Education/News/October 2020/Featured education community member of October 2020

Author: Edited by Sailesh

Social Media channels or hashtags: #EduWikiLeaderSeries

Summary: Starting in November 2019, we are highlighting a Wikimedian who is impacting or who has been impacted by Wikimedia & Education work. For September, in this article meet Houcemeddine A. Turki from Tunisia and learn from their experience in becoming a Wikimedian and later a movement organiser.

Houcemeddine A. Turki

Houcemeddine A. Turki was an active contributor to French and English Wikipedia between March 19, 2009, till August 31, 2019, and then he moved full-time contributing to Wikidata. The difficulties he found between 2009 and 2011 to achieve an acceptable editing quality on Wikipedia motivated him to launch an Education Program in 2012 in his region of Sfax, Tunisia where limited open science behaviors and Wikipedia support existed before. In that period, Wikimedia trainings were mainly available in Tunis (270 km from Sfax) and Monastir (128 km from Sfax). He began his work by creating a survey about Wikimedia awareness in the region and consequently by finding a better capacity of the volunteers from Sfax to contribute to Wikimedia Commons in the first place and to Wikipedia at the second place. He started giving training in his region about how to contribute to Wikimedia Commons. These trainings were successful to ameliorate the availability of open license images about the region in Wikimedia Commons. I also tried to enhance the contribution of people from Sfax to Wikipedia. However, I found several difficulties in convincing volunteers of the importance of the project. These difficulties range from the legal issues related to the lack of recognition of the contribution of Wikimedia projects to limitations linked to the lack of the availability of trustworthy references and of resources explaining how Wikipedia works in a nutshell.

In 2017, Houcemeddine was appointed as the Education Coordinator of Wikimedia TN User Group working on applying Wikimedia Education in Southern Tunisia. This function allowed him to work more efficiently on the issues limiting the contributions to Wikipedia. He got in touch with the international active leaders of the Wikimedia Education Program and learned from their successful initiatives. These interactions with the global community members allowed him to develop new processes to enhance the accuracy of the Wikimedia Education Program. The establishment of MedinaPedia Sfax project to ameliorate the coverage of the Medina (old city) of Sfax in Wikipedia allowed him to apply these newly developed methods into practice with the special contribution of Wikimedians, Houssem Abida and Emna Mizouni. These methods include the creation of ways to briefly explain how to edit Wikipedia and to provide substantial online support for new editors when editing Wikipedia articles. These methods also involve an offline framework for providing ways to professors emeriti and libraries to indirectly contribute to Wikipedia projects. The outcomes of these methods were interestingly successful to recruit more active volunteers even the ones not familiar with computers and consequently to enhance the reference support and quality of Wikipedia articles. Thanks to these milestones, the new methods were adopted by other user groups such as Wikimedia and Libraries User Group and were behind his nomination to the first place of Inspire IdeaLab Campaign Competition and The Wikipedia Library Star Coordinator Title in 2017.

After his final retirement from Wikipedia, Houcemeddine became more interested in developing an Education and Research Program for Wikidata in universities. As Wikidata is a structured knowledge graph, it can be interesting for computer scientists who can use it for the development of their algorithms for decision support and knowledge graph enrichment and refinement. He is looking forward to applying this Wikidata-driven Education Program to build an environment in the University of Sfax where every undergraduate and graduate student can make use of Wikimedia projects to develop their skills disregarding his specialty.