Education/News/April 2018/Txikipedia is born and you'll love it

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Txikipedia is born and you'll love it


Author: Galder Gonzalez

Txikipedia, little and free

Summary: Since the beginning of the Wikipedia there has been a discussion about how to address age knowledge-gap. Wikipedia articles are, usually, too long, technical and full of academic standards. Children are Wikipedia consumers, as many teachers and parents are pointing, but they find it hard to understand and it is definitely not written for them. Basque Wikipedia has created the Txikipedia, the first Wikipedia version —as far as our knowledge goes— for children integrated within Wikipedia. Txiki means "little" in Basque language, and now we launch this new project offering a thousand articles designed specially for children, with a goal to write all the human knowledge for kids.

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. Including children. How do we handle our mission if one of our main targets (those who are studying and learning about the world for the first time) is excluded from our knowledge? Wikipedia articles tend to be too long and meet the Academia standards of notability, accuracy and referencing. Or that is our goal. We have been briefed many times that children do not understand the texts or the way they are built.

Take the article water in English Wikipedia and download it as a PDF. It takes 25 pages full of information about this chemical molecule that has two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen and a comprehensibility of 4.4 to 5.1×10−10 Pa−1. We have to go to the middle of the article to find that water is, indeed, for drinking. Take now the same article in Basque Wikipedia: ur. It is only five pages long, but because we have not written all we know about water. Only five pages is a lot for children who only want to get some facts about this odorless, colorless and tasteless liquid. Or shall we rephrase it? This liquid you can not smell, does not have any colour and does not taste.

Screen capture of article about water in Txikipedia

Have you opened the Basque language article about water? Do it, please. And look at the top tabs. You will find a link called Txikipedia next to the Talk tab. There is where fun begins. The Txikipedia article is shorter, easier to read, with interesting but not elevated facts, two practical videos, a graphical interface and a bigger typography. It is one of the 1,000 articles included in the Txikipedia, the Wikipedia version for children aged 8-13.

The root of this project was stored for some years in the Vikidia [1], but the lack of visibility of Basque Vikidia among Basque users contributed to get everything packed from Vikidia and rebuild it INSIDE Wikipedia. And we are the first, as far as we know. After a discussion of some weeks, we decided that an extra tab system could be the best option to accommodate it, and some wikimedians helped us in Phabricator with the task. Graphics have also been changed, so some CSS changes are needed to implement it. But yes... it can be done, the result is enticing, and teachers are loving it. During some days, we have been addressed in a good number of interviews, and some extra media covers are on their way now.

Tags: children, txikipedia, age diversity