In the latest edition of the Babel Series (see sidebar at bottom right), the Signpost traveled to the French Wikipedia to interview members of Projet Tunisie (Tunisia WikiProject). Created in April 2006, the project has 24 featured articles in its scope. We interviewed Dyolf77, Moumou82, and Pradigue.
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What motivated you to join WikiProject Tunisia? Do you live in Tunisia? Have you contributed to the projects covering any other countries?
Dyolf77: I started to edit the article dedicated to my city in French Wikipedia, Sayada. A sysop, Moumou82, invited me to join the WikiProject Tunisia, I was very excited to begin an extraordinary adventure with Wikipedia. Now I am active in Wikimedia Commons and edit some articles in French and Arabic Wikipedia.
Moumou82: I was contributing on a few articles about Tunisia when Kassus created the WikiProject Tunisia in April 2006 and asked me to join and help organize it. I started to contribute more and more about this country, creating templates, listing articles to create and encouraging new users to contribute. I was born and live in Switzerland but my father's family is from Tunisia, this is why I have been interested to help build contents about this country. At the same time, I contribute regularly to articles about my native country when time allows.
Pradigue: I do not live in Tunisia, but I know a little bit about this country, having been there about fifteen times. I work mostly on contents related to archaeology and ancient history of this country, Punic and Roman periods. I also work on other countries but still in the same themes.
How did the Tunisian Revolution impact the project? Are there any articles or templates that still need to be updated to reflect the current situation in Tunisia?
Dyolf77: The Tunisian Revolution permitted to people to speak freely, then in Wikipedia, the fallout was an increase in vandalism in politicians articles which were not popular, even censored once!
Moumou82: As Dyolf77 mentioned, it definitively enabled contributors to access sources that were not much available previously due to censorship or because topics were poorly covered due to the previous regime's policies. Articles that still need to be updated are those related to the political system or elections in Tunisia. I think this is mainly due to the fact the country is still going through a transition process and the nature of the new regime is still not clear at this point. This being said, most articles about the main parties and politicians have been developed and regularly updated since the revolution took place.
The location of Tunisia, in north Africa
How difficult has it been to acquire images for articles about Tunisia? Did the project participate in Wiki Loves Monuments? Are there any subjects that could be easily photographed by a Wikipedia editor living or traveling in a particular part of the country?
Dyolf77: Taking photos is relatively easy now. We organized this year the Wiki Loves Monuments contest in Tunisia for the first time, we received 1555 pictures from 65 photographers. On November 23rd, we made an exhibition of about 50 photographs from the contest, the opening ceremony was a very nice opportunity to speak about Wikipedia and how to promote it in Tunisia.
Moumou82: It depends on the places in Tunisia, for example important cities like the capital Tunis or touristic sites like Jerba begin to be well covered while this is very different for regions like those of Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid or El Kef in western Tunisia, which are outside of main roads and rarely visited by tourists. Possible items to photograph are listed here and it is still possible for local or visiting Wikipedians to ask on the WikiProject talk page what could be photographed if they are going to specific places.
Have you contributed to the Tunisia Portal? What role do portals play on the French Wikipedia?
Moumou82: I created the portal in August 2006 and I am regularly updating it since then. Portals on the French Wikipedia are playing the role of a gate for readers to access the encyclopedia's contents about a specific topic, here a country. While providing an index of the main articles in each sub-theme, we present quality and good articles about Tunisia, beautiful pictures taken from Commons, news about the country, or some "Did you know" facts.
Pradigue: I would only add little to Moumou's statement above. The Tunisia Portal is very developed compared to others, this is significantly related to the involvement and rigor of Moumou82 who watches without hindering contributors. Maintaining quality requires this surveillance.
Do you read or edit articles in other languages? Has the French Wikipedia benefited from translating material from other languages of Wikipedia? Are there any important articles on the French Wikipedia that are currently neglected by the English Wikipedia?
Dyolf77: Yes of course I read and edit articles in other languages, especially in Arabic and English. The Arabic Wikipedia seems to be very poor in articles about Tunisia. I think that we have a lot of work to translate articles from French to Arabic and English.
Moumou82: From time to time, I check articles recently created about Tunisia in other languages I can understand (English, German, Italian, Spanish, etc.) and go through them to evaluate if these could be translated in French. While I rarely edit in other languages than French, I have translated several articles, like Kheireddine Pacha or Giuseppe Raffo, my main translation being an article about the archaeological site of Chemtou that was originally developed in German. From what I could see, articles about Tunisia are not so well covered in English compared to other Arabic countries like Irak for example but translation from French could help closing the gap.
Pradigue: Yes of course, I consult articles in other languages, but I do not contribute. According to me, the ancient history and archaeology articles about Carthage in particular are much more developed on the French Wikipedia and it would be interesting for English speakers to access the work here.
What are the project's most urgent needs? Can contributors from the English Wikipedia help the French WikiProject Tunisia? How can French Wikipedians contribute to the English Wikipedia's articles about Tunisia?
Moumou82: As for most projects, I would say more contributors as we have topics like sports, economy or arts that are not necessarily as well covered as history or archaeology currently are, which depend on the interests of users. I also think that contributors from the English Wikipedia could help in developing articles based on sources available in English (covering for example topics like history or religion), which can then be translated in French, or share pictures if they have visited Tunisia in the past; contributors from the French Wikipedia could also help contributors from the English Wikipedia if they have questions during their translations.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Moumou82: Writing about Tunisia enabled me to discover more about this country than what I knew about it before contributing to Wikipedia. This is definitively one of the good sides of this collective work!
Pradigue: Writing about Tunisia strengthened my deep interest and affection for this country and its people, which cross an area of turbulence I want the shortest possible.
Next week, we'll have a special report. Until then, explore our previous reports in the archive.