On February 24 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.
Days after the first shock, "Ukrainian Witness" began to fight back - digitally.
Because of the limited freedom of the press in Russia, it's extremely difficult for the people there to find out what's going on. Google is blocked, and so are most social media channels, like Twitter. With this in mind "Ukrainian Witness" went straight to the digital sources that could be read from within the Russian border. The Wikipedia.
"Everyone" can change a Wikipedia page. That’s the way in for Ukrainian Witness. Every month, 10.9 million Russians visit Russian Wikipedia. So, simply by adding pictures of devastation on Ukrainian city pages on Russian Wikipedia the truth about the war was shown in Russia, fighting against its propaganda.
"Ukrainian Witness" calls it "An activistic and guerrilla approach to using the platform in a way it has never been used before." But then, Russians - or bots? - fought back. So, Ukrainian Witness called for help and collaborated with Wikipedia editors around the world to keep making changes, and to make them last.
I'm surprised none of the Wikipedia editors went on a nerdy tangent about how this is a version of meat puppetry, asking someone to edit "your" stuff on Wikipedia is akin to using a sock puppet to do your bidding and thus is against COI.
But as "Ukrainian Witness" explains: it worked. For the first time in the history of Wikipedia, editors around the world united and joined the cause: editing Russian pages on Ukrainian cities and bringing the truth to Russia.
"Ukrainian Witness" says: "The number of editors bringing the truth doubled. The total amount of edits they made also doubled. Russian views on the ten biggest Ukrainian city pages on the Russian Wikipedia increased by 242%, turning an online encyclopedia into an uncensored and trustworthy news channel."
Well, that's pretty cool! I'd join, but my Wikipedia account here has been dormant for years as some editors there really seemed to have it in for me, which was decidedly uncool.
Vitaliy Deynega, Founder
Sergey Melnychuk, Editor in Chief and Co-Founder
Olga Buzunova, Head of Content Practice
Olga Semenova, Executive Director