Community retention in Indonesia: Our efforts over three years

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Gunarta, CC BY-SA 4.0; Wikimedia logo is a work by Neolux, Public domain; Wikipedia logo is trademark of Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Indonesia (WMID) has been supporting several Wikimedia communities in several regions of Indonesia. These are the communities that are instrumental in the success of the Wikimedia project in Indonesia. They consist of individuals of diverse backgrounds, statuses, and economic levels who have been crucial in advancing Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikisource, as well as helping WMID with outreach and workshops in various parts of Indonesia.

Currently, there are 14 local Wikimedia communities supported: four language-based communities, eight location-based communities, and two project-based communities.

The community members started out in different ways. Some have joined a particular community after participating in a contest we organized. Others attended Wikipedia training and joined the community afterward. Some new community members became members after discovering and attending events and meetings organized by the community itself, and some even joined because they were intrigued by the social media content created by the community.

It has been a challenge for us to build and retain community members. Not all members feel that the community can support their activities on Wikimedia projects. Some of them are simply happy to be passive members—not to engage actively in events or activities organized by the community. 

It is important that we understand the wishes and needs of all communities. We have undertaken five different efforts to make local Wikimedia communities in Indonesia sustainable. Please continue reading about our efforts below.

Grant funding for community members

Among our efforts to make the communities and their members more resourceful and creatively inclined is to encourage them to organize events. For some people, the opportunity to organize an event can spur their initiative and will to grow. We support from the other end: providing funding grants for such activities.

The grant initiative for the communities started in 2018 when our grant proposal was supported by the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). At that point, the grants were offered to small local Wikimedia communities so we had no expectation that many community members would submit their proposals. In 2018–2019, we received 22 grant applications and 11 of them were supported. The activities supported by the grants helped content growth on Wikimedia Commons (WikiSelam, WikiDendang, WikiKaltara, and WikiNyamleng), Wikimedia Incubator (WikiCamp Minangkabau and Wikipedia Bahasa Using), Javanese Wikipedia (dictionary support for Javanese Wikipedia training, and Wiki21), Minangkabau Wikipedia (WikiBagurau), Sundanese Wikipedia (Wiki Sunda Saba Sakola jeung Alam), and Gorontalo Wikipedia (dictionary purchase for Gorontalo Wikipedia training).

Gunarta (WMID), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We continued this grant support in 2019 by seeing a growing trend of interest from the communities. Throughout 2019–2020, there were 16 grant requests and we funded 12 activities undertaken by community members. Eight of them are as follows. The Wikimedia community in Padang received support to conduct WikiSurau (documenting surau and mosques in 10 locations in West Sumatra) and WikiSalero (documenting food from the West Sumatra region). New initiatives we uncovered during this period were WikiDialek—in collaboration with WikiTongues—to record Minangkabau dialects on video, and the creation of a 3.5-minute animated video to introduce the Minangkabau Wikipedia. Volunteers in West Kalimantan organized a photography activity of palace buildings in West Kalimantan. The Wikimedia community in Bandung with its peculiarity held a Sundanese music documentation activity and published it on Wikimedia Commons. The Wikimedia community in Yogyakarta initiated photo documentation of Javanese dance performances. The Wikimedia community in Denpasar organized an activity to capture pictures of food from Bali—the same initiative as WikiSalero. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one activity from volunteers in East Kalimantan dubbed WikiBerau had to be canceled.

In 2020—when the Covid-19 pandemic was underway, the process of disbursing grants to community members shifted in response to the limited nature and duration of activities. We launched a new grant process that allowed anyone to work on several Wikimedia projects online. This grant sparked the interest of communities, as 27 grant proposals for funding online activities were accepted. Of these 27 submissions, two proposals focused on Wikidata, three on Wikimedia Commons, two on Wikimedia Incubator, 14 on Wikipedia, one on Wikiquote, one on Multilingual Wikisource, and four on Wiktionary.

The Yogyakarta community has organized many activities and has introduced the community to the public through community branding programs: quizzes and volunteer of the month. Also, the online meeting held by the community in 2020 was running smoothly and was even attended by one of the Javanese speakers in Malaysia.

