Talks about Wikipedia (Caracas, Venezuela)
|Salón de Estrategia|
Resources: Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20
Spanish version: Tertulia sobre Wikipedia (Caracas, Venezuela)
In order to imagine the future of free knowledge in the framework of the Wikimedia 2030 process, the Venezuelan community of Wikimedia met in a strategy room held in Caracas on July 25, 2019.
25th july meetingEdit
- Place: Biblioteca de la Universidad Central de Venezuela
- Time : 9 h-11.30 h & 13 h-16:00h
- 10 participants (morning)
- 22 participants (afternoon)
The objective of the gathering was to exchange ideas about Wikipedia in Venezuela, focused on two thematic axes in the framework of the strategic direction of the Wikimedia movement, the Capacity Building, and Advocacy. It was moderated by Oscar Costero, president of the Civil Association Wikimedia Venezuela.
Puntos de discusiónEdit
Main questions that guided the discussion:
- P1 - In the political context of the country, and the censorship of which Wikipedia was subject earlier this year, what activities can be carried out around free knowledge and the edition of Wikimedia platforms? Does editing Wikipedia put us at risk?
- P2 - What tools or skills do volunteers in Venezuela need to overcome the various obstacles that arise when editing on Wikipedia and carrying out the activities described above?
In the political context of the country, and the censorship of which Wikipedia was subject earlier this year, what activities can be carried out around free knowledge and the edition of Wikimedia platforms? Does editing Wikipedia put us at risk?:Edit
- Activities around the policy of Venezuela or human rights puts us at risk by institutions that monitor the performance of these activities.
- A greater communication effort is needed to explain the principles of the encyclopedia, specifically the neutral point of view, the consensus and the verifiability of the information.
- Censorship, unlike detracting credibility from the encyclopedia, Placed Wikipedia as a fundamental web page from an informational and educational point of view.
- It is necessary to protect the anonymity of volunteers who edit on controversial issues, they are now adrift and do not have support when any of them is involved in a problem with the authorities.
- It is necessary to enable the possibility of editing through the TOR Network and VPNs without major restrictions on Wikimedia projects, during the blocking to Wikipedia it was almost impossible to edit due to the various restrictions designed for puppet abuse, that aren't adapted to countries like ours who need access through these tools.
- If the possibility of doing physical activities is very risky, distance activities can be carried out, with necessary security controls.
- Right now no volunteer has shown any fear to edit Wikipedia due to the aforementioned problems, but there was a consensus to be more cautious when leaving data or information on Wikipedia that could identify them in their real lives or their jobs.
- If there is still possible to go to media advertising, should attempt to show the reality of how Wikipedia works, always focusing on the difference between the publishing community and the volunteers who live in the civil association.
- Testimonies about how Wikipedia has improved the lives of different people from different parts of the country could make a difference when the projects suffer attacks by the government, feeling that a blockade affects the entire population and not only To a group of people.
What tools or skills do volunteers in Venezuela need to overcome the various obstacles that arise when editing on Wikipedia and carrying out the activities described above?Edit
- The problem of volunteering in Venezuela is real and not only affects Wikimedia Venezuela
- Most people are too worried about their own subsistance, so any activity of this type (unpaid and that may take time away from work activities) is not so attractive
- It is necessary to think about the possibility of remunerating volunteers for activities that in the past were carried out ad-honorem, such as training in Wikipedia and the administration activities of a civil association.
- So that volunteers do not feel they are on an island, it is vital to build bridges with associations or groups that are doing related activities, so that connections that bring benefits and common alliances can be achieved.
- Not only tools are needed to keep volunteers motivated, but to make them see the true gain of contributing to Wikipedia, which is to provide the possibility that access to all kinds of knowledge is free.
- The volunteers that make Wikimedia Venezuela possible, right know are planning to leave the country or have already left, so training new volunteers to form leadership positions within the organization becomes more complicated as the months go by.
- There is a need that the community in the diaspora can support the training of new volunteers and provide them with tools to continue giving workshops in the country.
- There is another problem related with failures in the country's infrastructure, especially access to the Internet and electricity, so financing efforts have to be associated to alleviate these failures and adapt when doing trainings
- Another objective should be to make tutorial videos, not only for editing, but also for how to dictate and organize activities, so that they can be retaken by other volunteers in the future.
- The clear and unrestricted support of the global and regional movement is needed to move forward the country's activities, right now there is a feeling that the volunteers are alone in the face of the blockades and censures applied by the government.
The discussion was divided into two parts, the first part focused on discussing the challenges of accessing Wikipedia in the country, and the other segment was used to discuss the capabilities and tools needed to try to solve the challenges presented. The history of Wikipedia activities in the country was presented by Oscar Costero, president of Wikimedia Venezuela, including the editions and workshops of editions that have been held regularly since 2015, and photography competitions and other informal meetings.
The most important point of the talk was the absence of volunteers to carry out awareness and training activities in the country, the consensus is that the conditions are not given so that all people can dedicate volunteer time to activities of this type, and only a small portion of the population can cope with this complicated economic context. In this sense, the possibility of remunerating the time of the volunteers was proposed, as do other social organizations in the country, and also to look for possible volunteers in other spaces outside the computer world.
The censorship of Wikipedia represented another meeting point among those attending the talk, leaving aside the political issue, the consensus was that the action was arbitrary and was triggered by an ignorance of how Wikipedia's policies and conventions work. The need to have a coherent communication strategy to explain to the population the main Wikipedia policies and to make testimonials of volunteers who spend their time improving the encyclopedia was discussed, so that the weight of Wikipedia returning to be subject to an attack is less in the future.
Finally, they insisted on continuing strategy discussions and including voices that were not at the table, including indigenous communities. The next steps were also discussed in relation to training workshops and other initiatives for free knowledge such as virtual classrooms and online contests, both in programming for the next six months by the hand of the civil association.