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problems presented by printed encyclopedias, like bare entries, limited or biased perspective, or information becoming outdated on the long run.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.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Make history now ….The 2018 blood moon rising 29 July. Mars the god of war arouses the spirit of the oppressed to act. David was quick and nimble with a simple weapon and Goliath was slow and weighted down in heavy armour with the sun in his eyes.

  2. Why not just establish a Venezuela history website?

    Hey, I love Wiki, but since the stuff is so easily edited, I know that some of the information is suspect. I use Wiki for the stuff where it doesn’t really matter.

    But more important:

    If someone uses Wiki and types in “Venezuela,” is all of the information solicited in this project going to appear under the “History” subhead? Is that how this is going to work?

    I just don’t understand how this information is going to reach people in any way that makes a difference, let alone the fact that any shmuck can go in there and edit it.

  3. As I mentioned on Twitter, I think this is a good initiative.
    I have edited and created articles
    since the beginning of Wikipedia and I have a bit of experience
    with the editing wars, in particular when Chavistas were trying to
    create their propaganda there.
    I have worked on hundreds of articles about small towns of Venezuela, about stuff on native American languages of Venezuela and then went on to stuff like Conquista de Venezuela, Colonia de Venezuela, educación en Venezuela and created the articles on corrupción en Venezuela and its counterpart in German.
    I tried to clean the article on Economía de Venezuela but it is really a mess.
    I was thinking for a while to write an article on Historia económica de Venezuela that migh try to have the same quality as the article Historia económica de Chile, that would be as good referenced and with similar charts, but I have been too busy.
    I would ask other native Spanish speakers to take a look at that article in Spanish from pre-hispanic times until today and think whether you would like to venture into something like that for Venezuela…obviously, the narrative will be about a horror story…one we need to tell for future generations, about how Venezuela’s average citizens were better off before Chavismo for many decades. Of course, one would have to be objective and write about the mishaps that happened before and enabled Chavismo.

  4. This is a noble idea, but I think it is barking up the wrong tree for a few important reasons. And not just what is a

    A: Wikipedia’s rigged, because it defines truth as “whatever the majority/plurality of trustworthy sources (WTH those are) say truth is.” It makes no attempt whatsoever to determine objective reality.

    This is why- for instance- the “Sino-French War” article of Wikipedia specifies the conflict (last I checked) as a Limited Chinese Victory on Land. In spite of the war starting with a French attempt to annex China’s Indochinese tributaries, something it SUCCEEDED in doing.

    This is because of one main thing. Wall to wall source spam by either Chinese ultranationalist or pro-Chinese editors and sourcers trying to determine France’s objectives in the war as somehow ripping more of Guangxi or what have you apart.

    B: It is open to edit by anybody. This normally sounds like democracy, but in reality when coupled with A it devolves into mob rule. And often extremely dishonest mob rule at that.

    And finally….

    C: It is at the mercy of the biases of not just other editors, but also the “custodians” of Wikipedia. Who are as biased and fallible as any person can be, and some of whom are quite Chavista or pro-Communist in nature.

    So with all of these in mind, the solution for the regime is clear. Have a bunch of its minions churn out “sources” that- because they are produced officially- have to be taken seriously, and have E-Collectivos spam this stuff to try and drive out stuff that inconveniences them.

    I think DT and others should focus on building up parallel institutions. Like their very own Wiki. Si, it will be hard, especially to start from scratch. It will also not be read anywhere near as much as actual Wiki is. But it will give you that much of a tighter leash and the ability to do quality control.

    And- here’s the crucial bit- once you’re established enough, you might- Just Might- be able to get DesafioTricolorpedia or whatever recognized as a trustworthy source on Wikipedia.

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