Friends' Newsletter/2016/Issue 03

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Wikimedia UK Friends' Newsletter


The last newsletter of the year!

We've been busy in the past few months developing new programmes and partnerships, but as it's the end of the year, we'd like to update you about all the interesting projects and partnerships we have been working on and tell you about some things we are planning for the near future. Here's a round up of some highlights:

  • Dr Martin Poulter has been appointed to continue his valuable work in Oxford with a second phase of the residency at Bodleian Libraries, and we have partnered with the Hypatia Trust in Cornwall to support their Wikimedian working to improve content on Cornish women.
  • We've been working on improving the look of our website and have updated the look of the blog to be neater and work better on mobile displays. We are also trying to make our MediaWiki skin look nicer too, but this is a larger task that will take a bit longer. You might also notice that this is the first Newsletter sent out through MailChimp rather than CiviCRM, which will also help to reduce the early 2000s HTML feel of some of our content. We apologise profusely if you were only getting our newsletter for the nostalgia value of it :)
  • Wikimedia UK staff and volunteers took part in the Museums Computer Group's Museums + Tech conference, Mozfest 2016, the Association for Learning Technology's Open Access Week event and Ada Lovelace Day, which Wellcome Library Wikimedian-in-Residence Alice White celebrated with an editathon on women in STEM subjects at the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
  • In wider Wikimedia community news, there has been some interesting research published by the Harvard Business School which resulted in some positive coverage for the reliability and neutrality of Wikipedia. The Washington Post reported that Wikipedia's rules encourage consensus and lead to articles becoming progressively more balanced over time.
  • In December, the regular London meetup on Sunday 11th will also be the volunteer Christmas party, so please come along to discuss an eventful year and our plans for the next one with staff and volunteers.

Please do come to the Christmas shindig and celebrate the work achieved this year and the amazing volunteers who make it possible, and to discuss how we can make things even bigger and better next year. See you soon!

John Lubbock, Communications Coordinator

Mozfest 2016 in London

We attended Mozilla's open source festival in London's Docklands on October 29-30. It was a great opportunity to talk to other Wikimedians and people in the wider open source community who share our values and discuss subjects from Intellectual Property law and community best practice to the gender gap and data driven journalism. Katherine Maher of the Wikimedia Foundation was one of the keynote speakers, and Lucy Crompton-Reid, Wikimedia UK's Chief Executive, led a session on equality and diversity on Wikimedia. We also attended sessions on Open Badges and interviewed Wikimedian Fabian Tompsett about how we might use them in the Wikimedia community. Both videos are available on YouTube, and on Commons (embedded below along with the talk given by Katherine Maher).

In search of a Gaelic Wikipedian

Map of Gaelic speakers in Scotland

In partnership with the National Library of Scotland, we have been looking to hire a Gaelic Wikipedian to work throughout Scotland and especially in the Highlands where the majority of Gaelic speakers reside to encourage people to improve the quality and scope of content on Uicipeid, the Gaelic Wikipedia. Applications are now closed and we hope to be able to announce the successful candidate shortly.

Wikimedia UK is committed to expanding the diversity of content on the Wikimedia projects and their reach and usefulness to different communities, and in the UK we have a special opportunity to support the development of minority indigenous languages that have existed in the British Isles for thousands of years. We have made excellent progress in expanding content on the Welsh Wikipedia in recent years to support the half a million people in the UK who can speak Welsh, and now we have a great opportunity to support the thousands of Gaelic speakers in Scotland. You can read our previous blog announcing the position here.

We look forward to announcing the new Gaelic Wikipedian soon!

Dr Martin Poulter reappointed Bodleian Library Wikimedian-in-Residence

Martin Poulter at Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit, 2011

We are delighted that the University of Oxford has funded a second year of a Wikimedia residency, and that Martin Poulter has been appointed to work part-time for a year embedding Wikipedia, Wikidata and related sites in the university’s teaching, research and public engagement activities.

Dr Poulter served as the Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian Libraries for one year ending in March 2016, leading wiki training at nine public events and giving sixteen other workshops and presentations. The images bulk-uploaded during this placement now get more than 3 million views per month from being used to illustrate Wikipedia articles in 49 languages.

