Promoting Wikipedia in developing countries and minor languages
(I got asked to sum up some thoughts from the December 22 office hours. I'll post a couple of others while about it.)
What can Wikimedia do to support the growth of slow growth projects?
I have my answer to that question. Well, one of many possible answers.
As a top 5 site, Wikimedia/Wikipedia has weight and strength. If it wants to do something specific and valuable, it has fundraising access, ears and capabilities, and gravitas. Especially, if Wikimedia's goals are about educating and reference information, then one kind of education is educating people in its own resources.
I'd take "educating people about the things this can do for them" seriously. That's how to promote. Educational videos on using Wikipedia, dubbed for less common languages. Show people directly what a local Wiki(project) can be used for in their world and how people in (typically developing) countries can and do benefit and use it. Show them, and don't pull punches.
There are women round the world who learn about cultures where women aren't effectively slaves from the internet, or who learn about home-crafts to increase household income, or where people gain education etc. There are countries where large parts of the population have limited knowledge of other parts of the real world or whose population might benefit from enhanced work skills and "quality of life" skills. Show people what these resources can mean, for them. Dub it into a hundred languages. Make it prominent online.
Enough people in every culture love to learn and to improve their world. Give them the tools, which means in this case, show them what the tools are and how to use them. Look at people who educate on fresh water, subsistence, and the like. They go to those countries and show people, "this is what they have in Vietnam, in France, in Finland, in Swaziland..." "This is how villages in these countries find out about matters that affect them or new ideas" "This is how people learn what's going on in the wider world".
Some will say "these people are starving, they need food not computers". This is commonly disagreed with. In some extreme cases yes. But even there - social structures, ideas, knowhow, knowledge... there's desperate need -- and people aren't stupid. They will understand what it can mean; that all villages in this area can share knowledge this way. We might have issues with getting encyclopedicness 1st time round, but it's a start. India produced one of the worlds top mathematicians. Ramanujan had to learn from 50 year out of date textbooks. Remind people of that. Imagine what Indian children could be if they had access to knowledge on all sciences, all medicine, all mathematics and technology. That's an example right there. Show people what we mean. In many countries the issue is actual quality of life, not just "interesting knowledge for fringe people".
Make one movie. Dub it, subtitle it, and launch "Wikipedia TV" online -- in 100 languages of your choice. An educational channel for making the most of Wikipedia and wikimedia, and Wiki knowledge. Work with local chapters, whose goals are usually to promote wiki based learning locally and who know the countries. Ask chapters feedback how they would use and synergize with it, if such a channel were available online and media versions (DVD) offline. Propose it, do a spec, get chapters feedback, when it solidifies, do a final proposal ("this is what we propose to create and what it'll show" - tell people what they're going to get up font, so no surprises), then create it. Provide a script in English; between local users and chapters a foreign language script and dubbed version are easy
The question was how to increase uptake. The answer is, show people why it matters and that it helps them. Show them people in similar situations are being helped right now by it. That's always how one gains interest.
I used your thoughts to write down this recommendation draft. Would you like to improve it?
Yes, thank you! Feel free to add more ideas there if you come up with anything more.