Readers around the world are familiar with the mainspace side of Wikimedia projects: the verified article pages, the proofread books, the treasure trove of open source media, and countless dictionary definitions, to name a few. There is also a lot happening in the background. Without the work of people resolving conflicts in talk pages, creating bots and giving creative solutions to conflicts the work around content would be much more difficult. Today we are celebrating usuário:Albertoleoncio, a Wikimedian who likes to work on the backstage of the Portuguese Wikimedia projects: watching and performing oversight content, working as an interface administrator and being a volunteer for VRT.
For Alberto, the Wikimedia adventure started twice, and both times in relation to the same place – Itamari, a Brazilian municipality, 913 kilometers from the capital city, Brasília. In 2006 Alberto added some information and a photo to the article about Itamari, where he comes from. And for the next 13 years he was an occasional editor, making small changes from time to time. This changed in 2019 when he came back to editing about Itamari, and specifically, about the highway crossing the municipality. His edit was not perfectly sourced, which was pointed out by another Wikimedian. The discussion this sparked, made Alberto realize that Wikipedia is so much more than an encyclopedia – it is a community. And that made him engage more.
The community is what Alberto finds the most important in the wikiworld. His favorite picture on Wikimedia Commons shows a group photo from WikiConBrasil 2022: Wikimedia contra a desinformação (Wikimedia against disinformation), this was the first conference held by and for the Brazilian community. The picture shows a vibrant and energetic community, filled with that special energy, which is always created when Wikimedians gather together. Alberto is also in that picture, in one of the back rows.
The backstage is also where he can be found in the Wikimedia projects. He is less about creating content nowadays, more about creating a supportive infrastructure for others to do so. Alberto manages bots, scripts, filters, templates and modules. He helps beginners to understand Wikipedia rules and policies, and engages in administrative work: protecting pages, and blocking vandals.
This kind of work is meaningful in many different ways. It can even help in making Wikipedia a kinder place. Alberto is proud of his work in the Main page “Eventos atuais”, similar to the’ In the news’ on English Wikipedia. Such events would be directly inserted in the page – often without previous discussion – which would generate numerous conflicts among users, account blocks and page protection. Therefore, he proposed a new system in which discussions would be more organized, civilized and with an automated proposal publishing and archiving system. Since then, the conflicts have drastically decreased.
When asked about his work, Alberto says: “I like to think of my work as a ‘bridge builder,’ helping the community and the wiki movement in general reach their objectives. I didn’t join Wikipedia with a specific agenda, such as contributing to articles on a specific topic. I joined it because I identified with the proposal of promoting free knowledge, in a curated and disinformation-free fashion, reaching any interested person, no matter the context.”
If there is anything that Alberto regrets when it comes to Wikimedia, it is the lack of time. Nowadays he tries to focus on the areas where he can make a difference, be it on technical parts, on internal community discussions, or in other movement activities.
Albertoleoncio would like the world to discover the same that he had discovered at the second beginning of his Wikipedia journey – that this encyclopedia is much more than it may seem on the surface. “I wish whoever reads Wikipedia understands that it is not just a website to look for information, That Wikipedia is just one aspect of something much bigger, that there are several editors behind a single article, that there is a community behind each Wikipedia and that it goes much beyond that, with many projects in the wiki movement created by volunteers for free knowledge.” – he says.
Thank you for being part of this amazing community of volunteers, Alberto. Today we celebrate your commitment to the Wikimedia movement.
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