Commons:Wiki Loves Africa 2017/Results and best practices

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This page gives a description of how Wiki Loves Africa 2017 was organised, the outcomes, and some of the important lessons we drew.

See also


The contest is organized for the fourth 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 2016, we submitted a request for a PEG grant to the WMF, which was approved in summer 2017. 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.).

In 2017, WMF asked us to autonomize the contest as much as possible so that it become more or less self standing in the following years. Also, it was asked that the most developed countries apply for a rapid grant for the local support to Wiki Loves Africa. Still, our grant request included a small amount of financial support for 5 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 (5 countries)
  3. Submission of program plan and budget by each candidate team
  4. smaller teams or mere individual not yet familiar with the rapid grant process.

Those 5 countries we initially hoped to support were Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe

The other countries that participated (sometimes through rapid grant funding) were Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ghana, Egypt etc.

Additionnaly, Florence met with Nfana from Mali and supported him applying to the rapid grant process before the launch of the contest so that Mali could also join in.

Groups organised local events to drive contribution (training days, photo hunt parties, mass upload sessions, press conferences, etc.).

Groups could communicate and coordinate through a brand new Facebook (closed) group.

The contest was communicated through a Facebook account, a twitter account, the blogs of Wikimedia France and Wikimedia Foundation, 2 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. Photos were only accepted during the two months of October and November 2017.

A jury of 7 people (wikimedians and non-wikimedians) selected the international winners. Some local groups also organized a national contest with local winners. This year... given the much higher number of images proposed by participants, we changed the way winners were selected compared to previous years. We asked the local teams to come up with a pre-selection of the best images so that the international jury would have less images to go through. Of course, this could only apply to countries where there was a local team. In case there was not, all images from a country were included in the images to review list.

The top images from the jury short list was then submitted to the community for the selection of another price. The organizers also boldly selected their favorite picture. Winners were contacted and received prizes.


The theme was boldly selected by the organizers (with private consultation and support of a collection of stakeholders...). It was People at work, which we considered would be well-received, very inclusive, and significantly different from previous years theme. Additionally, we came up with the idea of asking for photo-essays, which was a brand new experience. We proposed two sub-themes for the photo-essays, one being about Women Working and the other Rare, Fading or Threatened Traditional Crafts, Styles or Way of Working.


All pictures are listed there: Category:Images from Wiki Loves Africa 2017
Best images : Category:Best images from Wiki Loves Africa 2017
Photo essays : Category:Photo essai from Wiki Loves Africa 2017
Winning pictures : Commons:Wiki Loves Africa 2017/Winners
2400 to 2600 people participated. Query from Anthere and on ToolLab
Stats Baglama2
  • pageviews from WLA 2014 [1]
  • pageviews from WLA 2015 [2]
  • pageviews from WLA 2016 [3]
Communication venues and material:

Lessons from last year[edit]

What we learned[edit]

Every year we learn new things. Things we do well, things we could better and stuff that should just be taken out altogether. Below are a rundown of what we learnt this year.

What worked well (or, at least, better than last year)[edit]

  • social media communication Most teams now are well installed on social medias, with significant activity, audience and editorial activity, making social media powerful means to relay the information toward already sensitized people. The addition of the Facebook group for organizers was a rather good move. Whilst not as active as we would wish, this is a huge improvement over last years when it comes to communication between organizers. A certain number of non-organizers also slipped in, but that's ok.
  • Release of funds : this was done in a timely manner. (The only issue was Zimbabwe which had to do with the banking system and the availability of the person receiving the money.)
  • Site notices/ banner : we reused last year banner. Was very smooth.
  • Events: In the first years, we asked people to report the events planned on Commons:Wiki Loves Africa 2017/Local events. That did not work very well. The teams were happy to advertise their events on Facebook and Twitter but failed to report them on the wiki page. So we decided to simply indicate on this page all the means possible to contact the teams and follow their activity, per country. We trust that a visitor of that page would follow the links and find the relevant page on social medias. We noticed that some people added their country name by themselves whilst the contest was ongoing, which is awesome.
  • Team input : there was more input from the team with elements outside of the events, etc. Some of the team members volunteered to help solve some of the project's global issues (one example was this year the best images done by John).
  • Content : Participants were truly inspired by this year theme. Photo-essay was also a huge inspiration to some people and a nice way to engage professional or semi-pro photographers.
  • Timing : for 2016, contest was considered too late in the year. So we moved it back to Oct-Nov, and except for Lodewijk, it seems everyone was happy. More on this in the next steps though.
  • Jury tool and jury engagement : many of the teams provided pre-selection of photos when we asked, which lightened the burden of the international jury. Tool set-up was smooth. We used Montage just like in 2016.
  • Stats: Since 2014, the Wiki Loves tool on wmflabs provided wrong results. This year, with the help of Jean-Fred, it was fixed !!! Now, results are correct.
  • Shipping of gifts :
  • Engagement : 2 mass messages were sent to participants. One during the contest, and one after the contest.

