Annual Report 2021/Story: Trio of ambassadors in WikiGap

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In this Story we are focusing on the first attempt ever to kick off the WikiGap Campaign with a global WikiGap event. With almost 70 participants, and more than 200 content pages created or improved, the event, which was opened by speeches from three Swedish women diplomats, was one of the most successful WikiGap events we have organized so far.

Slides for WikiGap 2021 Global Kickoff.

The COVID-19 pandemic remained a big obstacle for organizing WikiGap events in 2021, as the campaign historically has had a heavy focus on physical events. With this in mind, we wanted to support the global WikiGap organizers with the short-term transition to a virtual campaign. As a way of doing this, we decided to organize a global, virtual kick-off event.

We teamed up with competent partners: Wikimedia in Washington D.C. joined and supported with the organizing of an English-language virtual editathon; the Swedish Embassy to Washington D.C., the Swedish Representation to the United Nations and the Swedish Consulate General in New York all joined in and helped with communication and logistics. Our goal was to encourage and support virtual WikiGap editathons, show how a WikiGap event can be organized virtually in practice, and, finally, to provide a meaningful event in a difficult time.

A substantial amount of time was put into preparations for the event, and all three top diplomats – the Swedish ambassador to the United States, the Swedish permanent representative to the United Nations, and the Swedish honorary consul in New York – opened the event together with an speech. As all of them are female, it was also a declaration of equality in itself.

A staff member at Wikimedia D.C. gave an extensive introduction on how to edit English Wikipedia with the Visual Editor. The purpose of this introduction was twofold: partly to show a global audience how to, in the easiest way possible, create new articles on English Wikipedia, and partly to show WikiGap organizers globally a good way of introducing Wikipedia to beginners. More than half of the participants took part in this introduction. The other half were able to start writing immediately, as the event was divided up, virtually, into different rooms.

The event in itself became a hallmark of the WikiGap Campaign in 2021. Several participants also reached out to us afterwards, and said that it was one of the first global editathons they had taken part of, and that they wished to see more possibilities of engaging and taking part in Wikimedia events on a global level in the future, and not only locally or nationally.

Hopefully, we can use this insight to continue to provide the global Wikimedia movement with meaningful activities, during the pandemic and onwards. We are also hoping that the launch event for WikiGap will be an event that will tour different continents and by doing so create even more visibility and engagement in the campaign.