On November 9 2009, the Bulgarian Wikipedia was awarded the special prize for overall contribution to Bulgarian web space by the jury of the competition "BG Site". This recognition comes in the year of the competition's tenth anniversary, and less than a month before Bulgarian Wikipedia's sixth anniversary on December 6 2009.
The prize was accepted on behalf of the Wikipedian community by Spiritia and SilentShout. It consists of a diploma and a statuette, created by the sculptor Ivo Arnaudov. This year, 16 prizes were awarded: 12 in the competition categories, 1 by Microsoft Bulgaria and 3 special awards by the jury. Along with the Bulgarian Wikipedia, a special prize for contribution to Bulgarian web space was awarded to Mr. Bogomil Shopov, a Bulgarian proponent of digital rights and free or open source software.
The founder of the "BG Site" competition, Mrs. Justine Toms, kindly agreed to answer to several questions for the Wikipedia Signpost.
What was the motivation of the Jury of BG Site to award this special prize to BG Wikipedia? Is there any connection with Jimmy Wales' visit to Bulgaria earlier this year?
The Jury of BG Site selecting special prize awards consists of 6 experts, well recognised and influential people. Each of them has the task to follow the Internet, to catch important events, websites, people. And a few days before the Awards giving night this experts meet together and everyone makes between 1 and 5 proposals - nominations. Then all proposals are voted and just 3 projects / people get an award. No, I don't think the nomination and the award had to do with Jimmy Wales' visit to Bulgaria. Sure it was so inspiring to have him here and all his lectures were very welcome. But the award for bg.wikipedia.org has much more to do with the great work done by the Bulgarian team of Wikipedia, with the everyday growing content in Bulgarian language, with all the work done pro-bono, the impact and importance of Wikipedia as such.
How long since you've been following the development of BG Wikipedia, and Wikipedia in general? What were your very first impressions from Wikipedia and how did they evolve with time?
I follow the development of Wikipedia since the beginning and I am really impressed with its fast development in so many countries, including Bulgaria. I also teach students at the University and very often students start their homework with Wikipedia quotations. Then I try to involve them as well to contribute and say - it is OK if you go to school and copy from Wikipedia, but when you go to the University it is now your time to write it. Not many of them are ready to write, but I am happy if at least few of them do it.
Have you edited Wikipedia by yourself and what was your personal experience? What is your advise or ideas for future development and improvement of the content, as well as the look and feel of the site?
Yes. What I do is - looking for missing important topics, such which I feel confident to write about, then I check them in English, surf to find more relevant sources and information and then - I write. For myself I have to go more into details as formatting and linking. The simple look of the site is very good for its purposes, so I don't think it should be changed.
What is your vision of how to make Wikipedia more popular and attract more voluntary contributors in future? How do you feel about the online voluntarism and freely licensed content?
I do believe in freely licensed content, as well as I do believe more people have to contribute and voluntary work for such projects. Wikipedia is popular enough. Just more people have to be invited to contribute. Eventually more partners at Universities have to be found - both students and professors. As well more media partners could help with placing banners, inviting more collaborators.