The Triumph of Wiki Mentor Africa’s First Online Hackathon

Translate This Post

In a digital era brimming with possibilities, the Wiki Mentor Africa stands as a pillar of hope and opportunity. Initiated as a collaborative effort to address the technical skill gap, Wiki Mentor Africa is an innovative mentorship program designed to connect experienced Technical Wikimedia contributors with newcomers from across the continent interested in contributing to the Wikimedia technical spaces. This pioneering program is dedicated to paving the way for more Africans into the tech landscape of Wikimedia through mentorship, opening doors to innovation, collaboration, and digital empowerment.

Catering specifically to Africans keen on becoming Wikimedia developers/tool creators and technical writers, Wiki Mentor Africa plays an important role in fostering a community where knowledge, skills, and experiences are shared freely, empowering a new generation of technical contributors. From January 19th to 21st, this mission found new momentum with the very first 100% online Wiki Mentor Africa Hackathon, with a spotlight on the innovative ISA tool.

Imagine this: a virtual gathering space buzzing with anticipation, where over 320 minds from across the continent convened, not just to learn but to transform. Zoom and Telegram became our digital arenas, proving that when there’s a will, there’s a way – even in the face of Africa’s notorious internet and power challenges. The decision to support multiple languages, including French, significantly enhanced the inclusivity of the hackathon, ensuring a diverse range of voices and perspectives were heard. Moreover, by hosting the event online, Wiki Mentor Africa removed geographical barriers, allowing anyone, anywhere, the opportunity to join and contribute. Through the lens of Wiki Mentor Africa, this event was more than a hackathon; it was a stepping stone towards building and sustaining a more inclusive, technically skilled Wikimedia community across Africa.

Spotlight on the ISA Tool

At the heart of our hackathon was the ISA tool, a multilingual, mobile-first platform designed to democratize and simplify the process of enriching Wikimedia Commons. ISA enables users to make “micro-contributions” – such as descriptions, captions, tags, and more – to images contributed by the vibrant and diverse Wikimedia Community. This tool not only facilitates a deeper engagement with the content on Wikimedia Commons but also plays a crucial role in making the repository more accessible and informative for people worldwide. Specifically, for contributors in Africa, the ISA tool holds immense value as it is extensively used during the Wiki Loves Africa campaign, arguably the continent’s largest photo contest, thereby significantly enhancing the visibility and richness of African heritage.

The Quest and the Conquest

Our quest was twofold: To introduce the uninitiated to the wonders of Wikimedia’s technical realm and to rally the troops around the ISA tool, breathing new life into its code. The call to action was met with an overwhelming response – 428 spirited souls signed up, eager to dive into the digital fray, with 328 gallant participants battling through every Zoom session.

But what’s a quest without its dragons? Ours took the form of expensive internet and erratic power supply. Yet, against these odds, the hackathon was not just a success; it was a celebration of resilience and unity.

Epic Moments and Legendary Achievements

In the thick of code and brotherhood (and sisterhood 😊), we forged a community around the ISA tool. This wasn’t just about fixing bugs; it was about securing a legacy. Over 22 Phabricator tickets were vanquished, including some that had cast a shadow over the tool’s use in pivotal events like Wiki Loves Africa campaigns. The beast was tamed; the day was won. 

Beyond the technical achievements, the formation of over 13 teams, each taking on one or more Phabricator tickets, was a testament to our collaborative spirit. These teams, by tackling challenges together, didn’t just fix issues – they wove a fabric of fellowship and shared dedication that exemplified the true essence of community. This collaborative environment, where teams worked together to achieve common goals, stands as vivid evidence that a vibrant, supportive community was indeed formed during this hackathon.

The diversity of our band of heroes was a tale in itself – participants hailed from 14 different countries, with many stepping into the hackathon arena for the very first time. Their backgrounds were as varied as the landscapes of Africa, yet they shared a common purpose: to learn, to contribute, and to make a difference.

The Champions Behind the Scenes

None of this would have been possible without the valiant support of our sponsors, whose generosity lit the path forward. A heartfelt salute to the Igbo Wikimedia User Group, Wikimedia Deutschland, Wiki In Africa, and the Wikimedia Foundation for believing in the power of collaboration and the promise of an open digital Africa.

The organizing team, a cadre of unsung heroes, orchestrated this symphony of minds and machines with unmatched dedication and skill. Their tireless efforts ensured that every participant, mentor, and spectator was part of something truly magical.

And where would we be without the luminaries? The mentors who guided with wisdom and patience, and the participants whose brilliance and ingenuity shone brightly. Special recognition goes to our mentors: Eugene Egbe, Amir Aharoni, Florence Devouard, and Fongoh Tayong, whose contributions were not just noteworthy but transformative.

The Aftermath and the Horizon

The Wiki Mentor Africa Hackathon 2024 was more than an event; it was a beacon, illuminating the path for future mentors and mentees eager to explore the vastness of Wikimedia’s technical domain. This gathering proved that together, we can overcome barriers to access and participation, innovate on projects critical to our continent, and lay the groundwork for a more inclusive and technically adept Wikimedia community in Africa.

This is just the beginning. The journey ahead is fraught with challenges, but also ripe with opportunities. Whether you wield code like a sword or wield curiosity like a shield, there’s a place for you in the Wiki Mentor Africa initiative.

Join us as we continue to bridge digital divides, one hackathon at a time. Together, we can ensure that the story of Wikimedia in Africa is one of empowerment, collaboration, and endless innovation. Our journey doesn’t stop here; we are actively expanding our community through monthly events that feature experienced technical Wikimedia contributors discussing technical topics. These sessions are a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to deepen their understanding and skills in the Wikimedia technical spaces. Stay informed and get involved by checking out the upcoming events section on our Wiki Mentor Africa page.

To every organizer, participant, sponsor, mentor, and supporter who made the Wiki Mentor Africa Hackathon 2024 a reality, we salute you. Your strength, wisdom, and spirit have sparked a movement. The quest continues, and with each new chapter, we grow stronger, more connected, and ready to face the future, together. Whether you are new to Wikimedia’s technical world or an experienced contributor, your participation in our upcoming events can drive the change we envision for Wikimedia in Africa.
Following the recent enhancements from our hack-a-thon, the ISA Tool now stands ready to elevate our shared endeavor ! You are thus graciously summoned to partake in Wiki in Africa’s latest ISA campaign, a special tribute to women’s rights this month, March.

Let’s keep the momentum going and make each event a stepping stone towards a more empowered, collaborative, and innovative future.

Let’s keep the flame of knowledge burning bright, for Africa and for the world.

Read more

Can you help us translate this article?

In order for this article to reach as many people as possible we would like your help. Can you translate this article to get the message out?