I am convinced that people’s ability to access and contribute towards depends on such resources as sustainable cultural infrastructure and purchasing power that allow for free time to invest into non-productive creative endeavors. The Wikidata heat map seems to support this as well – our collective Wikimedia Knowledge Equity is neither complete, nor sustainably diverse and multilingual enough.
This map doesn’t cover the skies and non-material spheres, but it hints towards cultures whose Knowledge we lack most. We can’t force people to become self-less, so the only other way of achieving diverse and sustainable Knowledge Equity is to support and empower the left out communities with knowledge that will help them better utilize own potential and strengthen their economic power to overcome diversity of barriers they face. “Technical, social and political barriers” are clearly not the predominant reasons preventing people from taking part in Wikimedia projects within my home country, and I think the same is true in other darker areas.
My home region in Russia is called the Republic of Tatarstan and here we enjoy regional government encouraging and supporting Wikimedia community to start engaging wider public into using Wikimedia projects to develop Tatar content online. We are also looking at introducing other dimensions to of engaging the public with Wikimedia projects.
All this and more happens thanks to Unknown heroes – the volunteer wiki-contributors we might never meet or even think about, so we are trying our best to praise to at least some. Since 2011, Wikimedia Russia awards annual Wiki-Prizes, and we are now also looking at ways of how to make this recognition more frequent. This past year we teamed up with a like-minded NGO partner interested in growing domestic multilingualism and ended up awarding leading Wikimedians not just with prizes, but also diplomas signed by regional ministers for Education & Culture.
Just like any other country, my homeland is experiencing complex economic, political, social and technical challenges in its domestic and international relations. The fact that Wikimedia Foundation can’t fund Wikimedia Russia puts us into the category of self-sustaining Wikimedia organizations, just like it is recommended by 2030 Strategy process. We have a lot to learn from all the 30+ language communities of Russia that have active Wikipedias, other projects and others in the Wiki-incubator.
Until 2030, I would love to see the Wikidata heat map become much brighter and available in as many languages as possible. But also I think we need a global Russian language Wikimedia Thematic Organization, with local groups in all major cities around the world that have speakers of Russian. Locally, we need a system to start engaging all language communities residing in Russia into editing Wikimedia projects, beginning with the largest ones.
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