Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2012, Almaty: Chapters and Walks in the Park

Wikimedia Chapters – how to organize Wikipedians better and do cool things

At the Turkic Wikimedia Conference 2012 my second talk was about local Wikimedia chapters. That is a somewhat surprising topic, because chapters are separate from the Foundation, which I came to represent, but apparently there was great demand for it among the participants: The organizers asked me to do this a few days before the conference, and in the opening mingling before the actual conference program started people from Azerbaijan, Turkey and other countries asked me about this. So it was clear to me that such a talk would have value and that it can contribute to the development of the local communities.

To make sure that people from Turkey would understand me, I wrote bilingual Russian and English slides. I explained what chapters are (and what they aren’t), what they do, and how they are funded. I also added a few colorful slides from a presentation about the chapters’ activities, which Lodewijk Gelauff made in Wikimania 2011 in Haifa (thank you so much, Lodewijk).

People in the audience asked whether it’s possible to have a local chapter in a country that already has a national chapter – something that is very relevant to Russia, which is the biggest country in the world and which has many regions with diverse cultures. I replied that it’s basically possible (see Wikimedia New York City), but should be discussed with the Foundation and the national chapter. People also asked about funding – how “non-profit” must a chapter be? Can it, for example, provide services that are related to the Wikimedia mission for a fee and use the income only to advance the same mission? I am not a lawyer but it may be possible. It is also something that should be discussed with the Foundation and that it also depends on the laws pertaining to non-profit organizations of each country.

Walking in the park, talking about… software localization

The monument in the Panfilovtsy park in Almary. It's very Soviet, but mostly in a good way.

The monument in the Panfilovtsy park in Almary. It's very Soviet, but mostly in a good way. Photo by Roman Plischke, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

In the evening of the first day I had a walk in the Panfilovtsy park with several participants and had very interesting talks about Open Science and about software localization. I was very pleasantly surprised by the fact that people in Kyrgyzstan are so well-familiar with localization platforms like Pootle, Google Translator Toolkit, GlotPress, with the localization sites of Facebook and Twitter and even with localizing mobile phones.

I was less pleasantly surprised by the fact that the same people didn’t know anything about translatewiki.net, Wikimedia’s main localization website, which can do things that are very similar to the above-mentioned products, and in many cases it can even do it better. This means that we have to work more to publicize it.

To be continued…

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