally..

Funded projects

Twenty applications, totalling a bit less than $700,000 USD, were funded in this round.  We received 42 proposals for review, the largest number of proposals we have received in a single round. Projects vary widely in their focus, but are usually focused on a particular kind of activity: online programs, offline programs, research, or software development.

Here is what we funded this round:

Software: five projects

  • Commons Android app v3: This third version of the Commons mobile uploader app aims to increase app stability, improve a recommendations feature for nearby places, maintain a limited connectivity mode, and provide better outreach to underrepresented communities.
  • Scribe: Scribe is an editing tool to support underserved Wikipedia editors, helping them to plan the structure of their new articles and to find references in their language, specifically when an existing article in another language is not available for reference or translation. Contributors Frimelle and Hadyelsahar will be developing this tool to address significant content disparities in Wikipedia projects that reflect a large number of speakers and have a relatively smaller number of active contributors.
  • Culture Gap Monthly Monitoring: The Wikipedia Cultural Diversity Observatory (WCDO) will be engaging in several activities in research, tools building, and community engagement to regularly assist communities and individual editors to increase the cultural diversity in their language editions’ content.
  • GlobalFactSyncRE: DBPedia will be developing GlobalFactSyncRE, a tool that will extract all infobox facts and their references to produce a tool for Wikipedia editors that detects and displays differences across infobox facts in an intelligent way to help sync infoboxes between languages and Wikidata. The extracted references will also be used to improve Wikidata items.
  • Wikidata & ETL: This project aims at improving management and increasing automation of processes loading data into Wikidata, and proposes a tool as a platform for creation of repeatable processes for bulk loading data into Wikidata and other Wikibase instances from various data sources.

 
Online programs: four projects

  • Wiki Loves Monuments 2019 coordination: The international coordination team for Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) proposes to strengthen the foundation for healthy and sustainable WLM competitions across the world. In this grant, the team will focus considerable effort on increasing the sustainability of these events by addressing known issues around developing best practices, resourcing local teams to run successful events, and adapting to mobile engagement.
  • CEE Spring 2019: This annual international article writing contest generates content from every country and region in Central and Eastern Europe on 30+ Wikipedias.  CEE Spring’s remarkable community spirit plays a central role in fostering a thriving, collaborative volunteer base in the region. The grant will continue incentivizing content creation focused on similar themes from last year, including closing the gender gap, and expanding minority language Wikipedias, and showcasing the cultural heritage of Central and Eastern Europe.
  • WM HU/Editor retention program: This grant will fund the editor retention program in the Hungarian Wikipedia. The project helps the Hungarian Wikipedia community in decreasing the negative experiences and strengthening the positive experiences of the contributors; improving the community atmosphere and strengthening the community cohesion, the Wikipedia identity, the sense of mission and pride in Wikipedia.
  • VisibleWikiWomen2019: Whose Knowledge?, in partnership with Wikimedians and women’s and feminist organizations around the world, is organizing a campaign to add more diverse and quality images of women to Commons and Wikipedia throughout March 2019 to celebrate International Women’s Month. This year, the organization plans to take what they have learned from 2018 #VisibleWikiWomen and grow the campaign, creating more materials and connections that will be useful for this year’s campaign and many more years to come.

 
Offline programs: ten projects

  • Smithsonian Wikimedian-in-Residence for Gender Representation: This project will establish a Wikimedian-in-Residence for the Smithsonian Women’s History Initiative, and increase the representation of women on Wikimedia projects, and seek ongoing support for a permanent Wikimedian-in-Residence at the institution.
  • Action Plan for Wikipedia + Libraries Training in Mexico: OCLC will investigate the viability of and approach to a Wikipedia+Libraries training program for library staff in Mexico, to leverage the libraries in support of the Wikimedia Foundation’s New Readers initiative. This project will identify a Mexico-based organization that would lead the training, develop an advisory group, and produce an action plan for how to design and deliver the training.
  • Offline Wikipedia in Senegal Schools: This project plans to address the absence of an easy, rapid and reliable way to access the wealth of information contained in Wikipedia. Contributors GastelEtzwane and Mouha.ibs will develop a train-the-trainers project to address this problem: trainers will attend a seminar teaching them about offline Wikipedia using Kiwix. Trainers will then go out to remote schools in Senegal and train teachers on the use of Kiwix in the classroom as a part of a certification process.
  • Heritage GLAM:  This project will focus on growing successful GLAM partnerships with government institutes, capacity building and documenting rare archives, and making visible books and artwork of historical and cultural importance to North India that lack an online presence.
  • Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO 2019–2020: Past engagement with UNESCO has demonstrated that working with Wikipedia to share knowledge allows UNESCO to reach a far wider public with detailed information that traditional report publication. The applicants have prepared a roadmap to mass adoption of open licensing and sharing of content on Wikimedia projects across the UN. By the end of this grant in early 2020, the project will result in policies, documentation and processes in place to share knowledge from across the UN on Wikimedia projects.
  • Wiki Loves Africa 2019: Funding for this project will support prize distribution efforts associated with local contests supported by Wiki Loves Africa 2019, a successful annual public contest where communities across Africa can contribute media (photographs, video and audio) about their environment to Wikimedia Commons for use on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • Wiki Kouman 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire (Local language in Côte d’Ivoire): Contributors Modjou and Mognissan will increase the visibility and content of Côte d’Ivoire’s local languages through Wiktionary through language research, audio recording, and community-supported content development. WikiKouman derives its etymology from Dioula, one of the local languages, in which “Kouman” means “to speak.”
  • History of Quebec and French-speaking North America: This Wikimedian-in-Residence project led by contributor MathieuGP with the Lionel-Groulx Foundation aims to build and support the community of individuals and organizations interested in developing and improving wikimedia contents pertaining to the history of Quebec and French-speaking North America.
  • Wikipedia Women and Ancestral Knowledge in the Colombian Context: In collaboration with the Center for Internet and Society at Del Rosario University (Centro de Internet y Sociedad Universidad, or ISUR), this project is aimed at supporting the Wayuu and Nasa indigenous peoples in Colombia to participate on Wikipedia and enhance the participation of women through promotion of digital skills and article development on multiple Wikipedia projects to represent their knowledge.
  • Editathons in Pistoia District: The project centers on an edit-a-thon series in the Pistoia district of Italy with the support of local and historical experts. This project will allow community members to get a complete deep-level coverage and to develop a model for localized work for other regions in Italy.

 
Research: one project

  • Machine Learning to Predict Wikimedia User Blocks: This project will involve investigating user misconduct on English Wikipedia using machine learning techniques to better understand what circumstances lead to user blocks, and how blocking can be done more effectively.

 

Who reviewed these proposals?

Seventeen Wikimedians volunteered their time on the Project Grants Committee to collectively review the proposals received in a given round.  The committee members come from at least 13 different wikis and collectively speak at least 13 different languages, and have backgrounds in even more. As Wikimedians, their backgrounds vary widely:  they are editors, reviewers, content translators, leaders of local chapters, software writers, off-wiki event organizers, workshop facilitators, sysops and bureaucrats, copyright and licensing permission experts, policy advisors, and more. Some members also serve as advisors to new grantees, helping to answer questions, connect them to relevant resources, and comment on monthly and midpoint reports. These volunteers play a critical role throughout the process, including making decisions about how to best use the movement’s money to achieve impact.

Chris Schilling, Program Officer, Community Resources, Community Engagement
Wikimedia Foundation

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