Message from a Trustee: Alastair McCapra
Alastair talks about attending his first Wikimania...
In August I attended my first Wikimania, and hopefully the first of many, in Hong Kong. I was very privileged to be able to attend not only the in-conference sessions, but also the pre-conference meetings. For a new trustee there could hardly be a better orientation into the workings of the worldwide movement and the challenges it faces.
It was tremendously stimulating to meet people from so many other countries (and of course, as ever, I was in awe at everyone's ability to contribute to a conference in English when it's not their first language). The spirit of goodwill and cooperation was strong. Among the topics discussed far into the night were the possibilities of developing a tool for machine-transliterating Wikipedia articles from Farsi into Tajik, the approach the German government takes to online privacy, and the potential for Wikipedia to act as a tool for cultural integration between previously disparate social groups. None of this were actually on the agenda (as far as I know). It was just pub talk.
As a trustee the items I attended on the main agenda are those which had most to do with things I need to know. There were updates from the Wikimedia Foundation legal team about threats to freedom of panorama. There were sessions on the funding mechanisms the Foundation is adopting, and its strategic priorities for the next few years, which we need to know in order to align our work with the larger goals of the movement worldwide. There were very interesting sessions on public affairs work and advocacy in Brussels, working to ensure that the EU does not, by accident or design, pass laws on topics like copyright which could have a negative impact on the free sharing of knowledge. There was interesting technical stuff too, on visual editor, Wikipedia for mobile, and the application of user metrics to evaluation.
As well as meeting many interesting people dong fascinating things, I gained a good sense of what the movement feels like at a world level and what some of the challenges facing it are. One of the longer term implications for us the UK is that at the moment we are one of the most heavily-supported chapters in financial terms, but the Wikimedia Foundation will be increasingly directing its resources and capacity towards building content in other languages, with likely targets including Arabic and Turkish. This means that we need to put ourselves fairly quickly on a footing where we can raise more of our own income in the UK and be less dependent on Foundation funds, so that will be one of the things we have to prepare for over the coming year. The other is, of course Wikimania 2014, which the UK will be hosting next year. I hope to see many of you there.
Alastair can be contacted by email to alastair.mccaprawikimedia.org.uk
Hello from the Office: Richard Nevell
Richard Nevell is a longstanding Wikipedian and Wikimedia UK's Office Support officer
August is often a quiet time where work takes a back seat to holidays and relaxation. While the staff at Wikimedia UK have otherwise had a relatively quiet month, it has seen preparations for Wiki Loves Monuments continue with ever increasing momentum. On 1st September the world's largest photography competition starts, and the UK will be taking part for the first time. The focus of the competition in the UK is our built heritage, specifically Grade I and II* listed buildings in England and Wales, Category A in Scotland, and Grades A and B+ in Northern Ireland. England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are blessed with some remarkable buildings and we want high quality photos to document these tangible pieces of history.
Wiki Loves Monuments is a global competition, covering all seven continents - yes, even Antarctica! As the UK has never taken part before, there has been lots of work behind the scenes to make sure everything is ready for 1st September, beginning way back in January, just two months after I began working for Wikimedia UK. It's been a tremendous effort, with dozens of Wikimedians involved. The images which will come flooding in during September will be an invaluable resource. In a Wikipedia article there's often only space for a handful of illustrations before things get cramped, but Wikimedia Commons is our image repository. There we can accommodate many images of the same building: different angles, inside and out, putting a structure in its landscape or focusing on a particular detail. Any of those would be useful, and I'm hoping to see plenty of variety in our submissions.
Now it's over to the people on the ground. Anyone with a camera can take part. This competition is a fantastic way to engage with your local history. So when you're next out and about, maybe you could track down the nearest listed building covered by the competition. Every single one has a story to tell, from medieval graffiti at Carlisle Castle carved by bored guards to the roof of the house where The Beatles played their last live performance. What story will you discover? And will you take a photo of it?
More information on Wiki Loves Monuments UK can be found on its website
Meetup in focus: Both new and old
There's no better time to arrange a new meetup or attend an existing one
The first ever Wikimedia meetups in the UK took place all the way back in June 2004, when at least 25 Wikipedians gathered in St. James's Park first to hear Jimmy Wales speak on all things Wikimedia, before a quiz, then visit to a pub and finally meal at a restaurant. Since then, meetups have also taken place in Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Bristol, Liverpool, Coventry, Monmouth, Cardiff, Reading, Oxford, Brighton, Nottingham, Glasgow, and Chester. While not all meetups have happened as regularly as London, which has to date taken place 72 times, and on a monthly basis since April 2008, new meetups have been springing up in different parts of the country.
