Hello from the Office: Richard Symonds
Richard Symonds, better known to some of you as Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry is Wikimedia UK's Office and Development Manager
Having volunteered as an editor on Wikipedia since 2005, I have been given the opportunity to support the online community in a myriad of ways. As an editor, I could contribute to articles, welcome new members into the Wikipedia Project, and participate in discussions that shape the very nature of the project.
As the office manager at Wikimedia UK, my work may sound less exciting. One of my main tasks is to help process invoices and expenses for our projects, and producing financial reports that show how much - of staff time, merchandise and money - has been spent on each project. It involves a lot of spreadsheets and crunching numbers, and from an outsider's perspective, it must seem terribly dull.
But when you look past my desk and out into what Wikimedia UK has achieved, you see what motivates me every day. Dull as it is, spending an hour on spreadsheets and accounts can enable a volunteer to run a workshop, such as we did at the Ada Lovelace Festival, or pay for a training session that will allow our members to expand both the Wikipedia community and our own. It allows us to see whether we’re using donated funds effectively - making sure that we can see how much good we can get out of each penny given.
Knowing the most efficient, cost-effective way to spread free knowledge, to everyone, for free? That is worth crunching numbers for.
Our plan for next year can be found at 2014 Activity Plan
Result: Wiki Loves Monuments
Wikimedia UK is delighted to announce the UK winners of the 2013 Wiki Loves Monuments competition
Wiki Loves Monuments is the world's largest photography contest. The objective is to collect high quality photographs of some of the world's most important buildings – in the UK, this means Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings.
Over 570 people took part in the UK competition, contributing more than 12,000 photos to Wikimedia Commons, one of the world's largest repositories of freely licensed media files. Volunteer editors have already started making use of some of these new images to illustrate Wikipedia.
Steve Cole, one of the competition judges and Head of Imaging at English Heritage, said: "The Wiki Loves Monuments photography competition produced a fantastic range of subjects and photographic styles. Choosing the winners was no easy task. The views of the judges varied enormously, individual favourites fell by the wayside as they failed to excite the other two judges. The winning images present not only a good eye for composition but also the ability to capture the mood of the moment."
You can see a gallery of the winning images in all of their glory here on Wikimedia Commons.
Michael Maggs, one of the team of volunteers who organised the contest, said: "Everyone involved in Wiki Loves Monuments is very grateful to all the photographers who donated their images, and to the professional photographers who kindly agreed to act as judges. This is the first time the UK has taken part in the international competition, and we are thrilled with the results. Co-ordinating the contest and organising the submitted images was a significant task that would not have been possible without the backup and close co-operation of Wikimedia UK."
We are already looking forward to the 2014 contest!
As a way of building on the success of Wiki Loves Monuments this year, Wikimedia UK is offering free photography skills workshops. These are ideal for those people who want to sharpen their skills in order to take even more beautiful photos to donate to Wikimedia Commons.
If you'd like to take part in these workshops please email stevie.bentonwikimedia.org.uk for further information
Breast cancer information on Wikipedia
Around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year, affecting not only those people but also their families and friends.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Wikimedia UK and leading UK breast cancer support charity Breast Cancer Care teamed up for an expert-led Wikipedia editing session designed to improve Wikipedia articles about breast cancer.
Millions of people see these articles every year: at the time of writing, the article for breast cancer had been viewed more than 261,000 times in the past 90 days. Because Wikipedia is often a first source for people looking for information it’s important that the content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. That’s why Breast Cancer Care, the only UK-wide charity providing specialist support and tailored information for people affected by breast cancer, was keen to be involved in the editing session.
Julia Bell, Head of Publishing at Breast Cancer Care, said: "When Wikimedia UK contacted us to offer this session for our expert editors to work with some of their expert editors we jumped at the chance. We know how many people use Wikipedia and how important it is that anyone looking for information about breast cancer finds accurate articles that they can understand easily. There’s an awful lot on Wikipedia so we can’t hope to get to it all, but we’re delighted to have an opportunity to help where we can."
The editing session took place on 22 October at the London office of Breast Cancer Care. It was a great success with improvements planned to a list of key articles prepared in advance. Breast Cancer Care provided those editing with source and reference material, making sure that the information on Wikipedia is accurate and up to date.
Focus on individuals: Pat Hadley
Pat Hadley writes about his first three weeks as Wikimedian in Residence at the York Museums Trust
So, three weeks into my role as York Museums Trust’s (YMT) I already feel like things are more complicated – but more exciting – than I’d imagined they could be.
I’ve been learning a great deal about the character at the centre of our test collection: Tempest Anderson. Doctor, gentleman, explorer, volcanologist and the owner of York’s first telephone. Dial 1 for Anderson.
We will be uploading a few low-resolution scans of Anderson’s fantastic photographs in the near future as a teaser before the main release of ~300. These are being specially cleaned and scanned in the next few weeks.
All the while, I’ve been at least as excited about the scope for other elements of the project. I attended a meeting with the curators and am beginning to get a feel for the vast and fascinating collections the Trust cares for. Learning this from the expert curators is a real bonus!
I’ve been excited to learn that there will be a forthcoming partnership with the Google Cultural Institute on the trust’s fantastic studio pottery collections. The images will be uploaded with rich accounts written by curator Helen Walsh that will be great for the public and excellent source material for Wikipedia articles.
