Since March 2012, there has been an established collaboration between the Bulgarian Wikimedian community and the Bulgarian Archives State Agency. This collaboration is the first GLAM project for this small Eastern European country, and the Bulgarian language Wikipedia which earlier this year celebrated their 200,000th Wikipedia article. In these almost 4 years, more than 5300 photos and documents have been researched, digitized and uploaded to Commons by the volunteers who visited the Archive. In November, an idea occurred to Spasimir Pilev, an active Wikimedian in Residence, of how to make the results from this GLAM cooperation more visible, tangible and better utilized across the different languages of Wikipedia. The idea, called The Archives Challenge, soon expanded to an international contest, successfully engaging a wider volunteering community, especially among the Wikimedians from Central and Eastern Europe.
The month-long contest was focused on improving and translating file descriptions in new languages, adding new categories to images, and new images to articles, as well as creating new articles related to the archival content. Due to the diverse options for contributing within the challenge, the rules included a detailed rating system used to measure the progress of the participants, and hence their overall ranking. Most points, of course, were assigned for the creation of a new encyclopedic article which directly incorporates archival documents as illustrations.
And in order to make it even more interesting and interactive, yet another direction of the challenge was developed, the “Then and Now” Gallery. The challenge there was to find pairs of images – historical and modern, which depict the same object under the same or similar angle. Notable buildings, natural and cultural sites, and even whole landforms and settlements – in sepia and colour, give us yet another, and thrilling proof of how precious – for us and for the world – is the memory collected in the Archives.
As a result of the efforts of more than ten participants from Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Serbia, at least 3202 new descriptions have been created, and at least 2387 new categories have been added. No less than 597 articles have been illustrated with visual content from the GLAM collaboration, and 57 pairs of "Then and Now" images, depicting places from Warsaw to Thassos, and from Milan to Varna, have been discovered. By the end of the challenge, at least 94 new articles were written, many of them in Armenian.
The announced winners were the three top ranking editors: one from Bulgaria, Алиса Селезньова and two – from Armenia, Armineaghayan and Lilitik22. Both the organizers and the Bulgarian Archives State Agency considered the contest a pronounced success and an initiative worth repeating annually.
More than 100 ancient coins from Philippopolis donated to Commons
The end of December marked the successful completion of the work planned for 2015 along with the collaboration between the Bulgarian Wikimedian Vladislav Nedelev and the Numismatic Society "Philippopol". Vladislav, who was the representative from Bulgaria in the GLAM-WIKI Conference in the Hague in April 2015, uploaded to Commons a total of 236 photos of 118 ancient coins, minted during the Roman period of Plovdiv, when the city was named Philippopolis. The Numismatic Society released their collection of high quality photos under the free license Creative Commons Attribution, v. 4.0.
For each coin in the collection, the Numismatic Society provides two photos, obverse and reverse, as well as the additional encyclopedic value added with the readings of the inscriptions on the coins, made by expert numismatists, as well as the coin weights.
Given that for some Ancient Roman emperors our only images are their depictions on the coins they minted, numismatics provides an especially precious source of historical information.
The collaboration with the Numismatic Society "Philippopol" is the first of its kind for the Bulgarian Wikimedian community, but there is declared interest on both sides to have it extended in future with other initiatives and contributions, related to the illustration, creation and improvement of the articles in the field of numismatics and history of coins.