Tatarstan ordered articles in Wikipedia
23 октября 2020 года
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A 1 million rubles maximum contract price order for Wikipedia articles creation was published (Архивная копия от 13 ноября 2020 на Wayback Machine) at the Russian Federal Portal for State Procurement on October 19th, 2020. The buyer — Tatarstan Investment Development Agency, using funds from the budget of the Republic — intends to have equally well developed materials describing investment infrastructure of the Republic published in three language sections — Russian Wikipedia, Tatar Wikipedia and English Wikipedia. The following stages of the project covers article development in 8 more of 11 target languages of the agency in line with the dedicated articles for creation and improvement list. The first e-auction will take place on October 28th, 2020 at 6:05 UTC.
Contractual conditions stipulate:
1. The Contractor prepares and provides to the Client the article texts in Russian language for approval — within 15 days from awarding the Contract,
2. The Client approves the article texts or communicates a list of comments to the Contractor — within 10 calendar days from receiving the articles texts from the Contractor,
3. The Contractor introduces corrections in line with the Clients comments and returns the materials for re-approval — within 3 working days from receiving the comments,
4. The Contractor organizes translation of the approved article texts from Russian into Tatar and English — within 5 working days post text approval by the Client,
5. The Contractor uploads the articles into the Russian Wikipedia — within 15 calendar days post text approval by the Client,
6. The Contractor uploads the articles into the Tatar and English Wikipedia — within 15 calendar days post text approval by the Client.
Wikinews: How did this come about?
Farhad Fatkullin: It started with the Wikimedia world concept — human standing in the center of the world with all the knowledge there is being within equally easy reach. By the time of Wikimania 2019 closing ceremony it became clear to me that we can be serious about progressing towards achieving Wikimedia Vision only if we are conscious of the need and are successful in continuously engaging more people and other resources into documenting and disseminating all of the world’s knowledge. I am clearly not the only one to get this, but Tatarstan, where I live, has a track-record of coming up with innovative ideas, investing into those and making things happen (First President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev coined this motto in Tatar as Без булдырабыз / Bez buldırabız), and the Republic demonstrates both the desire and readiness to be more open to the world. With local folks being proud of everything Tatar and Tatarstan, I felt this historic opportunity should be capitalized on for the benefit of all Wikimedia stakeholders. Then it was a purely technical question — if locally we are still missing some ingredients necessary to gain traction when trying to introduce the importance of Wikimedia presence and using opportunities it offers to Tatarstan schools, teachers and students, its libraries, librarians and their visitors or its municipal authorities, we should clearly direct our efforts to where people will be ready for cooperation or at least showing some interest. So I first offered looking into this to Tatarstan Tourism Development Center and then reached out to TIDA — the latter project seems to be advancing faster.
Tatar Wikipedia logo
Tatarstan map with key settlements - the logo of "Wiki-Tatarstan" project
Wikimedia Russia (Wikimedia RU Non-profit Partnership) logo - project consultant
Wikinews: How did this turn into the public procurement contract at the federal website? And who is expected to become the «Official» Contractor?
Farhad Fatkullin: I value the interest and trust of our respected local partners. We discussed various possible approaches for both Wikimedia community and non-Wikimedian stakeholders to see the outcome as a success during our first and only in-person project working group meeting — I introduced the idea on March 19th, 2020, shortly before full-scale spring lockdowns were introduced due to COVID-19 pandemic in Russia (see p.3 in the latest wikimedia-l report in English). It turned out that TIDA being a regional agency is unable to initiate and otherwise sponsor Wiki-contests like Federal-level state or private players, the process of hiring Wikimedians-in-Residence the way it is practiced by foreign or intergovernmental institutions locally has too much red tape and any new position creation in a public institution requires excessively long and challenging approvals, whilst initiating public procurement contract is within their easy reach. During detailed consultations in April we formulated the project concept the way we see it surface publicly today, and then Vladimir Medeyko («Wikimedia RU» Non-Profit Partnership director — WN) voiced preliminary approval for «Wikimedia Russia» or its separate members to take part in tendering procedures and/or implementation of related state contracts if otherwise complying with all applying Wikimedia policies on paid editing disclosure, possible COI etc. in every project. Throughout the month of May TIDA team has obtained preliminary approvals from the leadership of the Republic, running detailed consultations with other regional departments in June. I was then requested to provide contacts of Russia’s Wikimedians experienced in paid editing and declaration of COI in the Russian Wikipedia — here I obtained permission and confidently recommended Anna Biryukova, Dmitry Erokhin and Dmitry Rozhkov. The agency team was very busy with other priority projects in July-August-September period, so we are seeing this reach fruition just now. Meanwhile, I was supporting this and other parallel efforts with onwiki documentation and periodic communication to Tatar, Russia-wide and international Wiki-community by Telegram groups and email.
