Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why should we create many stubs on small wikipedias?

This is a crossposting - originally the following text comes out of an e-mail to Aphropohnewikis, a yahoo-group where you can talk and learn about the wikipedias in various African languages.

Let's consider: which stubs are those that invite most people to contribute? Well ... that will be different from one wikipedia to the other, but talking about wikipedias that need a low hurdle in order to allow people for participation we should consider the following things:
*generally people know something about their home town and neigbouring towns - so stubs on these town + the capitals + countries can invite to add information - if not: they would just be there waiting for someone to take up this project
*the almanac: people know the birthdays + dates when people died - presidents, authors, painters etc. - that is why you want to have the calendar pages immediately. Then take people there and have them add the dates .... this is where they have to write small texts, create a wiki link and automatically learn how to work on a wiki
*sport: in many countries of the world football (soccer) is one of the favourite sports ... stubs about the players and teams will invite to contribute

What we, from the small wikipedias, should try to understand: our first steps are not about getting immediately great articles - it is about getting people to start doing things - it is about teaching people how to work on a wiki. The calendar pages for example were the first articles I uploaded to nap wikipedia - almost immediately - not only to educate people - one year ago I had more problems with Neapolitan - so writing short entries was one way for me of learning. To day there are hardly any corrections to my entries - so it serves also to teach pople the language.

Don't take en.wikipedia and de.wikipedia as examples - they don't have many difficulties we have to cope with... think about what people can easily do and give them the possibility to do - create projects like: add the dates of all presidents - after that create another project - tell people about it in a newsletter - not only in a mailing list. Create a first page that changes often so that people want to look at it - and use the first page to send it out to people. Print the fist page an put it on notice boards etc.

People will only start to contribute if they find you ... if they don't know where you are and what you are doing, how can they help? Go outside the Wikipedia crowd, connect to people you would not even expect to read Wikipedia. Pass them info - if there are questions about a theme somewhere: answer the question on wikipedia and send people the link ... there are so many ways of doing things. Create a page of "please help to translate these articles" and pass it on to universities and people who could help ... even by working offline and sending the translations to you. Then attribute them and give them a copy of what they translated as pdf.

That is why I disagree with "we need first to have good articles and a community to create stubs" - why (we were working in two when I did this on nap - yes, I was criticised by some wikipedians, that doesn't matter: the nap.wikipedia is now read on an almost daily basis by many people in the world)? You want people to help and work: make it as easy as possible for them - don't expect them to start articles themselves - for newbies that is a very high hurdle to take.

Even in our very computerised world what is mostly needed is human interaction. People want to be taken by the hand ... maybe they need it even more than many years ago - and only we, the ones who know the projects, can do that - and yes: it takes time.
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