Communication Projects Group/Projects/Success stories - how has Wikimedia changed your life?

The Wikimedia Foundation wants to hear from you! If you know of somewhere that any Wikimedia project is being put to good use, or if you have been positively affected by a project, we would like you to tell us about it here. For example, have you used Wikiversity or Wikibooks to learn a new language or skill? Do you know of particularly good use of Wikipedia in an educational environment? Whatever it is, we want to know, especially if it relates to any of our smaller projects and languages. Thank you in advance for sharing your experiences, and helping others to learn about what our projects can offer to the world. Click here to add a comment - feel free to add pictures if they help to explain your point.

Here are some of the things we want to hear about:

  • Your involvement in a project helping you in real life, for example
  • Meeting new people
  • Getting to grips with new ideas
  • Developing new skills
  • A project helping others in real life
  • Why you find yourself editing
  • What you enjoy
  • What policies guide you
  • How you use the projects

In the future, we would like the press to be able to look at this page and see what's so good about our projects. Please bear this in mind when composing your stories, and it would be helpful if you could release your edit to this page to the public domain by making a note of such an intention by placing it in comment tags at the end of your piece, or leaving a note in your edit summary. Again, thank you for your involvement.

Cancer babies


I have a child who was born with a rare medical condition, a teratoma. I began reading English Wikipedia while searching for technical information relevant to my child's condition. It was by following links to other topics on Wikipedia that I learned a teratoma is a kind of cancer. By following interwiki links to other language wikipedia, I discovered the existence of a clinical research consortium in Germany that leads the world in knowledge about teratoma. I found much information that I needed on Wikipedia, and much elsewhere too. My notes grew and grew. Then one day I began to edit wikipedia pages as a means of organizing my notes. Then I helped to found a support group for parents of babies and children with teratoma and other kinds of germ cell tumor, TFD. On TFD we can now answer some frequently asked technical questions by referring to specific wikipedia pages, and less frequently asked questions drive further edits of wikipedia pages. TFD is multilingual and, following wikipedia's example, we are learning to use and some of us are even learning to provide expert language translation services. Our vocabulary is highly technical, hence not profitable for most translators, but we are motivated to learn deeply about this narrow topic. Someday soon I hope to start hosting wikipedia editing and translating parties, to work on pages of special interest to us.

--Una Smith, PhD, June 2007

Addendum: That teratoma is a kind of cancer is a fact often not fully understood by surgeons and parents, sometimes with tragic consequences. The teratoma can grow back, it can grow highly malignant, and it can maim and kill, yet it is easily cured if detected in time. Follow up care by a pediatric oncologist is mandatory, yet even in the United States many babies do not get this care. My baby was one of them, until thanks to Wikipedia I learned better. I have now made over 2000 edits on the English Wikipedia and on dozens of other language Wikipedia. On parent support groups I have seen other parents recommend Wikipedia articles that I edited, and that is incredibly rewarding and humbling for me.

--Una Smith, PhD, January 2008

Online Research


I find the Wikimedia Foundation projects, particularly Wikipedia, very useful starting points for online research. Useful enough that Wikipedia is now typically my initial starting for most subjects rather than a search engine. 08:55, 13 April 2007 23:50, 19 April 2007 (UTC)


I now know FAR too much to be legal about various copyrighteries (Life and 50/70, US non-registered/renewed, PD-23, PD-09, PD-Federal, etc, etc.).

Certainly changed my life...


I spend part of my free time each day revising and expanding Wikipedia's coverage of dinosaurs, working within Wikipedia:WikiProject Dinosaurs. My work editing Wikipedia's dinosaur images helped me land a more lucrative job.

I spend some of my free time reverting the tons of vandalism, cruft, and creationist additions that Wikipedia's 1,000 dinosaur articles receive on a daily basis. Firsfron 17:39, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Educational Application


I am a middle school teacher of technology and computer skills. At various times throughout the school year, my students participate in Internet-based research exercises where they actively and systematically evaluate the information they find from online resources.

