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Wikipedia marathons: editing for rights in Argentina

25 July 2019

People at computer

Gianluca is a high school student who strives to be one of the best of his class. But when one lives in Buenos Aires, time is also needed to watch soccer star Lionel Messi’s latest goals or to drink some mate tea with friends, as Argentine tradition dictates. Like most of his peers, he largely relies on the Internet to do his homework. “We use Wikipedia quite a bit”, he admits.

However, he is aware that some information found quickly on the Internet may not always be accurate. “That’s why it is important for me to contribute”, he says.

Gianluca participated in the first-ever edition marathon jointly organized by UN Human Rights and Wikimedia, carried out in July in Argentina’s capital city. The subject: women’s and LGBTI people’s rights.

But what exactly is an edition marathon – or editathon, using Wikipedia jargon?

Campaigning for free knowledge

Lila Monasterios is from Bolivia. Living in Buenos Aires, she devotes most of her time to study for her masters’ degree, but one Saturday she decided to grab her laptop and spend some time editing on Wikipedia. She wanted to meet other people interested in human rights while sharing her knowledge.

That is what Lila found at the editathon supported by UN Human Rights in Argentina. She met people with different backgrounds and levels of experience, some of whom were human rights experts but did not have a clue on Wikipedia edition – and the other way around. They gathered in the same room for a few hours, with different laptops but a common purpose: creating or improving human rights-related content on Wikipedia, using official UN sources.

“Every time we edit, we campaign for free knowledge. And in this case, Wikipedia becomes a tool to make human rights increasingly visible, to democratize them”, says Lucas Reynoso, a regular Wikipedia contributor.

Luisina Ferrante, from Wikimedia Argentina, explains that editathons unite people and organizations to build quality content in Wikipedia. Although editathons may take different forms and address different subjects, human rights are a top priority. “Human rights issues are in constant development, so we need to reflect such development in Wikipedia too, and now with the specialized support of UN Human Rights”, she says.

Editing for rights – ¡en español!

"We often have a hard time to access reliable sources or verified information, quickly and, above all, in Spanish”, says Adrian Arden, a journalist with extensive experience covering stories on women’s and children’s rights. He values the idea of optimizing Wikimedia with official UN sources, which are essential for his work. “Initiatives like this are much needed in light of a worrying trend of deliberate misinformation, with inaccuracies all too often offering misleading information on human rights that risk being amplified through traditional or social media", he adds.

Wikipedia is available in over 217 languages, reducing access barriers for millions of people around the world. “Wikipedia is a multilingual experience that is available in as many languages as people are creating content on it”, explains Galileo Vidoni, vice-chair of Wikimedia Argentina. “So it not only serves to disseminate free knowledge, but also to safeguard and promote minority languages".

UN Human Rights chief of external relations, Laurent Sauveur, also highlights multilingualism as a cornerstone for rights. “Access to information and education enables people to exercise their rights. This is why we kicked off this exciting new partnership with Wikimedia through our regional office for South America, in Spanish, where contributors from the region were able to use UN sources in an interactive, participatory manner”.

The first editathon supported by UN Human Rights was a success: during the activity, 19 articles about human rights were created or updated in Wikipedia’s Spanish version, including the entry about the UN Convention on Women’s Rights (CEDAW).

Promoting a better understanding of human rights and making this knowledge available to a broader constituency is one of the priorities of UN Human Rights.

That’s why, according to Sauveur, more is yet to come from this collaboration, including editathons in other countries. “This is a call on people to also stand up for human rights in the digital world, no matter where they are and in their own language, so other members of their community and beyond can know their rights and uphold them”, he concludes.

People at computer