In the context of the COVID-19 pandemics, our user group had --like many other Wikimedia organizations-- to quickly adapt to a new, challenging reality. Team work time and expectations had to be adjusted. A thought-through Annual Plan had to be reviewed, with the postponement of some key events we had programmed (i.e., a WMF-supported training on LUA and a Seminar on Digital Technologies and Open Culture). We are thankful for the collaboration of the WMF grants and community support teams in making necessary changes in our activities. The new context was also an opportunity for experimentation and devising programs and activities we had not necessarily envisioned; in this report, I highlight some of these programs and activities.
A highlight in our work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemics is a series of edit-a-thons we have held in partnership with cultural institutions, especially Museu Paulista. The initiative with this particular museum, which was described on a previous edition, was listed as one of the few successes of museums amidst a widespread inability to adjust to digital audiences in Brazil, at an op-ed on the most important Brazilian newspaper. Between March and mid July, WMB held eleven edit-a-thons, including six that were co-organized with Museu Paulista (digital posters below).
Normally, WMB has run edit-a-thons with an idea that we should go as quickly as possible to the magic moment of enabling, empowering newcomers to edit for the first time; in a remote context, we moved to an interaction in which we were able to present more deeply, thoroughly what the community is and does, then having several Wikimedians work as individual tutors for newcomers. Slides, videos, chats are available on the event pages. Over 2,000 people watched the videos and over 1,100 joined the campaign with Museu Paulista.
In parallel, WMB ran a three-month-long online initiative to improve contents broadly related to Museu Paulista on Wikipedia in Portuguese. A new initiative is about to be launched with the Brazilian National Archives; over 500 people have signed in this competition that focuses specifically on the Brazilian capital, Brasília.
Another highlight was the reorganization of the Wikimedia and Education community in Brazil. WMB systematically researched and listed education programs that were organized in Brazil since 2011 and sent out a call to all professors and education leaders that had been involved or were involved in these programs. A first meeting was held on June 17, with around 40 participants.
The work with educators is particularly important as they have faced the challenge of adapting to new technologies without receiving sufficient support from local governments, and to set up Wikimedia education programs is relatively straightforward and can be a means of engaging students to renewed experiences. Open meetings in the Wikimedia and Education community will be held monthly.