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ScoutMedia:Promising practice

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The international ScoutWiki community has been asked to produce a report about ScoutWiki and the different related national scouting wikis, to be used in the WOSM. This work has to be achieved quickly, and we ask you to consider it as of first importance. From this report depends how the WOSM will consider ScoutWiki Network.

We are working on an English version, which will be translated in French (English and French are the official WOSM languages), and eventually in other languages. For a start, here is the structure the report will have. Note that it should not be too long, one page would be a good deal. So please try to be concise, and to go to the essential.

Structure

Background of the promising practise

How it all started, in what conditions, how did you come up with the idea, what was your motivation, starting questions.

Great ideas are usually invented independently in different places simultaneously. ScoutWiki project started with different local initiatives: Scoutopedia in France, PartioWiki in Finland, Scoutpedia in the Netherlands, PfadiWiki in Switzerland and WikiRoca for Spanish speaking countries. The idea was (and still is) to create a free knowledge base, on which everyone could contribute, to share our scouting practise and experience on past, present and future. When we realised there were similar projects in different countries, we decided to unify them, to create a unique project: ScoutWiki available at http://www.scoutwiki.org A ScoutWiki is a Wiki about and for those who practise scouting.

The genesis of the different scouting wikis are quite different : if French Scoutopedia and Dutch Scoutpedia were purely individual initiative, and widened mainly through the publicity their founders did on the different French or Dutch scouting forums and websites, Finnish PartioWiki was not created immediately after the idea of one. WikiPedia being widely known and popular, a wiki of their own was talked about within Netscouts of Finland for a while before the final decision was made towards April 2006 and a few scouts rolled up their sleeves. Word got around and about ten scouts started to build content and help-pages from scratch. After a few weeks the marketing started on IRC, discussion forums and magazines. Since then not much has changed: a category structure has formed and another has been suggested, the front page evolves, quite a few policies have been discussed and agreed on. PartioWiki seems to grow on its own like a living beeing. The backing of Netscouts of Finland provides a great advantage to the Finnish wiki, while in France, for example, the division of scouting makes it difficult to unite contributors from different scouting origins : which explains why PartioWiki is still 800 articles ahead of Scoutopedia.

People and methods involved

Who was involved in the project, how many people, what methods did you use (teams, presentations, weekends, etc...)

There is over 1000 user accounts created in all local wikies all together (PartioWiki 500+, WikiRoca 200+, Scoutopedia 100+, Pfadiwiki 100+, Scoutpedia ~100) and some user accounts have maybe made just one little change, but there are hundreds active people who contribute their projects regulary.

PartioWiki: The main methods are own IRC-channel, where are ~20 active users online to talk about improving PartioWiki or to help random users seeking help. We have kept two "Weekends of wikifying", when we try to contribute PartioWiki as much as possible. One was at the same time as JOTI and JOTA. We have kept one "Workcamp", with a few people with their computers. It's more fun to contribute, when you do it together. Number of users and pages is now growing slowly but steadily, most active contributors write or fix a thing or two daily.

Scoutpedia.nl: The scoutpedia was initiated by two friends from the same scout group. They did not want to promote the project extensively unless it had grown somewhat larger, but due to promotion on Dutch language wikipedia, as well as on a few Dutch scouting communities, supported by a high google ranking, the scoutpedia gained about 20 active users of all ages over time. The structure and way of discussion is merely based on how it is done on wikipedia, due to the fact that half of the active users is also present there.

The process

Sequence of steps, describing what you did and when
Each scoutwiki was created as an initiative of individual scouts, exploring the possibilities of the wiki-system for scouting purposes.

The development of a scoutwiki follows more or less the way of development of other wiki's on the web, after the wiki is created:

  1. The sowing phase: One or two people are keeping the system running: the aim is keeping the wiki alive by contributing at least every few days, building an architecture for structuring all articles, and welcoming newcomers and passers by, hoping that they will return
  2. The germinating phase: The project succeeded in catching a few people. The amount of cooperating people is still low, but unlike the sowing phase, the project won't stop when one person quits contribution. The amount of articles increases slowly
  3. Young shoot phase: Many people are contributing. The amount of new articles and edits in existing ones is high. The project is already quite useful as knowledge bank.
  4. Fully-grown phase: On almost each subject an article can be found. The creation of really new articles is quite rare. The edits are mostly in the field of deepening and reformulating existing articles. The wiki has several hundreds of regular contributors.

The existing scoutwiki's are currently all in the sowing or germinating phase.


This development structure is strongly based on Evolution of a Wikipedia (2004, in Dutch) on meta.wikimedia.org

The outcomes

What were the results, what changed
There has ever been more than 4000 articles written on the whole ScoutWiki network, in different languages, and it is just the begining ! As we use a wiki system (like on Wikipedia), every one is able to improve each article content, or to create an article.

So, wiki turned out to be a great tool for unifying scouts on a common project. This is particularly remarkable in France, where scouting is very divided : in that country, scouts were used mainly to condemn those who where not in their organizations, those belonging to WOSM-related organizations considering those being not related to it as fake-scouts, and those belonging to non-WOSM-related organizations condidering them as having dropped all the principles from BP. With contributing to Scoutopedia, all of them came to have a new look on the problem, and saw that they had lots of things in common, so that maybe they were not so bad after all ...

Being language-based, and not only nationally-based, scouting wiki can also help scouts to discover the specificities of other ways of scouting without leaving the front of their computer. That has been widely extended by the internationalization, whose main effect is to link the articles on the same topics in different languages. So that, scouts of one cultural area can discover the technics and scouting specificities of those of another : Dutch scouts were astounded to discover that their French and Finnish counterparts didn't have to rent their campsites ...

Main categories

PartioWiki: History, Age Groups, Publications, PartioWiki, Scouting, Scouting Skills, Scouting Customs, Being a Scout, Camping destinations, Events, Badges, Equipment, Associations

Top 10 articles

PartioWiki: Front page, Front page during wikifying weekend, List of knots, List of troops/groups, Reef knot, Toimen Pojat/Juhlalaavu (group project), Toimen Pojat (group), Hut, Trangia, Robert Baden-Powell

Difficulties

Problems you had to face, what did not work and why, what others should be careful about and learn from
For each individual scoutwiki's, two main problems are experienced:

  1. Attracting people to help with the project. The sowing phase mentioned earlier is very important to keep the wiki going. When it looks to a newcomer like contributing is not useful because nobody will ever read his information, nobody will be attracted to help. The person who starts a new scoutwiki can deal with this problem by staying closely involved with the project, instead of expecting that someone else will fill in all information. The person who has started the wiki, can take a step back from the moment that other people start being involved with the wiki as well.
  2. Other large scouting websites and communities on the internet, for example the scouting section on en.wikipedia.org. People might wonder wheather yet another knowledge databank on the internet is necessary, while there is already a lot of material like this. Potential contributors have to learn that the scoutwiki's have all the advantages of a wiki: everyone can contribute directly to this databank, and furthermore, it is not just a place for encyclopedic facts, but for much more.

For the international scoutwiki, the biggest problem is the fact that there is currently no English version to glue the other scoutwiki's together. As on wikipedia, articles in various languages are linked to each other, so that people can get more information from other languages if they need to. Due to the fact that Finnish people can't read Dutch and vice versa, an English version would be great as an intermediate.

Photos and other examples describing the project

Technologies used

How Scoutwikis are funded