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Smart Region.RU
Using possibilities of Wikimedia projects for
supporting regional development of the Russian Federation

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Presentation slides
[T]he time has come when ... a language has become only a tool, another means of expressing reasoning patterns. ... A language that continues its development is usually being used in all areas of life. Excluding the language from use in some field of human activity, be it some specific scientific discipline or a type of artistic pursuit, an industrial or services sector of economy, i.e. from generating more reasoning patterns, is blowing an irreversible damage that promotes language death. ... It's very important to aspire towards such a state of things, when any news are expected to be expressed by that specific language means.

— Gaynulla F. Shaykhiev[1]

The issue [of enlightement] is not limited to the language itself alone. It's important to take care about the scientific foundations and knowledge of our people, because it's indeed those that will pave our way forward.[2]

Ismail Gaspirali

"Young people need language-related attractive role models to be interested in associating themselves with their heritage language. Such areas of language use as home and school are no longer good enough, folklore culture with its nostalgia of the past is not exciting at all. ...[O]nly youth itself can create its own culture and role models."[3]

Annika Pasanen, Janne Saarikivi

"Of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken today ... less than 5% ... can still ascend to the digital realm. ... To summarize a key result of this study in advance: No wikipedia, no ascent."[4]

— András Kornai

Taking Wiki into our hands!
«My Tatarstan» Wiki-marathon (15.12-31.01):
Prize fund: 200 000 rubles
Mass media: Tatar-Inform news agency, Tatarstan - New Century & Russia.Tatarstan TV channels
Effect: Targeted invitation through municipal cultural institutions network
Participants: 126 users
Qualification: x=>4 qualifying works
Finalists: 54 users
Works: 1000 articles
Results: Active editors in more complex prize-offering projects
Resources: Methodology, support by experienced Wikimedians, International status
Discovery: On top of monetary prizes and an E-tagging created pages, etc., people want to have a nice participation certificate they can print out with signatures and seals
Want a way to correct something on the spot at the website of Tatarstan President or Parliament, various Tatmedia holding publications, Encyclopedia Tatarica or Russian Federal entities? Not on the offer, sorry... But you are welcome in case of a much more popular Wikipedia, even without logging in.

— Even get prizes for that? Cool!

Welcome into the club of Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Wiki-Ambassadors of Tatarstan!

— Some Tatar volunteers have already gotten their wiki-credentials

Based on the results of our research we can now confidently state that all humans, even the indigenous peoples of the yet unnamed islands, have the knowledge of everything about the world, its structure, interactions within, as well as contents of awe-inspiring phenomena in the field of physics, mathematics, etc., because they were able to create own language. ... By creating own language they have proved own greatness. ... our planes, atomic bombs, computers – all these achievement turn out to be nothing in comparison with the greatness of any human language, as it already contains everything from the evolving world.

— Gaynulla F. Shaykhiev[5]

"The paradox related to preservation of language and culture is that they can only stay active by welcoming changes. Only dead languages and cultures can be fully preserved against change."[6]

Annika Pasanen, Janne Saarikivi

A set of best practices to assure survival, social and personal success, enjoying pleasure and satisfaction in life.

— Culture

Within coming years the importance of "state or official language" status will be diminishing due to incessant technological progress:
  • Google Assistаnt virtual voice assistant is available in 44 languages (03.2020)
  • Google.Translate offers good voice recognition and vocalisation in case of translating say from Kazakh into Russian (23.02.2021)
  • YouTube already offers quite good automatic Tatar subtitling for videos in French
  • Wikidata multilingual machine-readable semantic knowledge base allows AI to understand the meaning of questions asked (591 languages)

— Public sources



Abstracts for

«Mission: To assure flourishing of languages and preservation of cultural heritage in the digital citizenship era. Experience of collaboration between Russia's Wikimedia volunteers and institutions of the Republic of Tatarstan.»


