Wikimedia Venezuela is a group formed in 2012 as a civic association founded by Venezuelans from around the country that actively volunteer to contribute to Wikipedia, sharing the foundation’s core values: “Free access to the sum of all human knowledge.” That’s how Jin Kadaba, representative of the group, states their goal.

From July 15 to August 15, Wikimedia Venezuela is running Desafío Tricolor, an initiative that seeks to increase the quantity and quality of content related to the country’s culture and history in Wikipedia in Spanish. Similar contests are common throughout the community to focus on specific areas.

Desafío Tricolor, an initiative that seeks to increase the quantity and quality of content related to the country’s culture and history.

The three who contribute the most to Desafío get a prize, the first place gets a book by a Venezuelan-born author. But the real prize is the lasting contribution of spreading knowledge about our country. In Kadaba’s words: “If we don’t do it ourselves, nobody else will come and do it for us, Venezuelans.”

Whatever you think of Wikipedia, it’s undeniable that it’s a fundamental source of information around the globe. In theory, it overcomes and reduces problems presented by printed encyclopedias, like bare entries, limited or biased perspective, or information becoming outdated on the long run. In reality, though, there’s a lot to do. Today, Information is tricky. In Venezuela, where there’s critical media censorship, lack of data, political and economical instability, keeping the record straight can’t get any trickier.

But overall, developing countries tend to have a disadvantage in these situations. For instance, the entry on Venezuela’s Federal War —a military conflict that some estimate killed 10% the country’s population— is shorter than the entry of the Battle of the Blackwater from Game of Thrones, where no real person died.

According to Kadaba, the main challenge that Venezuelan Wikipedians face is to find reliable, verifiable, online sources. “There are very few resources and not many care about relevant information, which is one of the fundamental pillars of an article in Wikipedia.” Exactly what constitutes a reliable source is difficult to precise: “I think the main way to discard [unreliable sources] is through the reputation of the source, followed by how much of these facts are verifiable, whether or not you can corroborate what the source is saying.”

In Venezuela, where there’s critical media censorship, lack of data, political and economical instability, keeping the record straight can’t get any trickier.

Desafío Tricolor has a list of suggested articles to work on, most of them focused on history and culture. A quick browse reveals personalities that range from German conquistador Ambrosio Alfinger and the president who ended slavery José Gregorio Monagas to cartoonist Zapata; zapping from concepts like Mantuano and the Treaty of Coche and dozens of battles and revolts.

Kadaba is enthusiastic about the response so far, and considers word of mouth through social media has helped to bring attention to the project. “There has been a good receptivity, but there are always more volunteers needed since everything here is voluntary.”

To join in Desafío Tricolor, you need to know Spanish, sign up for a Wikipedia account and write down your name in the list of participants. If you want to be part of Wikimedia write to Wikimedia Venezuela at [email protected] and follow these steps.

The project is limited to Spanish-language Wikipedia, which is a shame seeing how some articles on Venezuela in English could definitely use some help.

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Freelance journalist, speculative fiction writer, college professor, political junkie, lover of books and movies and, semi-professional dilettante. José has written for NPR's Latino USA, Americas Quarterly, Into and ViceVersa Magazine.