Friends' Newsletter/2018/Issue 03

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Dinefwr castle at sunrise WMUK Winter Newsletter.jpg

Welcome to the Winter Newsletter!

Lucy Crompton-Reid speaking at Wikipedia's 15th anniversary party in 2016.
Lucy Crompton-Reid speaking at Wikipedia's 15th anniversary party in 2016.

I hope that you enjoy reading Wikimedia UK's last newsletter of the year. Do remember that our Communications Co-ordinator, John Lubbock, is always on the lookout for content for our quarterly newsletter - so please do email him here with your ideas and contributions.

Since I returned from maternity leave in November I've been humbled and impressed by the passion, energy, time, effort and expertise that people continue to put into improving the Wikimedia projects for the benefit of everyone. Volunteers, staff and Wikimedians in Residence around the country are all working hard to develop new projects, deepen existing partnerships, open up content and organise events in partnership with all kinds of groups. The wider Wikimedia community in the UK has also been doing some amazing work, with contributors such as Jess Wade helping to get lots of attention for the ongoing work to reduce the gender gap on Wikipedia. Over the past few months we also celebrated Wikidata’s 6th birthday with a number of events around the country, and held another successful Wiki Loves Monuments competition with some wonderful images added to the Commons.

There have been other staff changes in the Wikimedia UK team since our last newsletter. Karla Marte, our Programme Evaluation Assistant, returned to work in August and we said goodbye to her maternity leave cover, Agnes Bruszik. Hannah Evans, who was covering Richard Nevell's sabbatical at English Heritage, left Wikimedia UK in October to start a new job at Friends of the Earth. And Sandy Balfour, Interim Chief Executive during my maternity leave, also left that month. My thanks and best wishes go to all the departing staff, who between them brought a huge amount of ideas and energy into the organisation.

As I reflect on 2018, I can't help but feel that both globally and here in the UK, it has been a year characterised by political turmoil, economic uncertainty, divided communities and an increasingly fractured media landscape. Within that context, access to reliable information is more crucial than ever. As 2019 begins, I hope this summary will give our readers some indication of all the work going on in the UK to ensure a world in which every single human being can share in the sum of all knowledge.

I wish you all a very happy new year.

Lucy Crompton-Reid, Chief Executive

Wiki Loves Monuments 2018 winners announced!

By John Lubbock, Communications Coordinator

The UK winners of the annual Wiki Loves Monuments photo competition were announced at the beginning of November, with Christopher Cherrington picking up 1st prize for his photo of the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral

The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral.jpg

Over 13,000 images were submitted to the competition from the UK in total, a small decrease from the roughly 14,000 images submitted in 2017. You can see the winners from every participating country here.

So, what takeaways are there from this year’s competition? Well, it seems that there are fewer heritage sites on Wikidata without photos, and so participants might need to be more creative to find sites that need images, especially as some of our winning photos are of monuments which have featured in previous years’ winning photos. This year there was a suggested concentration on internal images of buildings, rather than their outside. However, it may be that Wikimedia UK needs to make better connections to organisations like Heritage Open Days and arrange specific photographic events for our community to encourage the quality of internal photography which we want.

From a communications perspective, one interesting thing to note was the increase in traffic to the site as a result of a banner campaign directing people viewing Wikipedia from UK IP addresses to the site. Our WLM video made for this year’s competition also received a much higher number of views than most videos we produce as a result of being embedded on the front page of the WLM UK site. It may be that we should make more extensive use of banner campaigns for UK competitions, so if you have ideas for Wikipedia or Commons competitions we should run in the UK, why not let us know?

Lastly, as a photographer, I still bemoan the lack of a really good Wikimedia Commons app which you can use to both see nearby places and upload images of them which can then be automatically tagged with the right metadata. At the moment, the existing Commons app, which is being developed by part time developers with WMF grant funding, will allow you to see nearby places, and to upload images, but these processes are not connected.

The Structured Data on Commons (SDoC) project is due to be completed by the Wikimedia Foundation in 2019, and hopefully after that there will be a greater concentration on how to improve the user experience of Commons, especially in terms of the ease of uploading files. Wikimedia UK tries to advocate for the value of Open, CC licensed content, but it is often an uphill struggle to get individuals and organisations to release content. Hopefully by next year’s WLM we will have better tools with which to do this.

