Our colleague Ms Mei Jiun Kwek from the CFF Secretariat just came back from Wikimania 2012, an annual conference of Wikipedians that took place 12-14 July 2012, at George Washington University, D.C. We are grateful to Wikimedia Foundation for providing Mei Jiun with a full travel grant, in recognition for her efforts over the last 10 months to add content to Wikipedia on underutilised crops and related topics. CFF has learned a lot from her experience with editing articles and placing high-quality images in the public domain. Wikimania was a tremendous opportunity for her to liaise with fellow Wikipedians from all walks of life, and she came back fully confirmed in her strong belief that Wikipedia, despite its success, is still an underused tool for knowledge dissemination in our community.
Despite the problems Wikipedia is currently facing, the encyclopaedia is ever more becoming the premier entry point for the world’s knowledge. Google for any crop name, scientific or vernacular, and it is rather unlikely you will not be referred to the Wikipedia article on the subject in the first place. It is here where references to your work will be noticed, and where you can contribute content read by more people from diverse backgrounds than on most corporate or personal webpages. Instead of writing the umpteenth fact sheet on crop x, should we not consider improving the relevant Wikipedia article? Rather than keeping our opinions and the knowledge in our publications to a close circle of specialists, have we considered adding that knowledge to Wikipedia? We are here not arguing to use Wikipedia for personal or corporate promotion, a futile undertaking in any case, since the encyclopaedia has processes in place to prevent such abuse.
The challenge for CFF will be to further learn how as a community of crop diversity specialists we can use Wikipedia and other Internet tools to facilitate the access to dispersed but relevant knowledge and also make it available to the general public, which are major institutional objectives for CFF. We will need to communicate to our stakeholders how contributing knowledge to Wikipedia can result in considerable benefits for those engaging in that activity. In future issues of this newsletter we will also share with you news about specific skills, training modules and resource pages to help future agrobiodiversity Wikipedians to engage in collective knowledge management. Stay tuned!