Celebrating the 2022 Wikimedians of the Year!

A group of exceptional Wikimedia community members were recognized today at the 2022 Wikimania. Wikimania is the Wikimedia movement’s annual conference celebrating free knowledge projects made possible by the volunteer community and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikipedia and all other Wikimedia projects are made possible by hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world. Known as Wikimedians, we are united by a shared vision of a world in which knowledge is available to everyone, everywhere. 

Each year, Wikimedians who have made outstanding contributions to this cause are recognized through the Wikimedian of the Year awards! 

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. Last year, the award was expanded to recognize even more contributors and celebrate a richer profile of our projects, volunteers, and geographies. The expansion included newcomers, long-time editors or Wikimedia Laureates, and contributors to media and technology. 

This year’s winners showcase the commitment and creativity of the Wikimedia movement: From highlighting the funny depths of Wikipedia and improving the representation of women online, to teaching people to contribute to Wikipedia in the classroom, working with Indigenous languages, and strengthening Wikimedia’s technical infrastructure.  

“The winners are a testament to the passion, curiosity, and spirit of collaboration that powers our movement,” says Jimmy Wales, the Founder of Wikipedia, who also shares the awards with the winners each year. “I’m so excited to commemorate the brilliance and commitment these individuals bring to our mission of free knowledge for all.

We are so excited to present this year’s Wikimedian of the Year awardees!

Wikimedian of the Year: Olga Paredes

Photo by Alhen – CC BY-SA 3.0

Olga is an enthusiastic, inspiring leader, committed to the pursuit of open knowledge. Based in Bolivia, she’s a volunteer leader in multiple Wikimedia communities, including Wikimujeres and Wikimedistas de Bolivia, and has gone above and beyond in teaching and encouraging others to grow the Wikimedia movement and make meaningful contributions to our sum of knowledge. Olga is always highlighting the contributions of others and particularly encouraging more women to get involved with Wikimedia projects.

“The key to the success of Wikimedia projects is their ability to change and the perseverance of many Wikimedians in keeping the projects evolving and growing, locally and globally.”

Olga Paredes

Other Award Winners

Wikimedia Laureate: Andrew Lih

Photo by Joi Ito – CC BY-SA 2.0

Andrew is an internationally-renowned Wikipedia expert, author, professor, and Wikimedia contributor. In 2003, he was the first person to teach Wikipedia at the university level, instructing his students to write and edit pages about sites in Hong Kong. That sparked his interest in looking at Wikipedia as creating “knowledge in the public interest,” and he would go on to write one of the first academic articles about Wikipedia and a book on Wikipedia history, in addition to attending every Wikimania since its founding in 2005 and becoming a key cornerstone of the community and its spirit. Now, Andrew works with museums, libraries, and other institutions on using Wikipedia to store knowledge and continues to grow the broader Wikimedia movement and our shared value of open knowledge. He is also a member of the Wikimania Steering Committee, helping the magic of the flagship event come alive year after year. 

“A long-term goal is to ensure people know about the greater Wikimedia movement and not just Wikipedia. We are not just the text on the virtual page. We are the images and multimedia that bring knowledge alive and the structured data that now lies beneath the surface that connects databases and institutions all over the world. So much of the knowledge on the Internet is held together by the free content, citations, and linked open data from the Wikimedia movement.”

Andrew Lih

Wikimedia Laureate: Deror Lin

Photo by Ruby Mizrahi – CC BY-SA 3.0

In addition to being an inspiring editor and a prolific contributor, Deror has been instrumental in convening Wikimedia community members from around the world as a key organizer of multiple Wikimanias, famously the 2011 Wikimania in his native Israel. He has served on the program committee since and in other roles for many other Wikimedia events. He has been one of the most influential leaders in bringing Wikimedians together to celebrate the power of open knowledge. He has also written over 8,600 articles for Hebrew Wikipedia, comprising more than 2% of it!

“Deror is always cheerful and enthusiastic and wants to see results, whether it is in a program schedule or a Wikipedia article. He’s a maximalist, always wanting to see more talks, more points of view, and more participation. He is an inspiration for trying new projects, to learn from others, and to continue finding the joy in our work.” 

