Vikidia is a French interactive web encyclopedia devoted to children both as readers and (not exclusively) editors. Vikidia is not part of Wikimedia as Wikipedia is.
In a few words :
- Vikidia is a French, free and interactive encyclopedia project for children. There is no other online encyclopedia which gather all these caracteristics.
- The web is useful to find and possibly to share information. Here, everybody can participate on the site, improve the articles and gradually learn how to use the tools users have.
- One can use Vikidia to prepare a presentation, but also to find information on euros or to know the weight of a gas. When someone adds information, he can understand it better and improve his French.
- Vikidia is never finished! It is always possible to correct, clarify and add information. This is how our encyclopaedia becomes better and better.
- You can, together with children of your class, another school, or from their home in any country, add information to Vikidia. During the work you can talk with each other through the website.
- Vikidia is mostly meant for you and to be used by you. Of course, the teachers may help us ! What is written here can be read by anybody in the world !
- The more children that help, the faster Vikidia will be a super website with a lot of information.
Who is it aimed at?
Vikidia is written for children who are between 8 and 13 years old. Nevertheless, it can be used by other groups such as Simple English Wikipedia. Also by adults with learning difficulties, people who are learning French, or simply seeking a simple presentation of something they do not know about. Everyone can find something to learn here, because the articles are supposed to be easy to read but also comprehensive and informative. An article of Vikidia could even serve as a simple and synthetic version of a Wikipedia article if it is too long or too difficult!
Anyway, these additional functions should not compete with the kind of content aimed at the primary reader target. Articles should first and foremost be aimed at 8-to-13 year old children.
Who are the participants?
Everybody can participate (you just need to register). There are no limits on the age of the participants. Editors can be children of the target age, teenagers, adults or even students learning French as a foreign language. One important objective is nevertheless to encourage children to get involved, as it could be both more attractive to them to be active in its creation, and have a strong educational benefit y taking a writing to learn approach.
It is difficult to check a user's real age. Therefore, we chose not to give any special rights nor role on the wiki depending on the declared age. That makes initial editing easy (no need to prove one's age and for sysop to check it). If the risk is for an article to grow too quickly, we would rather take that. We bet that collective writing so as wiki managing (technical issues, spelling and content checking) by diverse people should be interesting for everyone.
Vikidia still has the aim to be a real encyclopaedia : it is not just a place for writing exercices. We bet that these two goals can be covered in the same time. It could motivate kids to know that their work will stay, be read and improved. Besides, the rules needed to achieve the first goal can be used to reach the other one. Teens can still edit it and learn by this writing work.
When this wiki was being launched, participants were mainly users of Wikipedia who had previously been involved, or just watching the Wikipedia junior project. New users come quite regulary since then.
The Wikipédia Junior project was first the idea to make an encyclopedia dedicated to children and teenager, based on french Wikipédia articles. It would contain about 2000 articles to be written on a CD-ROM. Wikipedia article would have been checked and slighly modified for it.
An only final checking of the article for inappropiate content for children quickly appeared as non sufficient to meet the need of fitting content for the age range. However, a further work to make a special version of each article would have been difficult on Wikipedia itself. More, it appeared interesting that the opportunity to edit the encyclopedia was offered to the children, those for which this encyclopedia would be done. It seemed interessant that children can modify articles, either individually or as part of educational projects. For that reason, it had to be on a separate wiki.
This met an earlier proposal (early 2005) to the Wikimedia Foundation which was called Wikikids. But it did not seem to be done for a time.
Thus, Vikidia was openned in November, 14th, 2006 by Mathias Damour. After some technical problems, the site was launched on November, 17th by several wikipedian who had participated or just keept an eye at this project before. Recall that Vikidia is not part of Wikimedia. It's a young wiki, which is willing to grow !
Vikidia is aslo inspired of the few-month-older wiki : Wikikids.nl, a web encyclopaedia project in Dutch and for the 8-12 years. This other project was launched by primary school teachers and is mainly intended for a use within school (but it is still opened spontaneously registered editors that do not come from an identified school). Wikikids.nl is supported by Kennisnet, a Dutch public Internet organization dedicated to education.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia project in different languages. There is also a second version in English : Wikipedia simple english. The idea is to use a limited vocabulary and a simpler grammar. This encyclopedia could be useful for children, adults with learning difficulties and those for whom English is not the native language. As long as there is no equivalent english-speaking encyclopedia project, it is interesting and recommended to add in the articles a link to the article from Wikipedia simple english.
There are differences between Vikidia and Wikipedia simple english. The readership is clearly defined for Vikidia. In case of a doubt about the contents, the expression or the level of development, we always refer to this target. Yet, our articles can be read by the public envisaged by Wikipedia simple english, as explained above. The article may provide a simpler presentation than the corresponding Wikipedia article, for instance when this one is particularly long or difficult to access. In such cases, these functions should not be given priority to define what should be the drafting of an article Vikidia.
Vikidia uses the same GNU Free Documentation License that Wikipedia does. We have a set of rules, most of them having been adapted from those of Wikipedia. The main particular rule is that content must be convenient to children.
What about the school curriculum ?
An encyclopedia is not a school program, you don't HAVE to read it all. It is therefore not limitated to the curriculum of 8 to 13 pupils. It can be usefull to have a overview of things that you are not supposed to study right now, a pupil can be specialy interested in a particular subject that won't be studied in school or doesn't make part of his grade curriculum. He or she can make (or make better) an article about it.
Our policy is not to divide subject by grades. It's true that 8 years old are quite differents to 13 years old children, but we choose not to make different pages for them on a single subject. Anyway, article are not supposed to be exactly at the same level and special subject can be rather for early teenager than 8 year old. They can be an easy article on sugar, and another one about glucose, that would give its chemical formula.
Nevertheless what the write must be right and not too simplistic. Everything is read (and, if it needs, corrected) by many other users : it's an encylopedia before.
How does that work?
For example: You are making a paper for school, and you chose the subject "the Romans". You can search at Vikidia for "Romans" and see whether there is information you can use. If your paper is finished, you can add information on the article on Vikidia, so others will be able to use it. You can also add pictures, if you get some.
In this way, we will create a superwebsite with lots of information, made by and for you. In this way, you can find on every computer the information you need, and you can share your knowledge with others.