Commons:Wiki Loves Africa 2015/Results and best practices

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This page gives a description of how Wiki Loves Africa 2015 was organised, the outcomes, and some of the important lessons we drew.

See also


The contest is organized for the second year.
In 2014, we (Isla and Anthere) thought an interesting way to get people from within Africa interested in contributing to Wikipedia would be to hold a continental photo contest and to support the small volunteer groups in some countries so that they could help foster participation. In 2015, we submitted a request for a PEG grant to the WMF, which was approved in summer 2015. We (Isla and Anthere) are the main organisers at the global level. Several wikipedians came to help online (to set up the website, the pages on commons, to help on translation, work on the design, site notice set up, to be jury, categorize pictures etc.). On top of this, local teams in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tunisia, Tanzania and Uganda organised local events to drive contribution (training days, photo hunt parties, mass upload sessions, press conferences, etc.).

Whilst the contest is open to everyone, our grant request included a small amount of financial support for 8 local countries to organise events. Those countries were chosen after

  1. Countries teams expressed their desire to participation
  2. Number of countries was approved by WMF (8 countries)
  3. Suggestions by WMF on which countries to support
  4. Submission of program plan and budget by each candidate team

The contest was communicated through a website, a Facebook account, a twitter account, the blogs of Wikimedia France and Wikimedia Foundation, 3 press releases, local blogs, via the African Wikimedians mailing list and, of course, on the Wikimedia projects. A site notice was displayed on top of pages of all Wikimedia projects for all African countries during the two months of the competition (and for France for a couple of weeks). Photos were only accepted during the two months of October and November.

A jury of 10 people (4 wikimedians, 6 non-wikimedians) made a short list of the best pictures at the global level, then selected 3 winners. The top 39 images from the jury short list was then submitted to the community for the selection of a 4th price. Winners were contacted and received prizes. Some local groups also organized a national contest with winners.



The theme was chosen by the community to give volunteers and entrants a focus around a subject that is universal, but culturally specific. Following on the success of 2014’s theme: Cuisine, the theme for 2015 was Cultural Fashion and Adornment.

The first theme in 2014 was chosen by the project organisers, but for 2015 it was important to us that the community chose the theme. A process was set up to ensure this happened, and the details can be found on the 2015 theme ideas and voting page.

From the competition’s experience, it is important to make it clear to people what falls within the scope of the contest. On one hand, the theme has to be narrow enough to be interesting to potential participants and give a clear focus to the contest and make it easy to "sell". On the other hand, it has to be wide enough to allow everybody to participate with a relatively low threshold. It was very helpful that we provided sample images of what we were expecting, as well as a list of categories of topics that could be listed in the broad theme “fashion”. There were no media files (video or audio) submitted to competition this year.

The scope of 2015 theme was: submissions of media that cover cultural dress and fashion; specifically fashion that is defined by local cultural influences, including cloth, styles, ways of wrapping and hanging, etc. This theme includes adornment, such as culturally defined jewellery, make-up, hairstyles, cloths and woven materials.


The contest resulted in over 7,508 images uploaded by 734 users [1] who uploaded one or more images.
By March 2016, 48 of these images were deemed "Quality images" and 2 were placed as "Featured Pictures".
391 unique images were used 494 times on wiki mainspace pages [2].

All African countries were welcome to participate to the contest. But Tunisia won in terms of participation with 1242 pictures submitted from IP addresses within that country [3].

All pictures are listed there: Category:Images from Wiki Loves Africa 2015
Quality images : Category:Quality images from Wiki Loves Africa 2015
Featured images : Category:Featured pictures from Wiki Loves Africa 2015

Winning pictures[edit]

National prizes
Some local teams also organized local juries, prizes and ceremonies for their countries.

In Cameroon, the team organised an exhibition at the Institut Francais of quality photographs from the competition, including the winners.


The chosen 8 countries went on to host events that drove contributions in those countries.
The events that happened can be found on here Commons:Wiki Loves Africa 2015/Local events.
42 events were organised in 8 countries.