Thanks to funding from the IT Innovation Challenge Martin is returning to the Bodleian with a cross-university remit. The new project is about embedding innovative use of Wikimedia sites across the university. This will involve:

  • training staff in the university to run Wikimedia-related events such as editathons;
  • helping research projects to enhance their impact by sharing outputs on Wikidata and Wikipedia;
  • creating customised training workshops for academics, librarians and other staff in the university; and
  • sharing training materials.
The Bodleian Library, Oxford

The aim is to collaborate with a different large research or educational project each month. The first two partners are the Hillforts Atlas Project and the Voltaire Foundation. The former is a collaboration between the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, producing a definitive database of hillforts in the British Isles. The latter publishes definitive critical volumes of the works and correspondence of Voltaire. Both projects can reach a larger audience by helping to improve Wikidata and Wikipedia. Other research projects and cultural institutions will be supported on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wikimedians In Residence are currently employed at the National Library of Wales, the Wellcome Library, and the University of Edinburgh, as well as cultural and scholarly organisations around the globe. Martin Poulter can be contacted at martin.poulter@bodleian.ox.ac.uk .

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You can also have a look at an article that Martin recently wrote about Wikipedia's progress in the past 15 years on freespeechdebate.com.

The Guardian blog also published an article by Liz McCarthy, Bodleian's communications officer, about their Ada Lovelace Day editathon at the library.

Wiki Loves Monuments 2016 UK Winners Announced

More than 250 people took part in the UK competition, uploading 6,200 photos of cultural heritage which anyone can reuse. Thank you to everyone who took part. The winners of the overall competition will be announced in December.

Wiki Loves Monuments is a global photographic competition run by the Wikimedia Foundation and its local chapters like Wikimedia UK. We encourage photographers to upload photos of places that have Wikipedia articles so that those photos can be used to illustrate Wikipedia.

  1. "Winchester Cathedral, south aisle of retro-choir" by Michael Coppins
  2. "Perch Rock Lighthouse" by Richard J Smith
  3. "Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Devon" by Michael Chapman
  4. "Eilean Donan at Dusk" by Syxaxis Photography (George Johnson)
  5. "Hazell Brook Bridge" by Hamburg103a
  6. "Queens' College - Mathematical Bridge" by Rafa Esteve
  7. "RibbleheadViaduct" by Sterim64
  8. "Royal Albert Hall - Central View 169" by Colin
  9. "Tone Mills Dyehouse" by Msemmett
  10. "Transporter Bridge Winter Sunrise" by WelshDave

Kurdish Wikipedia Project

Participants in the training workshop at the Kurdish Cultural Centre
Participants in the training workshop at the Kurdish Cultural Centre

Wikimedia UK has recently started a project based at the Kurdish Cultural Centre in Kennington to improve content on Kurdish subjects as well as to improve the two Kurdish Wikipedias (Kurmanji and Sorani dialects) which collectively have around 40,000 articles. They currently rank at number 104 and 111 on this list of language Wikipedias by size. We have started to organise events to train Kurdish speakers to edit the English Wikipedia to improve coverage of Kurdish subjects, and hope to create a group of editors who can teach other Kurdish speakers to improve the Kurdish language Wikipedias.

For developing economies such as the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, creating better open educational resources could have significant positive effects on the development of a growing educational sector which doesn't have access to much government investment. If you would like to get involved in this project, please join our Facebook project page for updates, and please feel free to contact us by email or social media to ask any questions about how you can get involved.

Wikimedia at the University of Edinburgh

Wikipedia in the Classroom

Train the Trainer event at Edinburgh University

Ewan McAndrew, the Wikimedian-in-Residence at the University of Edinburgh, has supported a variety of Wikipedia in the Classroom assignments this semester including:

  • Training twelve members of staff from all different disciplines to become Wikimedia Ambassadors in order to support academic colleagues in the longer term.
  • A literature review assignment for the World Christianity MSc course. This offers candidates the opportunity to study in depth Christian history, thought and practice in and from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Reproductive Biology students
  • Translation Studies MSc project where students translated a 4000 word Wikipedia article from one language Wikipedia to another utilising Wikipedia's new Content Translation tool (inc. translating Wikipedia pages on Henry James' novels into Chinese and translating Ada Lovelace's Wikipedia page into Greek).
  • Reproductive Biology Honours students undertook a group research project on terms from reproductive medicine that were not yet represented on Wikipedia. All thirty-eight students were trained to edit Wikipedia and they worked collaboratively to research and produce the finished written article. The assignment developed the students’ information literacy, digital literacy, collaborative working, academic writing & referencing. The end result is eight new articles on reproductive medicine which enriches the global open knowledge community and leaves a rich legacy to be added to & further improved upon.

