Friends' Newsletter/2015/Issue 01

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Wikimedia UK Friends' Newsletter

Enabling Wiki-based teacher education

Teachers doing groupwork with computers around a table

Dr. Björn Hassler of Cambridge University tells us about wiki-based teaching

MediaWiki is already used to host Open Educational Resources (OER), such as Wikipedia (which is possibly the most widely used open resource), which means that many people are familiar with both reading Wikipedia, as well as contributing (the barrier to which has been lowered significantly by the usability enhancements such as the visual editor). MediaWiki has facilities for taking content offline, through Offline Content Generation (OCG) toolchain, or Parsoid with ZIM and Kiwix.

These features mean that MediaWiki could be a good platform for hosting other types of OER, and a few years ago we started using MediaWiki to host the OER4Schools teacher professional development programme. As far as we are aware, it's the only structured open teacher programme available aimed at teacher in sub-Saharan Africa (though of course there are other open teacher resources, from OER Africa, TESSA, COL, and others).

While our MediaWiki-based approach has been very successful in a number of ways, there have also been challenges. As an encyclopedia, the basic unit of Wikipedia is articles, which relate to each other, but often not in complex ways. TPD programmes need to be very clearly structured to be effective, and we thus built templates for structuring resources (with semantic properties), section numbers (with CSS), and navigation (again using semantic wiki). Wikimedia UK kindly provided some funding to help address some of these challenges, in collaboration with Emmanuel (of Kiwix) in a project to "Enable Wiki-based teacher education" (an overview of what was achieved is available). There are of course some remaining challenges, and hope to continue working with the community in order to address these!

Project grants: A year in review

Interior of Chester Cathedral, one of the featured pictures resulting from the Photographing UK cathedrals project grant.

A little help goes a long way

Since 2011, Wikimedia UK has been offering small grants to members to help with activities for improving content, engagement, or access for one of the Wikimedia projects. The nature of these grants varies, and examples include providing reference materials to improve certain topics or articles to good or featured status, supporting the taking of high quality and/or value photographs, video production, and support with the hosting of specific events.

Examples of the articles improved over the last year through Wikimedia UK's project grants are Waldorf–Astoria (New York, 1893) and Waldorf Astoria New York which reached good articles status, Operation Flavius and Death on the Rock both of which are now counted among the English Wikipedia best articles with its featured articles status, and the many articles considered as vital or core that have been improved through The Core Contest competition.

Of course, the Wikimedia projects are not just about text. Many tens of thousands of images have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons through the support of Wikimedia UK's project grants. Maybe your interest is in public artworks, or it could be churches and cathedrals, or perhaps something as simple as making sure there are freely licensed images of every Member of the European Parliament. Would you like to learn more about Wikimedia UK's GLAM programme? Then look no further than The GLAM-Wiki Revolution videos, which document the state of GLAM in the UK.

Email with your ideas for new project grants

Upcoming: Cinema Museum's Charlie Chaplin event

Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp

2015 marks the centenary of Charlie Chaplin's film The Tramp

In October 2014 the Cinema Museum, London hosted a very successful Back Stage Pass event. Over 200 photographs of items from the Museum's collection were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons with a selection made available in a "gallery" on the Cinema Museum's Wikipedia page. Several new pages were also created. This second editathon on Saturday 7 March will focus on Charlie Chaplin and especially his iconic film The Tramp, which came out in April 1915 and helped catapult Chaplin towards becoming the first major international film star. Chaplin had only been involved in the film industry for a little over year having started with Keystone Studios in 1914. When they refused to meet his request for more pay, he was recruited by Essanay Studios, staring in 1915 with a signing bonus of $10,000. Here he was given more authority in determining how his films were made, and this included having more time to spend on each film: at Keystone he had been turning films around in a week. This was now extended to a month. This enabled Chaplin to mature his approach to film making and soon he became a sensational success. His 'Tramp' image had been an experiment in 1914 in Kid Auto Races at Venice. In The Tramp he developed the character we came to recognise as the Chaplin hallmark.

What makes the Cinema Museum such a great place to mark the centenary of his great success is that Chaplin himself used to live in the building which is now the museum: Chaplin lived there as a child when the building was Lambeth Workhouse. The Cinema Museum is currently championing a proposal by Anna Odrich to erect a monument to Chaplin in the Tramp pose popularised by his films. "The tramp figure embodies the struggle of the poor man for his dignity" Anna argues in her Proposal Document. The vision is for a "ghost-like form" achieved through using a two dimensional silhouette. Those who attend the event will be able to see a 5.5m maquette of the sculpture at the Cinema Museum.

Did You Know? Charlie Chaplin's nephew Spencer Dryden achieved fame as a rock drummer with bands such as Jefferson Airplane and New Riders of the Purple Sage. Many of his co-musicians did not know of his relationship to Chaplin until shortly before his death in 2005.