Aside from the four new meetups that have already taken place earlier in the year, a first meetup is scheduled for Newcastle on 15 September and Leeds on 5 October. While celebrating the hosts of new meetups, it is important not to forget the continual success of the existing ones. In September, Wikimedians are planning to meet in London and Oxford on Sunday the 8th, with Liverpool on Saturday 21st. Manchester has already been scheduled for Saturday 19 October.
If you are wanting to attend a meetup, but there isn't one happening near you, you can organise one! All you have to do is decide on a date and a suitable venue, create the appropriate page on Meta-Wiki based on existing pages and add links to it on the various meetups page on Meta-Wiki and Wikipedia. The chapter can help you advertise your new meetup and even send you some merchandise to hand out to your fellow Wikimedians.
Contact volunteeringwikimedia.org.uk with any questions
Focus on individuals: Wikimania 2013 team
Wikimania 2013 took place in Hong Kong on 7–11 August, which by all accounts was overall a great success. Congratulations and thank you are due to everyone who played a part in bringing together our global community of Wikimedians for such an amazing week of conference.
We would also like to thank all our scholarships recipients who attended for not only contributing to the conference itself, but also staffing the chapter's stall at the Chapters Village. Without them, the chapter would not had been able to represent ourselves as successfully as we did to the rest of the Wikimedia community.
In particular, we would like to highlight the excellent work done by Rock drum ahead of the conference spending some time with a few of the staff making a short video to show at the conference. All the staff here at the office think Rock drum did a marvellous job, take a look yourself and let us know what you think.
Wikimedia UK Grants Programme
Learn all about our Grants Programme
Wikimedia UK supports its members and the wider community by funding activities in line with its charitable objectives in a number of different ways. For requests ranging in value from £5 to £250, we have a lightweight process of Microgrants. These are ideal for things such as in-depth books on a topic to improve articles on Wikipedia, funding to hold a stall at a university's Freshers' Fair, or train tickets to travel around a city taking interesting photographs to be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.
Macrogrants are designed for grants between £250 and £2,000. Like Microgrants, applications by members are reviewed by the Grants Committee consisting of staff, trustee and other community member, who make a recommendation to the Chief Executive. An example of a request is the recent application for a WLM prize fund.
In addition to grants, we also offer specific scholarships to attend international conferences and meetings. These cover the costs of travelling, accommodation, subsistence and registration fees. Application process for these varies, given after a competitive process open to all community members. Over the last year, we have awarded scholarships to Amsterdam Hackathon, WikiSym+OpenSym, Wikimania, and State of the Map.
Review: Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Scotland
Ally Crockford writes about her first month at the National Library of Scotland
My first introduction to Wikipedia was inspired by a job prospect. A contract as editor for an external wiki aimed at entrepreneurs called 'Entrepedia.org' was announced on the University of Edinburgh careers website. I was in the first year of an English Literature PhD programme at the university at that time, an international student (I'm originally from Canada) rather in need of rent money. I was also, at least as I considered myself, reasonably articulate and not a complete technological dunce, so I thought it was a good fit, and as I was offered the job it seems someone agreed. To learn more about the potential offered by a wiki, I joined Wikipedia. I was not bold: I was most decidedly timid.
I only made a few minor edits, though I scrolled through article source code with great fascination. Once the contract ended and the demands of a full-time research and part-time teaching schedule took hold, my contributions stopped altogether, and my username was lost from both e-mail archives and memory. Five and a half years (and one PhD) later, I returned to Wikipedia, once again inspired by a job description, this time for the position of Wikimedian-in-Residence at the National Library of Scotland. I was alerted this time by an innocuous Facebook post, and as an Open Knowledge advocate and frequent presence in the NLS Reading Rooms I leapt at the opportunity, and I cannot believe how fortunate I was to be offered the job. I have been amazed to see some of the incredible changes and developments that have taken place in the Wikimedia world since last I looked behind the scenes. It is a more expansive and mature resource and community than I remember, though I feel that is more likely because of my own maturing interests and opinions. In any case I am so grateful to have been given that little push back into contributing.