Approaches to Knowledge at UCL

Portico of University College London
Portico of University College London

Professor Carl Gombrich, Programme Director for UCL's new interdiscipliniary course, BA Arts and Sciences, approached Wikimedia UK early this year to talk about his interest in using a Wikimedia element in the Approaches to Knowledge module of the degree.

This semester, the course began and 150 students are now working on creating chapters for an Open Educational Resources book which will be constructed by the students on Wikibooks, and then published by UCL Press, the Open Access publishing journal that UCL has recently established.

After initially discussing the use of Wikipedia itself as the basis for the course, it was decided that it would be hard to assess the contributions of a large number of students using Wikipedia. Contributions are more likely to get deleted, and the students would likely be looking at improving only a small number of quite core Wikipedia pages related to epistemology. So it was decided to have them collaboratively create a book together on Wikibooks, so that students could still gain an insight into how open source platforms like the Wikimedia projects, function.

UCL is interested in what working with Wikimedia projects can teach students in terms of research and academic skills, and the media literacy which comes with a deeper understanding of the guidelines for Wikimedia projects. They also liked the idea of being able to make a textbook and the meta-approach of people creating knowledge about knowledge.

Dr Richard Nevell has been helping as a volunteer, and Wikimedian Katie Chan did a training session for staff on Wikipedia and Wikibooks before the course began. Hannah Evans gave an opening lecture for the course before an initial workshop where students got into teams to decide what subject area they would work on.

The groups could choose from:

  • Knowledge and imperialism
  • Knowledge and truth
  • Knowledge and evidence

The groups will write chapters of 1200 words. These will all go on Wikibooks, and the best ones will be collected into a book which will also be published by UCL Press, the UCL Open Access repository. The project will also tie into a UCL education conference on April 1, 2019, where students will be presenting about the work they are doing.

Wikimedia UK is now working with many different universities across the country, and you can read more about what different courses are doing with Wikimedia projects on our website.

Wikimedia UK's work with Open organisations

Wikimedia UK at Mozfest 2018 04.jpg

Wikimedia UK has been attending Mozilla’s conference in London for a few years now, as we attempt to build deeper connections to other organisations working to promote open knowledge. This year, we presented a discussion entitled ‘Under the hood: how understanding Wikipedia’s internal structure and community can teach media literacy’. This was a relaxed hour and a half presentation with about 20 participants who asked questions throughout the talk.

Wikimedia UK at Mozfest 2018 15.jpg

Programmes coordinator Stuart Prior talked about the processes of decision making, dispute resolution, and guidelines which help editors decide on what facts to summarise within Wikipedia articles. Scottish Libraries Wikimedian in Residence Delphine Dallison discussed the structural problems with Wikipedia content being written by a small number of editors from a limited social and geographical background, and communications coordinator John Lubbock discussed some of the problems with how media discusses Wikipedia, and some of the common myths that prevent a more nuanced understanding of the Wikimedia projects.

But Mozfest is an important event for people working in Open communities for the possibilities it offers of engaging with people working on related projects. Wikimedia Foundation ED Katherine Maher was at the event, talking about the Foundation’s work and priorities, and staff from Wikimedia Deutschland and other Wikimedia groups were also there. We talked to people from Communia, fighting the damaging EU copyright directive which could harm access to free knowledge, as well as staff from the Open Data Institute and Open Knowledge International. One idea discussed was to begin hosting Open organisation networking meetings for staff from groups like ODI, OKI, Mozilla, Wikimedia, OpenStreetMap and others to make connections and find possible areas for collaboration.

Communications coordinator John has also been participating in the Mozilla Open Leaders programme, which supports people working on Open projects to develop their ideas. As part of this, John has been writing a communications strategy for promoting Wikidata, primarily in the UK, but which could be used by other Wikimedia organisations or non-Wikimedia groups who use Wikidata. We hosted a Wikidata meetup at the Wikimedia UK office recently and talked to people working for MySociety who are using Wikidata to collate and visualise political data using Wikidata. Wikidata is becoming increasingly important, and we would like to develop a more coordinated outreach attempt to promote the project to governmental or educational institutions who may benefit from its use.

Educational institutions in particular are increasingly offering Data Science courses to students, and Wikimedia UK believes that Wikidata is an incredibly important tool to learn data literacy. Over the next few months we hope to work with others using and promoting Wikidata to come up with a shared set of ideas, messages and resources that people can use to promote Wikidata. If you have ideas, you’re welcome to comment on the Github repository for the project.

