<< Return to the LocalWiki Guide

Below are some of our most frequently asked questions (and proclamations)...

What is LocalWiki?

LocalWiki is a free, universally-accessible collection of the world’s local knowledge, made by folks like you. It is openly-licensed for all to share, and it's easy to contribute to. In order to support this mission, we've created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in San Francisco called LocalWiki. Learn more about what we do in the About page.

How does it work?

LocalWiki.org is a website where anyone can contribute their knowledge about the place they live. What if there was one place to go to on the Internet to learn and share knowledge about your community? How might that make sense of local issues? And what kind of an impact could it have on a community's ability to improve itself, and celebrate its unique place in the world? We've found some interesting results!

How does it NOT work?

LocalWiki.org is not for advertising, and it is not a site for information unrelated to a particular area.  And it is a just a website - not a service provider and in that respect the speed of support is limited to few informed volunteers who might be busy.

What kinds of things can people write about on their LocalWiki?

The sky's the limit! LocalWiki was made to be easy. Contributing content to the wiki requires no technical knowledge or academic background, and only a basic understanding of word processing. There are no complicated rules for how to format an article, or even what to write about.

If you start to think about all of the the good things to know about in your community, you'll realize that just about everything is within scope:

  • All of the things in your community (buildings, schools, parks, businesses, events, people, etc.)
  • Local history
  • Resources, like "How to get housing assistance".
  • Observations about your community, like "Animals you might see in your city".
  • Ideas! For example, "What should your city be like in the future?" or "What are ways that City Hall could be better?"
  • Personal narratives and oral histories
  • Local politics and political issues
  • Random things, like night time, fire, wind, things that no longer exist, and people who no longer live there.
  • Unique things, like "Local characters"
  • Meeting and lecture notes
  • Scavenger hunts! Make a page where people can add photos and have others guess where it is.
  • Whatever you think is fun or interesting or important to write about! It can be as silly or as serious as you want.

In order for us to have an online environment where everyone is welcome and we can all work together to build LocalWiki, we have a number of community guidelines that outline the things that are appropriate and not appropriate to contribute to LocalWiki.

If you're still not sure what kind of information is worth sharing on LocalWiki, see our more detailed guide!

Who is behind the LocalWiki project?

LocalWiki is a 501(c)3 non-profit based in San Francisco. We are very small. You can learn more about our staff here and learn about our Board and governing documents here.

We are committed to open source, transparency, inclusion, and co-creation! We believe that the organization and the global community are equal participants in determining the future of the project. Our mission is our bottom line, and we believe in organizational flexibility so that the way we are structured does not interfere with those goals.

How are you funded?

Over the past couple of years, LocalWiki has been generously supported by grant funding from the Knight Foundation and many individual donors. Learn more on the funding entry.

Who's 'in charge of' a particular LocalWiki region? How is content policy set?

Please see here.

Can I translate (localize, internationalize) LocalWiki into my community's native language?

Yes you can!  It's really easy to translate LocalWiki into your language, and there are already several strong non-English language LocalWiki efforts. Please see Translate LocalWiki for more information.

Does LocalWiki have an API?

Yes!  We have an easy-to-use read/write API that allows for novel geospatial querying.  Please see our API Documentation for more information.

I have a great idea for a new LocalWiki feature!

Thank you for your idea! You can propose your feature idea on the issues list on the LocalWiki Github account. Please make sure that there are no duplicate requests. Also, developers: we're still working on documentation for you. Check out our budding Devs Portal, stay in touch via Github, or email Vicky at <vicky at localwiki dot org>.

Does LocalWiki run on the same software as Wikipedia?

The LocalWiki backend runs a custom, open-source infrastructure which we've developed specifically for the aims of the LocalWiki project.  Our focus on creating a platform that allows for easy exchange of knowledge about local, geographic communities anywhere in the world.  Our backend is completely separate from the Mediawiki software, which is the software that Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects run on and that you may have seen if you've used other wikis.

If you're interested in helping with LocalWiki backend development, please check our our dev site.

Is the content that's posted to LocalWiki openly licensed?

Unless noted otherwise, all content posted to LocalWiki is licensed CC-BY, which means that it can be reused with attribution. Learn more on the Copyrights entry. Additionally, all data is available via our API.

What if someone posts incorrect information or vandalizes an entry?

Our community guidelines describe the kind of information that's appropriate and not appropriate to post on LocalWiki. Ultimately, it is up to you and every other good faith contributor to LocalWiki to correct and revert incorrect information, spam or vandalism. Here are some tips for correcting and reverting content:

  • Correct the article. If you see incorrect or incomplete information in an article, you can click the "Edit" button next to the title of the article and modify the content.
  • Revert to a previous version of the article. Every article has a history log of every single change it has received. You can view this history by viewing the article's "Info" page (click the "Info" button next to the "Edit" button). On the Info page, you will see all previous versions of the article. You can compare versions with each other, and even revert to a previous version.
  • Watch activity across the wiki. Near the top of any page on your community's LocalWiki, there is an "Activity" tab. Click on that to see what's going on across the entire wiki. Lots of people do it! Typically, folks who watch the Activity tab are the first to spot malicious changes, and as a result, changes get reverted fairly quickly. If you are interested in seeing what people across the site are working on and want to ensure that the quality of the site remains high, you too can join the club of recent changes sitters (it's fun!).

What is the difference between Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation and LocalWiki?

We are different, but we are similar. Both LocalWiki and Wikipedia are non-profits, we both run our projects using entirely open-source software, and we both release all of our material under an open, Creative Commons license.  In the same way that Wikipedia has transformed the way we think about encyclopedias, LocalWiki aims to change the way we relate to and engage with local knowledge around the world. For a more detailed explanation, please see here.