  • 5 events in Algeria (2 workshops/training, 2 presentations/upload sessions and 1 celebration)
  • 6 events in Cameroon (2 edit-a-thon/training, 2 upload sessions, 1 press conference and one Exhibition event)
  • 2 events in Egypt (photo trips)
  • 12 events in Ivory Coast (edit-a-thon, upload sessions, photo hunts, ceremony)
  • 3 events in Nigeria
  • 1 or 5 events in Tunisia (organizers did not complete the feedback form as required, but there is evidence of several events)
  • 5 events in Tanzania (photo hunts and upload events)
  • 4 events in Uganda (edit-a-thon, photo hunts and upload events)

The teams provided detailed information on their events on the feedback form [4] and on the Local events page [5]

Communication venues and material[edit]

See more ...

The contest was communicated through:

Signpost featuring Wiki Loves Africa Winners

During the contest, other venues for communication were also used, including:

  • the blog of Wikimedia France : [7] and [8]
  • the blog of Wikimedia Foundation: [9]
  • mentioned during Wikimedia 15 campaign [10]
  • 3 press releases [11] were sent out for the launch, mid-contest and winners announcement. The first was sent in English, French and Arabic. The next one in French and English. The final was sent in English. A press release was sent by the Wikimedia France press. Press releases were drafted as templates and were sent to the teams to be reused, modified, translated.
  • Coverage on the Signpost [12]
  • 3 email sends were sent to 8,500 people on the Africa Centre database and 2 separate specialist sends of 357 to Francophone media
  • Information was sent out via the African Wikimedians mailing list [13]
  • and of course information was provided on Wikimedia projects (village pumps).

Some media coverage can be found here: [14]

Extension project: The Photographic Guide[edit]

In collaboration with Wikimedia France, a Photographic Guide was published to coincide with the launch of Wiki Loves Africa 2015.

Guide Photographique Wiki Loves Africa (Format web)

What we learned[edit]

Most of our lessons learned have been compiled here.

Not repeating them all (please check the full list on the grant report page) ... a quick overview of the most critical points community-wise,

That worked well (or better than last year)

  1. More collaboration on the project (with Wikimedia France, with local User Groups, with some editors)
  2. More communication or easier communication (eg, SignPost wrote a story in 2015, not in 2014; WMF blog contacted us for story in 2015 etc.)
  3. Marketing material, website, dedicated pages were roughly ready on time (or even ahead of time)
  4. Improved reporting from local teams and more anticipation at the early stages of the contest
  5. Better quality of images. Better categorization of images
  6. Site notice issues were largely fluid