Wikimedia skillshares

The Wikimedia UK skillshare in November

I’ve been attending a lot of the London meetups in the past few months, and one thing that community members tell me is that they would like more ways to get involved in projects. Lots of longstanding community members have a deep understanding of Wikipedia or MediaWiki technical skills that take a long time to learn, and I thought that it would be worth organising an event where we could get people to share these skills with the wider movement, and especially newer editors.

I hope that we can run skillshares in the future on some technical aspects of MediaWiki and Wikidata, but to start with I’d like to begin with more accessible subjects. For our first event, user:Johnbod agreed to lead a session on ‘How to write a Featured Article’, which we hosted at the Wikimedia UK office in November. We'd like to host more of these, as it's a good way for more longstanding community members to share their knowledge with other Wikimedians, and we'd be grateful to hear your ideas about what kind of subjects you'd like to present a short talk about.

If you would like to run a skillshare at the Wikimedia UK office, please get in touch with me at

Bodleian Libraries Update

Like some of our other staff and WIkimedians, Dr Martin Poulter has been doing a lot of work with Wikidata over the past 6 months. He presented an excellent talk at TEDx Bath on Wikidata which you can watch on YouTube here. One important technical development which Martin has been promoting is the use of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), which was developed by a consortium including the Bodleian Libraries, and allows images to be shared in a standard format across the web. It works with Wikidata, which is exciting, and allows Wikidata to 'express statements about parts of an image'. You can read more about this development on Martin's blog for the Bodleian. He also published a blog update about ongoing work to add GLAM catalogues to Wikidata.

In August, Martin worked on a project to upload images of astrolabes from the Bodleian collection. Martin's report for September noted that he had uploaded a collection of botanical drawings and their data to Wikidata: "363 artworks by Ferdinand Bauer from a late 18th-century botanical expedition were added to Wikidata. The data set now includes 2,091 works, including the complete contents of three books that resulted from the expedition. That dataset can be browsed as a map/timeline/species tree through this application".

In November, it was also announced that Martin's contract at the Bodleian had been extended another 6 months until July 2019. We're obviously very pleased about this, as Martin has been doing a lot of work on Wikidata projects involving various Oxford institutions, and this will allow those projects to continue being supported. You can read more about Martin's work on his Wikidata GLAM project page.

Ada Lovelace day Reflections, and Women in STEM Projects and Events

Ada Lovelace Day logo
Ada Lovelace Day logo

We supported several editathon events on Ada Lovelace day across the country; The Stemettes in Manchester, GirlCode Milton Keynes, a Digital Science editathon in London and the University of Edinburgh’s programme of events led by Wikimedian In Residence, Ewan McAndrew. The University of Liverpool also hosted a Women in STEM editathon, working alongside FE college students in December, with trainers from our community supporting the event.

In 2019, the Women's Engineering Society (WES) will be using editathons as a means to increase the profile of Women in Engineering. The first event will be on January 17th at the Wellcome Library, run by the Wellcome's Wikimedian in Residence Dr Alice White. You can find out more about it on the WES websire.

As the coverage of the work of Dr Jess Wade, who created around 450 Wikipedia articles for women (and people from other underrepresented groups) in STEM subjects shows, there's a lot of interest among the public and media for stories that show how our community is working to change the structural gender inequality on Wikipedia. We hope this means that there will be many more events looking at reducing gender and other biases on Wikipedia in 2019.

Wales Update

Jason Evans, the National Wikimedian based at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth continues to connect up data from the library to Wikimedia projects. He added IIIF manifests (which describe the structure of the book) to 9000 Wikidata items for images from the National Library of Wales collection. He ran Wikipedia editathons at Cardiff and Exeter university in October and has uploaded 600 framed works from the National Library of Wales to Commons. Almost 67% of the images from the National Library of Wales are now being used in Wikipedia articles, which is a particularly high percentage compared to other institutions.

You can see Jason's recent Commons uploads on his user contributions page.

Soldier welsh regiment with good conduct stripe from National Library of Wales collection.

1600 Wikidata items for Welsh books have also been created by Simon Cobb, the Wikidata visiting scholar at the National Library of Wales. Improvements have also been made to Dictionary of Welsh Biography data and 550 items added to Wikidata for owners of Aberystwyth ships with data compiled by NLW volunteers. Jason has also established a collaborative campaign with CILIP Wales to get people to add images of their local library.

