Wikipedia and Sustainable Development Goals: Engaging smaller Wikipedias

Logo of Wiki Loves SDGs
(Credit: Project Everyone, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

On 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda, which outlines the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with its 169 targets and 232 indicators. In order to commemorate this day and call for action, awareness and accountability for the SDGs, three partnering organisations — Project Everyone, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Foundation — have held an annual week-long event known as Global Goals Week every September since 2016. This year, the event was enriched with the Global Goals Week online edit-a-thon (also known as Wiki Loves SDGs) aimed at creating and improving SDG-related articles on Wikipedia.

Overview of the online edit-a-thon

The online edit-a-thon took place from 19–26 September 2020 and it was initiated by the British not-for-profit organisation Project Everyone. One of the event’s priorities was to match experienced Wikipedians with experts on SDG-related topics located in different parts of the world. There was one main organiser along with four SDG experts and activists who were assigned to assist participants on each of the 17 SDGs as well as on overarching topics. The list of proposed topics was similarly divided into thematic areas that covered each of the individual goals and an all-embracing one. Participation was encouraged primarily on the English Wikipedia but there were also some who edited contents in other languages and localised versions of the initiative were set up on the Spanish and Macedonian Wikipedias. During the editing week, participants could work together and meet the coordinators through a virtual workroom on Workplace by Facebook.

Virtual workroom for the online edit-a-thon (Credit: EMsmile, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

The contributions in the initiative on all Wikimedia projects for an extended period from 16 August to 28 September 2020 were tracked on the project’s dashboard. In sum, a total of 330 participants created 400 articles and improved around 5.2 thousand with 219 uploaded files. The top nine contributors on the English Wikipedia — five women and four men — were awarded monetary prizes in the amount of 100 euros and were announced by Jimmy Wales in a video call on 25 September 2020.

SDGs on the Macedonian Wikipedia

The community on the Macedonian Wikipedia joined the initiative amidst lack of articles on all SDGs and relatively low coverage on related topics with the main goal of raising awareness about the goals. Announcement about the initiative was sent to local non-profit organisations operating in the area of sustainable development and individual contributors who have previously participated in events of similar kind on the Macedonian Wikipedia. Editing materials available primarily in English were enlarge with works and studies in Macedonian.

A total of 7 editors took part in the editing week and created or improved a total of 101 articles. Importantly, the main mark of the event was probably the overall length of articles and the level of detail provided on significant topics. Separate articles were created for all SDGs and the breakdown points out to a well-distributed coverage over areas, with at least three edited articles on each of the SDGs or the overarching topics. SDG 8 about “decent work and economic growth” was the most popular thematic area covered with 11 articles, followed by SDG 11 about “sustainable cities and communities” with 9 articles. Amongst the globally relevant topics with missing articles that got high-quality ones are: development aid, economic inequality, poverty reduction, effects of climate change, sustainable energy, youth unemployment, migrant worker and others.