It takes a universe to keep Wikimedia projects thriving. And just like the real universe, ours is also full of stars. Every year, the Wikimedia movement celebrates the contributions of exceptional community members. The beloved Wikimedian of the Year awards, presented by Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, recognizes extraordinary Wikimedians for their contributions in a range of categories: newcomers and established community members, contributors to media and technology, and the central category of the Wikimedian of the Year as well as a most honorable mention
Without further ado, presenting the 2023 Wikimedian of the Year winners:
The Wikimedian of the Year 2023
Taufik Rosman, User:Tofeiku, is the 2023 Wikimedian of the Year. This is the first time in the award’s history–dating back to 2011–that a Wikimedian from the ESEAP region is being celebrated in the main category. Previously, only the 2021 Newcomer of the Year hailed from the region. Taufik is also the first contributor from Malaysia to be awarded in any category of the prestigious awards.
Taufik discovered his passion for sharing knowledge at a young age. He was only 8 when he edited a Wikipedia article about his school. A few years later, while working as a rural student librarian, he stumbled upon Malay Wiktionary. This marked the beginning of his transformative Wikimedia journey, fueled by a desire to enrich and expand the representation of Malay and Indigenous Malaysian languages and knowledge. “With many dictionaries and books around me, I started editing everyday after school,” he shares about those early days. His personal record was editing every day for three years. Taufik has worked diligently to contribute Malay language content to Wikimedia and to support and welcome community members.
Taufik’s hard work and dedication have paid off. His effort in filling knowledge gaps and promoting free knowledge have had a lasting impact on the Wikimedia movement and his native Malay community. Beyond supporting his own community, he proudly mentions working with different institutional partners in Malaysia and across the region to enhance the reach and impact. “Each of our contributions matters greatly” Taufik reminds us all, “no matter how small.”
A life-changing moment in his Wikimedia journey was attending the 2018 regional ESEAP conference, which is where he realized he belonged to a larger movement of fellow Wikimedians. He has not looked back since. He wishes more people outside the movement knew about it and its profound influence on shaping knowledge in the world. He believes that greater recognition will encourage more individuals to contribute to this unique global community. In the unique Wikimedian way, Taufik admits to loving engaging in long chats on user talk pages. That is where the essence of community shines for him. These days, Wikidata is his number one project and he still finds himself fascinated by its query service.
Taufik Rosman’s journey as a dedicated Wikimedian has been nothing short of inspiring. Taufik is a teacher and will soon start his teaching career. We can safely imagine that contributing to Wikimedia will be an integral component of his curricula.
Siobhan Leachman’s dedication and inspiring contributions to the Wikimedia movement have left an indelible mark on our movement and projects. She is the 2023 Wikimedia Laureate, another first for Aotearoa New Zealand and the ESEAP region.
She was a lawyer when she first started editing, and even though her first article was nominated for deletion, Siobhan never gave up. A leader in the world of editing, Siobhan has strived to highlight and elevate the contributions of women, particularly in biodiversity and natural history. Her contributions to Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikimedia Commons have greatly enhanced coverage of notable women in that field and New Zealand biodiversity. Siobhan’s passion extends beyond Wikimedia editing; she frequently encourages natural history librarians, museum specialists, and other subject experts in knowledge institutions and societies to build better connections with the Wikiverse, including the release of openly licensed content. She has also been an active promoter of engagement with the Wikimedia movement in general, presenting at numerous conferences.
Contributing to Wikimedia projects is both a gratifying solitary activity and very much a social one. In addition to a prolific individual contributor, Siobhan has been a mentor for new editors and an impactful organizer, co-establishing with her sister Victoria Leachman, regular Wiki meetups, both in person in her hometown of Wellington, and online for the Aotearoa New Zealand editing community. Through these meetups, she has gained many new friends and numerous opportunities to collaborate with other editors and assist in organizing various Wiki events. Siobhan has found a home in the Wellington and Aoteaora New Zealand editing communities, the Wikidata WikiProject Biodiversity, the #1Lib1Ref and the GLAMwiki communities.
Siobhan finds inspiration in her fellow editors who come together from all over the world to empower access to reliable information. Her advice to newcomers and seasoned editors alike is to “find your people,” saying, “I guarantee there are editors somewhere in the world who will be as passionate about your favorite topics as you are.” Her journey is a testament to the power of collective action, where many can find a sense of purpose, friendship, and a shared passion for open knowledge. “Most people are unaware how often or how widely content generated by our community is reused,” she says. “Everyone who accesses information digitally will come in contact with knowledge sourced from the work of Wikimedia editors.”
Siobhan’s enthusiasm and dedication to sharing knowledge are boundless. In true Wikimedian fashion, she often has multiple projects underway at the same time, on wiki and otherwise. If she’s not researching women after whom flowering plant genera have been named, she is finding joy in making iNaturalist observations, connecting scientific collectors to their collections via BionomiaTracker.org, and in savoring and cellaring wine.