Join us at the upcoming Cinema Museum The Tramp event on Saturday 7 March

A year in images donation

A picture paints a thousand words, what about hundred of thousand of pictures?

2014 was a highly successful year in terms of the number of high quality and valuable images donated by institutions working with Wikimedia UK and UK-based volunteers.

As part of a GLAM-Wiki partnership with Wikimedia UK, the York Museums Trust provided over 500 images including those from its Tempest Anderson Collection, and the Sydney Harold Smith Collection. As part of its open knowledge project, Cancer Research UK released nearly 450 diagrams and illustrations concerning cancer and human biological systems. The Royal Society in its turn released under an open license all newly taken portrait photographers of their newly elected fellows, and have indicated a desire for further future contributions.

As a result of some great work done by Wikimedia UK's volunteer John Cummings, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released 50 images from its archive as a pilot project in December. John is now looking at doing further work in this area towards the release of the rest of UNESCO's 24,000 images and other content. The long running partnership between Wikimedia UK and the National Library of Scotland has led to the upload of over 1,000 images from its digital collections. Other images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons in 2014 includes over 4,000 from the National Library of Wales, over 7,000 from participants of Wiki Loves Monuments UK, and an astonishing 100,000 images from Wellcome Images.

Would you like to discuss a potential donation of content from your institution? Get in touch!

The Wikipedia Library

The Wikipedia Library logo

Are you an experienced English Wikipedia editor looking for access to reliable sources so you can better improve the encyclopedia? If so, then the Wikipedia Library may just be for you. Started in 2013 by Jake Orlowitz as the result of a successful Individual Engagement Grant, the Wikipedia Library aims to connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources, as well as free access to paywalled publications and databases through partnership with individual publishers and content providers.

Former partnerships includes the British Newspaper Archive who offered 200 one-year accounts to access its database of digitised newspapers from the 18th century to the early 20th century. The Royal Society provided 24 Wikipedians with one-year access to its range of scientific journals in the biological sciences, physical sciences, and history of science. Printed catalogues of publicly owned oil paintings in the UK were made available to 12 Wikipedia editors by its publisher, the Public Catalogue Foundation.

Accounts are currently available for a range of partners including the British Medical Journal, Elsevier, Find My Past, JSTOR, Oxford University Press, Pelican Books, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Minimum requirements for approval of an account varies, but generally involve having an account that is at least one year old, which has made more than 1,000 edits, through content generation, by a user that is active in content generation, research, and/or verification work in topic areas relevant to the access being provided.

You can read the newsletter for the Wikipedia Library here

Reviewing a residency – National Library of Scotland

A ship salvaging part of the Tay Bridge, 1879-80. One of many images donated by the NLS.

A look back at the longest standing UK Wikimedian in Residence project

When we were setting up a Wikimedian in Residence (WIR) in Scotland, in 2013, we planned it for a pilot lasting several months, designed to see if such a project is viable. Now, running at 18 months, it is Wikimedia UK's longest-standing WIR, and a project that we can draw on for inspiring case studies!

To celebrate the first 12 months in the post, Ally Crockford, the resident, wrote a summary case study report. I encourage you to read the report, as it gives a brilliant introduction into the project, but, more importantly, critical views on what was achieved. You can also read about what the Library itself thought about the first year of the project – do have a look inside the report.

The first ever residency in Scotland started in July 2013 and was extended thanks to strong delivery. This project, geographically removed from other areas of chapter activity, had a tall order of building a community that can support its activities – and we would like to think that it contributed to the developments in the area!

Overview of successful initiatives

  • Media coverage – As an innovative project in Scotland, it attracted significant attention. It produced interest from the Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland, which then lead to more collaboration.
  • Content improvement – Work aiming to change NLS policy on releasing digitised content started with month 1 in July 2013. Thanks to persistence and continual presence, June 2014 saw the first pilot releases – and the internal advocacy work is continuing!
  • External partnerships – The project attracted much interest from external organisations, particularly libraries considering releasing content. The resident became a true spokesperson for open knowledge, and was e.g. invited to speak at CERN and Swiss National Library.
  • Training and advocacy – An ongoing programme of training events for various departments was being delivered (e.g. Digital Access team). Teaching was incorporated into the organisation, e.g. Wikipedia & open access training was given during all staff annual 'Learning at Work' event. Advocacy is still a key focus of the residency, and internal seminars as well as external events addressing access and licensing for digitised public domain content are being organised for 2015
  • Scottish community building – Much beyond the call of the project, the resident was involved in attracting volunteers to Wikimedia UK in Scotland via supporting regular meetups and organising joint events. It is worth noting, however, that the Library's strategic purpose is described as 'The National Library of Scotland exists to advance universal access to knowledge about Scotland and in Scotland.' And so we discovered that the Library has the same interest as Wikimedia UK – building the community beyond that of the organisation itself.