Jason received a scholarship to attend the GLAMWiki conference in Tel Aviv in November along with Wikimedia UK staff, and gave a 30 minute presentation on his work alongside Dafydd Tudur. He also presented at the Wikicite conference 2018 in Berkley. CA: The sum of all Welsh Literature. You can watch his talk on YouTube here.

Aaron Morris, who works with Menter Mon to deliver Wikipedia training on Anglesey, has been busy giving Wikipedia training at various schools. He visits secondary schools on Anglesey regularly, and hopes that they will all set up Wiki Clubs to improve content about the local area on the Welsh Wikipedia, Wicipedia Cymraeg. He plans to expand his teaching at secondary schools to North Wales in the new year, in line with the inclusion of Wikipedia training as part of the curriculum for the new Welsh Baccalaureate.

Aaron described some of the work he is doing to engage schools based on what their departments already teach:

“As part of the project we have been targeting different school departments and weaving the project into their curriculum. For example the Welsh department at Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni are studying Un Nos Ola Leuad by Cardog Pritchard. There's an article on the book and the author but not much information. So they get the chance to edit the articles and use what they have been doing/researching in the classroom and add it on Wiki.”

Aaron is even working with children from 11-14 as well as primary schools.

“The first step will be an interactive (easy going) introduction to the world of Wikipedia - (these will be the 'Wiki awareness sessions') going over the meaning of what a website is, an encyclopedia and the wonderful world of editing. The three 'G' in Welsh (Gwefan, Gwyddoniadur a Golygu).”

We think that the Welsh government’s decision to include Wikipedia training as part of its new Baccalaureate is a fantastic and forward thinking step. It also shows that the amazing work that Welsh Wikimedians like Wales Manager Robin Owain have been doing to engage with the Welsh government over the years has paid off.

You can see Jason Evans’ (National Wikimedian for Wales) reports for September and October for more info on what has been going on in Wales.

Nearly all biographies have a Wikidata Infobox on the Welsh Wicipedia, and Wales Manager Robin Owain has now created one WD infobox for all articles with a geotag: buildings, villages, cities, countries, rivers, mountains etc. This was created at the end of October, and has already been placed on 3,000 articles by the Welsh community, by hand. Robin estimates that around 30% of all articles now have a WD driven infobox and by spring 80% of all articles! All 10,000 articles on birds have a Wikidata driven feed, so that when the IUCN Red List is updated every 6 months or so, the information is updated automatically, whereas on the English Wikipedia, it's done manually, if at all.

On top of this, content within the body of an article is also taken in as a feed from Wikidata. For example, the text on all 3,000 villages and towns will have a sentence, which tells you who's the local MP and AM - that is produced by code, and does not include the person's name in the wiki code. After an election, all 3,000 articles which have this code will change automatically to the new MPs / AMs names. So what about 'the encyclopaedia anyone can edit?' In this case, you don't need to, it edits itself! And anyone can edit Wikidata!

Scotland Update

It can be hard to keep track of all the work our Wikimedians in Residence do at their various institutions, but here are some highlights from Ewan McAndrew's recent progress reports from the University of Edinburgh:

  • Created a new SPLOT resource: How to run an editathon
  • Ran events for Ada Lovelace Day, Robert Louis Stevenson Day, Wikidata’s 6th Birthday and Mental Health Awareness Week.
  • Another iteration of the Wikipedia assignment in the Reproductive Biology Hons. course began in September 2018.
  • Another iteration of the Wikipedia assignment on the Translation Studies MSc course began in September 2018. (See Ewan's tweet about this here)
  • Uploaded 442 images for Wiki Loves Monuments 2018.
  • 4,373 images shared from Scotland for the whole month of Wiki Loves Monuments 2018.
  • 1,303 images were shared by staff at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Completed case study on the Translation Studies MSc Wikipedia assignment with co-author Lorna Campbell for inclusion in the new book of Case Studies of Openness in the Language Classroom - edited by Ana Beaven, Anna Comas-Quinn and Barbara Sawhill.

Ewan has been working with a lot of the new MSc courses which have data science components at the University of Edinburgh. He’s worked with students from Data Science for Design MSc, Global Health MSc, Translation Studies MSc, Psychology in Action MSc and Digital Education MSc students to deliver training and assist course assignments.

Wikimedians in Residence training at the University of Edinburgh.

