Greek Wikipedia calls for Βοήθεια (Help)!

On: October 4, 2010
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About Ilektra Pavlaki
Here I am in Amsterdam. Studying in the New Media Master Program and hoping that by the end of this year I will have gained new experiences, new friends, brand new goals. My bachelor was in Communication, Media and Culture in Athens. Then I found myself a 90% dreamy job as a copywriter in a global advertising agency (BBDO). Great boss, big clients, small income :) Fun Theory and Free Hug Campaign magnified my interest in new media. "So, there must be a way to combine passion -advertising- and curiosity-new media-. Let's find out" I said. So... here I am in Amsterdam.


Geert: “Yes, you can write your Wikipedia post in your own language”

Me (not saying that aloud of course): “Finally! This is going to be a piece of cake”

Well… it wasn’t. Instead I could describe it like a nerve-breaking, patience-challenging and surprisingly disappointing experience. And think that I haven’t even published my Wikipedia entry yet. But as Konstantinos Kavafis describes in his poem “Ithaca“, it’s the journey that counts not the destination.

My journey in the Wikipedia didn’t have storms. It had brainstorms. There were no sirens. But there were distractions. And it all started with my persistence in writing about “netiquette“, the “set of social conventions that facilitate interaction over networks“.

For sure, they didn’t facilitate my life. No official definition for netiquette in greek. After consulting one of my teachers -that I hadn’t seen since my graduation- I decided to make up one of my own. I wouldn’t call it a definition, since it looks more like a descriptor. So, I’m proud to present the greek version of netiquette, “Rules of ethical behavior in the Network”, that is if my Wikipedia entry is accepted. But, lacking an official definition, there is always the danger that someone else has translated the term “netiquette” in his own words. So, I started looking for similar entries in the greek wikipedia, using any key-word that crossed my mind. And that’s where the disappointing part begins.

Judging by the results of my research, it seems like in Greece we don’t chat, we don’t spam, we don’t like discussion forums. The greek Wikipedia ignores their existence, as if we still chat only in the coffee houses and we spam by dropping water-bombs in our neighbor’s mailbox.

I felt guilty of my first thought that making an entry in the Greek Wikipedia would be a piece of cake. And more guilty that I had never participated before in its development. So is this all that I earned from my Wikipedia journey? Guilt and disappointment? No. Coming back to Kavafis, Wikipedia resembles Ithaca. Adversities will try to bend your faith and hope. But without her you wouldn’t have set out.

“Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean”

Update: 07/10/2010. My entry is published and already edited. That confirms the rule:  You bring back just the good memories when the journey is over. Interested in my entry? Visit

It had never crossed my mind to make a Wikipedia entry as I must admit that I never thought of Wikipedia as a reliable source of information and even more as a source that I would refer to in my academic writings. Of course I turn to Wikipedia for more trivial issues  like chat abbreviations that I am not aware of and I want to instantly check what they mean! In additon, the Greek version of Wikipedia is quite disappointing. Lacks of many or most encyclopedic content that one would expect to find. What makes things worse is that most of the articles are a shorter version of articles in English that lack a lot of crucial information.

This is not too bad though when you search for the translation of a technical term or a term of new technology that is not yet commonly used in Greek and sometimes we don’t even know how to translate it. English words are dominating computer relating everyday language of Greeks so words like “mediated communication”, “interface”, “context-aware”, “instant messaging”, “chat-room” are not easy to be translated and sometimes the translation gets so periphrastic that you don’t immediately understand what they mean!

That is also the case with locative media. When I try to use the Greek translation nobody understands of what I am talking about. Usually I have to explain what I mean by just saying two words: locative media, yes in English.. so my Greek interlocutor can understand to what I am referring to. For that reason I thought that it would be useful to translate the term locative media and the content that exists in the English Wikipedia page to Greek and to refer to some Greek bibliography.

I was also surprised that entries referring to “digital media”, “new media”, “interactivity” and all kinds of terms that relate  to new media and communication studies are missing.  I think it’s a bit strange that there is not an entry for digital media but now there is one for locative media…

I found this pic online, thought it’s  funny


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