"The process of writing a Wikipedia article involved me trying to answer the questions I was asking myself about the topic. What was it? Why should I care about it? What does it mean to society? I also needed to make the answers to those questions clear to other people who can’t see inside my head. It then moved onto questions I thought other people might ask about the topic. Writing for Wikipedia is really an exercise in empathy and perspective. Who else is going to want to know about this and what might they be interested in about it? Is what I’m writing accessible and understandable? Am I presenting it in a useful way? It’s an incredibly public piece of writing which is only useful if it serves the public, so trying to put yourself in the frame of someone who’s not you reading what you’ve written is important (and possibly the most difficult part)."

Ada Lovelace Day at the University of Edinburgh

"It’s also about co-operation from the get-go. You can’t post a Wikipedia article and allow no one else to edit it. You are offering something up to the world. You can always come back to it, but you can never make it completely your own again. The beauty of Wikipedia is in groupthink, in the crowd intelligence it facilitates, but this means shared ownership, which can be hard to get your head around at first. It’s a unique way of writing, and some tips for other students starting out on a Wikipedia project is to not be intimidated. Wikipedia articles in theory can be indefinitely long and dense and will be around for an indefinitely long time, so writing a few hundred words can seem like adding a grain of sand to a desert. But if the information is not already there then you are contributing - and what is Wikipedia if not just a big bunch of contributions? There’s also the fear that editors already on Wikipedia will swoop down and denounce your article as completely useless - but the beauty of storing information is that you can never really have too much of it. There’s no-one who can truly judge what is and isn’t worthy of knowing." - Reflections from a student on the Reproductive Biomedicine course.

Editathons at the University of Edinburgh

Women and Religion editathon at the School of Divinity

In addition to his other work advocating for and developing open knowledge at the university, Ewan recently ran:

  • Ada Lovelace Day 2016 event (watch the STV News spot here) - incorporated guest talks, fun technology activities and a Wikipedia editathon which created ten brand new articles celebrating notable Women in STEM and improved 9 others. Highlighting female success stories is crucially important as, according to figures from Equate Scotland, Women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) represent only 14-18% of the workforce and biographies of notable women on Wikipedia similarly represent only 15% of the total number (NB: this figure has moved to 16% because of WikiProject Women in Red's efforts).
Samhuinn carved turnip at University of Edinburgh editathon
  • Wikipedia editathon for Halloween utilising obituaries to create new articles recognising notable lives of those passed away with a connection to Edinburgh or Scotland as part of the tradition of honouring the dead during Samhuinn, the Gaelic Festival of the Dead. 17 new articles and 300 images were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons (inc. 294 pics of the #Somme100 'We are here' soldiers commemoration from earlier in the year).
  • Women and Religion Wikipedia editathon at the School of Divinity which created 13 new articles on Women and Religion and improved 4 others. The day featured two guest talks from Roger Bamkin, co-founder of WikiProject Women in Red, and the historian, writer and activist, Dr. Lesley Orr.
  • There is more planned before the end of the year including a Robert Louis Stevenson Day Wikipedia editathon at the National Library of Scotland to create & improve Wikipedia articles related to all things Gothic and featuring a talk on the illustrations in Stevenson's Jekyll & Hyde. The University of Sheffield's Centre for the History of the Gothic will also be running their own synchronous event this day: Sheffield Gothic. You can take a look at the Edinburgh University Wikimedian-in-Residence page to see a full list of what he has planned.

Welsh Wikipedia Project Birds

Sample of Commons' image in the Dictionary of Species on the Llen Natur website.

A small wiki can move quickly, and does not become bogged down in a quagmire of fossilised tripe. Some dinosaurs morphed into birds, and lived.

We have just over 81,000 articles on the Welsh Wikipedia. It is a small wiki, but therein lies it's greatness: the smaller it is the faster it morphs. Take Wikidata as an example. We received, from the Llen Natur Welsh language society, their latest database of living birds, each with a Welsh name, Latin and English. It took over 10 years to create by a team of ornithologists, some professionals working on this alone.

Wikimedia UK requested the use of this database on an open licence, which was freely given, and I then made a request to User:Succo to bot them up on Wikidata, and around 8,000 matched the WD Latin name. The rest were done by hand. To date, this is what we've done in partnership with Llen Natur:

1. We added 9,500 bird images in a 3rd party website

The community with the help of Bangor University then created a code for the preferred image on each species to appear in Llen Natur's Species Dictionary, thus turning a text only online dictionary into a beautiful Illustrated Dictionary.

