USW S1E2: What it takes to build a Wiki Community in Tanzania [Part 1]

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Effective approaches to community building empower persons and groups within society to have the capacity to improve their lives in different aspects. Community building is a positive change and value-based process which aims to address imbalances in welfare and power based on inclusion, human rights, social justice, equity, equality, and other fields.

Looking at Tanzania we can say it is among the countries where it has taken some time for people to adapt to the wiki communities and sometimes it has been a challenge. But the question is what does it take to run/host/facilitate or train a wiki community?

This article is based on a survey performed by the University Students Wikimedians based in Tanzania where we shared the form with different organizers, facilitators, leaders, and trainers from other wiki communities across Tanzania.

Wiki Community can be defined as a collective of different individuals from different/same fields coming together to take collective action and create results to overcome the challenges faced in the area of jurisdiction while aligning with the Wikimedia Foundation mission.

So one might ask oneself:

  • Can I run a wiki community? If yes, what does it take?
  • What should I expect?
  • My checklist
  • What challenges might I face in the future and how can I overcome them?
  • Is there a support center that I can rely on when needed?

The above are some of the questions one can ask oneself. In this first part of the article, we will be tackling some of the questions and the remaining will be covered in part two.

Can I run a wiki community?

The answer to this question can be answered simply by a yes anyone is eligible to run a wiki community as long he/she aligns with the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission and policies.

The Wikimedia Foundation has no big limitations that might lead to one not being able to run a wiki community. No special training is needed for one to run a wiki community after all the wiki communities are community-led.

What does it take?

From our survey one of the questions stated What does it take to run a wiki community?” and one of the community members answered with just two words Passion and desire Lol! These two words might seem very little but yet very powerful, don’t underestimate them.

Passion is partly about enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is contagious. If we are excited about who we are and what we do, then other people will become excited too. And they’ll listen to us. And then they’ll begin to think they should be as enthusiastic as we are.

If you have a desire, you can build something in your life that will give you passion. And I do believe that passion is something you can build. You can build passion by adopting the words, actions, and attitudes that express it. This is not “faking” passion. You can’t fake passion because people will be able to tell you are faking and it will hurt you. But you can make passion a choice and a commitment, and once you commit, soon you will start to feel it in your blood and your bones. Your energy level will rise. You’ll begin to feel the real excitement. The people around you will begin to feel that excitement. And you’ll have taken your first step. You’ll be on your way.

However, lack of commitment is one of the key roadmaps toward running a wiki community. It is never easy bringing people of different races together and having them work on the same goal. It needs a lot of commitment.

“It wasn’t easy for me at first when starting the community, I used a lot of time and resources just to bring them together. After that, another hard part was to make them understand what I do and why should they do it. I had to commit most of my time and resource before we could even request support from the Wikimedia Foundation. So before thinking about a support request first show them that you’ve made progress by yourself, it will be easy for them to support you. Also, having the community members decide their community is one of the key aspects” Anonymous replied in the survey.

So as we have seen it is not just bout you want to run a community; the real question is “are you ready to set a good example to the other community members? Are you ready to start on your own before seeking support from others?” Setting a good example refers to you being an active contributor to the Wikimedia Foundation projects but also biding by the policies of the organization mostly the Universal Code of Conduct (UUC) and user-friendly space ever since you will be interacting with different people from different places with different perspectives on different issues.

This is the first part of this article which reflects on what it takes to build a wiki community. Let us know what you think in the comments section below on what you think it takes to build a wiki community in your community. We will be sharing soon the second part of the article.

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