Friends' Newsletter/2023/Issue 03
I’m delighted to welcome you to the winter edition of our newsletter. This contains lots of news and information about Wikimedia UK’s activities and partnerships over the past few months, including our recent Community Meeting and Train the Trainer course for volunteers; the conclusion of our two and a half year Connected Heritage programme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund; and our ongoing climate-focused residency at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute.
As the year draws to a close, many of us will be reflecting on events in the wider world, and deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict in Gaza and Israel. In this blog post I talk about the work of Wikimedia staff and volunteers to address the increasing threat of disinformation, in relation to the war and other crises.
The end of the year is also a time to reflect on the events, achievements and challenges of our own lives and work. I’m very proud of what the Wikimedia UK staff team, trustees, community leaders, partners, volunteer contributors and participants have delivered together during 2023, and the difference we have made to the online information environment.
Thank you to everyone who supported our Giving Tuesday campaign. Our work to empower people to learn, share, and create knowledge relies on the generosity of donors like you. Thank you for helping to ensure that we can continue our programmes in 2024 and beyond.
Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK
2023 UK Community Meeting - videos and opportunities
On Sunday 26th November we hosted a thoroughly enjoyable Community Meeting. It was a chance for our community to gather online, share the work that’s taken place over the last year, recognise that work through the UK Wikimedian of the Year awards, and find out more ways to get involved. The meeting was only two hours long, but managed to show a truly impressive portfolio of wiki work from our volunteers and partners. Thank you to everyone who contributed and came along!
For anyone who missed it, you can find recordings of the talks, the opportunities fair, and awards over on this blog.
The 2023 Wikimedian of the Year Awards
Partnership of the Year
This prize was won by the Royal College of Nursing’s History of Nursing Forum (HONF) “Nurses in Red”. The forum established an editing group to improve and create content relating to the history of nursing on Wikipedia. So far they have improved more than 200 articles which have been viewed nearly 4.5 million times. The group’s focus is explicitly diversity focused too: nurses have often been from under-represented groups and making their lives and careers more visible on Wikipedia is so important.
Our Honourable Mention was awarded to the Khalili Collections and Glaire Anderson of the University of Edinburgh. Glaire has supported two classroom projects in which her History of Art students evaluated articles about Islamic Art and Science on Wikipedia, and then improved them. Many of the pages are now illustrated with beautiful 10th/11th century Caliphate images from the Khalilli Collections, which were released on Wikimedia Commons. Prior to this project, the Khalili images were not viewed by as many people, but are now reaching a wider audience on pages with high engagement.
Up and Coming Wikimedian
This prize was won by Heidi Berg, a prolific editor who has updated or created over 300 articles, vastly improving coverage of the Norwegian women’s football team. She also undertook Train the Trainer courses and helped other newbie editors on a regular basis. At monthly Women in Red editathons, she helps others and even lent her own laptop to one forgetful participant!
Our Honourable Mention was awarded to Sophie Whitfield, one of Wikimedia UK’s trainers who has shown incredible dedication over the last year in attending, designing, and delivering open knowledge workshops and projects. Sophie has supported projects at Durham University and Newcastle University, helping Wikimedia UK’s collaborations with higher education.
UK Wikimedian of the Year
This prize was won by Nick Sheppard, a Wikimedia volunteer and Open Research Advisor at the University of Leeds. Nick has advocated for Wikimedia projects within Leeds and in the university sector like few people ever have, and he’s really taken on the values of the Wikimedia movement, not just in his professional life. Nick has also been pushing for the UK Reproducibility Network to include guidance on Wikimedia in its advice to researchers. The Wikimedia Champions project they ran at Leeds has been an unusually successful student project, getting PhD students to contribute to Wikimedia in a variety of ways.
Our Honourable Mention was awarded to Ian Pigott. Ian has been the engine that keeps Women in Red going. He has organised an astonishing 270 editathons over the last eight years. His efforts have inspired others and he has been tireless in helping the Women in Red project, addressing Wikipedia’s gender gap.
Wiki Loves Earth winners in Wales and Northern Ireland
In an effort to document the beauty of our natural world on the Wikimedia projects, photographers took part in the international Wiki Loves Earth competition. For the second year running, Wales had the second highest number of photos submitted to the Wiki Loves Earth competition, with over 5000 images. Northern Ireland took part in the competition for the fourth year running, submitting an impressive 363 photos. Ultimately, the aim of adding photographs to Wikimedia Commons is so they are used and seen. Be it on Wikipedia articles or in another medium entirely, openly licensing images helps the Internet be more informative and useful for all of us. Images from WLE in Wales are among the most frequently added to Wikipedia articles, with 51% of this year’s photos added to relevant pages. All of the photographs from this year’s competition can be found here.