2. We created 9,000 new articles on cywiki

With the database, we were now able to create 9,000 new articles on cywiki, with most of the taxobox automatically calling information from Wikidata.

3. Creating 15,000 links from Llen Natur's Illustrated Dictionary to cywiki

This was easily done by Bangor University for Llen Natur, directing readers to the Welsh Wikipedia. All bird articles, and a further 6,000 other species.

Infobox, with the taxon called live from Wikidata.
4. Wikidata Lists! Morph or fossilize!

Having added a few WD Lists on other languages, including Indonesian, Vietnamese, Basque, Irish Gaelic and Spanish, I then added a list of notable Welsh people on English Wikipedia - which was taken down within two flutters of a wing. "Wikidata is NOT referenced!" they shouted, and argued and stomped about like Giraffatitan. "Good bye!" I said, and off I went in search of more inspiring wikis. To this day, en-wiki is one of the only Wikipedias which still hasn't hugged and caressed Wikidata within articles. Not one.

Every single bird species on the Welsh WP, however, has a Wikidata table, automatically called up and updated daily. When species change taxon, it's automatically added on cywiki. The total number of WD Lists on every language Wikipedias at October 2016 is just under 3,000; we have 9355 on cywiki (as of 7 November 2016).

What loud calls I make, what blowing of trumpets! No, just a fact. We liked Wikidata, and discussed as a community how could we utilise it within cywiki to save finger clicking, to update info daily, to be up to date.

British Library Europeana Sounds editathon. See the video on YouTube here.
5. Tweeting and other bird sounds

We had a great day at the British Library a few weeks ago, chirping away at clips of birdsounds on Commons, connecting soundclips to more than 55 language wikis. As soon as we have enough, then they too will be automatically feed these into all bird articles on the Welsh Wikipedia, as well as into 3rd party websites, such as Llen Natur. And the Illustrated Dictionary quickly becomes a noisy, vivid, live space. And all different sounds and all different colours will entice the reader into that rich, diverse planet called multipedia. And let's sing in harmony: Viva la difference!

6. Birds also morph...

And with "the sum of all human data" appearing on that matrics, that all-connecting interweaving thread called Wikidata, we can now start creating apps and games based on birds (or any other subject) as a front for information on the Wikimedia projects. Can't Wikipedia, then, not be an AR game? Why not! Even dinosaurs had dreams!

PS For your information (which I really would like to share) the multilingual word 'dinosaur' was coined by a Welshman, Sir Richard Owen. Llywelyn2000 (talk) 18:06, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

Welsh Wikidata Visiting Scholar

Marine Terrace, Aberystwyth

The charity has an ongoing and highly successful partnership with the National Library of Wales (NLW), and in April 2016 the Library employed the first Wikidata Visiting Scholar in Simon Cobb to create linked data items out of the collection of 4650 landscape paintings held by the NLW.

Meticulously converting all of the objects in the collection to data items with properties based on data tags held by the NLW has allowed Simon Cobb and Jason Evans, Wikimedian in Residence, to visualise the collection in a number of interesting ways.

It is hoped that others will find innovative uses for the collected data to study the progress of the arts in Wales as well as the development of culture seen in the paintings, the artists responsible and the printers and publishers of the work. You can find out more about the project over on the Wikimedia Foundation's blogpost about it.

Parliament partnership and editathon

Wikimedia UK is developing a partnership with the House of Commons to encourage an understanding of Wikipedia within the organisation and the sharing of data.

We will be holding our first editathon in Parliament on Saturday 19th November to introduce parliamentary staff to our work and teach them how to use Wikimedia projects. The event will also be open to the whole community, so if you would like to visit Parliament and see inside the buildings, why not join us? The event will be held in Portcullis House, the modern office building next to the Palace of Westminster, but there will also be a tour of the older buildings such as Westminster Hall, which will be 920 years old next year.

In a slight contrast to the centuries old surroundings, we will be talking to parliamentary staff about the data they produce and looking at what data they have which would be suitable to upload to WikiData. We are exploring the possibility of creating data items for parliamentary legislation, but there may be other kinds of content held by Parliament which would be suitable for upload onto Wikimedia sites.

We hope the event will provide a useful case study in using Parliament’s resources to create content which can be built on as Parliamentary staff learn to use Wikimedia projects as part of their workflow. The UK Parliament has a good reputation for sharing its data, but by working with Wikimedia UK, we hope to put that data to work in innovative and useful ways. If you want to find out more, why not come along and take part?

Parliament editathon November 19