A semester with the student club: What have I experienced, what will we do?

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We have come to the end of the fall semester of the 2023-2024 academic year in Türkiye, in which we established the İstanbul Bilgi University Wikipedia Student Club. I am Caner (User: Kurmanbek). As of December 2024, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary in the Wikimedia Movement and I’m the founder of BİLGİ Wikipedia Student Club. I will share with you my experiences such as how I founded this club this semester, what we did, and what we will do in the future.

This club should be established!

After the establishment of Üsküdar University Wikipedia Student Club, Türkiye’s first Wikipedia student club, in September 2022, I thought that I should establish a club at my university and started working immediately. I could not find students for the board of directors that I needed to form to establish the club in the 2022-2023 academic year. For this reason, I could not establish the Wikipedia student club. That’s why I carried out Wikipedia studies at my university as a workshop under the BİLGİ Communication Club, of which I am one of the founders.

I also managed to attract attention by celebrating the 20th anniversary of Turkish Wikipedia in this workshop. Interestingly, I also met a fellow student whom I had never met, who came to this workshop and contributed to Turkish Wiktionary on his own.

Apart from the briefings and Wikipedia workshops I organized under the Communication Club, I also actively participated in the visits and trainings organized by the Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey at our university, reiterating my plans to establish a club each time and started collecting volunteers.

İstanbul Bilgi University Electoral Acquis edit-a-thon

Dream comes true

At Wikimania 2023 Singapore, which took place in 2023, I met Eugene Ormandy, who read Basak’s Diff article from Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey and came across it completely by chance. When I founded the club, I stated that we could be a sister club with Eugene’s club in Japan and that I was open to collaboration. Eugene welcomed this and we began preliminary preparations. In this context, we started the Wikimedia Japan-Türkiye Friendship project as the first concrete step.

Let’s set our goals

As a club, we have set various goals for ourselves, in addition to diversity and collaborations with other Wikipedia student clubs in Türkiye and around the world:

  1. We aim to encourage students to contribute to Wikipedia based on the knowledge they have on the topics they wish, after learning the rules of writing, verifying, and accessing the right sources, not just reading, Wikipedia, which is open source and freely licensed.
  2. Encourage awareness of other Wikimedia projects.
  3. Gaining a culture of cooperation and sharing.
  4. To inform students about free licenses.
  5. Collaborations on youth and student issues with the Wikimedia CEE Hub Youth Group and other Wikipedia Student Clubs around the world.

We did it: the club is founded!

When the calendar showed September 2023, while I was in Tbilisi for the CEE Meeting 2023, I was informed that my club was officially established. I was able to form the necessary board of directors to establish the club and filled out all the documents required by the university. In this process, I’ve partnered with my colleague, also the vice president of the club, Oxorca to organize the board members and maintain communication within the club.

A few weeks after our establishment, we declared our clubs (BİLGİ Wikipedia Student Club and Student Wikipedian Community in Waseda University Tokyo) as sister clubs, as we talked to Eugene Ormandy. Then, we held our first event as a club.

I attended a joint panel as a speaker at the Turkic Wikimedia Conference held in Istanbul on 20-22 October 2023, where all 3 clubs in Türkiye participated. In this panel, we talked about many detailed topics, from the difficulties I experienced during the club establishment process, to the national and international collaborations we have made and what we will do, and answered the questions of the audience.

On November 30, 2023, we held a Japan-themed edit-a-thon at İstanbul Bilgi University santralistanbul Campus.

A total of 8 articles about Japan were written at the event, to which members of the Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey and Üsküdar University Wikipedia Student Club were also invited. I think this number is pretty good to start with.

Articles written:

What will we do in the future and what is the result?

The fall semester has passed since the club was founded. In our verbal awareness studies, students at the university have not yet understood what the club is and what its purpose is. This is quite normal for a newly established club. The reason for this is that students generally know Wikipedia as a place to only read and are unaware of the huge volunteer family behind it. However, it has been observed that this awareness has increased with the activities we started to organize and new members are joining the club every day.

In the spring semester, we plan to continue Japan-Türkiye joint events, a photo contest to encourage content creation for Commons, a Wiki-Podcast in our university’s radio studios, and national and international collaborations.

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