In this post, Anastasia reflects on the process of editing a Wikipedia article, and the challenges it presented. You can read more about the Mixed Museum internships in our blog, and over at The Mixed Museum website.
March was an extremely beneficial and eventful month. Working alongside such ambitious experts was extremely helpful in furthering my existing knowledge about editing and writing and learning new skills such as using Wikipedia. I am grateful to the Mixed Museum for giving me an exciting opportunity to work with and learn from the Wikimedia team members.
After starting my internship, I became acquainted with the Wikimedia UK team through an insightful Potluck Wikithon. It was fascinating to get to know the inside-outs of Wikipedia, as I could have never imagined that so much work needed to be done to create a single credible article. It was a challenge to adapt to the writing style of Wikipedia at first, as it seemed so different from that of university essays. Wikipedia requires a factual, detached description of events, whereas personal opinion and thorough, logical analysis are the basis of the papers I am so used to. However, the support I was getting from both the Mixed Museum and Wikimedia was highly useful in overcoming the challenges I faced.
When I first began editing my assigned page, Black people in Ireland, I felt that it was far from what we were hoping to end up with. I noticed that some information was shallow, and many sections lacked credible sources. Unfortunately, I was forced to delete some of the claims as I could not prove their reliability, since there were no available sources to back them. I improved the article to show that Black people’s history in Ireland is more profound and complex than considered before.
I believe that education is crucial for the formation of independent-minded and tolerant people, and Wikipedia can help that cause by working on articles concerning minorities’ histories. Being the most accessible resource for young people all over the world, Wikipedia needs to uphold a high standard in showcasing not only the history of oppression but also the lifestyles of those minorities.
Another challenge was one of the main tasks of the internship: searching for and adding pictures to the page I was editing. I found it complicated to understand the copyright and laws concerning the usage of photographs, despite detailed explanations from the team during the introduction section. I was able to retrieve several pictures from the Wikipedia domain after researching the process. However, finding relevant photos with appropriate copyrights was hard, as most are reserved for exclusive use, and the rights to publish these can only be purchased.
Although the work I was doing throughout the internship was mainly independent, I never felt like I was left alone to deal with all the aspects of the job. The team was highly supportive via Slack and email most days. Slack was especially useful, as it felt like a social media website, where one could chat with colleagues via instant messages and get responses quicker. It was also less formal than traditional means of business communication, which helped me feel more comfortable asking questions.
This experience was precious, as I have acquired essential skills, worked with Wikimedia software, and communicated with two professional teams to spread awareness about such a crucial topic. I hope that my contribution made an impact on the Wikipedia audience and helped someone out there learn more about Black Irish history.