The Trust is going to be hugely involved in York and Yorkshire’s reflections on 1914 as the centenary comes around. The buzz generated in the run up to the 1914: When the World Changed Forever exhibition will be a great help in getting local volunteers and Wikimedians to help connect the trusts excellent military history and social history material to the wider world through Wikimedia projects.
More generally, there is a huge number of images already digitised – officially or otherwise – that will be useful for the partnership. For starters, thousands of collections images – objects in the archaeology, fine art, social history, studio pottery, numismatics and more – will be going into an all new online collections system by Christmas. Many of these images will have licenses that also make them suitable for transfer to Wikimedia Commons.
Further, there are hundreds of images already on Commons, Flickr or elsewhere that are (or should) be linked to YMT and can be used to enrich Wikipedia articles on many topics.
We’re also exploring a few ideas which we think might be new to GLAMwiki partnerships: Uploading video and how-to content on handling and other curatorial best-practice to Wikiversity and searching images of decommissioned exhibitions for explanatory diagrams – one of the most useful but least well-covered areas on Wikimedia Commons.
It’s great to be in a position where the ideas seem limitless and we’re almost overwhelmed by the possibilities.
Keep an eye on the project page for news and updates as the project progresses.
Women in Science events
In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day on 15 October, a number of editathons were held throughout October to celebrate the contributions of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Next up was an editathon at the Royal Society in conjunction with the Medical Research Council, as part of its Centenary. This was the second of six events planned, the next one to be held in Cambridge on 25 November.
On Ada Lovelace Day itself, the University of Oxford in association with Jisc ran an editathon attracting 22 participants.
In the second half of the month, editathon took place in Conway Hall, with the Manchester Girl Geeks, and last but certainly not least at Kingston University, despite the best effort of the St Jude storm in preventing our volunteer trainers and attendees from arriving at the venue.
Thank you for everyone who has attended, either as trainers or participants
Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner issued a public response to allegations of paid advocacy editing and mass sockpuppetry on the English Wikipedia.
A Requests for comment has been started on Wikimedia Commons regarding the handling of diagnostic medical images, such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI & ultrasound images. Questions being discussed range from the copyrightability of diagnostic medical images to who actually owns the copyrights if these type of images are copyrightable. Options being offered up include everyone along the medical diagnostic chain from the patient, ordering physician, radiologist, the technician who operated the imaging equipment, hospital employing the technician, the nation state that owns the hospital, to even the programmers that wrote the software running on the imaging machines.
The five most popular articles on the English Wikipedia in the last month were Halloween, Edith Head, Lou Reed, Facebook, and Lycos. Both Head and Reed passed away in October, leading to the surge in interest, while Halloween is a popular celebration observed in many countries in the world. Following close behind in popularity are the popular television series Breaking Bad which aired its series finale at the end of September and the newly released science fiction thriller Gravity (film).
In October 2012 the chapter conducted a survey of its membership to try and get a snapshot of the issues that were affecting you. The results told us some interesting things about members services and benefits, and their role in the chapter. We learned that members felt they knew where they could reach out to get help, but not necessarily what was available to them, or how they could participate more directly in the life of the chapter.
In response some changes have been put in place, including this newsletter and an FAQs section on the wiki, aimed at trying to help members get involved and ensure they are getting the most out of supporting the Chapter. There is always more to do, such as ongoing work to develop and deliver a more comprehensive 'Volunteer handbook' that gives more examples of ways people can get involved as members.
That's why this survey is so important. It will take five minutes of your time but over the coming year the results will make the service members receive better, and hopefully keep people more involved in a way that is personalised and productive for them. You will receive a separate email inviting you to participate this weekend - do give it your attention and take the time to have your say about what you would like to see the Chapter deliver for you in 2014.
- 9 - SpotOn London 2013 Wikipedia editing workshop
- 9 - Wiki takes the Tube
- 9 - Cambridge meetup
- 9–10 - Wikimedia Diversity Conference, Berlin, Germany
- 10 - London meetup
- 12 - Kings College London Wikipedia editing workshop
- 14 - Using Wikimedia to link research impact and open education - workshop at Humanities Research Institute, the University of Sheffield
- 15 - Martin Poulter attending "Spotlight on the Digital – Enhancing Discoverability (An Experts Forum)" in London
- 15 - University of Oxford - Rediscovering Rycote.
- 16 - Glasgow Women's Library Wikipedia editathon - Scottish Women on Wikipedia - Bridgeton Library at The Olympia ()
- 17 - Oxford meetup
- 20 - Veterinary Science editathon, London
- 23 - Belfast meetup and photo competition
- 25 - Medical Research Council Women in Science event, Cambridge
- 27 - Conway Hall editathon and photography session
Wikimedia UK has just received the independent interim review and progress report which records the progress the charity has made since January in implementing the recommendations of the Compass Review.
This interim report comes around halfway through the 18 month period established for embedding excellent governance practices as recommended in the initial review. It was prepared by Rosie Chapman, an independent governance consultant, with support from her assistant Sarah Loader.
The report highlights that good progress has been made although of course work remains to be done. Of the 50 recommendations made in the initial report good progress has been made on almost all, and half of the recommendations have already been fully implemented into the charity’s practices.
Wikimedia UK would like to place on record its thanks to Rosie Chapman and Sarah Loader for their significant work on this report. On a related note, Wikimedia UK is proposing to host an international workshop for Wikimedia chapters in March with a view to sharing governance best practice. More details are available on Meta-Wiki.