The Connected Heritage project has come to an end, with so many brilliant outcomes including residencies at cultural institutions and a whole toolkit to learn from. From 2021 to 2023 we worked with partner organisations across the four nations to deliver digital skills training for volunteers, staff and local communities. The project aimed to raise digital skills and confidence across the heritage sector through Wiki training.
One of the most transformative ways in which we worked with partner organisations was through mini Wikimedian residencies. From 2022 to 2023 we worked with both the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), and The Mixed Museum, enriching collections data on Wiki platforms. In this work we highlighted the ways in which a step-by-step approach to this kind of change can open up knowledge to the wider community, and bring audiences back to the source institution.
In March 2023, Chamion Caballero, director of The Mixed Museum, Jane Secker and Victoria Araj participated in a roundtable discussion moderated by the Connected Heritage team, as part of the Heritage Dot 2.0 conference hosted by the University of Lincoln. You can view the video here.
The discussion touched on how engagement with Wiki-based projects enabled cultural heritage organisations to improve the accessibility of their collections, while simultaneously empowering volunteers and members through embedded digital upskilling. The Mixed Museum’s Wikipedia edits were discussed as an example of ways that open knowledge can place overlooked cultural histories into the dominant narrative.
To see more of the project’s achievements, you can see Lucy Hinnie’s blog.
Celtic Knot Wikimedia Language Conference 2024
We are very happy to announce that the conference dedicated to minoritized languages on the Wikimedia projects will be back for its 7th edition, to be held in Waterford City, Ireland, in September 2024. The exact date will be announced as soon as possible.
Getting back to its roots in the Celtic languages and nations, the event gathers people from communities and languages that are underrepresented on the Wikimedia projects. It is a place where people working on growing and maintaining their communities can meet, learn from each other, and support each other on topics like community growth, technical tools, or collaboration with partners.
Celtic Knot 2024, will be an in-person event, held in Waterford, Ireland's oldest city which has an abundance of cultural heritage and history. We are exploring options to make conference resources (talks, panels, etc.) available to those who are unable to attend in person.
We are currently gathering input from the community to build a conference tailored to your needs: whether you attended a previous edition of the Celtic Knot or not, if you are involved in underrepresented languages on the Wikimedia Projects, please take a few minutes to fill in the community survey (available in English, Irish and Welsh), and make sure to share the information with your local group. The survey is open until January 21st.
As we are starting to build the concept and the program, we will regularly improve the existing event pages on Meta and post updates on the talk page of the event.
The core organising team is composed of Amy O’Riordan (WCI), Sophie Fitzpatrick (WCI), Daria Cybulska (WMUK), Richard Nevell (WMUK), supported by Léa Lacroix (community engagement consultant).
Climate residency at the Global Systems Institute
With over 324 million annual page views across more than 25,000 climate change-related articles, Wikipedia is one of the largest information sources on climate change in the world. Our resident at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute (GSI), Tatjana Baleta, has spent significant time facilitating researchers and students to improve climate change content on Wikipedia.
To date, the project has trained more than 90 editors in 10 editathons, and articles from Effects of climate change on human health to Tipping Points in the climate system have also undergone review by subject matter experts.
Tatjana has also been engaging lecturers about using Wikimedia platforms as a teaching tool. One MSc Sustainable Solutions student, two undergraduate Biosciences students and one PhD student in Environmental Intelligence are undertaking projects involving Wikipedia.
After a successful first year, the project has secured funding to continue for a second. Find out more about the project here.
Coda article on the impact of OSB on Welsh Wikipedia
The Online Safety Bill passed into law in October, marking the end of our efforts to ensure public interest projects are not damaged by the legislation, and the start of a long process of understanding what compliance will mean in practice for Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. Robin Owain, our Programme Manager for Wales, and Jason Evans, the Open Data Manager for the National Library of Wales, were interviewed by Coda about how the bill could affect their volunteer Wiki work in Wales.
