Task force/Local language projects/Outreach

Problem description

The open content movement is young even in countries where Wikipedia has succeeded; even more so in less developed countries. This, together with the view that "expert knowledge cannot be produced by non-experts", hinders development of local language Wikipedias. Fostering a positive view toward this would help.

For Wikimedia projects to grow in local regions, it is first of all important to make people aware of the usefulness of such projects, and also aware of why they should contribute. The thoughts underlying the movement therefore need to be brought onto the minds and lips of the people in these regions in order to have growth of the projects there. Initial contact with the ideas that underlies movements such as open content and open source is for most people probably through casual conversations. In cultures where these ideas are not well known or well understood the chance that anyone would be introduced to these ideas through a casual conversation is however very unlikely. It cannot be expect that people in these regions will access the underlying ideas for the first time through written text when this neither is the way of initial exposure in regions where Wikimedia projects has succeded. Other ways than textual information has therefore also to be considered for outreach to be succesfull.

Outreach strategy

Videos is an exelent outreach tool that can replace the role of causual conversation and also trigger causual conversation on ideas connected to Wikimedia. Videos that explain the underlying ideas behind the movement and motivate people to use and contribute to the projects would be of benifit. The messages conveyed in these videos must in a short time make the concepts and opportunities of open content Wikimedia style clear. The videos can be used to educate people about how they can benefit from the Wikimedia projects.

Above all, people want tools and information that are relevant to their lives - better ways to produce food, health information, home crafts to produce income, ways to improve their quality of life, education for their children, social knowledge, or empowerment among groups that have traditionally felt a lack of ability to improve their lives, and to share and learn with other similar communities. These are worldwide messages although the specifics will vary between country, culture and demographic group. If provided a means to access useful information and also shown how it can help, in many countries and groups, the uptake will likely be strong and enthusiastic.

One way this could be done is to make a video showing how these tools and capabilities improve (or can improve) lives in different countries, as something people are doing right now. If a video is made that shows this across a range of cultures and places, it can be dubbed and subtitled into as many languages as possible (perhaps with local chapter help) and launched on-line. A more extensive effort could try to make the videos local by making several videos, one for each region, that fits the culture there. This could also be extended into a Wikimedia TV channel on-line and freely available DVDs off-line - making this information highly accessible and very visible.

Possible other aspects might include addressing questions of importance in the specific region, try to make celebrities that are influential in a certain region present the message there. Connect the underlying motivation to contribute with the cultural norms of the region, helping others is certainly a norm that is influential in every part of the world, even though it might be formulated in different ways. Also ensure the presentation is encouraging. Choosing the right soundtrack for the right could be essential to put people into the right mood to use and contribute to the Wikimedia. Local chapters should be consulted or involved in the localisation process, and may also have a role in the process of getting the message across to local media, bloggers and NGOs.