100wikidays: the journey so far

Posted by Tito Dutta at Nov 23, 2016 05:55 AM |
In this article we'll chat with Bulgarian Wikipedian Vassia Atanassova (User:Spiritia) on the journey of 100wikidays so far, initial difficulties, and participation of Indian Wikipedia communities in the challenge.
100wikidays: the journey so far

100wikidays participants during Wikimania 2016 at Esino Lario, Italy

100wikidays is a personal Wiki challenge, in which a participant attempts to create at least one new article on Wikipedia, for 100 days in a row. This initiative is a brainchild of Bulgarian Wikipedian Vassia Atanassova (User:Spiritia) and it started on 16 January 2015. As of 22 November 2016, 194 Wikipedians have taken this challenge and 63 of them have successfully completed it. A delighting fact is a large number of Indian Wikipedians have participated in this initiative and successfully completed this challenge. In this blog post we’ll try to focus on the project and its influence on Indian Wikimedians.

Let’s start the conversation with Vassia Atanassova, (User:Spiritia), the editor who started this initiative.

CIS-A2K: First, we congratulate you for the success of 100wikidays. When you started this challenge in January 2015, did you think that one day it would become so big?

Vassia: No, actually I wasn’t completely sure that I myself will be able to complete it. :) The story behind the 100wikidays is that earlier in 2014 I had already tried the so called “100happydays” challenge, in which you prove that 100 days in a row you have found happiness, even in the smallest things, by posting a photo of what made you happy. Needless to say, I failed it, around the 11-th day, which according to statistics happens with 7 out of 10 people. :) So, when in the end of 2014 I got the idea of retrying the challenge,  already only knew that happiness was obviously not “my cup of tea” :) so I had to try something I am good in and have more chances for success, like writing in Wikipedia. :) But back then, I didn’t believe that I will be able to finish it myself – it was such a crazy idea – and no, I had never planned it as anything bigger than my own personal challenge. :)

CIS-A2K: Let’s talk about the initial days. What were the difficulties you faced?
Vassia: As I had already failed the happy photography challenge before, I was really nervous in the beginning. The challenge – as the rules of the #100happydays postulate – requires you to make a public commitment and announce your daily progress, and this is very demanding. You commit in front of a community you care for and don’t want to lose your face, or disappoint them. For me, this is half of the difficulty – and half of the magic.

The other half, of course, is to really find the time to create a decent encyclopedic article every day. We are definitely not talking about long featured articles, of course, but decent articles, giving the basic necessary information about a topic, referenced with reliable sources. I am not really eager about the idea of #100stubdays, although, of course, I have also had extremely busy days when I am not able to produce anything longer than a stub.

Thus, one of the first lessons I had to learn from the challenge was how to find the right balance between the inborn perfectionism and the unavoidable time limitations. I think that everyone who commits to the challenge and doesn’t quit it immediately, has such a period of adapting one’s style of contributing, of rearranging life priorities, and stealing from oneself precious time that would otherwise spend with the family, with friends, for other hobbies, or simply for sleeping. Oh, sleeping, how much I started appreciate sleep after the beginning of the challenge!  #100wikidays is famous for jokes related with sleep deprivation. :)

CIS-A2K: How did you promote this initiative among the Wikipedia communities around the world?
Vassia: Hmm… I didn’t! It all happened naturally, by word of mouth. It is editors who are promoting it by getting involved in the challenge, I am not doing anything special. 100wikidays is living its own life. :)

In the beginning friends of mine who followed my Facebook wall liked and sometimes commented on the posts with the new articles. It took about one month before the first follower appeared, one of the ex-students in my university course “Wikipedia and Wiki Technologies”, Vladislav Nedelev. About that time I decided to propose the idea of the #100wikidays as a topic for talk at Wikimania. Funny detail is that initially this talk proposal got rejected, and it took weeks before it was reevaluated and approved  :)

In the meanwhile, in early March, the next follower, or “victim”, joined, and happily that one was Asaf Bartov, Wikimedia Foundation’s senior officer in emergent Wikimedia communities. He didn’t want to be alone in the trouble :))) so one day he posted on his wall the question “Who will be the first Indian Wikipedian to commit to #100wikidays?” And by the end of the day there were four people (you, Tito, included)!!! And it was amazing, absolutely mindblowing!