Palestinian history and culture
We spoke to Lucy Moore, winner of the 2022 UK Wikimedian of Year Award, about the editing she’s been doing on the cultural heritage of Palestine. Lucy kept seeing calls from Palestinians on social media for their culture to be shared online as a way for it to be preserved. As a museum professional, Lucy thought the best approach would be to start with Palestinian museums. She started an article for the Palestine Museum of Natural History, which was nominated for the Did You Know section of Wikipedia and received 7889 views on the 1st December. From what Lucy could find online, The Al Qarara Museum has been destroyed. She started an article for it, and in researching for that page she found UNESCO’s listing for Palestine’s intangible heritage. From there Lucy’s created a number of pages on Palestinian culture, but is aware that there are people based abroad who are experts in the field and can advise on Arab names/places. For this reason, Lucy joined an editathon in early December with a group of Wikimedians connected across Jordan, the US, the UK, and other countries. The event itself was not only trained editors, but provided important historical and political context to ensure that the edits attendees might contribute took this context into account. It also brought editors together from a range of countries who worked across Wikipedias in different languages. Lucy commented that “digital content can be so fragile, so aggregating sources for others to use on Wikipedia almost feels like a form of digital salvage. For the Al Qarara Cultural Museum, to my knowledge it's not there anymore, with collections largely destroyed, so in some ways it feels like you're writing an epitaph.”
The organisers of the Palestine editathon have created a landing page for those who missed the launch but still want to participate.
This autumn, Queer Britain collaborated with Wikimedia UK to host a Wikimedian in Residence project. From August to November, Evie Moore worked on improving content on Wikipedia and related websites, with a focus on topics relevant to Queer Britain.
One of Evie’s primary tasks during the residency was enhancing the 'LGBT rights in the UK' Wikipedia page, expanding sections on Advocacy Organisations, LGBT representation in politics, Pride Parades, and Rights for Asylum. The comprehensive 1500+ words added aim to provide a well-rounded view of the current landscape of LGBTQ+ rights in the UK. The page is read on average 12,000 times a month so is an important source of information.
You can read Evie’s full blog on the residency here.
Khalili Collections residency
Openly sharing content to the Wikimedia projects is our bread and butter, but it's important to involve native language speakers where possible. With the help of the Islamic Civilization User Group, our resident at the Khalili Collections, Martin Poulter, discovered that an Arabic manuscript had been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons backwards. The manuscript detailed how to treat a tarantula bite with a pomegranate, but the Arabic was impossible to read. The Commons file was quickly reversed and the Wellcome Collection – from where the image was sourced – has updated its own database with the fix.
Volunteers are adding data and links from ArtUK to Wikidata. This query brings up Khalili Collections objects whose ArtUK link has been added to Wikidata. Martin wrote a short briefing for ArtUK on how they can use Wikidata to populate their tags database, and how they can use a bulk data dump to add a lot of their links to Wikidata.
In another example of extended reach, a blog post written by Martin a few years ago has seen a resurgence of interest thanks to the Digital Scriptorium. The Digital Scriptorium is a consortium of researchers from institutions including the University of Oxford and University of Pennsylvania, and they recommended the blog as a starting point for their own work describing pre-modern manuscripts on Wikidata. Further, Toby Burrows of the Bodleian Library wrote an academic paper citing the blog post and arguing that Wikidata could be used to create links between many different catalogues of manuscripts. Wikidata has a new Wikiproject to organise data on manuscripts. As part of this, Martin created a dashboard which shows the number of manuscripts from each collection that Wikidata knows about, with indicators of the data completeness for each collection. The Khalili Collection of Islamic Art presently has 132 manuscripts in this database, putting it ahead of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
‘Doing History in Public’ with Cambridge University Library
In November, Doing History in Public hosted their second editathon in collaboration with Wikimedia UK, Cambridge University Library and Cambridge Department of Digital Humanities. After the successful May editathon, they were excited to build on their skills and introduce new students and staff to Wikipedia editing.
The theme was ‘Out of the Shadows’, bringing underrepresented historical knowledge into the light of Wikipedia. This month’s event had a particularly French and feminist flavour, but also spanned to seventeenth century travel in Peru and Romanian films. For more info and links to the pages created/added to, have a read of Zara Kesterton’s blog.
Train the Trainer
Train the Trainer is a course for volunteers who are keen to deliver Wikipedia editing events. Our recent London weekend with our newest cohort of trainee trainers was a great closing to 2023’s iteration of Train the Trainer. This year we used WikiLearn for the first time as part of the training programme, with a four week course in the run up to the weekend, covering subjects such as off-wiki tools, event management and supporting new editors. On the Saturday we bought a hybrid cohort together to cement that learning, and we'll be taking the next steps with the cohort in the new year. On Sunday we held a session for both the new trainers and our existing trainers on how to lead hybrid sessions, led by our training partner Bhav Patel.