Among many other issues, we have discussed Wikipedia extensively. I do not subscribe to the idea that Wikipedia should be banned in schools [1]. Rather, I think the philosophy that underlies Wikipedia, and all the other MediaWiki-based web resources, gives me an opportunity to discuss with my students how information per se can be evaluated for accuracy, recency, and completeness. Also, my students have come to understand that, while allowing anyone to edit any page on Wikipedia can have some obvious disadvantages, one of the huge advantages is that Wikipedia is currently, by far, the most comprehensive encyclopedia ever created. And, it is totally free to anyone with an Internet connection.

Currently, I am supervising a grade eight student who is installing and setting up a dedicated MediaWiki server in the school. I will use the server to teach Wikipedia-style article editing skills to my students next year. I will try to write here again later this year with more about how that project is going. Katalaveno 01:14, 25 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

High School Success


I used Wikipedia extensively when writing several papers for my high school classes including Freshman year biology. After my freshman year, I was asked to move all the way up to College biology because of the knowledge, versatility and writing skills I had shown in my papers. I believe some of that success is only due to Wikipedia and its subsidiaries. Without it, I would not have even achieved such an honor of only being a second year high school student and being placed in a post-secondary school science class. I have now finished that class with honors as well and have even received the highest possible grade achievable in that class. User:B.D.Naran 10:58, 03 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Wikimedia projects and Wikia ones are very helpful indeed


I use them:

  • to enrich my knowledge
  • to specify on topics
  • to make life easier
  • to help others
  • to be creative
  • to have fun and a good laugh

Some wiki(a)s I frequently use:

  • The Alternate History Wikia
  • The Almeopedia
  • The English such as the German Uncyclopedia
  • Wikipedia (de, en) - also to read community and discussion pages
  • Wikibooks (de, en) - ´´
  • Wikisource (´´) - ´´
  • Wikiquote (´´) - ´´
  • Wikispecies - ´´
  • Commons - ´´
  • Metawiki - ´´
  • Wikinews - ´´

(note: they are not sorted at all, I use them equally frequently)

Very seldomly I edit, if I do so then on community pages, in discussions, to help translating (or similar things) or to give my opinion (just as here).-- 18:21, 5 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]

4th Grade Education


I just wanted to relate something that I think shows the power of a Wiki in general and Wikipedia particularly.

My son, in 4th grade here in California, was assigned a research report on the California Gold Rush and decided to focus his report on the different routes taken by the 49ers. He used a variety of different resources and particularly used the California Gold Rush Historic Maps from the David Rumsey Map Collection. There is one map in particular that has an incredible description written in 1849 of the different routes: Map of the Gold Regions of California, Showing the Routes via Chagres and Panama, Cape Horn, &c. If you are into maps, this is a fun one to drill down on to see the description.

Of course, my son read the Wikipedia California Gold Rush page (it comes up first in Google). It had a paragraph on the routes, but it didn't include the route through Mexico. It did point us to a detailed article on the California Trail. Because it was rather limited about the routes, my son added a sentence about the route through Mexico and added the Map to the Wikimedia Commons and added the map to the article and added a link to the collection of maps on the topic.

Now 4th graders doing the same project will be able to find that same wonderful primary source.

It's actually somewhat rare that a 4th grader has a primary source like the map, so it's quite a nice little legacy to leave behind. Actually, I don't remember having anything as cool as that to study when I was in school. It's quite remarkable when I think about it.

And it shows the beauty of a Wiki and Wikipedia.

Tony Karrer, Ph.D.

News about Yoruba wikipedia on Radio


News about the Yoruba wikipedia was broadcast on Radio today (11th June, 2007) at Orisun FM Radio, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Both Prof Isola and Prof Adewole who commented on the wikipedia were of the opinion that now that many Yoruba students are used to the internet, a wikipedia written in Yoruba will encourage them to develp more interest in the language.