Perhaps you were unaware the position of Wikimedian in Residence had been filled, let alone that the residency was already over a month old. You're probably not alone, and for good reason; I've been keeping rather quiet for the first month, focusing on orientating myself within the Library, introducing myself to staff and attending induction meetings for as many of the different teams that would have me. It was, and is, important to me to clearly identify the ideas and concerns that each team had to offer. So, although I've been in the position for a month, I have waited to speak up officially until I knew which ideas were feasible, and how the curators and cataloguers whose knowledge I will be relying on felt about them.
While it's still early days yet, some of the projects currently in the pipeline have me positively buzzing. Public outreach projects in the form of 'The Wikimedian is IN' drop-in info sessions for staff and Library readers are in development, as are monthly Wiki-and-Biccy meetups designed to provide a clearly defined time and space – liberally supported with tea and biscuits, of course – for newly trained contributors to connect, practice, and work on their contributions. An autumn edit-athon is in the works which would attempt to improve some rather impoverished articles on eminent Scots using NLS digital and print resources alike, while a very exciting flagship edit-a-thon (or edit-athons!?) focusing on Scottish Women in Science to be held in March 2014 – Women's History Month – will mark the completion not only the Wikimedian in Residence programme here at the NLS, but also of a planned series of #WISWIKI events to be held across Edinburgh in 2013-2014. There are also tentative plans to organise a backstage pass event in late 2013 or early 2014.
This month I begin training different teams within the Library, turning ideas into exciting reality, and meeting concerns and questions with – hopefully – strong solutions. I encourage anyone, from anywhere, with any level of interest or experience, to get in touch with me if they have thoughts or ideas or questions themselves, or even if they just want to know more!
Ally can be contacted by email to a.crockfordnls.uk
HTTPS secure connection has been enabled by default for all logged-in users across Wikimedia sites except for users from China and Iran. A rationale for this change has been published by the Wikimedia Foundation.
For those that attended Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong, feedback is being sought on the Wikimania 2013 wiki. Comments will help organisers of future Wikimania to make the event even better. If you have input and ideas specifically into how to make Wikimania 2014 in London next year the best yet, you can add then on Wikimania 2014 wiki's Brainstorming and Hackathon Brainstorming page.
Wikipedia has been nominated as one of the websites of the year, shortlisting in the Education & Public Domain category. Voting take place from 23rd of September until the 1st of November.
Voting for the new logo of Wikivoyage has ended. The result of the vote is schedule to be announced on 31 August 2013. A new logo is being chosen as a result of cease-and-desist from the World Trade Organization on the basis of similarities between Wikivoyage's logo and that of the WTO's.
Wiki Loves Monuments
Wiki Loves Monuments first took place in 2010, when it was held in the Netherlands and resulted in 12,000 photos being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Since then the competition has grown incredibly, with 35 countries taking part last year and over 350,000 photos uploaded. And 2013 promises to be even bigger.
The UK has 38,000 listed buildings eligible for the competition across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. If you're interested in local history, or an avid photographer, this is a perfect opportunity for you to indulge.
Importantly, if you know someone handy with a camera, encourage them to take part. The competition is wide open for everyone, from experienced Wikimedians to people yet to make their first edit. The UK competition's website gives details of how to take part, and the competition has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Like, share, and retweet so that as many people know as possible!
Discussions is ongoing on the Water cooler regarding possible interest in workshop and training event on Wikidata and Wikimedia UK developed Virtual Learning Environment. If you are interested, please add your name to the list of possible attendees. If you have ideas for other events you would like to see happens, for example digital photography training, please email katie.chanwikimedia.org.uk and let us know.
Call for contributors
If you like this newsletter, have you thought about contributing? Have you been to an event recently, a meetup, or even just an opinion on a topic dear to your heart? Here is your opportunities to write about it and tell your fellow members and the wider community how it went or what you think. The newsletter goes out by email to every Wikimedia UK member and is made available publicly on the Wikimedia UK's website. If you don't have anything to write about, but still want to help? Not a problem, copy editors are also always welcome, just email volunteeringwikimedia.org.uk expressing your interest and someone will get back to you welcoming your assistance.