Farhad Fatkullin, frhd@narod.ru +79274158066

Member of the Commission for the Preservation and Strengthening of Tatar language use under the auspices of the Republic of Tatarstan President, member of «Wikimedia RU» Non-Profit Partnership, participant of Wikimedia Community of Tatar language volunteers

Prepared for «Teaching, learning and preserving mother tongues» session of «Preserving and supporting ethnocultural and linguistic diversity — a key factor in strengthening Russia's unity» conference, Kazan, 25th of February 2021 in the framework of the Joint hearing of the Russian Federation Civic Chamber's Commission on harmonization of interethnic and interreligious relations, Russian Federation Civic Chamber's Commission on issues of cultural development and preservation of spiritual heritage and the Republic of Tatarstan Civic Chamber

Distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike free license pursuant to Art.1286 of the Russian Federation Civil Code



What languages, cultures and other tools will stay in demand at the times of knowledge economy? Only those useful for their speakers' success and well-being. In case of cultural worlds, these must be convenient as thinking environments and communication tools, offer freedom for creativity and provide access to modern conceptual map of objective reality. Preservation, transmission and development of intangible cultural heritage happens in collaboration of all living generations and social groups, but this common good will only be supported by everybody if it adequately describing things of value for all user groups. Most accessible technology for peer-to-peer interaction of all stakeholders is Wiki, with Wikimedia projects being most successful among such environments. The Sixth Convocation of the Russian Federation Civic Chamber provided support to Russia's Wikimedians' efforts prompting more active interaction with and mentions by various Regional and Federal Public, Civic and Academic Authorities, mass media. Just like other regions, Tatarstan is accumulating successful experience of using Wikimedia offered opportunities for growing digital spaces for Tatar language and cultural heritage preservation and development in the new era. The report proposes to use this pilot experience for the benefit of all languages and cultures of the peoples of Tatarstan and then those indigenous to all of the Russian Federation. The required Wikimedia infrastructure is already in place, the current task being basic skill transfer, ongoing expert support and incentives for their independent work.

Digital era is a virtual Babylon, where we live in all cultural worlds simultaneously. This is a limiting factor itself: we can only expect to assure sustainable future for languages that have or might soon obtain the cultural and economic foundations allowing their speakers to keep using them when discussing contemporary topics of global importance. Previously supporting creation of similar infrastructure (Svenska Akademiens ordbok dictionary in 35+ volumes or Great Russian Encyclopedia in 35 volumes, all sorts of scientific magazines etc.) was done using centralized or some decentralized approaches. In the era of explosive growth of information and knowledge creation such slow rigid models become too difficult to even impossible to sustain both financially and technically. And scaling them, should we like to assure preservation of all languages indigenous to some lands (8 in the Republic of Tatarstan, close to 200 in the Russian Federation or 7100+ around the planet) is simply out of question. And so is giving up on the riches of cultural knowledge that were accumulated by the innumerable representatives of great many generations and compressed into the languages we so cherish. Thus the need to find and implement a new approach to address the task.

The communicative value of a matryoshka of lingua-francas - local (such as Georgian in Georgia), regional (such as Russian in ex-Soviet Union states) or global (English) - is self evident and no reasonable parent will want to shield own kids from this knowledge & opportunities they offer. In case of subnational languages, creating & updating content in them is only attractive investment of time and resources for those who care to assure long-term survival of specific linguo-cultural phenomena or benefit from some related competitive advantages. At December 2020 forum of Russia's Federal Agency of Ethnic Affairs we were asked to present on Tatarstan pilot experience on Tatar language onwiki (English slides & Wikinews report). Since then we have accumulated additional experience within widely publicized "My Tatarstan" (Dec.15-Jan.31) and the ongoing "Tatar 4.0" (Feb.21-Apr.15) projects on Tatar Wikipedia. Similar mechanisms can be further used to assure developing digital environment for sustainable future of other languages indigenous to the Republic.

