Diego Hättenschwiler has been organizing Wiki Workshops for ten years. Here, experienced Wikipedians and those who would like to become one can get to know each other, expand their knowledge in a personal exchange and learn what needs to be considered in the wiki world. In this interview, Diego gives us some insights.

Hi Diego, how did this format come about?

A good 10 years ago, the Swiss National Library began actively contributing to Wikipedia, in particular by uploading a vast quantity of images to Wikimedia Commons. This gave me the idea to ask the National Library whether we could hold workshops on Wikipedia on its premises. Thanks to their acceptance, we were able to meet for the first time on May 24, 2014.

And what happened next?

As the National Library has a huge collection on all topics relating to Switzerland, all participants were able to research and improve Wikipedia according to their interests. And then, totally unexpectedly, the National Library received a cost-cutting order from politicians. This was implemented by abolishing the previous Saturday opening hours. Unsurprisingly, our protest against this did not help. As a result, from 2018 onwards, we had to look for a new location to house our workshops. At first, we were able to meet a few times in the premises of the Swiss Archive of the Performing Arts, also located in Bern.

Then the PTT Archive and SBB Historic invited us to visit their respective premises in Köniz and Brugg/Windisch. This is how a cost-cutting measure unintentionally turned into a varied journey through Switzerland. There are memorial institutions that invite us because, for example, an exhibition is currently on. We are regular visitors to other libraries and archives as well. Over 60 Wiki workshops have come together in ten years. We have also continued during the pandemic, occasionally online, but mostly at the memory institutions.

What is the situation in Switzerland? Are there similar series of events in other language regions?

In Neuchâtel, there are regular Wikipedia meetings on topics related to the canton of Neuchâtel, some of them at the memory institutions. Here’s the project page: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projet:WikiNeocomensia.

In today’s society, which is looking for distraction in its free time, are there still people who want to familiarize themselves with the somewhat brittle Wiki world?

There are only a few newcomers who become active. In my experience, newly retired people are the most likely to stick with it. They want to do something meaningful and often already have experience with writing.

What can Wikimedia CH do to inspire more people to work on the largest online encyclopedia?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a patent remedy for this! One idea would be to try to learn from the Wiki Education Foundation. This organization successfully recruits numerous students and lecturers for Wikipedia in the USA. First as part of their studies, then some of them continue their wiki activities. https://wikiedu.org/

If you could wish for something for the wiki world, what would it be?

Copyright should only apply to the protection of works by living artists who so wish. Under current copyright law, photos can generally not be used for Wikipedia until 70 years after the death of the (often unknown) photographer!

Thank you very much, Diego, for your answers and even more for your commitment in and for the Wiki Movement.

All who want to know more or to participate, will find information and contact options on the Wikipedia project page: WikiProjekt_Schweiz/Atelier.