Today’s guest post is by Piotr Konieczny, a regular contributor to Wikipedia, and a free culture enthusiast! He does not do jiu jitsu, but had a wonderful idea of how we could help promote jiu jitsu much better online . I was actually really shocked to find the lack of info about women in BJJ on wikipedia. We really need to remedy this!

We like to see others share in our hobbies, or at least respect them. In the Digital Age, we can do it easily through the Internet.

However, this ease with which can share information is a two-sided sword. The biggest obstacle in promoting a concept is overcoming obscurity. It is easy to get an idea out, but how to make others care about it, in the informational deluge? Most contributions are hardly ready by anyone. In this guest post I will tell you how to promote your content and make it more visible on the net.

Employ the collective intelligence of the web: make others help you out. To achieve that, make it as easy as possible for them to find information about your content, and to spread it further. Now, how can we transform this into practice?

Where is information about BJJ coming from?

Well, let’s consider how people find out about BJJ. I would estimate that 90% of the people have never heard about it. In those who do, if it sparks enough interest that they want to know a bit more, most of them will Google it. Go ahead, google “BJJ”. What do you get as your first hit?

Wikipedia. Now, before we look into Wikipedia a bit more, a quick statistic. About a third of the people will go to the first (topmost) Google link. Less than a fifth will look at the last few links, and only about a tenth will bother with the second set of hits (10-20). This leads us to a simple conclusion. Most people who want to learn about BJJ will first and foremost go to the Wikipedia article about BJJ. It is thus imperative that they Wikipedia article draws them in.

I am therefore making the following assertion:

The single most widely read page about BJJ is Wikipedia’s article on BJJ.

Now, I am not going to spend much time on discussing how good – or bad – the English Wikipedia’s Wikipedia article on BJJ is. Wikipedia’s own quality ranking (visible at the top of article’s talk page) rates it as B-class, which means it’s “average”. This “average” article is viewed daily by about 2,500 people. Yearly, that roughly averages to 1 million views.

This leads me to the next assertion:

The most important way to promote BJJ is make the Wikipedia article about BJJ as appealing and informative as possible.

Now, the good news is that it is very easy to do that. You do not need to wait, ask or pay for this to happen. Wikipedia is a non-profit were all articles are written by volunteers, and anyone can become a volunteer in few seconds – just click on an edit link in an article, write something, save the page and voila – you are a Wikipedian. Once you get the hang of it, you can join the WikiProject Martial Arts; try to work towards getting the BJJ article to Featured status, (giving it a 24h display on Wikipedia’s Main Page, which usually gives an article an additional ~200k daily views); create new BJJ articles to be displayed in Wikipedia’s Main Page Did You Know section for few hours (~expect 10k views during that time); or upload high quality BJJ images to Wikipedia for similar effect (images can also be Featured). Note that right now Wikipedia article has no pictures of women practitioners, creating an impression it’s a male sport. Instead of requesting Wikipedia add this, you can change it directly.

Millions worldwide have edited Wikipedia. It’s not more complex than learning how to use a text editor, and is much easier than learning how to code html. Here are links to few pages to get you started: Wikipedia Adventure is a gamified version of the more traditionalWikipedia Tutorial, and here’s a brand new printable guidebook. You are always welcome to ask me for help.

Other ways to help promote BJJ

Strikeforce Women's Welterweight Champion, Sarah Kaufman

Sarah Kaufman, the ONLY woman listed as a BJJ practitioner – ladies, free advertising if you upload YOUR pics!

If you take pictures, or have a BJJ website, or create any other kind of BJJ content you’d like to become more widely seen/read/heard, you can get a boost to your reach by adopting a copyleft license for the media you create.

What most people do not realize is that “thanks” to the copyright law, officially intended to protect our rights, it has become very difficult to legally share media. If you take a really nice BJJ-related picture and put it online, I am legally not allowed to reuse it on my website, or on Wikipedia, without asking you for permission. Ditto for text and other media. This is a problem, because most people do not want to be bothered with asking for permission – and most of those who are asked don’t bother replying. There are also a ton of other problems associated with the current state of copyright and how it restricts our freedoms, significant enough to have spawned an entire social movement.*

Author’s Note: *to learn more about the free culture and Creative Commons issues, you can read this free book or watch one of these short video clips introducing CC and free culture, or a longer documentary.

Yet a solution is simple. You can chose to use a less restrictive copyright license (i.e. a copyleft license) for your content. This will not cost you anything, but will allow people to use the media you created, spreading your works for you. Viral marketing, in other words. It gets even better: you should still be attributed. This should direct traffic to your website, give you a bigger recognition, allow your work to appear on Wikipedia and many other sites, and so on. All for the cost of few minutes, in which you go to Creative Commons (see this cc-license article for more info) license-choosing site and generate the html code which will replace the unfriendly © with a more friendly version of “some rights reserved”.* Also, many websites like Flickr or YouTube allow you to change your license from the default © to a free license with few clicks in the settings.

*please note that if you want your content to be usable on Wikipedia, you should chose to allow others to modify your work, and even if it is counter-intuitive, to use it commercially – Wikipedia requires the first because images may need to be cropped, text edited, and supports the latter because it allows for some cool projects like Wikipedia Zero to exist. You can read why Wikipedia chose such an nonrestrictive license here.

This leads my to my third and final assertion:

Using free culture tools like copyleft licenses can increase the visibility and impact of the content you share on the Internet.

Now, I am not not going to promise you that slapping a CC-license on your blog or photo is going to result in a sudden spike of visitors. But it won’t hurt, particularly if all you are interested is sharing your media, and on the web there are Wikipedia Zero to exist. You can read why Wikipedia tens of thousands of success stories which wouldn’t achieve the reach they have today if they weren’t freely licensed and widely shared (Wikipedia and Linux being the two most widely known).

To summarize, my suggestion for how to promote BJJ (or any other idea for that matter) is to embrace the free culture. Improve the BJJ article, license your websites and media under a copyleft licenses, and see the popularity of your hobby grow.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: Have you helped contribute in any way to Wikipedia, especially regarding jiu jtisu? Have you used a copyleft license on your work, or does this appeal to you? Is your blog or your media under a creative commons tag? What are your thoughts on this?