I recently was invited to be part of a wikipedia workshop for newbies which was held at Sinhagad Institute of Technology and Science, Pune at Narhe.
The Invitation can be found at Meta . The Meta is where all planning is done about having any events about Wikipedia, Mediawiki and all bits surrounding and supporting that.
Anyways, reached the venue at 10:30 a.m. as the cab-driver was lost a bit. Once there, we started around 11:00 hrs. As the first session was mine, started asking leading questions about what an encylopedia is, do we need it and so on so forth, asking them so that we could use their opinions to take it forward. Once the idea was formed that such a need does exist and has lot of relevance in today’s world, moved to sharing the 5 Pillars that makes up Wikipedia. This is the ethical role-model that Wikipedia follows and needs to be in place. As has been few times before, when you share the fifth pillar, people get a bit confused as we tell them that the above are meant to be taken in as guidelines and not gospel truth and it took some time to make them understand.
I was in two-minds whether I should share about Kevin Carter’s famous Pulitzer shot and his later suicide but as it is a gloomy, in the end decided to not go there even though it has quite a bit of overlap as what is known as media ethics and the 5 Pillars on which Wikipedia stands.
Note – The picture belongs to Kevin Carter or the agency which hired him. The shot has been used in fair use as it tells the motivations for both the award and perhaps one of the reasons of him committing suicide.
I shared some other examples and we finally moved on to Copyright and Copyleft. I shared about my favorite author Cory Doctorow as well as Nina Paley and how she came to ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ project, I tweaked the story a bit to make it a bit more dramatic and less sad a bit. I was hampered for time otherwise would have gone into more details of how you can have different licenses and the permutations and combinations of it.
After that it was time to actually go to the Main Page of Wikipedia and show all that which makes up the main page. I *think* I forgot to share that the Main Page is always protected (so that people cannot do vandalism), not sure though.
After that we moved on to showing the Featured Article, Featured Lists and Feature Image of the day. I shared few tips about what all goes in having a Featured Article. For instance, a Featured Article would have more than one image in it, have in-depth information about the subject matter. I showed them the Featured article of the day which was about some plant in biology, my biology and Latin were never strong so don’t remember the name but due to Wiki foo was able to get it Banksia_menziesii . As can be seen it really is a good article as it has couple of other pictures in its sub-species or/and pictures where it is found.
After that, both me and Anurag shared a bit about the commons and why and how it is useful to us. Similarly we asked them to submit only photographs taken by them in commons and do it CC-attribution style. We should have actually asked the person who had taken some pictures to do it on the projector so that everybody could take a look as to how it’s done and what sort of information you have to fill in. That was a mistake on my part.
Near the close, I showed them my profile page (which is filled with cute but probably annoying user boxes) . I also shared with them the talk page and we had some interesting discussions because of the talk page. The actor that was chosen by the women was the chocolate hero Ranbir Kapoor. As people discovered the Ranbir Kapoor – Katrina Kaif link-up story few eyes turned red but as we showed how it didn’t have any reliable sources we were safe. From the boys we had Deepika Padukone talk page which also featured a semi-protection due to edit conflict. In hindsight, we should have also showed them the Wikipedia Edit Conflict page but as time was of essence had to by-pass it. At this point, we had already by-passed 2 hours in which we were supposed to share with them.
Anyways, after that I show-cased hamarawiki as hamara also uses the wiki as a knowledge-base. I was under the impression that these were third-year students and for some people who were in the third-year they didn’t know anything. So besides the wiki, I had to take them onto the whirlwind tour of what it means to be using a VCS ? Showed them github.com, showed them IRC, the oftc server and the various channels including hamara channel and said hi on the channel, showed them the mailing list and how we use that and lastly the forums. I also reasoned with them why Companies are using open-source and why it is in their interest to make their careers on open-source.
My only regret was that I couldn’t show them each of the tools in a bit of depth which would have made a bit more impact and they would have realized FOSS’s importance a bit. I did share about GNU/Linux distributions in general but didn’t have time to go through shell commands or anything which would have been really worthwhile for them.
Only much later, I came to know that the two people I had asked were 3rd year students otherwise all the rest were last year students.
Then it was time for them to make an article for which I let Abhinav take over. He shared with them the cheatsheet and they tried to make an article about the college. It took 5-6 people and some prodding on our part to give some citations otherwise articles which do not have any references are easily marked as Article For Deletion . Not everybody is an inclusionist . We also showed them stats but only on the machines which we should have showed them on the big-screen as well.
At the very end we had the usual group-photograph which could be used as a happy memory.