— Agatha V.N., Javanese Wikipedia contributor & WMID grant recipient
Gunarta, CC BY-SA 4.0; Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, Wikiquote, Wikisource, and Wiktionary logos are works by Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Social gatherings

Having solid communities whose members support each other is paramount to achieving our common goals. With a sense of comfort and belonging to a community, members are more likely to share their ideas and viewpoints, have the urge to help others and work with different communities. These are important for the advancement of communities and Wikimedia projects across the globe.

WMID took this to heart and launched support for communities to host social gatherings. Starting in 2019, this event was successfully carried out by Wikimedia communities in Bandung and Yogyakarta. The Wikimedia community in Denpasar was unfortunately forced to cancel its social gathering because of the pandemic.

During the event, the Wikimedia community in Bandung specifically talked about Wiki Masuk Sekolah (Wiki Goes to School), Wikipedia and Creative Commons license training sessions, and grant program plans. On the other hand, the Wikimedia community in Yogyakarta addressed GLAM activities, Wiki Masuk Sekolah, and Wikipedia training sessions during the social event.

Community members’ monthly meeting

Building a strong and well-established community requires a sustained level of communication among its members. We observed that Indonesian culture favors informal gatherings to discuss different matters, instead of organizing formal and rigid meetings, which are less comfortable for some people to express their ideas and opinions.

As of 2018, we provide support by providing food and internet packages for communities conducting monthly group meetings. The support provided is a tremendous help for the community members, most of whom are university students. By having these meetings, they can develop activity plans for the short term (2–3 weeks) and exchange ideas with fellow community members about current issues.

Annual nationwide conference

Gunarta, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the number of communities and their members continues to grow, we initiated a national conference—called WikiNusantara—to gather volunteers from various cities. The event was an opportunity to exchange experiences and learn with their peers.

WikiNusantara 2019 was the first-ever nationwide conference that we organized in Yogyakarta. The event was attended by more than 80 participants from 11 provinces in Indonesia; 22 of them were women. We even invited two people from Wikimedia Malaysia User Group—Ahmad Wafiq Aqil and Mohd Taufiq—to become speakers and share their stories with the participants.

During this conference, I have been introduced to many Indonesian Wikimedia volunteers, both young and older. At this conference, I took the opportunity to hear about their experiences as they volunteered on the Wikimedia Project. In fact, more than 10 Indonesian volunteers have become my collaboration partners and we are still in touch until today.

— Ahmad W.A., representative from the Wikimedia Malaysia User Group

We resumed the conference this year with strict health protocols in Padang City, West Sumatra, after postponing it for two years due to the pandemic.

Awards for outstanding volunteer

As a token of appreciation to the volunteers who devote their time and resources to advancing Wikimedia projects, we honored those who have been actively committed to providing the best content, media, and data on Wikimedia projects. On top of that, we awarded the distinguished senior and best volunteer to those who have put their best foot forward for the Wikimedia community and projects.

This year, communities across Indonesia voted for the best volunteers for 2021. Adhmi Fauzan received the Best Content Award for his initiative to improve the quality of articles on the Minangkabau language Wikipedia. Ni Kadek Ayu Sulastri was honored with the Best Media Award for her contribution to proofreading texts on the Indonesian Wikisource. Muhammad Faisal Ansari received the Best Data Award for his contributions to Wikidata.

Bennylin was named the recipient of the Best Senior Award for his dedication and time given from 2004 to this very day. He was also the only Steward from Indonesia and has served as a sysop on a number of Wikimedia projects.

Kartika Sari was the recipient of WMID’s 2021 Best Volunteer Award for making valuable contributions to many Wikimedia projects, such as Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikipedia. She is also the contact person for the Wikimedia community in Padang and helps WMID organize various online and in-person events.

Nominations for these volunteers have been open since 2021 by WMID and every Wikimedia community in Indonesia can nominate candidates for the award and choose the award category that suits their candidate.

We continue to strengthen ourselves in terms of internal organization and staff capacity to continue to provide excellent and measurable support and impact to the Wikimedia community and the wider public. We will inform you about our new activities and events. Please stay tuned.

For more information on the above initiatives, please contact us at

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