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Calling South African Literature Enthusiasts for Open Book Festival’s Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

Open Book Festival Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

At the Open Book Festival this year, in a combined effort with the University of Cape Town, volunteers will gather to update the Wikipedia pages focused on South African literature and authors.

The aim of the project is to shift the control of South African web content to South Africans.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but if you search for any reasonably well-known South African author, you are likely to come across the dreaded words: “This article about a South African writer or poet is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.”

According to Open Book organisers: “It is becoming apparent that most of the content on Wikipedia pertaining to South Africa, and the continent in general, is curated by people from outside of South Africa and, as such, much of it is outdated or inefficient.”

The Edit-a-thon kicked off in August, when 13 editors from UCT’s mentorship programme and 13 volunteers gathered for training on how to edit Wikipedia.

The next event is happening at The Book Lounge in Cape Town on September 5, at the Book Lounge from 17.30 to 19.00, with the Edit-a-thon proper scheduled for 20 September, during the festival, at the Fugard Theatre. The big event will include a discussion as well as uploading of content.

“The next event is basically a bunch of editors getting together to post content,” festival co-ordinator Frankie Murray tells Books LIVE, “and then the big event will be at the festival where there will be content being posted and a discussion.”

Murray says the submission of content is going well, but adds that in this situation there is no such thing as too much information.

“It’s been a mixed bag,” she says. “People are really interested, but getting the information out of them isn’t always easy. Everyone thinks it’s a brilliant idea, but it is also quite a lot of work.”

We’re confident Books LIVE readers have invaluable South African literary knowledge to share! For more information, please contact Wanjiru Koinange on

Press release

Open Book Festival, together with the University of Cape Town, will be presenting a Wikipedia Edit–a-thon focused on South African literature. It will run from August to September 2014 at various venues around Cape Town. The sole aim of this series will be to update and create Wikipedia pages for as many South African authors as possible, thus allowing South Africa to be a part of creating knowledge and crafting history.

It is becoming apparent that most of the content on Wikipedia pertaining to South Africa, and the continent in general, is curated by people from outside of South Africa and, as such, much of it is outdated or inefficient. Open Book Festival wants this to change. Therefore, thirteen editors from the University of Cape Town’s mentorship program and another thirteen volunteers have been chosen to participate in four events to update the South African literature content on Wikipedia.

The series of events are as follows:

Wikihow Workshop on 25 July: The contributors will attend a short edit-a-thon workshop at the University of Cape Town where they will be provided with all the skills and information needed to create, edit and upload a Wikipedia entry. After this training, they will be assigned specific content to research and edit, which will be used at three follow-up edit-a-thon events.
Build up events on 29 August and 5 September: Once the editors are familiar with the Wikipedia entry system, Open Book will host two build up events that will kick-start the edit-a-thon series. The public will be invited to come and view the live editing process. (Venues are still to be confirmed.)
Edit-a-thon on 21st September: All the previous events will be a build up to the official Edit-a-thon that will take place during the Open Book Festival. Contributors will upload their pre-approved content simultaneously and people from around the world will also be encouraged via traditional and social media to upload their own content. While this is happening, there will be a discussion about the content that will be streamed live on a screen inside the Fugard Theatre, one of the main hubs for Open Book Festival events.

All literature enthusiasts are invited to send through information on authors, literature festivals or general South African literature that they would like to have included on the Wikipedia pages. The content will be fact-checked before it goes live at the Edit-a-thon in September.

This is a huge undertaking and one that cannot be completed in its entirety during the festival, therefore the Open Book team hopes that this Edit-a-thon will start a chain reaction that encourages individuals to upload pages for the authors that interest them. The primary goal is to increase not only the amount of information available to literary fans around the world, but the quality thereof.


  • Build up event on 5 September 2014
  • Edit-a-thon on 21 September 2014



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