Active use of technological opportunities offered by Wikimedia environment and its time-tested methodology for supporting long-term sustainability of linguistic and cultural heritage of Tatarstan population in the era of digital citizens is especially topical in the light of:

  • the "Year of Mother Tongues and Peoples' Unity" (2021, Republic of Tatarstan), the upcoming "Year of Folk Arts and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Russia's Peoples" (2022, Russian Federation) and the "International Decade of Indigenous Languages" (2022-2032, UN),
  • International Scientific and Practical Literature on preserving and developing multilingualism in the digital environment,
  • successful projects run by wiki-communities from various countries and regions of the planet, including those of Russia and the Republic of Tatarstan, in partnership with various civil and scientific society bodies, consultative, legislative and executive authorities, as well as
  • active collaboration of our global Wikimedia movement with various UN institutions (UNESCO, UN Human Rights, WHO etc.) in the framework of its implementing own mission of collection, preservation and offering all and every people on the planet a chance to freely share in the sum of all knowledge in their mother tongue.

Wiki-initiatives in Tatar


Prerequisites for successful language activism en masse


Preserving the feeling of belonging to some specific cultural reality (i.e. self-identification with some phenomenon) has a price, and the required personal efforts have to be justified with attractive returns. Economics of preserving and developing identities is best known to people engaged in Brand management.

Specific language and related cultural knowledge environment is only valuable to individuals actively engaged with the respective community. Digital era humans are islands simultaneously washed by the waters of all languages, ethnocultural knowledge and other similar worlds. So the specific one will command interest to the degree it allows to feel oneself as a sovereign of respective ethnolinguistic culture. So we need to equip potential speakers of our languages with everything necessary to support their reign in the specific language-related socio-cultural world.

Encouraging active community participation in preserving cultural knowledge, as well as related need to expose it to available best practices, equip with necessary knowledge, skills and readiness to take on the initiatives is based on:

Incentivizing wiki-activity among the population is in the interest of any State serving its society, as

  • it will thus successfully decline all presumed moral responsibility for assuring preservation and cross-generational transfer of various cultural knowledge, which it can't guarantee even technologically;
  • people are inclined to feel proud of ones' homes, thus Wiki-volunteers from among the locals and their friends will introduce your country and its culture to the world far better than all sorts of programs implemented by states themselves;
  • engaging in describing ones homeland and its culture on the international level increases the feeling of belonging to & ownership of local realities, thus positively reflecting on the domestic cohesion issues.

Linguistic wiki-volunteering

Wikimedia projects family

Linguistic and cultural knowledge documentation oriented volunteering is a type of community-centered activism. It generally attracts people interested in improving own environment through developing supporting infrastructure. Onwiki contribution is a globally-public creative work in knowledge production, which requires certain motivation, develops such qualities as diligence and perseverance, skills in information processing and formulating own thoughts.

Editors from various age groups seem to have different key motivators defining their participation interests:

  • older generation — integrating own knowledge into the project that will assure its preservation and transfer to the subsequent generations,
  • middle-aged group — usually systematization and reconsidering the accumulated knowledge and understanding they have developed,
  • youth — a chance to show themselves and enjoy public recognition of own value.

Individual participants' level of activity also depends on a wide range of social and material incentives, with formal public recognition of their valuable contribution seemingly being most powerful one. Peer-to-peer cooperation environment based on Wikimedia projects' principles and policies allows every participant to develop the feeling of ownership of the specific language-version they contribute into. Projects have thematic focus (encyclopedic, dictionary, voyager guidebook, news, developing educational materials, educational courses, semantic knowledge base, free texts & multimedia libraries etc.), whilst specific language sub-section or component thereof allows for effective digital language nest.

Wikimedia projects have great value for knowledge outreach, awareness raising and self-education. But together with other participants of the free-knowledge ecosystem they serve as the most accessible tools to eventually assure conditions for universal linguistic equality, as well as multilingualism and policulturalism of every human.

Languages of Tatarstan within Wikimedia projects

Free-standing «Wikipedias in the languages of Russia» community was recently joined by the Altai language version https://alt.wikipedia.org/
Wikimedia projects in the languages of Russia are mainly developed by subnational language-oriented Wikimedians from Russia, but technical, expert and sometimes content contribution by our colleagues from abroad is also very valuable to us.

Basic Wikimedia infrastructure is already in place for majority of languages of the peoples of Tatarstan, so those are waiting to be developed by volunteers from respective speech communities. This will further pave the way for those languages to serve as communication interfaces within various project management systems, common knowledge base, signing media file labels, objects on the map of the world, etc. Successful development of the language within this environment will next assure its use in various voice-based virtual assistants, E-gov systems and other digital services. The primary task at this stage is transferring skills to speakers, providing them with all sorts of expert help and support their active independent work with various incentives.

It is true for:

  • 8 languages indigenous to Tatarstan: Bashkir, Chuvash, Erzya, Mari, Moksha, Russian, Tatar and Udmurt.
  • 19 languages of principle resident ethnicities of Tatarstan: Tatars, Russians, Chuvash, Udmurts, Mordvins (Erzyas & Mokshas), Maris, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Armenians, Tajiks, Belorussians, Jews, Germans, Kazakhs, Georgians, Kyrgyzs
  • languages of 37 ethno-cultural associations participating in the Assembly of People of Tatarstan: Afgani, Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Belorussian, Bolghar, Buryat, Chechen, Chuvash, Dagestani, Georgian, German, Greek, Inghush, Indian, Jewish, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Korean, Kryashen, Lezgi, Mari, Meskhetian, Mordvin, Ossetian, Polish, Russian, Tajik, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Udmurt, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.
  • languages of all other peoples of the Republic


Moscow Wikimedians meeting with the Russian Federation Civic Chamber representatives (30.01.2018)

With support of the Sixth Convocation of the Russian Federation Civil Chamber, Russia's Wiki-volunteers presented own experience at a number of Russia-wide events (including «Community» forum in Khanty-Mansiysk), increased own Outreach activities to attract population towards developing Internet content in the languages indigenous to the country in the frameworks of «Discover Russia» projects, started receiving Russian Presidential Grants Foundation grants to run projects on transferring skill to universities, museums and libraries of Russia, etc. All of this has further attracted attention of regional leadership, Federation Council of the Federal Assembly, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country, and was eventually supported by including into the list of Presidential instructions.

Active resident Wiki-volunteers of Tatarstan are responding to invitations and requests of local stakeholders. When scaling around the country, the accumulated knowledge and skills are best transferred to other regions and peoples through systemic collaboration of Russia's Wikimedians ("Wikimedia RU" Non-Profit Partnership, internationally known as Wikimedia Russia) with Russia's Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, Russia's UNESCO Commission, Russia's Foundation for the preservation of indigenous languages and other appropriate Federal entities.

The accumulated experience regarding languages indigenous to Russia is documented in Russian within «Smart Region» project.

Resources, Methodology and Implementation Roadmap

  • Wikimedia projects' language communities do not have the need to establish, service and otherwise assure maintainance of all supportive server farms network and caching systems, as the responsibility for perpetual functioning of the ecosystem and preservation of accumulated materials rests with Wikimedia Foundation, which exists thanks to donations (recent annual budget of about $100 mln.) and simultaneously growing its endowment (currently over $90 mln.).
  • Preservation of constructive climate within specific language section community and implementation of service tasks (categorization, consideration of various requests and other community-initiated procedures) is assured by experienced volunteers, elected by the active community from among itself in line with the matryoshka of policies in place.
  • Principle resources that projects have are convenience for intellectual creative endeavors and attractive climate within the community of active editors. One's individual constructive contribution into whatever project's language section is convertible into international recognition when the person is reaching out for thematic wiki-help of colleagues anywhere in the world. "We be of one wiki-blood, thou and I"
  • Participating in thematic Wikimedia projects is personal international cooperation in describing your surrounding world in the language of your choice. The feeling of self-esteem this helps to develop and the support of unknown invisible colleagues from different settlements and countries of the world is energizing.


