Loving Malta

The eye tends to be too harsh a critic of the familiar, dismissing it with contempt.  Perhaps this is a survival mechanism for how would we function if we were to stop to admire everything that is great around us?  Perhaps it is as a reaction to this muting of our senses that, opened up to new sights on trips abroad, this inner critic is silenced such that minor details are marvelled upon and elevated to treasured memories.

Still, it can’t but feel that we’re missing out by not truly appreciating the treasures that surround us.

Which is what makes the Wiki Loves Monuments contest so special.  Part of the effort to enrich the photo library of the world biggest encyclopaedia (Wikipedia, in case you missed that) it challenges people regardless of their abilities to go out and capture on film the monuments that surround them.

An increasingly worldwide event, Wiki Loves Monuments was held in Malta last year and the response was, according to founding member of Wikipedia Malta Neville Borg, “overwhelming”.

“We received over 1,100 submissions to the competition, which far exceeded the wildest expectations of both the local organising team as well as the international Wiki Loves Monuments team, which went out of its way to commend Malta on its level of participation.”

The contest, as such a title suggests, has a competitive element in it with the prizes for the top entries.  The importance of this event, however, goes well beyond that

“Photos that are submitted but do not win are still all available on Wikimedia Commons for public use both within Wiki projects, such as in Wikipedia articles or Wikivoyage as well as for use outside the Wiki environment,” Neville explains.  “So, just to mention one example, through last year's local Wiki Loves Monuments a researcher working within the field of cultural heritage now has an additional 1,100 photos in the public domain which can be used for their research and documentation.”

“For this reason, we believe that every single photo which is submitted to the competition is hugely valuable, regardless of whether it ranks in the final top ten or not.”

Given that Wikipedia as a platform aims to collect and share as much information about the world around us, it does not come as a surprise that the aims of this contest are similarly altruistic.

“Our hopes for this year are to continue encouraging more individuals and organisations to view Wikipedia and the Wiki universe as a valuable and reliable way in which to document and share their own knowledge.”

“We would like people to come to view Wikipedia not only as a tool through which they can access information, but one through which they can also contribute their own knowledge through a collaborative, open-access platform. Wiki Loves Monuments is integral in this respect, as it enables many people to form part of this worldwide collaborative knowledge-sharing project for the first time.”

It is such a desire that fuels the growing local Wikipedia community.

“There are many encouraging signs.  There is a small, but highly committed core of users who are passionate about improving Malta-related content on Wikipedia, and we have made great inroads in bringing awareness of Wikipedia as a tool for documentation over the past year.”

“In 2017 alone, we have collaborated with various cultural and public entities, including the Gabriel Caruana Foundation, Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, and the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta, amongst others. We have also continued our fruitful relationship with Spazju Kreattiv and are collaborating with Heritage Malta for the first time on this year's edition of Wiki Loves Monuments.”

“This promises well for the further development of Malta-related content on both English and Maltese-language Wikipedia.”

The full details of how to take part in Wiki Loves Monuments can be found here whilst the Facebook page of Wikipedia Malta can (and should) be followed here.


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