The digital realm, in its ever-evolving splendour, births an unquenchable thirst for trustworthy, easily accessible knowledge. Answering this call, Code for Africa’s (CfA) Wikipedian-in-Residence (WiR) community has emerged as a beacon for information, especially within the rich tapestry of the African continent. In their most recent webinar titled “WiR Community Onboarding,” held on 09 and 10 August 2023, CfA set out on an expansive onboarding journey crafted specifically for the Anglophone and Francophone communities. This initiative drew an impressive gathering of 21 Anglophone and 16 Francophone participants from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Kenya, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, and Uganda.
Group photos taken at the end of the WiR Community Onboarding session
Under the expert guidance of Bukola James and Christelle Pandja, the esteemed Community Coordinators for CfA’s WiR Anglophone and Francophone respectively, this session transcended conventional webinar, transforming into engaging platforms for sharing knowledge. Both coordinators adeptly alternated between the roles of trainers and moderators, ensuring a blend of information and interaction that left participants with not just a clearer understanding, but also a sense of belonging to the CfA’s WiR community.
The session’s scope was all-encompassing, unfolding with an introduction to Code for Africa and a concise overview. This was followed by an exposition of the mission and vision of the Wikipedian in Residence Community (WiR) initiative, an exploration of the intricate WiR organisational structure, and a detailed look into the roles of Community Managers and Coordinators. The significance of community dynamics and effective communication channels was also underlined, emphasising their importance in maintaining a thriving community.
Understanding CfA’s WiR Community
Stepping back to see the larger picture, it’s crucial to appreciate the digital footprint of Code for Africa (CfA). As the continent’s leading indigenous network of civic technology and digital journalism hubs, it is buoyed by over 110 dedicated professionals, ranging from analysts and technologists to digital creatives, all collaborating across 21 African nations. Their collective goal remains steadfast: to harness and champion the transformative power of information in today’s interconnected age.
Before delving into the webinar’s specifics, it’s crucial to comprehend the significance of the WiR community. This initiative by CfA congregates an exuberant network of African Wikipedians dedicated to refining, authenticating, and expanding the African narrative within the vast landscape of Wikipedia and its sister projects. This community is emblematic of collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and mutual growth.
The Onboarding Initiative
Recognising the importance of well-structured onboarding, the webinar was meticulously designed to familiarise its Anglophone and Francophone members with its key tenets. This included an introduction to the WiR community’s guiding ethos, outlining its principles, goals, and aspirations. Furthermore, participants were given a comprehensive tour of the WiR community’s metapage—a centralised hub that serves as a repository of vital information, highlighting community processes, friendly space policies, and participant details via the links below;
The participants were effectively guided on the appropriate ways to navigate and leverage the platform to its full potential.
Connecting the Dots: Communication Channels
A community thrives on connectivity. The onboarding session laid particular emphasis on the diverse communication channels that WiR has established. Participants were introduced to Google groups tailored for each community, a dedicated WhatsApp group, the WIR Slack Channel, and the community’s Twitter handle with a clear intention to facilitate seamless interactions, exchange ideas, solicit feedback, and, above all, foster a sense of belonging.
Community Manager and Coordinators at Code for Africa: Diving Deeper into Their Pivotal Roles
Tolulope Adeyemo: Senior Programme Manager and driving force behind the CfA’s Knowledge Initiatives
Role: As the Senior Programme Manager, Tolulope stands at the forefront of CfA’s Knowledge programme. The Knowledge programme also houses the WiR Community initiatives, which thrive under her able guidance.
Contribution: Her dedicated leadership style has helped shape the direction of the program, ensuring that its objectives align with the larger mission of Code for Africa.
Bukola James: The Community Coordinator CfA WiR Community initiatives
Role: With my background in Library and Information Science and an experienced Wikimedian, I offer everyday oversight to the CfA WiR communities which include Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. I provide daily oversight of the community management of Wikimedia programmes while coordinating the WiR Anglophone Community.
Contribution: I coordinate WiR’s operations across various African countries, ensuring that the community is synchronised in its efforts and that the dissemination of information remains fluid and effective.
Christelle Pandja: The Voice of the Francophone, bridging divides and enriching Approaches
Role: Serving as the Coordinator for WiR Francophone at Code for Africa, Christelle plays a crucial part in extending the program’s reach to French-speaking regions of the continent.
Contribution: Leveraging her mentorship experience from the Central Africa Women Techmakers Community, she introduces a distinct perspective. This unique insight enriches WiR’s approach, making it more inclusive and representative of the diverse African tech community.
In-depth Glimpse into Community Channels:
|Other communication channels
|WIR Slack Channel
Benefits and Opportunities
The webinar did not just stop at the operational aspects. Participants were introduced to the myriad benefits and opportunities they stand to gain as active members of the community. Ranging from acquiring new skills, engaging in collaborative projects, and accessing resources, to having their voices echoed in the global Wikimedia space, the onboarding process painted a vibrant picture of possibilities. Some of the community benefits include:
- Bi-weekly and monthly meetups including training webinars to enhance member’s wiki proficiencies.
- Quarterly continental Wiki sessions to offer mentorship and inspiration from leading Wikipedians who have carried out innovative projects.
- Fellowship opportunities for community members through its wiki projects across the continent. The fellowship includes grants or funding opportunities to conduct research on topical issues to grow Wikipedia Africa and organise Wiki training.
- Membership badges/barnstars that can be used on various social media platforms and Wiki user profiles, proudly representing active community membership.
Feedback and Reflections
As is the tradition with all CfA webinars, the session concluded by opening the floor for feedback using a jam board. The responses were positive with Attendees expressing their appreciation, with remarks emphasising the organisation’s diversity, structured communication, and the potential benefits of being an integral part of the WiR Anglophone community.
“I’m glad to learn that CFA is such a diverse organisation with good communication structures. I would love to interact widely for better knowledge.”Participant A
“It is nice to know about how the WIR Anglophone Community works and how I will benefit from this amazing initiative.”Participant B
“Yes, I have learned how to navigate the platform. Thank you.”Participant C
With such a robust onboarding process, the WiR Anglophone and Francophone community are poised for growth, greater collaboration, and a significant uptick in contributions to improve Wikipedia and its sister projects in Africa through cross-disciplinary content development, editing, fact-checking and verification of information (on Wikipedia). For those intrigued and willing to be a part of this vibrant community, the community metapage offers all the information you need. Together, under the banner of CfA, the future of Wikipedia in Africa looks promising, inclusive, and more representative than ever.
A New Chapter
This comprehensive onboarding initiative symbolises the WiR Anglophone community’s drive towards expansion, collaboration, and elevated contributions. Eager to be part of this transformative journey? Dive into the provided resources and amplify Africa’s voice in the digital domain. Join the growing community of a pan-African network of Wikipedia editors who are expert fact-checkers, editors and creators of verifiable content across various Wikimedia projects.
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