100wikidays FB post

Asaf also proposed the idea of the Facebook group and the Meta coordination page, where people report their daily progress. In my opinion, he is the most efficient victims recruiter in the #100wikidays :)

As of today (22 November 2016) we have 194 “victims” from 54 language versions of Wikipedia – and several sister projects like Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wiktionary and Commons and about 1/3 of all who have started it, have also completed it successfully. So, yeah, somehow it really became a global thing :) And real life meetings very much helped for that. Nikola Kalchev’s  lightning talk at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, my talks at Wikimania in Mexico, at the Central and Eastern European Meetup in Voore, and at WikiLive conference in Belgrade, Alex Stinson’s speech at WikiConference USA 2015, Asaf also. Everyone who has taken the challenge can become its ambassador.

CIS-A2K: Tell us about a few participants who performed really well in this challenge?
Vassia: Oh, there are so many wonderful editors in #100wikidays, so many examples to be followed, people who are trendsetters on their own! Of course, Antanana and Lord Bumbury, who couldn’t stop themselves after the 100-th day, and made more than 220 wikidays in a row, each of them! Armine, who is now doing her 5th run of #100wikidays. Adam Cuerden with his runs of #10commonsdays of restoring old photographs, pixel by pixel! Asaf, Rosiestep, Penny Richards, Patricio, Maor X, and others whose focus is solely on biographies of notable women. Mervat Salman who introduced the #WikiWomenWeeks driving even more attention to this topic. Everyone in the challenge has brought to it something new and unique. And the most beautiful of it all is when ideas spread virally among the #100wikidays community, and people inspire each other with their choice of articles, and the way they communicate them.

CIS-A2K: 100wikidays is a difficult challenge. If someone writes articles for 60 or 70 days in a row, and then for some reason fails to continue, would you call it a failure, or what would be your suggestions?
Vassia: Heh, my favourite question. :) The word “failure” does not exist in my #100wikidays vocabulary. If you quit before the end of the 100 days, or if it takes you more than 100 days to finish, you have still made contributions to Wikipedia and has allowed someone to learn from the free knowledge that you have shared with the world. :) I know, the challenge has rules that really seem to be discouragingly severe. And it is normal that not everybody opts for it. But once you dare to opt, in the FB group you receive enormous support and appreciation – every day, for every new article. Also, among the challenge rules, the last one is “Ignore All Rules”. So, it is only up to you to decide whether a missed day is really a failure or not. My advice to everyone in  this situation is: continue as if nothing has happened and no one has noticed :)

CIS-A2K: Several Indian Wikipedia communities participated in 100wikidays. Tell us about the participation of Indian Wikipedians in this challenge.
Vassia: So far, there have been contributors in 9 Indian languages: Punjabi (17), Oriya/Odia (3), Telugu (4), Bengali (3), Tamil (5), Hindi (4), Kannada (1), Malayalam (8). Correct me if I am missing anything. :) The total figure makes Indians the most active participants in the challenge, globally, with Armenia scoring second with 27 editors by now. No less than 13 are the Indian alumni, so far, which is quite of a big percentage of all. And the projects covered are different, not just Wikipedia in all those different languages, but also Wikisource, Wiktionary. This is truly impressive because some of the sister projects, like Wikisource, are really very demanding in terms of human resources and time, and usually not so populated with editors, which makes it even a greater challenge to undertake #100wikidays there. And I can’t but mention the recent notable interest in the challenge, registered in Malayalam Wikipedia. I’d be really very happy to know that the challenge has helped for the substantial growth of their, and generally, to any language version of Wikipedia. :)

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