Wikinews: Who can take part in the project? And how can its Contractor assure that newly-created articles and introduced changes into existing Wikipedia materials be accepted? What is the plan for interacting with onwiki-community and complying with Wikimedia projects' principles and policies?
Farhad Fatkullin: Russian procedures and requirements for the public procurement of goods and services are clearly stipulated within respective legislation and related normative documents. A legal entity or a private proprietor that will accept to take on this public contract must comply with the law of the land, the requirements of the Client, as well as the principles, policies and practices of the Wikimedia projects. Non-compliance with the latter is likely to have a much more unpleasant consequences, as failure here likely to get to the frontpages of the global media, whilst the success is likely to be left largely unnoticed, though will transform the world we are living in. The very fact that TIDA trusted me and agreed to take this on, gave me green light to publicize these first steps of theirs all around Russia and the world, welcomed creating & updating public list of articles for creation and improvement (small share of Wikidata elements are still to be created), that this very interaction with you is now taking place and Wikinews' readiness to publish this material in the framework of its «Multilingualism» project are a confirmation that process organizers understand the importance of making everything right. Whoever wins the tender will either play it by the rules, thus earning the respect in Wikimedian circles, or will be shamed in all large Wikipedia language sections and then around the world — so responsibility for selecting participating editors, providing transparency for their actions and complience with all requirements is part of the burden. As for the level of complexity and related liability, I would only compare this to performance of contractors that supply critical infrastructure for Olympic games or Spaceflight, though without similar political and financial clout.
Wikimedia logo surrounded by those of separate projects
Wikimedia Community of Tatar language User Group logo — project consultants
Wiki-Smart Humanity project logo
Wikinews: How will the Contractor be able to assure placement of articles or introducing changes into existing ones if Wikipedia community will reject those or even actively block those promoting such? Are project participants obliged to place Paid Editor templates?
Farhad Fatkullin: Wikimedia movement declared its goal to be creation of free content about everything in the Universe and aspiring to make it accessible in native tongue of every human, so the above-mentioned hypothetical situation is possible if the Contractor and participating editors don’t properly inform respective language Wikipedia and other related Wikimedia project communities (Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons) or otherwise do not comply with Wikimedia project practices. As a co-initiator of Wiki-Tatarstan and this specific sub-project, I am clearly interested in the successful outcome for all stakeholders, so trying to help on communication side; TIDA team made sure to introduce respective compliance requirements into the Tender Specifications; but the final liability will be born by the Contractor and editors' team. In a way, this is like the responsibility for Russian Ambassador and other embassy corps representing the country in the UN is born by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs and then the Government, the President, citizens and the wider society within the country.
I am confident that both Tatar Wikipedia as well as wider Tatar-speaking global community will be grateful to have a quality encyclopedic content in good Tatar that is supported by reliable independent sources. Active local wiki-community didn’t yet develop a template to declare Paid editing, didn’t create a Conflict of Interest declaration page or related local procedures, nor has the users ready to track it. As for the material to be offered for acceptance by the Russian or English Wikipedia communities, as well as others in the following stages — tendering procedure documentation makes complying with local requirements and procedures a Contractor responsibility.
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