Erik reported some good news to foundation-l recently: WikiEducator has won a grant of US$100,000 for ‘‘the Learning4Content project to assist in building capacity in MediaWiki editing skills for at least 2500 educators in 52 countries of the Commonwealth’‘.
I’m not very familiar with WikiEducator, but they look like WMF might if you dragged everyone away from their computers. I imagine they overlap a fair bit. Maybe it’s like: WMF is all about the content creation, and WikiEducator is about the content distribution.
The full Learning4Content proposal is here.
Luckily Erik has got in their ear – they only want to use CC-BY or CC-BY-SA. :D (see section G)
One of the outcomes is ‘‘The establishment of a community of free content developers.’‘ (I think they mean developers as in editors, rather than coders.) But the main activity that seems like it will lead to this is ‘‘Develop tutorials for Wiki editing[…]’‘ which is reflected in the summary as “MediaWiki editing skills”.
So, what’s hard about Wikipedia? Is it just learning how to use MediaWiki? I don’t think so. That is just the first step, and for the computer-literate, one that is soon passed.
- Learning the appropriate attitudes and practices between authors and content:
- No ownership. (Wikipedia probably has the most aggressively anti-ownership attitude of any wiki I’ve seen. I really like it, but it can be confronting.)
- You can contribute by making small edits. You don’t have to submit a completed article ready for FAC. Everything is a work in progress.
- Be bold. This was hard for me to learn. For the first few weeks I hung around reading and re-reading policy pages and talk pages in the hope of avoiding possibly offending anyone or getting anything wrong. I made suggestions on talk pages instead of just putting the edits in (and they were mundane things). Luckily someone communicated to me that I should really take “Be bold” seriously, and I did. :)
Maybe what is really confronting about “be bold” (aside from the potential of causing conflict) is its connection to Sapere aude, a phrase I just learned thanks to Wikipedia. It is Latin: ‘’“Dare to know” or “Dare to be wise”, or sometimes translated as “Have courage to use your own reason”’‘. It is the act of giving everyone equally the encouragement and space to speak with authority. You can write history: be bold. Believe that it is just as legitimate for you to write it as anyone else. Once one is ingrained in Wikimedia culture I think one forgets how confronting this is to the status quo, where authority is a heavy tome with dusty pages, or a broadsheet with a Gothic script. I think it is this aspect of Wikimedian culture that earns it the tags “democracy” or “revolution”, although I don’t know of any policy or guideline that states this attitude explicitly. It is just part of the wallpaper, part of the building, part of the atmosphere.
- Learning attitudes and practices between contributors:
- Consensus. (Mainly “Consensus can include times when you personally disagree.”)
- Assume good faith: easy to parrot, hard to live.
- “It’s OK to disagree”. Something else that I don’t know of a neat guideline for, but it follows from “Be bold” and “Consensus” (if everyone just disagreed, you wouldn’t need either).
- Learning the community attitude towards content:
- Neutral point of view. Although it’s possible to edit for a long time and not interact with others, you’d have to either consciously practice NPOV in the first place (which means you “get it”), or else edit incredibly, incredibly esoteric topics. (Topics that are merely “incredibly esoteric” may well have their followers in Wikipedia already.) Confronting what NPOV means on a topic that is dear to your heart is not easy. Some people never get it.
- Wikipedia is free content. You’re welcome to package it up however you like and even sell it. No, really. (This is another thing that is stated more indirectly than directly: there is Wikipedia:Non-free content but no “Wikipedia:Free content”. Or even a “WP:IS”. ;) [This point is perhaps the one that is least-well taught and even known among existing community members.]
Although I’ve talked about Wikipedia, these points all apply to all Wikimedia projects, with the possible exception of NPOV.
So I wonder, what else is essential to the Wikimedian culture? Is anything here superfluous?
How well are we doing at sharing these as our values? (Especially given half of them are not explicitly stated)
I wonder if WikiEducator will cover these kinds of things?