For the time I have been contributing to Wikipedia, I would say most of the time has been spent learning how stuff works and I can say that it is only now that I can make very meaning full contributions. By no means am I implying that the simple typo corrections or Wikignome work is useless, every contribution is definitely important and very welcome. I have been thinking of how long the time ticks away for folks to learn without compromising any fundamentals like the copyvio laws and other aspects of Wikipedia contributions.
Africa‘s coverage is minimal or quite low because of lack of awareness of Wikimedia in this part of the world. And the ones aware of it are lost on where to start or how to proceed. To increase coverage from this part of the world we need contributors who cannot just edit an article but those that can do much more advanced stuff like create templates, nav boxes, category trees, advice on Coypvios, answer OTRS queues, offer support in Wikiprojects and so on. I would propose this project be undertaken under the English Wikipedia since it is well mature with all the structures in shape. After users get to know the mechanisms and structures there, then they can move on to other Wikipedia languages that serve African languages.
I once had the privilege to give a talk to librarians and professors in Tanzania in 2011. At first I thought 2 hours was a lot to give the talk, it later spilled on to have Wikipedia sessions for the whole day and the participants were still begging for more in the evening. The talk involved hands on sessions with practicals and it was quite an enjoyable experience for me and the attendees. I was later sent the report of the whole workshop and the Wikipedia day was voted the best of the sessions. ‘..From then I discovered that it is possible to summarize work done on 4 million articles in just a day:-)..’ I have a copy of the report from the organizers and I cannot upload it to commons since am not certain of its license :-(
Wikipedia in itself does not work alone but it depends on other projects like Wikimedia commons, meta wiki and the other Wikimedia projects.
There is a lot to learn in this ‘Wikimedia universe’. I have tried to break down most of the stuff into the packages as below;
- All Wikimedia projects with an incline on the most important/popular/most used
- Editing — GOCE, Wikification, Wikignomes, Wikimark-up
- Programming — JS scripts, mediawiki extensions, CSS, Bots
- Internet based tools — IRCs, Mailing lists (Public and Private lists), QR Pedia,
- Law — Copyrights, Creatice commons, BLP policies
- Librarians — Categorization and other info organization methods
- Translations — The multilingual Wikimedia projects are, the closer we get to “..Sum of all human knowledge in a language at least everyone can understand..”
- Media — Commons, WLM, Wikipedia Takes Cities
- AGF — The cornerstone of Wikimedia
- The chapters — WCA, Governance
- Wikipedia tools – STiki, Wikipedia Cleaner, Huggle, AWB, Igloo to mention but just a few
- The Wikipedia interface
- Wikipedia structures – Wikiprojects, Templates, Essays,
I believe approaching Wikipedia in this manner will bring more contributors on board and make the existing from this part of the world more productive.
My opinion anyway.