We have now a Klexikon page on Meta Wiki which collects information in English. Many people at Wikimania had questions about this ‘Wikipedia for children’, and some even want to start one in their own language.
Next week starts Wikimania, the annual main conference on Wikipedia, in Ciudad de Mexico. I have the privilege to represent Wikimedia Nederland again. This time, my focus will be on education and the question how does a wiki work – what can we improve in Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Movement.
The Wikimedia Movement has seen quite some friction on last year’s Wikimania, in London. On the one hand, the movement does well, with a uberpopular website and lots of donations. On the other, the number of contributors to Wikipedia is still declining, in spite of all efforts. Also the number of readers is not a fixed given or only growing.
The Klexikon is progressing: in July, it saw its 750th article. Given that each and every one of them consists of several paragraphs and meets our general requirements, that is quite an achievement. Many printed children encyclopedias have only some hundred or maybe 1000 or 1500 articles.
Temporarily, the readership did not grow much. We saw that most readers the Klexikon has on school days, and much less in the weekend. Also, the recent very sunny days seem to make playing outdoors more attractive than browsing the Internet. That’s great! So it is surprising that this Monday the wiki attracted more readers again.
(Picture: With Michael Schulte at the university of Dortmund, June 2015 (second from the right: Michael Beißwenger). We had a Klexikon presentation and workshop to find out how to cooperate in future.)
An unpleasant finding: It seems that a winning picture of Wiki Loves Earth was manipulated in a inappropriate way. A Wikipedia user noticed some unusual elements of the picture winning 5th rank.
At the talk page of the ‘Kurier’ of German Wikipedia, user:Sitacuisses presented his thoughts on a picture called ‘Frühjahr im Dorumer Moor’. A nice landscape photo, but with geese flying suspiciously low over the bog. Two storks sit in the bog looking overly perfect. The sun is shining bright, but does not have to do much with the shadows of the trees.
These elements were likely photoshopped into the frame, although the terms of participation prohibit strong photo editing.
The problem of such a photo competition is that we want a lot of (new) people to come to a Wikimedia wiki (Wikimedia Commons) and contribute in their way. All pictures are contest contributions and have to be examined by the jury. A lot of work, and obviously sometimes a frame slips through that shouldn’t have.
The users of German Wikipedia discuss now what the consequences might be, also for the WLE competition of next year.
Our project Klexikon, the wiki encyclopedia for children has now more than 350 articles. This is not much, but the growth is sustainable and the articles are real articles worth reading (even if they are not always long).
The project ‘A report on a free encyclopedia for children’ is approaching its end. Wikimedia Deutschland asked us to write such a report, based also on our experiences with the actual wiki. It should appear at the end of March or a little later. Nevertheless, the Klexikon wiki will go on.
Recently I have again looked at a greater number of wikis other than Wikipedia. It struck me that one peticular question is often difficult to answer: what did the makers expect?
Obviously, the founders or owners of a wiki have not always clear goals. They sure have a ‘project scope’ that defines what content is desired and who is the target group. But I rarely see objectives, or often the objectives are hardly clearer than the general scope.
Or I see objectives in the form of ‘milestones’, with regard to some statistical marks. You want your wiki to have 1000 articles? Why? And what articles are we talking about? Quality articles that make your readers happy, or ‘articles’ of any kind, with the minimal definition ‘article = page in the article name space’?
An old joke says:
A politician talks about the goal he can already see at the horizon. Someone looks up the word in the dictionary: Horizon. An imaginary line. When you try to approach it, it will move away from you with the same speed.
If you constantly expand your scope, your goal will be like a horizon. Possibly, a wiki can make its contributors and readers much more happy with a limited scope and with realistic goals.
Since January 6th, 2015, the Klexikon has more than 100 articles. This is a nice start for a children’s encyclopedia that exists only for one month. Also, the articles are really nice, due to a peticular article creation process.
On Wikipedia, if a new article is created, what follows? If it is a decent article, you will possibly receive no or little response. As someone said: ‘Be happy, if at least nobody complains.’ Or, more likely if you are a newcomer: your article will be deleted immediately, or nominated for deletion, or anyway you will meet a lot of negative feedback.
The Klexikon is different. Articles, from a given expandable list, are first created as drafts in a draft name space. It is public, but not immediately a part of the encyclopedia. People can work on it collaboratively, it may take a day, a couple of days or a week. Taking away tempo out of the process means taking away a lot of stress.
If three collaborators find the draft okay, it can be moved to the article name space. This is a positive experience for the creator, right at the start of the article’s existence. Also, the creator has a motive to deliver a good draft and improve it, because he/she wishes it to become an article.
The result is that our more than 100 articles are looking good and meet a basic standard. Klexikon articles should be easy to understand and suitable for children.
If you are impressed or totally unimpressed, or would like to join, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org