While responses to the collaboration were generally positive throughout the Library, the results of the internal educational campaign regarding open knowledge took some time to manifest. Despite an initial perception amongst NLS managerial staff that a Wikimedia compatible open access policy for digital content would take several years to be realised, a proposed Metadata and Digital Content Licensing Policy was drafted, discussed, and approved over a period of approximately 8 months, coming into effect in April 2014. The policy itself also represents an incredible step on the Library's part towards committing itself to open access – and a positive sign of the fact that often residency projects are catalysts for internal change!

In early June 2014, the first batches of content were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Photos from the construction of the Forth Bridge and the Tay Bridge disaster were the first to be uploaded, followed by sketches of locations around Scotland from the early 19th century publication Scotia Depicta (1804) and theatrical posters and photographs from the Weir Collection. In total, approximately 1,100 images were uploaded in the first two months. Since then, GLAMWiki metrics tools like BaGLAMa2 and GLAMorous have offered insight into the impact of the release. As of January 2015, over 10% of the images have been incorporated into Wikipedia articles, a higher percentage than many GLAM releases. The incorporation of these images has resulted in an average increase of more than 500,000 monthly views on Wikipedia articles featuring NLS content between July and December 2014, which represents 50% more views than in June 2014 prior to the release.

In the aftermath of the trial release, the National Library of Scotland was extremely excited and honoured to be named Wikimedia UK's 2014 GLAM of the Year. The award generated buzz in the Library and throughout the Scottish GLAM sector, but there have been some less encouraging developments that followed the trial release as well. Despite its success, some concerns were raised within the Library regarding the wide-scale implementation of the new policy. This resistance held up the proposed release of several thousand more images, originally planned for the autumn and winter of 2014.

Having a longer residency at the NLS has afforded a rather unique opportunity in this respect; it is not uncommon for organisations to become hesitant after an initial release, but in this case the resident has remained in post to respond to any concerns or resistance. While the delay is frustrating, it has revealed a residency's potential to act as a catalyst within an organisation. Ongoing advocacy for the release of public domain content has increasingly been not only supported, but taken up by members of staff within the Library. With change no longer being driven entirely by the resident alone, the NLS programme clearly demonstrates the long-term value of a Wikimedian in Residence: it has initiated a push to transform the internal culture which has been taken up and carried forward by staff themselves, an exciting and encouraging result!

The day BFI teamed up with Wikipedia

At the editathon

A look back written by Stephen McConnachie, Head of Date at the BFI

A marathon of Wikipedia editing at the BFI Reuben Library has enriched the online encyclopedia's records relating to black and Asian British filmmaking.

On 26 January, the BFI and Wikimedia UK held a Wikipedia Editathon in the BFI Reuben Library on London's South Bank. The focus was British black and Asian films and filmmakers, with a list of key films, filmmakers and writers established in advance. This subject was inspired by the BFI's new three ticks diversity guidelines for film funding, which are aimed at improving on-screen and off-screen diversity within the film sector, including BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) diversity.

All afternoon the editors used the books, articles and digitised press cuttings in the BFI Reuben Library to create new Wikipedia pages as well as improve existing articles. They had support from three of the major figures in this area of British filmmaking, who very kindly gave their time to support the event: Stephen Bourne (author of a major book on this subject, Black in the British Frame), June Givanni (curator of the Pan African Cinema Archive), Imruh Bakari (filmmaker, writer and academic, co-founder of the Ceddo film and video workshop) and film and theatre writer Suman Bhuchar.

Among the newly created and published Wikipedia articles are one on Imruh Bakari himself (a unique opportunity for article writer and subject to discuss the references available in the Library's collection), Udayan Prasad (director of My Son the Fanatic, 1997), Lionel Ngakane's pioneering 1966 film Jemima + Johnny, John Akomfrah's Handsworth Songs (1986) and Newton Aduaka's Rage (2000). Other articles are being prepared for publication, including one on tap-dancing duo Scott & Whaley.

Some existing articles were improved during the event, with editors adding links to actors and filmmakers, correcting inaccuracies and generally adding substance. Improved articles include The Proud Valley (starring Paul Robeson, 1940), The Little Ones (1965), Bhaji on the Beach (1993) and John Akomfrah (director of Handsworth Songs and The Stuart Hall Project).

Quick updates

Community Chat

Wikimedia Community Logo

The 2015 steward elections are ongoing until 28 February. Stewards are users with the highest trusted access on Wikimedia wikis, including the ability to change any and all user rights and groups.

Round One voting for the annual Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year competition has finished. Round Two voting is scheduled to start on 14 February and will run for one week.

