The third annual Wiki Loves Africa is running between December 2016 and the end of January 2017. The media sharing contest aims to increase both the quality and quantity of freely-licensed media files about Africa.
The idea started in 2014, mainly as a photography contest with a different theme every year. In 2014, 873 amateur and professional photographers took 6,116 photos of African cuisine as part of the competition, while the 2015 edition saw the participation of 722 people who shared 7,500 photos about African cultural fashion and adornment.
All 13,624 photographs are now stored on Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository that illustrates Wikipedia and other free-knowledge websites.
This year, the contest is changing its direction with a motion theme: music and dance. “Over the last two years, the contest has been very photographically biased,” says Florence Devouard, A French Wikipedian and one of the main organisers of Wiki Loves Africa. She continues:
“Dance and music are not only very visual, but also perfect for video and sound. This year, we are expecting more videos and sound files to be submitted, and we hope to be able to create a Wiki Loves Africa Playlist.”
Though the competition is open for participation from all over the world, local Wikipedian teams in several African countries are running to personally support the participants. Examples of activities include photowalks and editing workshops on how to upload and use the files.
“Over the three years, thirteen communities have taken part as focus countries,” says Isla Haddow-Flood, a Wikipedian from Zimbabwe and one of the main organisers of Wiki Loves Africa. “Of these, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Tunisia and Uganda have taken part in all three. This is a great achievement on their part, to be motivated enough to carry on and support the project locally.”
Haddow-Flood and Devouard had first thought about Wiki Loves Africa in 2013 when they shared the concern about the lack of Africa-related content on Wikipedia and the aspiration to do something about it.
“There are, on average, 100 times more geotagged articles on Wikipedia related to France than to the entirety of Africa,” Devouard notes, to which Haddow-Flood adds:
“This has to change, and with technology, it can. There are lots of examples of systemic knowledge bias on Wikipedia, but essentially it comes down to the fact that nothing will change until people from across Africa contribute to Wikipedia.”
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Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern