Submissions/The LocalWiki project

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission

LocalWiki: the open-source, open-content effort to share the world's local knowledge

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)

Presentation / talk.

Author of the submission

Philip Neustrom

E-mail address



Country of origin

United States

Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)


Personal homepage or blog

Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

In 2004 we started the Davis Wiki (, an experimental project to collect and share interesting information about the town of Davis, California, editable by anyone, that soon became the world's largest and most vibrant local wiki. Today the residents of Davis use it for everything from learning about local news and local history to helping return lost pets to their owners -- and it's become the largest, most used media source in the city. In a week, nearly half of residents use the Davis Wiki; in a month, nearly everyone uses it. And the Davis Wiki has an extremely high particiation rate -- with around 1 in 7 residents contributing material to the project.

The LocalWiki project ( is our effort to bring the power of this kind of collaborative local media to every community. Our aim isn't to simply replicate the success of the Davis Wiki elsewhere. We want to radically reshape local media to be more collaborative, more open, and more participatory -- to do for local knowledge what Wikipedia has done for general knowledge and what OpenStreetMap has done for geographic knowledge.

This talk will outline the history of the Davis Wiki, explore similar approaches over the years, briefly explore how most people get local information today and explain our approach with the LocalWiki project. We will showcase our innovative new LocalWiki software and explain why existing wiki software, as-is, didn't fit the aims or needs of the project. We will detail successful new local wiki projects.

Wikipedia was only 3 years old when the Davis Wiki was started! Because of this, we were able to avoid direct comparisons and develop an independent culture and set of community norms in relative isolation. This talk will explore cultural and social differences between most local wiki projects and Wikipedia. We will discuss how local wiki projects can't "scale up" to Wikipedia-size mega-communities with strong verifiability and sourcing requirements -- and explain why that's not only a good thing, but absolutely essential.

By the end of this talk we hope to have convinced you that local communities are the next frontier for the free culture movement.


Wikis and the Public Sector (stronger) or Technology and Infrastructure

Length of presentation/talk

25 minutes with Q&A could be pretty tight. I'd like to be able to cover both community and technical aspects of the project in some detail. I can flex from 25 minutes (if needed, w/ Q&A) up to 45 minutes (if possible, w/ Q&A). I'm cool with anything, though.

Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

Unknown - depends on our fundraising situation and other factors.

Slides or further information (optional)

To be posted. For now, please see:

Special request as to time of presentations

Interested attendees

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  1. AutoGyro (talk) 15:34, 25 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
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