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Wikipedia Review: A summary on Wikimedian communities in Asia Pacific Region (Part I) 四月 30, 2016

Posted by springrollconan in 維基部, wiki.
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(This is translated from the Chinese version on the same blog which are published earlier. Sorry for grammatical mistakes. Feel free to point out mistakes, I’ll fix it.)

Recently Addis, a mainland Chinese Wikimedian resided in the USA, as well as Taiwanese Wikimedians Liang and Reke attended the Wikimedia Conference 2016 in Berlin, held talks with Asian Wikimedians from Indonesia, Korea, Thailand etc., and talked about WAM, Seasonal Newsletter and ESEA Conference with them. I’m particularly interested in Regional Conference (not for covert form of travel), as it is helpful for Wikimedians from the Asia Pacific region to share experience on community affairs, to complement each other and to plan for regional projects (due to time difference and differences in working hours there may be difficulties for Wikimedians from every country/region to discuss it online.) With the Wikimania reform, it may become an event to hold between two Wikimanias.

From what they discussed it should be a conference with 30-50 attendees with a scope as follow:

  • WMTW, WMID and WMPH (WMHK & WMMO is stagnated, so is excluded)
  • Usergroups in mainland China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines
  • Grassroot editors from Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore

Later they discussed with Ellie, the event manager of WMF. She suggested to extend the scope to Oceania.

People are essential for a conference. So please let me to introduce what’s going on about Wikimedians across the Asia Pacific region (except Hong Kong, which I’ll explain in another post later).

Pacific Islands
The representative of WMAU, Andrew, said to Liang and Reke that he can’t see any Wikipedian communities taking root in island nations of Oceania due to poor network services there.

Australia
Australia is the only Oceanian state with a Wikimedia chapter by Apr 2016. There’s a vital community, meetups are held quite frequently. From Andrew I know that Australia Wikimedians can be divided geographically as those from the East (like Melbourne) and those from WA (Perth). Perth community once bid for Wikimania 2017, but the WMF gifted the holding rights to Montreal. There’s a possibility that the chapter will be divided as two local usergroups (though from experiences abroad local chapters can co-exist with national chapters).

Cambodia
I once met with Vantharith, a Khmer Wikipedian in Wikimania 2013. We talked about what happened in the Cambodian community. What I wrote on FB was:

Here is Vantharith Oum, the Cambodian Wikipedian I met after the Wikimedia Asia meeting on Aug. 10th. He is also the man-in-charge of the Khmer Wikipedia Official Blog. On the meetup day, we walked together and talked about the situation of Khmer Wikipedia: The Cambodian Wiki-community is comparatively small, as there are not too many people in Cambodia (I think the geographic-economic situation in Cambodia can be another cause of the situation). We exchanged our Facebook a day after, and the picture is taken at that day.

Later developments is unknown to me due to language barriers, but I once called for importation of the Khmer version of the book The Customs of Cambodia (though I don’t know how it went on). They participated in discussions on ESEA meetup last year.

Myanmar
I met with Burmese Wikipedian Mg Sun on the same occasion and talked with him about what’s happening in the Burmese community. What I wrote on FB was:

Most of the Wikipedians in Myanmar are from Yangon or Mandalay. Some are from Naypyitaw, which is having the best Net service in the state. The most controversial articles in Burmese Wikipedia are about the former military junta, but they will not argue with this. Instead, they will set down the controversy by discussion – they have connections with each other.

By then the USDP was still the ruling party. Since then there are Wikimedia meetups in Myanmar, but what happened later is also unknown due to language barriers.

Taiwan
Taiwan has a Wikimedia chapter which is the only functioning chapter in East Asia. It once faced crisis after Wikimania 2007, but revived later and launched a project named Wikiseeds of Taiwan Knowledge. With the project the chapter imported a Taiwanese Hokkien dictionary, held several Wikipedia meetups for women and took photos of new legislators in Taiwan. There’re media coverages on it – once I read an interview with Reke on a Taiwanese newspaper in a community library. So we can say that this is useful in promotion and building of Wikimedia projects. There’re also Wikimedia communities in some counties/cities of Taiwan, like Kaohsiung, Taichung, and more recently Hsinchu. Taichung Wikipedians’ attempt to hold collaborative meetups (different from editathon), and attempts to push forward projects on hydroelectricity and spoken articles by their Hsinchu counterparts are interesting. At present Taiwanese Wikipedians maintained a Facebook group (I thought that it is comprised of the good, bad and ugly), some others are on IRC chatrooms.

mainland China
There’s a user group in mainland China, which Addis proposed to set up in Wikimania 2013. Before that Addis already secured funds from the WMF to make use of social networking sites for promotion of Wikipedia in mainland China. (Though the Weibo account is now stagnated, and the twitter account is flooded with main page contents.) The user group also organised activities like a photography contest called “Run Run Shaw Hall besides you", “Wiki Love Monuments" campaign, “Youdao Babel Translation Project" and the Asian Month. Some still require fundings from the WMF, though in a far smaller amount, if compared with their Far East counterparts (check it in Meta). But it still trigger controversies in the Teahouse of the Chinese Wikipedia, even if those complaints are groundless.

Outside the group there’re plenty of Wikipedians stationed in QQ, a popular instant chat software in mainland China. Members in QQ chatrooms bear the word “Wikipedia" are not necessarily Wikipedians, Wikipedia users inside are not completely in a loose relationship, some can be grouped by their clear and staunch stand and belief. Those chatrooms are also comprised of the good, bad and ugly, but besides the bad, there’re still outstanding editors and sysops rising from this poor environment.

Peking now has Wikipedia blocked, though Wikipedians in mainland China can still work there with their own way of access. Both the user group and Wikipedians using QQ hold community events, but not on a regular basis. Both groups are said having a bitter moment, which I’m sorry that no investigation reporting can be provided.

Indonesia
There’s a Wikimedia chapter in Indonesia, in recent years they focused on cultural preservation (like book digitalization), development of small-scale communities for Wikipedia in Indonesian regional languages and interactions with Wikidata developers’ community. They are pioneers in co-operation between regional Wikimedia communities, once invited Liang to visit Indonesia and their chapter, and initiated proposal for a regional conference. (For this part I’m not confident on what I’ve written.) Wikimedians’ activities in Indonesia is vital, in Indonesian Wikipedia they have a good practice by putting informations on meet-ups and current theme of weekly collaboration project to the main page. Unlike Hong Kong, this may prevent a rift between grassroot editors and outreach team to come into being. But some complained the edition review process there is keep delaying, stopping newcomers from having amendments done to articles.

Japan
There’s a user group in Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, etc.) of Japan. Wikipedians in Japan are proactive, they held activities like a meeting with Lila Tretikov and WP15 celebrations. They co-sponsored the Asian Month too (I once received a postcard from them!) Japanese Wikipedia just passed the milestone of having a million articles. One of my colleagues said that they have better articles focused on Western history, geography and academic theories than Chinese Wikipedia. Even that’s being said almost a decade ago, now I still consider this claim valid .

(To be continued…)

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