L.O. Adewole

Catalan wikipedia


Catalonia's Department of Education has begun a project to promote Wikipedia at school, so students can create content as they learn together. The project is still teching teachers, but it will improve quantity and quality of wikipedia's articles. Surely, it will changed a bit students' life, because they will be able to create knowledge, work together in a collaborative way and learn from the community, while they improve their linguistic skills

A short list


Since I began editing Wikipedia, I've learned to write much better and more easily, I think. I've also learned to do serious, independent research and use the information I find in an academic work with scholarly value, citing everything properly. Lastly, I sometimes feel that 20% of everything I know I learned reading Wikipedia. -- Rmrfstar 14:26, 19 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]



This project is long over due and is pertinantly essential for the times.

The online encyclopedia (wikipedia) has helped students and busy families gather information to continue their edudation. Youths have been able to share knowledge in groups, keeping them from being out on the street using drugs and committing crime.

To have free education (wikiversity) available can only bring out the best in humanity. If one person loses out on the chance to reach their full potential, then all of society loses the benefits of what that individual could've achieved.

When a compelling story is televised, it inspires others. They find their own way to pass on good will. Seeing a story as a movie allows people to realise they are not alone in their struggles. It lets us laugh, gives us ideas, and through continual understanding along life's path, gives up peace of mind. -Rhiannon Arthur

Love and Wikimedia


Short version
Girl editor meets boy editor, girl falls in love with boy, and they live nerdily ever after.

Long version
I first discovered Wikipedia sometime in 2003, as a Grade 9 student, but it wasn't until 2005 that I decided to contribute to the project that had helped me with so many school assignments. I began editing Wikipedia on June 2005. Although it was tough at first, I gradually learned the ins and outs of editing.

One of the first users I remember noticing was one by the name of Pathoschild. I noted (happily) that he was Canadian. Although he had begun seriously editing roughly three months after me, he seemed to be so much better at it. I was mildly jealous, and wished I was as quick a learner as he.

Sometime in October of that year, I discovered the Wikimedia IRC channels. Of interest to me was the countervandalism channel which had just been set up. Pathoschild had discovered it too; we both began hanging out in #wikipedia-en-vandalism (now #vandalism-en-wp). As with editing, Pathoschild easily mastered IRC.

One of the first things I noticed was that he was very helpful and polite. We have both forgotten what our first words were to each other, but he says that he asked a question and I gave him a polite answer. Much to my surprise, I was recruited to be a staff member for the channel. Pathoschild was as well, which did not surprise me.

As the months wore on, we became friendlier towards each other. Pathoschild had begun editing Wikisource as well, and the day he nominated himself for adminship, I followed him there. On my first day of editing Wikisource, I cleared the category of texts needing to be split up. Pathoschild was very helpful, answering all my questions and never criticizing me for making mistakes. For my efforts, he gave me a "Golden O_O award".

Sadly, we both became more and more depressed as the year progressed. I had noticed a change in his mood, but I was too scared to say anything. He had completely lost interest in his college program, and I had stopped caring about everything. I would talk to him during my free time at school, and when I felt overwhelmed at home. Later, he told me that I was a "friendly glimmer in my otherwise bleak worldview, a welcome solace to pressing loneliness".

In July, I went away to attend a French immersion program. Without regular Internet access, my editing and IRC time were severely diminished. I found myself thinking more and more about Pathoschild. At first I was confused: Why was I thinking so much about someone I didn't even know in real life? Eventually, I realized that if I missed him so much, I must have feelings for him.

On the rare occasion that I could get online, I tried giving him hints. Even when I had kissed him goodbye, he didn’t associate my hints with my feelings. I thought he was rather thick.

When the immersion program was over, I returned home. I decided I would make more of an effort to get to know him. It was about a month after I had returned that I managed to tell him that I liked him. I was nervous, scared, and afraid that he would reject me. I was ecstatic to learn he liked me too, although probably not the same way I liked him.

