Hi, I’m Kurmanbek, or my real name is Caner. Wikimania 2023 Singapore, the first Wikimania I attended, took place from 16-19 August 2023 at the Suntec Conference Center in Singapore. I represented the Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey (WMTR) and the Wikimedians of Turkic Languages User Group (WMTurkic), of which I am a member, at the conference with the theme of “Diversity, Collaboration and the Future”. I also made a presentation on behalf of WMTurkic.
In this report, I will share my impressions and experiences of Wikimania 2023 in detail, with the participation of people from all over the world who contributed to a total of 2170 (initial estimates) attendees from Wikimedia projects, 670 face-to-face and 1500 online.
Wikimedians, who came together at Wikimania 2023 from almost all over the world, communicated with each other within the framework of the theme of “Diversity, Collaboration, and the Future”. On behalf of the user groups I represent, I held various meetings and talks on cooperation with communities in the CEE (Wikimedia Central and Eastern Europe) and ESEAP (Wikimedia East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Regional Cooperation) regions.
As sessions, I mostly attended sessions that were within the framework of my own interests. These were mainly youth topics within the Wikimedia Movement and presentations made by Wikimedians from the Turkic world.
I believe that our collaborations with communities thousands of kilometers from Türkiye (Turkey) will fit perfectly with the theme of “Diversity, Collaboration and the Future” and will strengthen the bonds of our communities with each other.
Strengthening Collaboration among Turkic-Speaking Countries on Wikimedia Projects: Sharing Experiences and Proposing a Hub Implementation
In this session, where Mehman, one of the founders of WMTurkic, was the speaker, the cooperation between the local communities of Turkic-speaking countries in Wikimedia projects, experiences, difficulties experienced, and successes achieved with their solutions were discussed. Also about the idea of establishing a Wikimedia Turkic Hub in the future; The developments regarding hub studies such as the solution of grant problems of some small communities and their more active participation in Wikipedia projects were conveyed to the session participants. In the following minutes of the session, the participants of Europe, East Africa, ESEAP, and Wikimedia Education were also given the floor and their opinions and developments in their own regions were heard.
Let’s Connect x LDWG Learning Clinics: Communication skills for collaborative leadership
Jan-Bart de Vreede, Let’s Connect, Leadership Development Working Group, Nada Alfarra, and Chinmayee Mishra were the speakers, and how communication skills can be developed for leadership in cooperation with the community was explained. First of all, a booklet was distributed to the participants with a story about the difficulties experienced by an exemplary Wikimedian (Lola) while receiving a grant. Participants in groups of three first studied these booklets. Afterward, ideas were exchanged about Lola’s problems with her local community in getting grants. Thereafter, views on solutions and similar experiences were also discussed within the groups.
Changemaker’s toolbox – brainstorming introductory resources to campaigning and advocacy
Conducted by Daria Cybulska, this session brainstormed on campaign creation and advocacy processes, based on the skills development article of the Wikimedia 2030 Movement. In the Changemaker’s toolbox; There were 3 separate titles: Introduction to Social Change, Problem Analysis and Planning for Change, and Communication for Change.
Introduction to Social Change: This module describes campaigners’ multifaceted understanding of power, social change, and campaigning. In addition, various experiences were conveyed about how SMK can advance the concept of Social power and the transformational change associated with it.
Problem Analysis and Planning for Change: The module includes recommendations to help with campaign planning and a strategically responsive approach. There was talk about the organizational mission’s guidance in the wider world, at various levels of social variables, and, accordingly, in identifying campaign issues.
Communication for Change: Information on how to handle campaigns with a strong framework and how to use stories and ways of communication positively was conveyed.
After the presentation, the participants brainstormed about these issues.
How to expand the Education Program Partnership in your local community
In this session, hosted by Basak from Türkiye, a speech was made on how the partnership of the local communities’ education program could be taken further. (YouTube)
The speaker talked about the current situation in Türkiye, as there are collaborations with academics to give students homework on Wikipedia or to contribute to other Wikimedia projects. In addition, the speaker explained that there are more than 200 universities in 81 provinces in Türkiye and that 24 universities in 11 provinces have been reached in the Turkish leg of the 2021-2023 Wikimedia Education Program. This progress made; He stated that it will be ensured by following the latest changes in homework, following the changes in the articles related to academic institutions, participating in academic activities, letting the Wikimedia Education Foundation know about you, and distributing success stories to large audiences, starting with our own close circle first.
My personal opinion; both as a student and as a part of the team involved in this process, I think that there will definitely be positive results when the advice given by Başak is followed. Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey’s great importance and interest in the field of education has resulted in the fruition of positive studies.
From State Censorship to State Sponsorship: How We Organized a Seven-Month Edit-a-Thon with a State Agency
In the presentation made by Nataev and Nataeva, who participated from Uzbekistan, the process of Wikipedia being partially disabled in Uzbekistan for a period, but how state-sponsored Wikipedia activities are carried out today, is explained. Speakers noted that in 2011, some content on Wikipedia was blocked in Uzbekistan. The process started after 10 years when the Republic of Uzbekistan Youth Affairs Agency reached the Wikimedia Community Uzbek Language User Group for the purpose of creating quality content on the Uzbek Wikipedia. Thereupon, Nataev and his team started the WikiStipendiya project in May 2022. It was stated that students and the media showed great interest in the project, which was stated to be a very big initiative. Together with the WikiScholarship project, which was started later, Wikicamps were organized within the country and various collaborations were made with academic institutions.
