Meet the 2021 Wikimedians of the Year

Seven exceptional Wikimedia community volunteers were recognized today at the 2021 Wikimania, the Wikimedia movement’s annual conference celebrating the free knowledge projects made possible by the volunteer community and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

From Bali to California, the new Wikimedian of the Year award winners span multiple Wikimedia projects, languages, and areas of contribution. Some winners have been around for almost as long as Wikimedia projects have existed — Wikipedia turned 20 this year. Others joined the movement more recently. They are united by the shared vision of free knowledge, and on August 15 at the annual Wikimania conference, the Wikimedia movement joined in celebrating them.

Wikimania is the largest gathering of the Wikimedia movement, bringing together hundreds of volunteers contributing to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects from around the world. This year, Wikimania was online and along with it, the Wikimedian of the Year celebration.

This special recognition dates back to 2011. Over the years, it has highlighted the achievements of inspirational community members and welcomed Wikimedians from different backgrounds and experiences. This year’s celebration was bigger than ever — expanding beyond the usual titleholder of Wikimedian of the Year and honourable mentions to celebrate a richer profile of our projects, volunteers, and geographies — to spotlight a newcomer, contributors to rich media and technology, and in honour of Wikipedia’s birthday, a 20th year honouree. 

“This year’s Wikimedian of the Year winners highlight how far we have grown in the past 20 years and the enormous impact that Wikimedia volunteers can have on the future of free knowledge. They are chosen for their contributions to the projects, their collaboration, and their community spirit. Each Wikimania, selecting these standout individuals is one of my favorite activities as founder, and I cannot wait to celebrate our largest group of winners ever!”

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder

And so, without further ado, here are this year’s Wikimedians of the Year:

Wikimedian of the Year – Alaa Najjar (User:علاء)

Read our interview with Alaa

Going back a decade, this annual award continues to celebrate a rich and diverse profile of content contributors and community organizers in the Wikimedia movement. Alaa is a medical practitioner and prolific contributor from the Levant region who has gone above and beyond in the last year to grow Arabic content on Wikipedia, Wikidata, and other Wikimedia projects. He was a leader in ensuring the integrity of Arabic Wikipedia’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read our interview with Alaa.

Honourable Mention Awards 

Honourable mentions are exceptional Wikimedians widely celebrated by their peers who already have great public exposure —  such as press coverage, local recognition, national titles, and more. This year, we have two honourable mentions:

Carmen Alcázar (User:Wotancito)

Carmen has been the president of Wikimedia México since 2011 and is a seasoned and celebrated Wikimedian who created the project “Editatona” in an effort to close the gender gap across Wikimedia projects. Carmen’s efforts have helped close the gender gap on Spanish Wikipedia by over seven percent in the last five years. She has led more than 60 editatonas in Latin America. Read our interview with Carmen.

Netha Hussain (User:Netha_Hussain)

Dr. Netha Hussain is a neuroscientist, medical practitioner, and researcher originally from India. She has provided invaluable contributions to medical content on Wikimedia projects, focusing much of her effort over the past year to the coverage of COVID-19. She also started the Vaccine Safety Project to address misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines. Read our interview with Netha.

20th Year Honouree – Lodewijk Gelauff (User:Effeietsanders)

In line with Wikipedia’s 20th birthday, we celebrate a Wikimedian who has been a part of our movement since the early years and has been a significant force in growing our global communities. Lodewijk is a prolific contributor, a mentor to many Wikimedians, and a volunteer for many community groups and efforts. He is one of the initiators of Wiki Loves Monuments, the annual Wikipedia photo contest around cultural heritage, and has led this project for a decade. Read our interview with Lodewijk.

Newcomer of the Year — Carma “Citra” Citrawati (User:Carma_citrawati)

Because newcomers are essential to our growth as a movement, a category was dedicated to celebrate a new contributor who has joined the movement in the past one to two years and already made a significant impact. Citra has been an active Wikimedian since 2019, and she has contributed to Balinese Wikipedia and WikiPustaka – WikiSource in Balinese. Citra has helped to catalogue more than 600 Balinese palm-leaf manuscripts for anyone to freely access and share through her work with Balinese WikiLontar. Read our interview with Carma.

Tech Innovator — Jay Prakash (User:Jayprakash12345)

So much of how people contribute and collaborate on the Wikimedia projects is dependent on a robust technical infrastructure. This year we celebrate a technical contributor who has focused on building and improving the technology that powers free knowledge. Jay established and is managing Indic-TechCom, a gathering of technical volunteers dedicated to providing technical support to Indic language projects. Read our interview with Jay.

Rich Media — Ananya Mondal (User:Atudu)

A picture is worth a thousand words. This category celebrates non-text contributions that represent such a vital and growing part of our movement. Ananya is a contributor from India who started the Wiki Loves Butterfly campaign, which has produced more than 2,600 high quality images of butterflies and supports efforts in conservation. Read our interview with Ananya.

To read more about the new categories introduced this year and the process for nominations and selection, see Who will be the 2021 Wikimedian of the Year

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!