that did not work so well

  1. Approval timeline: Although we started the grant process earlier for 2015 year, the grant was only approved on the 24th August for a contest starting 1st of October. Although the short timeline was just as challenging as the previous year, we were lucky to have established processes, networks and communications materials that we could build on immediately. To get teams started early, we asked for potential teams to send through their [for Wiki Loves Africa 2015] before the grant was approved.
  2. Translation issues (cont) : The technical translation issues met in 2014 were easier to deal with this year, but… we met an expected problem : The contest main page was at the same time meant to be taggued for translation BUT also protected. The appalling consequence was that it could not be moved, nor renamed, nor taggued again for translation unless done by a special editor with both admin AND translation rights. Requests for help on the translator noticeboard went totally unnoticed and call on individual user talk pages went unanswered, suggesting that the number of editors with the right access to help were not numerous enough. After a couple of weeks, I (Anthere) called u:Romaine for help and he saved the day (the month). Translation issues are very time consuming. Which is the reason why we did not significantly called for help to get the pages translated in more langages than English and French.
  3. The WLX Jury Tool was challenging: Nice tool, but (very) poor support. Could be technically improved. Also, there has been complaints that the Jury process was not transparent. We understand this issue and really hope that next year there is a solution for all the WLX projects. Whilst the WLX Jury Tool is probably the best tool we have at the moment, it only provides two different type of access : the organizer of the vote has access to absolutely everything. The jury member only has access to his own vote. And others have access to... nothing. This does not help building consensus between jury members and it does not provide the level of transparency appreciated by our community. We are trying to get the Jury Tool better supported for all the WLX projects, as we had a terrible time with this one. You can see user:Anthere’s submission to the Idea Lab here : m:Grants:IdeaLab/WLX Jury Tool : improved tool and great service. Later, Ilya (the author of the tool) indicated that he was going to opensource and implement admin UI for jury tool this month without IEG suport and filled up a grand request m:Grants:IEG/ScalaWiki data processing toolbox. Regardless... we have asked Wikimedia France if they would help set up the tool for us next year and manage the tech admin role and the answer was favorable.
  4. Release of funds : this year we split the payment for each team into two payments. The first landed at the beginning of the competition. The second was released in December, once reporting and receipts were sent through. Although there was much more accountability as a result of the split payment, the split meant that many of the team leaders were out of pocket for a month or two until they could sort out their internal finances. We think this possibly caused internal issues among volunteers. Should be reconsidered for 2016 and discussed with WMF team.
  5. Reporting issues : one team (Tunisia, not to named it) reported that the reporting/administrative requirements this year were too time consuming and not flexible enough. The organisation team respect this view... but does not really see how the amount of administrative stuff could be reduced. The admin requirements were the following 1) submit a plan prior to get the approval for funding 2) submitting all receipts at the end of the competition 3) submitting two invoices (at the start of the project and at its close) 4) reporting on events 5) answering a satisfaction survey. It is unclear to us how we could decrease the amount of admin... though we can obviously improve the fluidity of the process. Discussion to be continued...
  6. Timing : It was suggested that the contest was occurring too rapidly after Wiki Loves Monuments, which accounted for volunteers fatigue and lesser motivation. Contest could start later in the year... or be shorter... topic will be revisited depending on the thematic choice made for 2016
  7. Shipping gifts : not so easy. Some gifts could not be purchased from SA to be shipped in another country on Amazon, which complicated the whole process. The purchase on the Wikimedia Shop was cancelled because considered abusive, hence having to reschedule the purchase. This caused delay.
  8. Motivating jury members : in 2014, we (Isla and Anthere) chose jury members ourselves. This year, we asked each local teams to suggest names. This resulted into a larger and more diverse jury, which was nice. This said... just as last year, we had issues related to participation to votes. Some members were efficient, some needed a lot of pushing, and one actually delayed so much that her votes were not complete. This created issues in particular with the use of the Jury Tool since no one (except administrators) can see who votes, who does not vote and what is voted by who.

We asked the focus teams what changes they would like to see for future Wiki Loves Africa competitions. Here were their answers:
Timing related:

  • The date should not be after wiki loves monuments, I propose January and February

Funding related:

  • The budget for the competition should be increased. There was less traveling because of the limited funds.
  • Increase in the amount of funding and training for organisers
  • Project Funds should come ahead of time for early preparations.
  • The winners should get prizes more valuable than the current ones. (These will motivate the crowds more)
  • National Organizers should one way or another be recognized. As much as we are volunteering, we need to get something out of all this (note: some asked a certificate of participation. We could also look at more way to get them recognized...)

Increased local support and opportunities

  • Organize photo exhibition under the logo Wiki loves africa
  • Give more support for the local communities
  • Creating a prize to encourage the active local group. Criteria can be : events (number, impact), photos (quantity & quality), number of contributors etc

Increased role of local groups

  • Local teams’ skills and activities with local countries should be strengthened for more autonomy; partnerships with institutions should be built.
  • I think it is good if local teams self organise. There is still a challenge of raising money [from local sources]. The decentralisation can be done gradually as the local teams grown and become independent.

The focus teams were also asked what could be done in future Wiki Loves Africa to increase participation and engagement …

  • Giving rewards to participants at the country level
  • More community management, on Facebook and Twitter
  • Creating articles in local African languages
  • More Wikithons in several regions
  • Creating category between professional and nonprofessional.
  • Communicate earlier on the competition and theme of the year;
  • Upgrade the different prizes of the contest.
  • There is a need of having a local jury to support participants and field trips with provision of cameras for participants, and having some motivation for participants (sponsoring).
  • Organise photos workshops / gather people around a tour
  • Having National Prizes for Winners on the national level. I know the national organisers should handle this, but with the experience I have had, getting funds or someone to sponsor this is hard.
  • Prompt planning
  • Entertainment

Community feedback[edit]

Please feel free to drop comments, criticism, suggestions etc.