Bangladesh celebrates as Bangla Wikipedia turns 10
The tenth anniversary of the Bangla Wikipedia was marked by Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) with a series of events across the country. Through the first ever nationwide event, over the course of seven months, we endeavored to engage and train as many volunteers and Wikipedians as possible to organize events and increase outreach in every division of Bangladesh.
Jimmy Wales attended the Gala Event in February 2015 to mark the anniversary. The State Minister for ICT Divisions, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, attended the 10th Anniversary Conference as the chief guest, where over 300 old and new Wikipedians from Bangladesh and India took part.
Bangla Wikipedia was launched in January 2004, and the site now boasts more than 36,000 articles edited by over 100 active Wikipedians. The 10th anniversary programs were originally scheduled for 2014, but a national parliamentary election and subsequent political instability meant events were postponed to the first half of 2015.
Our strategic priorities included increasing the Bangla Wikipedia’s reach in the country, as well as training existing and new Wikipedians to make quality contributions. We hosted and kindled several initiatives and events, including Wikipedia workshops, rewards for the best Wikipedians, a photography contest, photowalks, school programs, a gala event, and a tenth anniversary conference. Telecommunication service provider Grameenphone provided financial and logistic support to organize the divisional workshops and a tenth anniversary press-conference. The rest of the events were organized by WMBD with funds from the Wikimedia Foundation.
The seven month-long tenth anniversary celebration included a wide variety of events:
The celebration began with a press conference held in November 2014, which was attended by many of the prominent news sources in Bangladesh. The newsmen were briefed about the event outline, the growth of the Bangla Wikipedia over the past decade, and our goals for the events.
The “Bangla Wikipedia Photography Contest” began on September 1, 2014 and lasted until December 31. The theme of the contest was landscape and heritage of Bangladesh. Participants were asked to upload photos onto Wikimedia Commons, and more than 4,600 were submitted.
The first of the seven divisional workshops was held on November 29, 2014 in Chittagong. Grameenphone sponsored seven workshops, which were held in all seven divisions of Bangladesh. Separate from these, a number of Wikipedia workshops were organized by WMBD in partnership with universities in Dhaka and Rajshahi. The workshops provided hands-on training to the participants on contributing and editing Bangla Wikipedia, and were attended by university students and new Wikipedians. The best three participants of each workshops, based on their contributions (over a time period of two months) to Bangla Wikipedia, were then invited to the Gala Event.
The Gala Event was held in February 2015 in Dhaka with Jimmy Wales in attendance as the chief guest. The event was attended by around 300 invited participants, including Wikimedians, other guests from different universities, and from the government. A panel discussion was held with Jimmy Wales, Munir Hasan (President of WMBD), representatives from Telecom operators partnered with Wikipedia Zero, and education activists. They discussed ways for fostering free availability of knowledge and information through Wikimedia projects in Bangladesh.
Eight photowalks were held in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi and Rangpur, aiming to engage and encourage photographers to contribute photos to Wikimedia Commons. A second goal was to collect photographs of architectural, historical, and archaeological sites in Bangladesh. An average of ten to fifteen photographers attended each photowalk, which covered Old Dhaka, the National Botanical Garden, Chittagong University, Puthia Temple Complex, and Sylhet city.
The main program in the series was the Bangla Wikipedia 10th Anniversary Conference, held on May 30, 2015 at Daffodil International University. The conference acted as the biggest gathering of Bangla Wikipedia contributors from both Bangladesh and India. There were a number of workshops and sessions at the program, including Collaboration between the Bangladeshi and Indian Bengali Wikipedians and Increasing women contributors in the growth of Bangla Wikipedia, with many concentrating on creating quality articles and contributing to Wikimedia Commons. There were over 320 participants, and the best Bangladeshi contributors over the last decade were recognized alongside the best three photographers of the photography contest. Eminent writer and journalist Anisul Hoque inspired the attendance by describing how useful Wikipedia is to him. The conference received substantial press coverage.
The Wikipedia School Programs were designed more to encourage students to effectively use Wikipedia for their benefit than to contribute to it. It was held on June 16, 2015 at Shaheed Police Smrity School & College in Dhaka; about 80 students from 9th to 12th grade were present, including five teachers. Students were provided with leaflets that contained brief instructions about using and contributing to the Bangla Wikipedia. It was the first time in the country that a Wikipedia-related event was held in a school.
Instead of holding one program to mark the anniversary, this series of events allowed us to conduct extensive outreach programs across Bangladesh that increased reach and included hands-on training for Wikipedians. One of our key purposes in organizing this series of events was to involve the new volunteers with the old ones and enhance organizing capacity through volunteer engagement.
This also provided advantage in terms of organizational effectiveness, as local volunteers in cities where no Wikipedia related activities had ever been held could organize programs by themselves—of the many Bangla Wikipedia events held in the past, almost all were in Dhaka and Chittagong. A few Wikipedians hailed from other areas of the country.
