London Wikipedia Academy

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Thanks to everyone who came to our event! To those that couldn't make it, our report summarises the fantastic discussion we had. -- Wikipedians at Imperial College

'What: 'The London Wikipedia Academy was a mini-conference aimed at starting a conversation between academics and Wikipedians in London, moving from opinions to organised, evidence based, informed discussions.
When: Wednesday April 13th 2011
Where: Room 122, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Exhibition Road, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ
Who: Organised by Wikipedians at Imperial College, the first official student Wikipedia society in the UK. We would like to invite all those interested, particularly London academics and librarians.

Presenters/ facilitators

Note for presenters
  • The room had networked Windows PC and Powerpoint. Presenters were asked to e-mail their slides beforehand (if using a Powerpoint presentation) and also bring slides on a USB stick.


The focus of the day was to start a conversation about how academia and WP should view and engage each other, using as much evidence and as little personal opinion or inferred analyses as possible. The event was hosted by the first Wikipedia student club in the UK - Wikipedians at Imperial College. We wanted to reset the tone of discussion about Wikipedia to one which accepts the practical realities of its current widespread use and one which is accurate and precise about Wikipedia's strengths and weaknesses in providing information. This would help Wikipedia by increasing input from academics in London and would help academics as they were talking in detail about what would be the most widely used, cross-faculty resource in modern higher education.

Please note there was NO official support from Imperial College or its library implied in this event. It was designed as a place of discussion between interested parties organised by a student society; all people were welcome but those who are not Imperial College card holders had to post their name below or e-mail to confirm their attendance beforehand.

Tasks (by group):

  1. All
    1. Understand the aims of Wikimedia UK and how they overlap with those of their own organisations/group;
    2. Understand the diversity of value present in Wikimedia projects (not just the encyclopedia);
    3. Have discussions with other groups
  2. Students
    1. Join an edit-group to contribute to Wikipedia articles with other people of common interests
    2. Begin Wikipedia student clubs at their own Universities
    3. Be inspired to make Wikipedia a better resource
  3. Academics
    1. Consider setting up a Campus Ambassadors program in their department
    2. Consider forming/leading edit groups at their department
  4. Librarians
    1. Understand the key issues about Wikipedia as a learning tool in more detail
    2. Explore the usefulness of Wikipedia as one of several tools with other academics and students
    3. Understand GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) and new Wikipedia initiatives better - there will be an opportunity to do this in informal discussions


1745-2000 Talks from invited speakers:

  • 1745 Vinesh Patel (introduction) – 5 minutes
  • 1750 Charles Matthews – Wikipedia and academia: Culture clash? - 25 minutes
  • 1815 Professor Henry Rzepa – Wikipedia and the Molecular Sciences – 25 minutes (as a slide-show)
  • 1840 Break and discussion with food and drink - 25 minutes
  • 1905 Alex Stinson – Campus Ambassadors and Teaching with Wikipedia, the US experience – 25 minutes
  • 1930 Dr. Jacob de Wolff – Wikipedia and Medicine – 25 minutes
  • 1955 Vinesh Patel (closing speech) – 5 minutes

About the speakers

Charles Matthews

A former mathematics lecturer at Cambridge University, Charles Matthews is a major contributor to Wikipedia with well over 200,000 entries. He was also involved in Wikipedia's official structure in the UK as Office Manager for Wikimedia UK.

Professor Henry Rzepa

A professor in Computational Chemistry at Imperial College, Henry Rzepa has been involved and interested in Wikipedia, open source information and the internet itself since 1975. Imperial and Wikipedia links.

Alex Stinson

Alex is an American undergraduate student with majors in English and History. In 2011 studying as a visiting student at Hertford College, Oxford, he has been on the Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors Steering Committee since its inception . He has also run teaching assignments at James Madison University, his home university in the United States. See above for link to the Campus Ambassadors website.

Dr. Jacob de Wolff

Dr. de Wolff is a Dutch doctor currently working as a registrar in acute medicine at UCH. He has an extensive list of Wikipedia edits and is the founder of Wikiproject medicine - the collaborative project aimed at organising efforts to improve Wikipedia medical articles.

Media mentions


The Sir Alexander Fleming Building (SAF) can be found at our South Kensington Campus. Details of how to reach and a map of our campus can be found here: Reach our Exhibition Road entrance. From there, go straight ahead the left hand side of Imperial College Road until you reach a set of wooden benches, which are outside SAF. Inside SAF, Room 122 can be found after going up the foyer staircase, on the right of the 1st floor landing.