35 events, 1900 Wikipedia articles – how Wikimedia Ukraine held its annual Wikimarathon for Wikipedia’s birthday in 2023

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In January-February, Wikimedia Ukraine held our annual Wikimarathon, a campaign dedicated to the birthday of the Ukrainian language section of Wikipedia, which is traditionally celebrated on January 30th. Wikimarathon held every year since 2015, and the goal is to recruit as many volunteers as possible to editing Wikipedia by organizing an online campaign and supporting offline events.

Overall, almost 350 participants created over 1900 articles over the course of the campaign, and we supported over 35 events in Ukraine and abroad with over 500 participants. In this article, we will talk about the results and share our observations.

Wikimarathon’s offline events in Ukraine and beyond

Every year during Wikimarathon in Ukraine we support many offline events where people get together to write articles and teach beginners. They are organized by local volunteers with support from Wikimedia Ukraine. Before the pandemic, some 60 events were typically held annually over the course of several days across most of Ukraine’s regions.

This year’s Wikimarathon was different because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many people were forced to leave Ukraine and become refugees, so this year Wikimarathon was held in other countries as well, so that Ukrainians who found temporary asylum abroad could join it.

In total, more than 500 people took part in Wikimarathon offline events. The events took place in Ukraine and 4 other countries. Events abroad were supported by local affiliates, such as Wikimedia Poland and Wikimedia Netherlands, and led by Ukrainian volunteers who live in respective countries.

In Kyiv, despite Russian shelling and blackouts of electricity and the Internet, 8 offline trainings were held, where almost 200 people took part.

Wikimeeting on January 28 for the birthday of Ukrainian Wikipedia

Training sessions were held not only in large cities of Ukraine, but also in small towns and villages, so that as many people as possible could take part. Very different people became participants and participants – from lyceum students to librarians and journalists. This shows the interest of a wide audience in contributing to the editing of Wikipedia.

Wikimarathon 02/01/2023 Khorostkiv

In different cities of Poland, four offline trainings were held at once, which were conducted by a Ukrainian Wikipedian who is in evacuation, 25 people took part in them.

Wikimarathon at the Ukrainian House in Rotterdam, January 29, 2023

The offline event was also held in the Netherlands, Israel and Spain.

Wikimarathon’s online campaign

Apart from offline events, everyone could join Wikimarathon online by creating at least one article on Wikipedia during campaign dates and marking it with a template on the talk page.

During the marathon, 346 participants and participants wrote almost 1900 articles on various topics in Ukrainian.

According to our data, the majority of online participants and participants took part thanks to the CentralNotice Wikipedia. And at least 80 new participants registered for the first time to take part in the Wikimarathon. Many other participants and students are long-term volunteers who take part in the competition every year.

We also held 3 online webinars, during which we taught beginners how to edit Wikipedia.

As part of the Wikimarathon, we had an online quiz dedicated to Wikipedia, in which 70 people took part.

Everyone who participated can receive a souvenir via post; now, after Wikimarathon has ended, the organizers are working on getting the souvenirs out to some 170 people who signed up to receive them.

Holding Wikimarathon during the war

The Wikimarathon was in jeopardy due to constant shelling targeting critical infrastructure, so many people had no electricity or internet at the time. Our online contributors and contributors had to find time between power outages to publish articles. Many of them were looking for places where there are generators to work there and it was very difficult.

Yet, people found a way to contribute nevertheless. A person can adapt to everything: there is no light – you go to bed, it appears – you work! It was much more difficult to live and work during the occupation and siege of the city, but that is already behind us!, says librarian Hanna Makarenko, a participant in the #1Lib1Ref campaign

It became a challenge for us to ensure the security of offline events, because there was a constant threat of shelling. We have decided that in cities where the danger is the highest, all offline events should take place in bomb shelters, and in cities where the danger is smaller, there should be a shelter near the venue. In the event of an air raid alert, all participants had to go to shelter immediately. At all offline events, we adhered to these principles.

Despite the difficult security situation, though, we managed to hold Wikimarathon. This year more people took part in it than in the previous one, and we hope that now the newbies who joined in 2023 will become long-term Wikipedia volunteers.

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