Our events covered all seven divisional cities, thus paving the way for growing Wikipedia communities in those areas of the country. It is imperative for Wikimedia affiliates to involve people from different places and backgrounds to disseminate the Wikimedia movement in a wider context, and to increase editor diversity in the Wikimedia community.
Executive Committee Member
* Originally published on Wikimedia Blog - July 29th, 2015
Bangladeshi awareness programs drive Bangla Wikipedia usage
Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) is conducting 'Secondary level school programs' in different schools in Bangladesh named "Wikipedia awareness program". These programs are specially designed more to encourage students to effectively use Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects for their benefit than to contribute to it. As part of Bangla Wikipedia 10th anniversary celebration, it is the first time in the country that a Wikipedia-related events are taking place in school levels.
Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone arranged a Wikipedia Contributor Day in Dhaka
On Sunday and Monday, 16/17 February 2014, Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) and Grameenphone (a Telenor concern) jointly arranged a two-day long event titled ‘Wikipedia Contributor Day’ with i-Genius students.
Grameenphone/Telenor is a Wikipedia Zero partner. We organized two days of workshops on Bengali Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Grameenphone chose the participants from last year’s i-Genius students, which are selected from all over the country through a year-long program conducted by Grameenphone and the daily newspaper Prothom Alo. Usually one i-Genius is selected from every district of Bangladesh.
The goal of the workshops were to introduce Wikipedia (especially Bengali Wikipedia), and show the attendees how to edit the articles and contribute photographs to Wikimedia Commons. Most participants were new to Wikipedia, but at the same time we found several of them were already contributing to Wikipedia. It was very inspiring for us.
Winners and overview of Wiki loves monuments Bangladesh
Bangladesh has taken part in the international Wiki loves monuments photography competition for the first time in 2016. However, the discussion about participating in the contest had started long before in the Bangladeshi Wikimedia Community. The photography competition went global in 2011. Since then Wikimedia Bangladesh — an independent organization that works to advance the Wikimedia movement — have been evaluating the possibilities to participate in this competition. The main challenges at that time had been the unavailability of appropriate list of the local monuments and lack of enthusiastic volunteers to do the ground works. Earlier in 2016, the issue was raised again in the board meeting of Wikimedia Bangladesh and the board decided to join the contest this year. Shortly after that meeting, the preparation for joining the competition started in full swing. First challenge was to compile and create a list of all the monuments and identify them by creating a unique ID number as most of the monuments in Bangladesh don't have government assigned unique identification number.
Since this is our first year in the competition, we decided to participate with the archaeological sites of Bangladesh only and wanted to expand the list in the upcoming years. So, as a first step, we created a list of 452 archaeological sites of Bangladesh that are enlisted by the Department of Archeology of Bangladesh Government and identified them by creating a unique ID number for each of the monuments following the ISO code. The main motivation behind participating with only the archeological sites was that, most of the archeological sites in Bangladesh don’t have photographs under free license and we wanted to create a database of freely licensed photographs of all the archaeological sites of Bangladesh in Wikimedia Commons; Wiki Loves Monuments offered an unique opportunity in this regard. We partnered with seven local photography clubs[note1] in order to get the words out among the photographic community in Bangladesh. The event also received good press coverage across the country, both in mainstream print and online media.
During the competition, a total of 204 Bangladeshi participants uploaded more than 7000+ freely licensed photographs of 250+ different archeological monuments and sites in Wikimedia Commons. Among all the participants, 10% of them were women, a participation rate which is more than that of any other previous Wikimedia related competition held in Bangladesh. Though it is still the early days, about 22% of all the photographs uploaded in the contest are now being used in Wikimedia projects. Out of the 7000+ photographs, the jury[note2] of the Wiki Loves Monuments Bangladesh Contest have selected the 10 winning photographs.
All the 10 winning photographs are stunning, extraordinary and, of course, released by their authors under free license. The global winners will be announced later in this year and we have to wait to see whether any of these 10 winning photographs from Bangladesh makes it to the top list of the global winners list. To view the winners of other participating countries please visit: Wiki Loves Monuments 2016 winners. Here are the top 10 photographs that will represent Bangladesh as the finalists of the international contest, as decided by our jury:
[note1]: Our seven local promoting partners were: Amateur Photography Group, Travelers of Bangladesh, Grasshoppers Photographers Community, Through The Lens:Bangladesh, Rajshahi photography society, Jahangirnagar University Photographic Society & Shahjalal University Photographers Association.
[note2]: The jury of Bangladeshi competition consisted of 6 experienced photographers both from in and outside the community. They were: Monirul Alam, Akkas Mahmud, W.carter, Slaunger, King of Hearts and Colin.