Phoebe Ayers (Wikimania Steering Committee co-chair, Wikimedian)

Honorable Mention: Anna Torres

Photo by Anna Torres (WMAR) – CC BY-SA 4.0

Anna is the Executive Director of Wikimedia Argentina, but she goes above and beyond her job description, helping to grow the Wikimedia community across Latin America. She has mentored countless people and served as a key partner, leader, and role model for many volunteers, organizers, and projects in the region and around the world. She has helped to expand the boundaries of Wikimedia to make it more diverse, building, as she calls it, “a support network, a community that often transcends the borders of your place.” Anna has also been a leader on the 2030 Movement Strategy to envision and plan Wikmedia’s impact on the world for the next 10+ years.

“I have been almost 9 years in this movement that I describe as ‘a place where you never stop learning’. I had and have incredible mentors and my effort is also to be able to be at the same level for the new people that join the Movement.”

Anna Torres

Newcomer of the Year: Nkem Osuigwe

Photo by AfricanLIbrarian – CC BY-SA 4.0

Dr. Nkem Osuigwe helped to start a partnership between the Wikimedia Foundation and the African Library and Information Associations & Institutions in 2020, using an existing professional network to generate over 27,000 edits since then. Her success led to the development of a Wikipedia training course for over 300 African librarians. Those trainees have gone on to make sizable contributions, join local communities, and begin new communities in countries including Zimbabwe, which previously did not have one. Nkem is a trailblazing leader, a grandmother, and a proud librarian expanding our knowledge sharing movement and introducing the power of Wikipedia to new communities across Africa and the world.

“Open knowledge is critical for development and Wikimedia projects are best suited for enabling everyone tell their own stories and increasing visibility for all forms of ‘knowing’.”

Nkem Osuigwe

Media Contributor of the Year: Annie Rauwerda

Photo by annierau – CC BY-SA 4.0

Annie had been occasionally editing and correcting typos on Wikipedia, but during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she began posting screenshots of various quirky, funny and interesting Wikipedia pages to Instagram. By the end of the year, her Instagram account @depthsofwikipedia had over 50,000 followers – and now she has more than 1.5 million followers across Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Annie uses social media to spread the word about free, open knowledge, inspiring the next generation of community members and contributors to learn about the power … and depths of Wikipedia.

“I’m continually inspired by the fellow volunteers who have created a floating corpus of knowledge for everyone, for free. Wikipedia was lauded as the ‘last bastion of shared reality’ by The Atlantic in 2018, and for all its flaws, it’s one of the few areas of the internet where people share a common goal of advancing free knowledge.”

Annie Rauwerda

Tech Contributor of the Year: Taavi Väänänen

Based in Finland, Taavi volunteers with the Wikimedia movement as a developer and as a system administrator. He’s been a critical member of the team running Wikimedia Cloud Services, including Toolforge and Cloud VPS, key pieces of infrastructure that let community members host their Wikimedia-related bots, tools, and other software projects for free. He also helps maintain the CentralAuth MediaWiki extension, which allows users to use a single user account on all public Wikimedia sites. Taavi is dedicated to improving Wikimedia behind the scenes and making it possible for more Wikimedians to take advantage of the free ways to showcase open knowledge.

“I am a huge fan of Wikimedia’s transparency and ‘anyone can edit’ model, and being able to help even a tiny part to make the projects even better is quite rewarding to me.”

Taavi Väänänen

New honorees: Wikimedia Affiliate Spotlight

In a first-time partnership with the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee, this year’s Wikimedian of the Year celebration also spotlighted affiliates whose invaluable contributions to the movement help it grow in content and contributors.

Wikimedia Affiliate Spotlight – Partnerships: Art+Feminism

Art+Feminism is a nonprofit that builds a community of activists committed to closing information gaps related to gender, feminism, and the arts, beginning with Wikipedia. Since 2014, over 20,000 people at more than 1,500 events around the world have participated in Art+Feminism’s edit-a-thons, resulting in the creation and improvement of more than 100,000 articles on Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Wikimedia Affiliate Spotlight  – Governance: Wikimedia UK

Wikimedia UK, the UK-based affiliate for the global Wikimedia movement, has centred knowledge equity, not just in programming and content, but in their own leadership. They recently diversified their staff and board of directors, showing the Wikimedia global movement that leadership should be as representative as our readers and community members.