Wiki Loves Earth (WLE) – an international photo contest devoted to natural monuments – was organized in Turkey for the first time in June 2020. The participation of the Turkish internet users was spectacular.
In the contest, participants were asked to take pictures of local natural heritage in their countries and upload them to Wikimedia Commons, a sister project of Wikipedia. “When we have announced the contest on Turkish Wikipedia pages, we were expecting around 500 photos to be uploaded in a month” says Zafer, the leader of the local organization team. “On the first day of the contest, we were so excited to see that we reached 500 hundred photos in a few hours. At the end of the contest, there were 3649 photos uploaded.”
The international contest has been organized for the last eight years, but Turkey was not able to participate mainly because of the unavailability of a list of natural objects by the organizers. Finally this year, a list was obtained from Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the local user group organized the contest for the first time. “We first announced the contest from the main page of Turkish Wikipedia” says Basak, a member of the team. “We were surprised to see that even before sending a press bulletin the news on the contest was published on some news outlets”.
The team interpreted this great interest from the users and the media, as a warm welcome back message to Wikipedia from its readers in the country. Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey between April 29, 2017 and January 15, 2020. During this period, through a social media campaign called “We miss Turkey”; many internet users around the world expressed how they miss sharing knowledge with Turkey and learning from Turkey. The organizers say “As we understand, Turkish internet users saw this contest as an opportunity to demonstrate how they also are willing to share their knowledge and skills with the world.“
The country has definitely a great natural heritage to share with the world. Occupying a meeting point of the Asian and European continents, Turkey has a magnificent natural diversity. The results of the Wiki Loves Earth Turkey have reflected this diversity well. The country is divided into seven natural units with different characteristics and it’s possible to see some images from all regions in the photos selected by the jury to be submitted to the international Wiki Loves Earth contest. First place winning image is from Eber Lake in Central Anatolia, the second is a photo of Sumela Monastry inside Altindere National Park at Black Sea Region, and the third place goes to an image of wild horses around Mount Erciyas in Eastern Anatolia. Images from Capadoccia, Antalya, Mount Nemrut, Lake of Manyas are among the 10 photos selected to represent Turkey in the international finale.
“The jury did a big job”, says Zafer. “It was hard to make a decision among so many good photos. The usefulness of the image for Wikipedia was an important criterion.” He reminded that the photos uploaded during the contest will be re-used not only in Wikipedia but everywhere by everyone and added “All participants should be proud of themselves because by submitting photos under free license, they have contributed a lot to highlight the not so well-known natural beauties in the country; and they also showed the commitment of people of Turkey for sharing their culture and knowledge with the world.”