We had the following feedback from some of our trainers:
“At first, I supported other trainers until I was eventually confident enough to lead my own sessions on how to contribute to Wikipedia. They were for professional astronomers and science educators in South Africa - and I was helped online by a couple of other trainers - part of a great community of trained volunteers that Wikimedia UK has built up. It's given me a new way to enjoy sharing knowledge with people and communities in the UK and around the world. And they, in turn, can then use their new skills to share knowledge with others.” – Nick Moyes, Train the Trainer participant
"The best part of volunteering with WMUK is definitely the community. In 2022, I founded the Wikimedia volunteering project at Durham University with the goal of promoting high quality open knowledge about North East England. We succeeded with that goal but what I didn’t expect was the strong sense of community that emerged as students engaged with local history. They really came together to make significant contributions to open knowledge, creating connections with each other and the local community!" – Sophie Whitfield, Train the Trainer participant
“I've been giving Wikipedia trainings in Finland for over a decade now. Last year I joined Wikimedia UK's new team for Wikipedia trainers. I still deliver training in Finland, and I’ve also helped editors from across the world get their start on Wikipedia, such as a university class who were creating and editing articles for local female artists. We’ve worked on inserting citations, and ensuring that the article was easy to read for foreign language speakers who could potentially translate the article for a broader audience.” – Johanna Janhonen, Train the Trainer participant
We’ve been working with VocalEyes since 2022. They play a vital role in making arts and heritage accessible for blind and visually impaired, D/deaf, hard of hearing, and neurodivergent visitors. They do this in a range of ways, including training and collaborating directly with arts and heritage organisations. They also conduct research on how various sectors are making their venues accessible.
In November, our Programme Manager, Richard Nevell, spoke at their virtual Digital Volunteering Forum. There were also speakers from the Smithsonian Transcription Centre (USA), York Archaeology, Wild Museum, DLNET (Digital Learning Network for the cultural heritage sector), and The British Library. Together we explored impact evaluation, student volunteering and the seamless integration of digital projects into existing volunteer programs.
Exploring Wikimedia and the National Trust
The National Trust is the largest conservation charity in Europe. They care for hundreds of historic sites, including buildings and their collections, gardens, and landscapes. Last year, they began a pilot project exploring how the National Trust’s knowledge can be shared through Wikipedia. There are now almost 800 pages relating to the National Trust, which received nearly 13 million views in 2023. Evidently, a lot of people learn about the Trust and the histories they curate via Wikipedia.
Lucy Moore worked for the Trust as a Wikimedian in Residence, and we’re excited to announce that Lucy is reprising the role in a new project in collaboration with Wikimedia UK. Starting in September and running until the end of February, the second project will explore the potential of sharing a selection of images on Wikimedia Commons and will create resources for staff who want to learn to edit Wikipedia. The Trust has a wealth of research and knowledge to tap into, and we are looking forward to learning more about their work.
You can follow the project’s work on Wikipedia.
Sankofa London Schools project
We have been supporting the Sankofa London Schools project since early 2022. Nadege Forde-Vidal is a historian and archeologist. Nadege launched the project and got in touch with us to help the year 9 cohort of students share their work with the unlimited global audience of Wikimedia projects. It’s essentially a local history project with a London focus to explore the lives of men, women and children who escaped enslavement over 300 years ago. The adverts listing rewards for the return of these freedom seekers – available in a database created by the University of Glasgow – allow students to piece together life stories with the help of Nadege and a team of historians, curators and archivists. The Wikimedia projects allow the students to share their work with a global audience, learn to edit, and produce text appropriate for a public platform. The project was featured in a stall at Hounslow council’s celebration for Black History Month in October.
While A-level history students currently volunteer their time to assist the year 9s’ work, the project is expanding in the new year with classes exclusively for A-level students.
Nadege delivered a talk on the project at our Community Meeting, which you can watch here.
We launched two new social media accounts in October, Tiktok and Mastodon, but you can still find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’re very grateful to and proud of the network we’ve built around our chapter. You can support the governance of the charity by becoming a member, which will allow you to vote on our board elections at the 2024 AGM on the 21st September. You can also support our projects through a donation, or volunteer on some of the projects above. Our blog has more details on some of the activities mentioned in the newsletter.