Contributing to Wikipedia as a community service

In August 2020, the National Youth Council of Macedonia (NYCM) announced the launch of the project MLADIHUB Digital Youth aimed at developing and promoting digital skills of young people in the age group 1529 in exchange for a community service. One of the digital skills that the youth could gain through this project was to learn how to edit Wikipedia and the community service that they had to provide was to enrich the encyclopedia in the Macedonian language with newly created or improved articles. For that reason, the National Youth Council of Macedonia partnered with Shared Knowledge in organising edit-a-thons with the goal of training interested young people about the basics of Wikipedia.

What happened and how did people get involved?

Scene from the first edit-a-thon (Credit: Ivan Żivkoviḱ, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

The partnership resulted in three edit-a-thons that took place in the period from October to December 2020. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures in place as well as the recommendations from the COVID-19 Risk Assessment protocol, the events took place in a mixed environment that allowed participants to take part both in person and online. Participants were recruited through an open call for a limited number of places available. Each edit-a-thon consisted of a hands-on training followed by a mentored editing session. A brief summary of the edit-a-thons is reported in turn.

  • The first edit-a-thon was held on 2 October and it covered the topic ‘Volunteering and digital youth’. A handful of the signed-up participants were allowed to physically attend the event in the NYCM’s premises and have in-person interaction with the facilitators, yet the training was also broadcast so that those participating online could also follow it. The edit-a-thon ended with a total of 7 new editors trained and 26 new articles created.
  • The second edit-a-thon was held on 12 November and the targetted topic was ‘Digitsation and youth’. This time, considering the worsening conditions of the pandemic, physical attendance was disallowed and all participants had to attend the event online, while facilitators broadcast the training and provided mentorship from the NYCM’s premises. A group of 11 new editors was trained and 35 new articles were created.
  • The third edit-a-thon was held on 2 December and its principal idea was to cover a wider range of topics put together as ‘Computer science, mathematics, medicine and culture’. Unlike the previous two edit-a-thons that made use of the equipment available in the NYCM’s premises, this one was fully carried out online using the features of the video-conferencing tool. During this edit-a-thon, another 6 new editors were trained and 26 new articles were created.

National Youth Council of Macedonia as main organisers of the event awarded all participants who successfully went through the training and contributed to the Macedonian Wikipedia with at least one newly created or improved article with certificates of completion.

Group photo from the second edit-a-thon (Credit: Nikola Miloševski, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Outcome and future plans

The project that helped 24 persons to gain skills of editing Wikipedia and enriched the encyclopedia with 87 new articles was considered a success by both involved parties and arrangements have already been made to carry on with it over the next year.