The 14th annual Wikimania 2018 conference, which is an annual gathering of volunteers from around the world who aim to celebrate Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, is expected to bring together over 500 volunteers.
Wikimedia sites are read approximately 15 billion times a month globally; however, only a small portion of volunteer Wikipedia editors come from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Anyone can edit Wikipedia in its almost 300 different language versions including Swahili, Hausa, Amharic, Arabic and Afrikaans versions.
"To achieve knowledge equity, we need to have more voices represented in our community. This is why we are creating an inclusive environment for people from all over the world to contribute knowledge in a way that considers customs, language, access to bandwidth and more," says Ellie Young, conference organiser for Wikimania.
Ghanaian Wikipedia contributor and free knowledge activist Felix Nartey says that some of the primary barriers to contribution from people living in Africa are lack of time and lack of access to an enabling environment (such as computers and access and affordability of Internet).
"We have been engaging with our communities and holding a number of successful 'editathon' sessions. What is apparent is that African people have a real appetite to see themselves represented on this platform. They want to see their content and their languages on Wikipedia and are crashing through some of the structural barriers to do so," adds Nartey.
Through a collaboration with the Social Theory Course at Ashesi University in Ghana, students have been given class assignments, which have led to contributions of their research and term papers on Wikipedia through the Wikipedia Education Program model.
Across other parts of Africa, organised thematic workshops aimed at bridging the gender gap and other systematic biases that exist on Wikipedia have also been held.
According to Wikimania, work to create more regional content also continues. In South Africa, Afrikaans and isiZulu are the most active language Wikipedias other than English.
"If you are passionate about a specific topic or piece of local history, or if you would like to see more articles in your own language, register and start making your contributions. The only way we are going to shift the content bias is by adding content that represents a more diverse user base," says Douglas Scott, president of the Wikimedia chapter of South Africa.
Scott says that more African contributors can get involved by creating an account on Wikipedia and testing out different ways to edit – whether it’s fixing a grammatical error or adding a citation to an existing article, creating a new article, or asking other volunteer editors for support in reviewing a draft article that was created.
Articles on Wikipedia need to have verifiable references and sources. This means that facts must be drawn from recognisable publications and institutions.
African contributors can also get involved by joining a WikiProject around specific areas of interest. WikiProjects consist of groups of contributors who aim to work together to create and improve articles about a specific topic on Wikipedia.
For more information, visit www.wikimania2018.com. You can also follow Wikimania on Twitter.