  1.  (рус.) "[Н]астал момент, когда ... язык стал лишь инструментом, средством выражения образов мысли. ... Развивающийся язык находится обычно в общении во всех сферах жизненного цикла. Исключение хотя бы одной сферы, будь она разделом какой-то науки или искусства, производства или услуг, из общения на этом языке, т.е. из производства образов мысли, наносит языку непоправимый удар, способствует его вымиранию. ... Надо стремиться, чтобы новость ожидали из формулировок этого языка."
    Шайхиев Г.Ф. "Язык разума. Мы думаем и по-татарски, и по-русски, и по-английски..." Казань, изд-во «Хәтер»: 2000 ISBN 5-900004-83-X сс.230-231 Глава V Раздел 9 Асимметрия в эволюции мышления. ("Language of Reasoning. We (can) simultaneously think in Tatar, and in Russian, and in English..." /Chapter V Section 9 Asymmetry in evolution of reasoning)
  2.  (кр.тат.) "Меселе тек тильде дегиль, иш, халкъымызгъа огге адымламагъа ёл ачкъан ильмий осюв ве халкънынъ бильги дереджесиндедир."
  3.  (рус.) "Для того, чтобы отождествлять себя с унаследованным родным языком, молодёжи требуются привлекательные образцы для подражания, связанные с этим языком. Такие сферы употребления языка, как дом и школа, уже не вполне достаточны, ностальгирующая по прошлому фольклорная культура нисколько не привлекает. ... [Т]олько молодёжь может сама создавать свою культуру и образцы для подражания."
    Замятин К., Пасанен А., Саарикиви Я. "Как и зачем сохранять языки России". / Часть III. "Пути сохранения языков под угрозой исчезновения. Практические советы", Глава "Преподавание на языке меньшинства в школе", раздел "Что кроме школы и после школы?", 162 с. ("How to and why keep languages of Russia". / Part III. "Ways of preserving vulnerable languages. Practical advice", Chapter "Minority languages as a medium of instruction at school", section "What on top of and how about after school?", )
  4. Digital Language Death by András Kornai
  5.  (рус.) "Наши исследования позволяют заявить, что каждый человек, даже абориген безымянных островов, знает всё об этом мире, о его строении, структуре, взаимодействии в нём и содержание таких премудростей нашего восхищения, как физику, математику, и т.д., ибо он смог сотворить свой язык. ... он велик, создав свой язык. ... наши самолёты, атомные бомбы, компьютеры – оказывается, эти достижения ничто перед величием любого языка, ибо в его содержании уже есть всё из творящегося мира."
    Шайхиев Г.Ф. "Татарский язык за один день, или рассказ инопланетянина" Казань: 2000 ISBN 5-85264-026-3 pp.93-94 Глава II. Язык – это мировоззрение ("Tatar in a day, or an alien's tale" / Chapter II. Language is a worldview).
  6.  (рус.) "Парадокс сохранения культуры и языка заключается в том, что они сохраняются исключительно путем изменения. Только мертвые языки и культуры можно полностью обезопасить от перемен", from Замятин К., Пасанен А., Саарикиви Я. "Как и зачем сохранять языки России"./ Часть I. Многоязычное общество и многоязычный индивид. Глава "Изменяющаяся роль языков", 35 с.
    ("How to and why keep languages of Russia". / Part I. "Multilingual society and multilingual individual", Chapter "Evolving role of languages", p.35)
  7. pp.73-76 of General comment No. 21 Right of everyone to take part in cultural life, as described in art. 15, para. 1 (a) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

See also