Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. The online encyclopaedia, which commenced about two decades ago to build a free encyclopaedia for and by the world, has made certain progress with millions of articles, readers, and contributors over the years.
Nigeria is also in the success story, as eight Nigerians in 2015 came together to put Nigeria on the global map through content sharing on Wikipedia, and this gave birth to Wiki Media Nigeria in September 2015.
Eight years down the line, the pioneer members of Wiki Media Nigeria, Olushola Olaniyan, Isaac Olatunde, and Kayode Yussuf, amongst others, recount their success stories despite the challenges they faced in the past eight years.
Isaac Olatunde, co-founder and board secretary of Wiki Media, disclosed that when they started, they were just passionate about free knowledge.
I could remember when I was in Nasarawa State when I put a call through to Olushola Olaniyan, who is the President and Chair of the committee at Wiki Media Nigeria, telling him that we needed to find a way to be much more recognised instead of working in silos.
“I felt we needed to come together and tell the world about Nigeria. And so, we came together at a time and started Wiki Media Nigeria. It was just a handful of us; myself, Olushola, and later Kayode Yussuf joined us.”
“It was pretty tough because there was no financial support of some sort, and we are in a country where people don’t want to volunteer because of the level of poverty. So, it is very tough to get people to contribute for free, especially their time, because there was no financial reward whatsoever, and even as we speak, there is still no financial reward.”
Olatunde recalled that he, along with other young Nigerians, started by looking for people who could contribute their time, no matter how small.
He said it was very tough to get volunteers because Nigerians, according to him, only want something that will give them money.
He said that later on, they also involved photographs, where people can also take photographs. While some others find that extremely interesting, a lot of people find writing and editing content extremely boring. But we are positioned to help them build capacity. And how do you build capacity when there are no resources? You need a space, so we have to partner with a lot of organisations and some people who volunteered to give us space to run training while some provide lunch for the event. That way, people started coming in bits.”
“Then we also decided to decentralise the whole thing. So, we went to Abuja to train the people. And we are very happy the Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba groups emerged from there”, Olatunde noted.
He called on more Nigerians to join the Wiki Media Nigeria experience.
According to him, Wiki Media Nigeria does not only offer people the opportunity to build capacity and contribute to Wikipedia, which is the most popular project.
On who is qualified to contribute knowledge to Wikipedia, Olatunde said that at Wikipedia, there’s no right person as everyone is free to contribute to the platform as long as the information is authentic.
“We don’t have specific criteria to contribute as long as you have access to the internet and laptop. You can collaborate and make mistakes, and people will correct you respectfully. And that’s one of the pillars of Wikipedia. We are civil to people; when they make mistakes, we correct them.
“So, we don’t have a sort of strict rule that says, Oh, you must obtain a degree in a particular field to be able to contribute. As long as you can write, then you can continue.
“Even those who are illiterate and cannot write can contribute through oral citations. For instance, some people cannot speak or write English, but they are the authorities when it comes to their languages. So, you can go to them and also get that knowledge from them for educational use. So, it doesn’t have restrictions.”
Kayode Yussuf, Co-Founder, Wiki Media, Nigeria, and Director of Network and Fan Clubs, said it felt very good to be part of the Wiki Media Nigeria journey, adding that when they first started, they didn’t see this coming at all.
Yussuf said all of the things they did were mostly based on passion.
“We didn’t expect to see the growth be this big. And I think that something that will stand out for us is the sense of satisfaction that we can achieve these in about eight years and also the sense of pride that we can get this done.
“So, I would say satisfaction and pride.
Although no monetary reward is attached to being a Wiki club member, for Yussuf, the first driving force is the Wikipedia movement itself,” he said.
According to Ayokanmi Oyeyemi, the Programmes Director, Wikimedia, Nigeria, Wiki Loves Africa 2023 is a photographic contest where photographers can capture pictures that tell stories about Nigeria in a positive realm.
“Wiki Loves Africa happens in different African countries among African countries. So, Nigeria happened to participate, and today we were able to review the best pictures from Nigeria, from which we got the top 10 winners.
“We also launched the Wiki Loves Monuments campaign today. This is a campaign that attracts various photographers in Nigeria to contribute images around the monuments in Nigeria to Wiki Media and Wikipedia as well,” Oyeyemi said.