See m:Talk:Wiki Loves Africa 2017/Communications elements for more described practices.

That did not work so well[edit]

  • Jury : It turned out some of the teams provided pre-selection of best pictures, but others never did. Meaning more work from the jury who then had to run through all the images from those countries.
  • Translation (of main page or subpages) : this was an issue previous yearS. It remains an issue - team members seem reluctant to be involved in this essential part of the project. The negative result is that their participants do not really understand the theme, what they can win or understand the criteria for submission properly when they access the competition pages.
  • Local reporting (of events and documentation of expenses) : Teams (Uganda and Tanzania) were too slow to respond or too short in their replies. This is very time consuming when the other party is simply not reacting. In two other cases (Ethiopia and Malawi), Elisabeth and I never got any answers to our repeated emails.
  • Categorization of images : just like in year 2016, we had categorization issues. But this was limited to two countries and with the help of African Hope, we were able to fix most of it with a bot
  • Tech : we had a tech issue just in the last 48 hours of the contest. For some reasons, which are still unknown to me, the upload tunnel stopped working at the rights release. Unfortunately, this also happened whilst Florence was in South Africa and on her way back. Situation was a bit difficult to communicate about whilst in a plane... However, tech-wise, we gave quite quick support and fixing thanks to Alangi. We delayed the end of the contest by two days as local teams did not have the time to upload all pictures from their events.

What really went wrong[edit]

  • Engaging Zimbabwe : a whole collection of issues (mostly, unavoidable) prevented any events or media coverage relating to the contest from happen in a productive manner. But no harm done. Only loss of time.
  • Ethiopia and Malawi turned very sour experiences. What we thought solid contacts revealed traps. Money was sent locally and then contacts simply disappeared. Requests for event reports and financial reports went nowhere, and we could found no evidence that any events ever took place. Nebiyu Sultan from Ethiopia answered once that reports will be coming shortly. Mwizalero Nyirenda from Malawi simply never answered. Both were asked to alternatively send back the money and did not. Said plainly, Nebiyu Sultan from Ethiopia and Mwizalero Nyirenda from Malawi used the grant money for their personal interest.
  • Currencies : Euro/dollar rate changed a lot over the year. So between the moment the grant was asked (January 2017) and the moment we got the money (Summer 2017 and early 2018), we lost a significant part of our budget. We did not have enough incidentals to cover that. Our fiscal sponsor ( will cover the loss.

Reminder of feedback collected in WikiIndaba 2018[edit]


  • Track all participants and send them welcome/thank you messages
    • done
  • Set up a media accreditation system to facilitate access to events
    • should be implemented for each country, through the local group
  • Set up partnerships with professional photographers to facilitate access to events and collect high quality pictures
    • set up of the photo-essay option
  • Increase communication with Wikimedia Commons administrators prior to challenge launch (to ease clean up process...)
    • actually not done... but less problems this year (in spite of the usual Nigerian troll showing up as every year)
  • Central team or the focus countries provide a curated list of articles that need images. To ensure that those were at least covered.
    • discussed with focus countries but unclear whether anyone did it
  • Doing a more concerted effort to reach a wider audience to vote on the community prize
    • given last years results, it was finally decided to discontinue community voting
  • Give prizes for good categorizing, tagging or descriptions.
    • implemented through the thematic photo-essays
  • Really trying hard to get the main page, landing page and upload wizard translated in more languages.
    • tried again...
  • A Writing contest around the 100 top images. Which was a nice idea, but not particularly practical as the best shot images are not always the most encyclopedic. But we could have a prize for best use of image ?
    • not practical. Implemented with the photo-essays
  • How to encouraged editors to place image in articles after the upload. How could this be done ... a Leaflet? Suggestion in the uploading steps to make this happen ? Post a thank you email to each of the participants at the end of the contest and invite them to integrate their photo/s on the relevant site.
  • implémented with the mass message
  • Is there an intermediate repository for images that we could use?


  • The project management to continue to be centralised as we are doing; the contest should not only be organised by whatever country wants to take part.
  • Increase the relevance and usage of the images; both on-wiki and off (suggestions include ... screen-savers, using Glamify, Exhibition, Wall; Posters; creating an on-wiki game, in the same vein as the Wikidata game).


  • Timeframe can be a challenge (contest does not occur during time when you can get to event/festivals)
  • A challenge is met with photos being tagged for deletion whilst within Commons rules


  • Awareness of copyright laws is limited in Africa. In many cases, USA laws are applied even when not appropriate.

Feedback collected in WikiIndaba 2018[edit]

Themes suggested

  • Religion
  • Transportation
  • Learning
  • Home and Family
  • Festivals/Celebrations
  • Community
  • Play
  • Change
  • Climate
  • Migrations
  • Peace and Love
  • Funerals

notes: 2019 is the year of indigenous languages

Next steps

Community feedback[edit]

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