Ewan has also imported thesis data from the University of Edinburgh in a project similar to one undertaken by Dr Martin Poulter with Oxford University’s Research Archive.

The Vote 100 project is the first collaboration between Ewan’s residency and the Library and University Collections. It is part of a planned hybrid exhibition with both physical and online content to mark one hundred years since the Representation of the People Act (1918) came into force and women were finally given the right to vote. Navino Evans, one of the founders of Histropedia, has created a new timeline based on Wikipedia articles on Scotland’s Suffragettes. This was showcased on a smart table within the physical exhibition for attendees to interact with.

The University of Edinburgh was also kind enough to host a training event for Wikimedia UK staff and Wikimedians in Residence in November to share skills and discuss how to use Wikimedia projects, and especially Wikidata, over the coming year.

Meanwhile, our Scotland Manager, Dr Sara Thomas, has been busy engaging with various institutions to develop partnerships and events in Scotland. She gave talks at Robert Gordon University, Amnesty Scotland's activist conference, the Life in Data conference, in Dundee, ran editathons on Contemporary British Women artists, Scottish Witches for Wikidata's 6th birthday, Scottish castles with Dig It! Scotland, taught students at the University of St Andrews, and wrote about the Dumfries Stonecarving project for the Wikimedia UK blog, Sara also worked with Navino Evans to update Wikidata with data items for Scottish heritage sites from a publicly available database from Historic Environment Scotland, resulting in a grand total of 27,333 new items added to Wikidata to describe Scotland's heritage, the bulk of them being Category C listed buildings (26,500 new items).

Delphine Dallison presenting at Mozfest in October.
Delphine Dallison presenting at Mozfest in October.

Delphine Dallison, the Wikimedian in Residence at the Scottish Libraries and Information Council (SLIC), has also been hard at work visiting libraries around Scotland and giving training to librarians. SLIC ran a Wiki Loves Libraries competition in October-November to increase the number of public libraries in Scotland which had Wikipedia pages. Delphine revealed on Twitter that "First prize went to Scott Broadfoot from @SLLeisCulture East Kilbride for creating a new page for @LibFalkirk."

Delphine ran Wikipedia and Wikidata training workshops at Paisley Makerspace, Glasgow School of Art Library, Edinburgh Central Library, Port Glasgow library, Inverclyde Libraries, Falkirk Library, Edinburgh University for Wikidata's 6th birthday, trained Skye ATLAS staff, ran an interactive online workshop for Book Week Scotland, contributed to Wikimedia UK's talk about how Wikipedia works at Mozfest in October and gave talks on digital literacy at a Young Scot event, at the LocScot conference, and on Wikipedia's use as a source of health informaton at a Scottish Health Information Network conference. One of Delphine's events with the Portree Community Library and Archive Centre in October resulted in not one, but two BBC Highland News articles about the event. Read them here and here. There was also coverage in the West Highland Free Press. Delphine also got involved with Wiki Loves Monuments in Scotland, helping libraries to upload photos as part of the competition.

You can read Delphine's reflections on the first year of her residency back in July here.

Phew, that's a lot of things our Scottish Wikimedians in Residence and staff have been doing over the past few months. It's hard to keep track, but we are sure that 2019 will be an even bigger year in Scotland, as Sara Thomas enlarges her role as Scotland Manager. We can't wait!

Coming up!

This January we celebrate Wikipedia's 18th birthday! Wikipedia was born on January 15, 2001, and so in some sense, if we anthorpomorphise the site enough (which is admittedly hard to do to a crowdsourced encyclopaedia), it is soon to be an adult. Clearly this means that the London meetup on the 13th of January and the Oxford meetup on the 20th of January would be good times to come and raise a toast to Wikipedia's adulthood.

The annual #1Lib1Ref competition also begins on January 15, and runs until February 3. Wikimedian in Residence Delphine Dallison, based at the Scottish Libraries and Information Council in Glasgow will be leading on this project in the UK which seeks to encourage librarians around the country to add one just one citation to Wikipedia to improve its sources. You're also welcome to get in touch with us in the Wikimedia UK office if you are involved with a library and would like help or advice to run an event to teach library staff or visitors how to edit Wikipedia.

We would love to hear your ideas for projects for the rest of the year. We would be keen to help volunteers and Wikimedia UK members run competitions, host events, or support your projects with small grants. So please get in touch and tell us your ideas and we will see if we can support you in any way!