Newcomer of the Year
From the curious world of Japanese Wikipedia to our community blog Diff, User:Eugene_Ormandy has captured stories of inspiration and preserved community contributions for Wikimedians around the world. He is the 2023 Newcomer of the Year. This is the first time a Wikimedian from Japan is being recognized in the award’s history and it surely won’t be the last.
Attending a lecture by established Wikimedian Dr. Sae Kitamura in December 2018 sparked his passion for editing Wikipedia, eventually leading to his establishment of the Student Wikipedian Community in Waseda University Tokyo and the Toumon Wikipedian Club Japan. While his community grew locally, he also began to archive and highlight the activities of many other dedicated Wikimedian from Japan to share them globally. Our global community has a rich history in Japan and Eugene wanted the rest of Wikimedia to learn more about them. He has proudly shared stories about fellow Japanese Wikimedians, their passions, motivations, and curiosities. At the heart of this journey lies the power of community, one that Eugene hopes continues to flourish and strengthen in Japan.
Eugene believes that one of the best ways to improve our world is to edit Wikimedia projects, whatever one’s passions and interests are. “The Wikimedia movement is a beacon of knowledge, creativity, and inspiration,” he says, “I find hope in its boundless possibilities.” If you did not guess it already, the 2023 Newcomer of the Year is a big fan of classical music, particularly inspired by the recordings of Hungarian-American musician Eugene Ormandy. His other favourite pastime–other than Wikimedia, of course–is professional wrestling. Be sure to subscribe to Diff to not miss a post from Eugene or another update from Japan.
Media Contributor of the Year
Meet Pax Ahimsa Gethen, User: Funcrunch, a dedicated advocate for marginalized communities and a passionate contributor to Wikimedia. They are the 2023 Media Contributor of the Year. Their story is one of activism, representation, and a pursuit of inclusivity that has transformed the way we contribute to Wikimedia projects. Their drive and determination remind us that the quest for inclusivity is ongoing, one worth taking on to make the world’s knowledge more reflective of the whole of society.
Pax contributes photographs to Wikimedia Commons with a focus on LGBTIQ+ subjects, events, and social justice rallies. Active in WikiProject LGBT Studies, Pax has collaborated with other Wikimedians to counter anti-trans vandalism and improve guidelines for respectfully discussing trans subjects on Wikimedia projects.
“My primary focus in recent years has been improving the representation of marginalized people on the English Wikipedia, with a particular emphasis on the biographies of transgender, nonbinary, and Black people,” said Pax.
In this endeavor, they have written articles and illustrated them with their own photos, contributing biographies of queer leaders, trans activities, and people of color like Aria Sa’id, Felicia Elizondo, Imani Rupert-Gordon, Ivory Aquino, Janetta Johnson, Megan Rohrer, and Raquel Willis. Pax’s photos have enriched articles, providing a visual dimension to stories and faces often hidden from mainstream narratives. Some other Commons photos of theirs frequently used in articles include police violence, Standing Rock, and DACA.
Wikipedia’s prominence in search engine results makes it an essential platform for ensuring fair representation of communities marginalized by histories and structures of power and privilege. It is imperative for Pax that Wikimedia projects represent everyone fairly and accurately. “The participation of trans, nonbinary, and Black contributors is crucial to making Wikipedia more representative of the diverse world we live in,” they stress. The motivation for their contributions, including the Inspire Campaign to combat harassment, comes from personal experiences online. “Hate speech makes marginalized people feel threatened, distrustful of the encyclopedia, and unwilling to participate in editing,” Pax shares.
Pax’s journey began in 2008 with a seemingly random edit adding a Led Zeppelin song to a list of musical works. Little did they know that this small contribution would ignite a passion for Wikipedia’s potential as a platform for representing marginalized voices in order to capture the sum of all human knowledge. Pax encourages experienced editors to “be respectful and cooperative with other editors, especially on controversial subjects.” “Recognize when it’s time to step back,” they advise. For new editors, Pax recommends to “avoid editing on controversial subjects or creating new articles until you become familiar with Wikipedia’s policies and culture. Start with fixing typos or reverting obvious vandalism.”
While Wikipedia is a vital part of Pax’s life, they emphasize the importance of a well-rounded life. Outside Wikimedia, they enjoy playing video games, singing, and playing the piano.
Tech Contributor of the Year
User:Zabe is the 2023 Tech Contributor of the Year. He is celebrated by fellow Wikimedians for helping with deployments, bug fixes, and incidents in general, and, in particular, they have applauded him for maintaining Checkuser and CentralAuth codes, for supporting the comment database refactor migration revision, and for the technical work behind creating new wikis. In short, Zabe has been an exceptional contributor to Wikimedia technical infrastructure, integral to the operation and user experience of Wikimedia projects.
