TAO/Seniors Outreach in the context of Wiki Loves Monuments 2011 in Switzerland
Summary Report by Beat Estermann, Bern University of Applied Sciences, April 2012.
Illustrated by a sample of pictures taken by Seniorweb members.
Co-operation with seniorweb.ch to attract seniors to WLM
In 2011, Wikimedia Switzerland collaborated with Seniorweb CH in order to attract older people to the Wiki Loves Monuments contest. The collaboration covered the following aspects:
- information about the contest to seniorweb.ch members by seniorweb (newsletter)
- setting up of an online group and forum discussion on seniorweb.ch about the WLM contest
- two persons acting as official interfaces between seniorweb-members who had questions and the WLM project manager at Wikimedia Switzerland
- magazine article on seniorweb.ch about WLM
- seniorweb.ch was mentioned as an official partner of the Wiki Loves Monuments contest in Switzerland
- common feedback session
Two additional points were originally planned, but not implemented:
- organization of events (photo safaris, guided tours or similar) by seniorweb.ch volunteers; Wikimedia CH would refund travel expenses, etc. (up to 5000 CHF)
- organization of WLM-related activities in the context of FFI (Free Cruise on the Internet)
30 April 2011: Wikimedia CH General Assembly: presentation of WLM CH by the project manager; idea put forward by TAO project coordinator to initiate a co-operation with Seniorweb CH
May 2011: Meetings between the WLM CH project manager, the TAO project coordinator, and Seniorweb CH representatives; fundraising efforts (two major companies) that turned out to be unsuccessful, partly due to very short notice
June 2011: Seniorweb CH starts to implement the WLM online group, and a small group starts contributing to WLM
July 2011: Official launch of WLM in Switzerland; seniorweb.ch newsletter
September 2011: Broad advertising of the WLM photo contest on Wikipedia
October 2011: Feedback round with two seniorweb.ch representatives (14.10.)
November 2011: Awards Show in Bern Kursaal (13.11.); online survey
The co-operation between the WLM CH project manager and seniorweb.ch worked well. There was quite some activity on the Seniorweb-Forum concerning WLM, but with rather few participants (mainly the same 4-5 contributors). There was also a magazine article as well as several blog entries by WLM participants. At least two seniorweb.ch members went further than pure participation in the contest and started integrating photos in Wikipedia articles and making changes to the articles. One of them even started an article of his own and mentioned that he would appreciate an introductory course. Two explicitly stated that they would participate again in WLM or similar activities. They also asked for the upload-site to be maintained throughout the year, so they could continue contributing pictures.
Around 100 participants showed up for the Awards Show in Bern, around half of which were at least 50 years old (estimate). Many of the older participants were not known to our Seniorweb contacts, indicating that there was quite large participation from older people in the contest that came from outside seniorweb.ch. (There may however be a bias, due to the fact that older participants might have been more likely to attend the Awards Show than younger participants).
New users / seniors had difficulties with the upload of pictures (they needed to upload the pictures in two places – Wikimedia Commons and the Wiki Loves Monuments contest site; in contrast to other countries, they didn’t need to copy monuments identification numbers from a monuments list, but just to click on the monument in question.)
Missed opportunities / Suggestions for the future
Based on the experiences of the first edition of WLM in Switzerland, the following recommendations can be made:
- Link from the WLM contest website to the Seniorweb Forum or provide some other forum space for contest participants to discuss (co-ordinate it with Seniorweb).
- Couple the Awards Show event with a workshop about how to use the pictures in Wikipedia; organize follow-up activities for people who are interested (introductory courses, GLAM-related activities, etc.).
- Keep the contest page open during the year, in order to allow people to upload pictures throughout the year.
- Carry out a survey that aims at activating contest participants for follow-up activities. Use people’s e-mail addresses instead of the Wikimedia Commons platform to contact participants for the survey (in Switzerland, e-mail addresses were collected in 2011; I don’t know about other countries, though. But it seems obvious that contacting people through the Wikimedia Commons platform introduces a bias against newcomers)
- Plan well in advance if you want to raise sponsor money (e.g. from companies) or to involve more people (to carry out excursions, etc.).
- There should be instructions of how to deal with mistakes in the meta data.
- Open a forum at Seniorweb especially dedicated to Wikimedia/Wikipedia-related questions.
- Intensify co-operation between seniorweb.ch and Wikimedia CH.