Nataeva stated that in the first chapter of the project, 76,657 new articles were created in the Uzbek Wikipedia, the total number of changes exceeded 3.5 million, 15 thousand new users were registered and the number of active contributors increased fourfold.
In addition to all these, it was stated that 3 separate Wikikamps were held with the participation of approximately 150 people, and Wikitours were organized in order to increase the media files related to Uzbekistan on Wikimedia Commons. In addition, it was stated that several interim organizing events were organized to encourage new participants, and a congratulatory letter and a laptop computer were presented to the winners as well as certificates.
In the Q&A session at the end of the presentation, I asked Nataev how they persuaded public institutions to cooperate, and I stated that it is very difficult in Türkiye. Nataev stated that this level has been reached after long efforts.
Personal note: I think we should implement a similar project to increase the interest of young people in Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in Türkiye. I will do a study on this topic.
A tree where roots meet: Wikimedians of Turkic Languages User Group
In the 5-minute lightning presentation I made, I explained what the Wikimedians of Turkic Languages User Group has been doing since its establishment and what it will do in the future. (YouTube) (Presentation file)
The presentation is summarized; After the Turkic Wikimedia Conference held in Kazakhstan in 2012, at Wikimania 2016 that HakanIST and Mehman had the idea of establishing a user group that would bring together Wikimedia users in Turkic countries, that they presented it to Affcom in 2019, and that the user group was established in 2020. I explained this. I also talked about how members of our user group support their local communities, how we work together to develop our user group day by day, and how we expand free licensed content from Turkic communities in Wikimedia projects.
Under the heading of Activities, I gave various information about Wikidata Trainings For Turkic Wikimedians 2022, where 46 users from 11 countries participated and more than 10 presentations were made, and Turkic Marathon, which we traditionally carry out and expand the contents of Wikimedia projects about the culture of the Turkic world. In addition to all these, I also conveyed to the audience that we held various meetings on cooperation with national and international institutions related to Turkic states.
Finally, I introduced the Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2023, which we will host in Istanbul in October 2023, to the audience and completed my presentation in exactly 5 minutes.
Social and collaborations
Socially, Wikimania 2023 had a very positive atmosphere. I met with Wikimedians from various parts of the world in my spare time such as free time, session breaks, and meal times, and we exchanged information about how the studies are going in their countries, what kind of collaborations and studies we do in our own country.
Since it was my first Wikimania experience, I don’t know if they were present in previous events, but this time various postcards were given to us to send them all over the world for free. We filled these postcards and threw them in boxes. It was also a very pleasing detail that sweets, stickers, and postcards related to Türkiye and the Turkic world on the desserts and souvenir tables were quickly sold out, even though I did not renew them every few hours.
As a collaboration, I had the opportunity to face-to-face meet Mrb Rafi and TheAafi, whom we met on the Let’s Connect program and with whom we built and successfully completed our Wikipedia 101 – Education Set for Beginners project. We talked with Rafi about the current status of the project, its future potential, and various details such as the stages of localization of the videos in other communities’ own languages.
We had a conversation with Eugene Ormandy, who participated in Wikimania from our sister country, Japan, which is geographically far from Türkiye but has close ties. We met with him at a session and he asked questions about Üsküdar University Wikipedia Student Club. I told him about the establishment process of the club and I talked about the Istanbul Bilgi University Wikipedia Student Club, which will soon be established at my own university. I also mentioned that we can carry out joint projects with the Student Wikipedian Community at Wasead University Tokyo at their own university by declaring BİLGİ Wikipedia Student Club as a sister club and that this will be a very good example of the “Diversity, Collaboration and the Future” theme of Wikimania 2023. I will contact Eugene, who is very warm to this idea, after the establishment of BİLGİ Wikipedia Student Club in September 2023, and we will start the sister club process.
I was quite surprised that my friend Taufik from Malaysia, whom I met at Wikimedia Summit 2022, was named Wikimedian of the Year at the Wikimedian of the Year ceremony, which is part of the opening ceremony. I was excited and motivated to be rewarded in this way for his efforts on Malay Wiktionary and Malay lexeme. I congratulated him in Singapore, I congratulate him once again from here.
We also met with the members of the CEE Hub Youth Group, created by CEE Hub this year, and discussed the current developments. As the CEE Youth team, we will meet again at CEE Meeting 2023 Tbilisi.
Wikimedians, who came together for the first time under the name of Wikimedia Collectors Group, brought items such as flags, magazines, postage stamps, banknotes, and coins from their countries and exchanged them with each other. In fact, this allowed me to have an idea about the cultures of the countries even by looking at their money. Because they all tell something and they all have a memory.
We also held a meeting as the Wikimedians of Turkic Languages User Group. In this meeting, we went over what we have done in the past as a user group and exchanged ideas about the current situation and our future plans. In addition, various information was given about the Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2023.
I also had the opportunity to chat with the people who carried out the graphic design works of the Wikimania 2023 event. While I conveyed information to them such as how I designed the graphic works for our own events, they also told me various things such as how they prepared the works for this conference and what they experienced.
In the closing ceremony, we learned that Wikimania will be held in Krakow, Poland next year. I hope I will have the opportunity to meet with Wikimedians from around the world again.
Thank you to Gisca and Butch for answering any of our questions before and after the conference. Also I would also like to thank the Wikimedia Foundation for providing such an opportunity. Wikimania 2023 gave me very positive ideas and gained dozens of new Wikimedian friends. Here I will examine the work of people I meet in their own communities, and seek answers to questions such as what we can improve for our communities or what similar work we can do. In addition, I can’t help but mention that I am very impatient to start cooperating with communities at the other end of the world. I’m looking forward to Wikimania 2024 Krakow!
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