Zabe’s path to becoming a Wikimedia contributor took a unique turn during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. With ample time at home, he decided to channel his energy into contributing to a platform that he had used so often growing up. The 2022 Media Contributor of the Year, Annie Rauwerda, also began contributing to Wikimedia during the pandemic. Lockdown time meant many Wikimedians were able to return to their beloved pastimes and others discovered it for the first time.
Zabe was mostly editing articles related to the pandemic at first. Soon after, he found himself drawn to the technical side of Wikimedia. While smaller in size compared to editor communities, Zabe feels that the technical side of the projects fosters a better environment for growth and learning. He stresses the importance of creating more inclusive spaces, making it easier for newcomers to get involved, whom he encourages to not be deterred by the complexities of the movement and difficulties in contributing. As a movement, Zabe sees a prominent challenge that Wikimedia must tackle: the need to attract and onboard new contributors, especially in technical projects. His advice to fellow community members is simple yet profound: “always follow your values.”
This year’s Wikimedia Hackathon provided Zabe with the opportunity to finally connect in-person with many long-time virtual acquaintances he had collaborated with in technical spaces. Beyond his Wikimedia contributions, Zabe is passionate about political and environmental activism.
Meet Anton Protsiuk, Wikimedia Ukraine’s Programs Coordinator and a seasoned contributor whose passion for open knowledge and dedication to community service have made him an inspiring figure within the movement, celebrated by his peers from around the world. The Honorable Mention category has often celebrated Wikimedians already acknowledged outside the movement, like Netha Hussain, Carmen Alcázar, or Jess Wade, or affiliate staff who have contributed above and beyond their roles, like Anna Torres. It is for his exceptional contributions as a staff member that Anton is being celebrated this year.
Anton’s Wikimedia journey began in 2011, improving a Wikipedia article about his school. Since then, he has made significant contributions locally and globally in different capacities. As a volunteer editor, administrator, and bureaucrat on Ukrainian Wikipedia, Anton has created over 300 articles and performed crucial maintenance work on the project. As a manager at Wikimedia Ukraine, he leads the organization’s programs, including contests, campaigns, media outreach, and editor appreciation and recruitment initiatives.
Anton considers the 2017 Montréal Wikimania a turning point in his Wikimedia journey. That’s when he discovered the sheer magnitude and diversity of the Wikimedia movement, prompting him to become more engaged in organizational and international work. He has been working at Wikimedia Ukraine since 2018, leading their programs since 2021. With the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Anton has not ceased his coordination of the organization’s programs and, in fact, has found added courage to support the community of volunteers during the war and tell their stories.
Content campaigns are very popular amongst the Ukrainian community and Wikimedia Ukraine ensures their continued success and expansion: Wiki Loves Monuments has been one of their largest and continues to march on strong; the Wiki Loves Earth photo contest has been organized internationally by them for close to a decade and has continued with record breaking global participation (even though locally 2022 was canceled due to the war and 2023 was open only to photos from before the invasion). They also participated in and locally expanded #1Lib1Ref; improved the coverage of Ukraine on Wikipedia 60 languages during Ukraine’s Cultural Diplomacy Month; bridged the gender gap on Wikipedia with dedicated campaigns; and amidst all of this, with his fellow colleagues and community members, Anton marked Ukrainian Wikipedia’s birthday on January 30th with a wiki-marathon.
Anton’s motivation comes from the power of open knowledge, the preservation and global expansion of Ukrainian language and culture, and the unwavering dedication of fellow volunteers even in unimaginably difficult circumstances. Anton is wary of existential challenges faced by our movement; information warfare, generative AI, and harm from various government attempts to regulate tech giants pose serious threats to our survival. Yet, he encourages the movement to better adapt, for example, to the consumption of knowledge in video and audio mode or to confront the manipulation of Wikimedia projects, especially Wikipedia, for propaganda.
“Contributing to Wikipedia is most frequently associated with writing encyclopedic articles, but while this is an important part of what we do, it’s by no means the only way to contribute. We have a place for lawyers, communications specialists, event organizers, governance experts, software developers, social media content creators – you name it,” said Anton.
Celebrating Anton’s contributions serves as an inspiration to all of us and a reminder of our commitment to open knowledge and the supporting infrastructure central to community health and resilience, especially in the most dire circumstances. Among his proudest personal volunteer achievements is evolving a small stub on Ukrainian Wikipedia into the featured article list of US presidents. And in his heart, Anton loves Ukrainian cinema, music, and architecture, internet culture, and walking in nature with a good podcast on.
Thank you for celebrating the remarkable individuals who make up the vibrant tapestry of the Wikimedia movement. Congratulations to all winners. Let us continue to conquer the barriers that divide a world where knowledge has no boundaries. Let’s take a moment to celebrate this year’s winners; the incredible Wikimedians who selflessly contribute their sum to shape the Wikimedia mosaic.