Shortly afterwards, I was given access to OTRS. Since Pathoschild had been an OTRS agent for some time, I turned to him for help. As always, he patiently answered my questions, gave me advice, and encouraged me. Ironically, it took spending time together online outside of Wikimedia for us to fall in love. Nevertheless, it probably would not have happened if we had not gotten to know each other as editors.

At the end of the year, the steward elections were announced. Pathoschild decided he would run; I thought he was perfect for the job. I was flattered when he told me I should run too, but I didn’t think I had much to offer. I wasn’t multilingual, I wasn’t a regular on Meta, and I certainly wasn’t as talented and editor as he. After some coaxing, he convinced me to run. In the end, we both became stewards.

In my school life, I was having a very hard time. Unbeknownst to me, I was suffering from depression. I hid it from Pathoschild at first, but eventually I summoned up the courage to tell him what was happening. I was sure he would reject me. He didn’t.

As my depression worsened, I began doing badly in school. I was convinced I was stupid, and that I did not belong in university. I would insist that I was dumb, fat, ugly, and worthless. Every time I did, Pathoschild would tell me that I was not, and that he loved me no matter what I looked like.

It was a long time before I sought help, and even longer before I was diagnosed. Once that happened, though, things became much better. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done it without him.

We met on August 18, 2007. Everything went wonderfully. Meeting your love on an online encyclopedia is unusual, to say the least, but I couldn’t be happier.

Although we edit a lot less nowadays, many a nerdy romantic evening is spent clearing steward backlogs, discussing copyright, and looking forward to attending Wikimania together.

If we ever get married, all Wikimedians are invited. ;) Shanel 21:13, 2 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Teaching Chemistry students via Wikipedia

Reflux condensers

I am a professional chemist working in Polish Academy of Sciences. Among others my duty is to teach Ph.D. students both theoretically and practically. On average people who just finish their university education have some basic theoretical knowledge, but very little practice. For example: they know what is distillation and they can even write some mathematical formulas describing it, but they don't now how to construct proper distillation apparatus from glassware available in the lab. They have even problems how to name pieces of this glassware - what the hell the difference between Alihn and West condenser, and which is which?. There is very little literature in Polish about chemical glassware. Therefore I used Wikipedia to write around 50 articles describing typical pieces of glassware. It was written in such a manner that if my student asked me "what is this" - I use to ask him/her to make a picture of it - send it do Wikipedia, and then I was writing an article about it. The set of articles were written around 2005. They started to live on their own - one can find the pictures and text from these articles on many webpages created by enthusiast chemists. Moreover - they were printed as a "Wikipedia's glassware guide" by Technical University of Lodz as a kind of handbook.

In 2007 I started to teach new 2 Ph.D. students. It was really funny that they discovered the real pieces of glassware in my lab, exactly the same, which they saw earlier in Wikipedia and Technical University handbook :-).

Anyway, there are still some more articles to write about glassware, so I am going to use my current students to write it in the same way as those from 2005 :-)

Polimerek 12:46, 8 October 2007 (UTC)[reply]

--Homework-- Most people at my school do homework with wikipedia, really, teachers say some of the sorces are unreliable, but there are so many differant sorces on wiki's & wikipedia that you just have to find them reliable.

By Abbey1995

Ethical accountability


The day-to-day practices of governance displayed by the Wikimedia Foundation have inspired me to learn more about ethical accountability issues, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, self-dealing, expense reimbursement policies, and transparency. Truth be told, I have informed myself of these areas outside of Wikimedia resources, but the inspiration without question came from the WMF. As such, I have become a more informed person about issues that never sparked my interest in this way. -- Thekohser 20:40, 13 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Something to do


It's given me something to do while I remain in my parents' basement. --NE2 01:40, 14 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]

[edit] Oh wow, nice necro, Greg. --NE2 01:42, 14 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]