WCN 2017/Programma/Digital Volunteering en Discussie over de toekomst van de WCN/Digital Volunteering

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Presentation by Gereon Kalkuhl at the Wikimedia Conferentie Nederland 2017:


We all know volunteering, because that is what we do in our Wikimedia projects. Historically there are differences in definition between volunteering, civic engagement, civic participation, community service (Vrijwilligerswerk) and charity, but generally what is seen as volunteering nowadays means doing something for the common good without getting paid for it.

What is well known worldwide are the classical types of volunteering. To give just a few examples:

But what we do and what we want to promote and what we lobby for is a new form of volunteering, the digital volunteering.

Governments and the common public sector need volunteers to have a healthy and self-sufficient society and infrastructure. So they promote volunteering. But many in high powers have not recognized yet that digital volunteering is just as important as any other form of volunteering.

Before introducing some examples of digital volunteering it has to be stated that each government has a budget for supporting volunteer work. But the percentage that trickles down to digital volunteering is very small. So we have to lobby for making this percentage bigger.

I would now like to show some examples of projects that help digital volunteers to get a higher recognition of their work.



The first one is the so-called “Ehrenamtskarte”, which would maybe translate as volunteering card or vrijwilligerswerkkaart. Every German state has a different system, other systems exist in Austria and Switzerland. It was proposed to have a card like this Europe-wide in 2011, but we don't have it yet. One of the most successful of these cards is issued in the state of Noordrijn-Westfalen.

This is one example of recognition and support we can get for our volunteer work. But more acceptance and recognition can be found in lobbying for free licenses.


In October 2004 a Wikipedian, User:Arnomane, found out that the photographies of the European Space Agency are not compatible with our licenses. So he wrote an e-mail to their public help desk. Finaly in February 2017 the ESA announced a comprehensive Open Access policy that includes CC-by-sa 3.0 IGO. Since the ESA is in France French Wikimedians and the French chapter had gotten involved as early as 2005. Among others Delphine Ménard met with the ESA.

Press conferences and images of tax-payed public television

Wikipedians from Keulen successfully lobbied for getting access to press conferences and made the Westdeutscher Rundfunk start to rethink their license policies.

The Red Cross


To get support you need a project and you need something presentable. A good example is an initiative of the Red Cross. They received sponsorship, among others, of the German Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend.



In 2010 two people in wheelchairs wanted to meet in a café, but couldn’t access it. It was difficult to find a compatible café. They started a project similar to OpenStreetMap for wheelchair accesibility. Wheelmap received awards by among others Vodafone and Microsoft. The received the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Orde van Verdienste van de Bondsrepubliek Duitsland).