The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first ever year in review video highlighting some stories of what people read and edited in 2014. As part of its consolidation of all technical collaboration platforms into one, Wikimedia Foundation Technical Operations team have moved their processes from RT to Phabricator. This follow a migration of Wikimedia bug reporting from Bugzilla earlier last year.

Editing of Wikipedia has been made twice as fast through the deployment of HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) on Wikimedia servers, a PHP programming language runtime interpreter and process virtual machine developed by Facebook to replace the standard Zend Engine interpreter.

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation awarded the 2015 Erasmus Prize to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community for its success in promoting the "dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally accessible encyclopaedia". The award is accompanied by a €150,000 grant, which will be directed towards individual community grants and other support for editors and contributors.


Wikidata logo

Wikidata was launched in October 2012 as an application of the "Wiki Way" in a new environment: that of an online knowledge base. Wikidata was originally conceived as a way of providing a data spine through which related articles on various Wikipedias could be linked. This was achieved in early 2013. However Wikidata soon moved forward from simply reconciling internal issues, to dealing with external sources. Wikidata is one of several projects to reconcile identifiers and authority files from different sources, but with the integration of data from Google's Freebase, it is becoming an increasingly important resource outside of the Wikipedia context. Alongside the development of the database as such various tools are continually being developed to access the knowledge base and make increasingly complex searches.

As Wikipedia enters its fifteenth year, Wikidata sees already this collaborative approach is having an impact, one which will go much further if the Wikidata for Research funding application is successful. has highlighted its potential to attract more Citizen-Scientists – Wikidata can change the way citizen scientists contribute. Lydia Pintscher, Product Manager for Wikidata, Wikimedia Deutschland, has discussed the social scaling needed if Wikidata is to realise its potential. Currently many organisations are looking to provide Wikidata with more and more data. But this leaves the question – how will the community develop to match these new opportunities?

Ways to get involved: In the UK we have set up an e-mail list to supplement the other lists. The object of this list is to focus on activities in the UK and Ireland (Go here for the more general Wikidata list). We have also started have specific Wikidata Meetups, two in London so far. We are also discussing having an event in Manchester. We have also started a project page: Wikidata:WikiProject UK and Ireland.

Upcoming activity: Open Data Camp UK (Saturday 21st Feb/Sunday 22nd Feb). Tickets have been sold out, but you can join the waitlist if you are interested.

National Library of Wales

Jason Evans, Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales

Wikimedia UK is proud to announce that the National Library of Wales has appointed a full time Wikipedian in Residence; this follows a 6-month appointment by the federal Welsh language university 'Coleg'. The announcement came on the day that Wikipedia celebrated its 14th birthday.

Wicipedia Cymraeg and the National Library have had a good working partnership since 2008 when they started to pilot the uploading of around 20 images of Wales' finest photographer of his time – John Thomas. The world didn't come to an end, and since then nearly 5,000 images have been uploaded.

The Library is one of only six legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland and has more than 5 million books, a million maps, 800,000 photographs and 50,000 works of art. In April 2012, the Library made a policy decision not to claim ownership of copyright in digital reproductions. This meant that the rights information attached to digital representations of works would reflect the copyright status of the original. In 2013, the Library was the winner of the Wikimedia UK 'GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) of the Year Award', as being 'a reliable supporter of the Wikimedia movement aims.'

Both the Library and the Wikimedia movement have many things in common including to enrich the sum of shared knowledge available about Wales online, with a specific interest on the Welsh language Wicipedia.

Robin Owain, Wikimedia UK Manager in Wales said: 'The Library has opened their doors, and have proven that improving access to their rich resources will benefit not only Wales but the wider world. They have been cutting edge in many ways and I look forward in consolidating our partnership in the coming months. What a great way of celebrating the 14th birthday of Wikipedia!'

Jason Evans has been appointed to the residency and he began work on 19 January.

Wiki Loves Monuments international results

The international winner of Wiki Loves Monuments 2014

As part the Wiki Loves Monuments competition, the top 10 UK winners were entered into the associated international competition. We are extremely pleased to report that three of the UK's entries were recognised by the international panel of jurists in their top 10 images from all 40 countries taking part.

The UK winning image of St Michael's Mount in Mount's Bay, Cornwall by User:Fuzzypiggy came in 6th, while their image of Tower Bridge at dawn was 7th. User:RevDave's greyscale image of Victorian valves at Victoria Baths, Manchester followed in 8th.

The top three winners internationally came from Ukraine, France and Norway respectively. Overall international winning image courtesy of Konstantin Brizhnichenko was that of the Holy Mountains Monastery in Sviatohirsk. UK based photographer Sarah Ellacott's image of Paris Gare du Nord station received the runner-up prize, while Siri Uldal's image of great cormorant on the Jøvik trading pier took third prize.