Recent Changes/2013/Issue 01

From Wikimedia UK
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wikimedia UK Members Newsletter

World of Wikimedia

The Wikimedia mission is currently supported by 13 projects, the 'incubator' where new projects can be developed, and MediaWiki software which underpins all these.

On 27th November 2012 readers of Wikipedia in the UK were met with a slightly different daily dose of facts and 'Did you knows', as the first of the 2012 annual fundraising banners were launched, in what ultimately turned out to be the most successful Wikimedia fundraiser ever organised on behalf Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

In previous years readers of the encyclopaedia across the globe became familiar with the simultaneous appeal in banners across the site, which set out to raise enough money to fund the core costs of the movement; technology, staff, and outreach across the globe. This years fundraiser came with a twist - the winter campaign ran on English Wikipedia for readers in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, with the rest of the world due to receive an appeal for donations in April 2013.

The change-up underpinned a record breaking first day, with $2.3 million raised on November 27. Even more staggering is the fact that the fundraising banners ran for 9 days, when in the previous fundraiser they had run for 46 in total. Being able to raise the money needed in a shorter amount of time allowed the Wikimedia Foundation to take more time to thank donors and introduce them to the diverse and amazing range of people who make Wikipedia what it is.

As you may be aware, Wikimedia UK is one of the chapters across the globe that benefits from the funds donated in the annual fundraiser. Under the new arrangements put in place for this year, the Chapter applies for a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation linked to a forward plan for how donated funds will be spent in the forthcoming year - you can read our current annual plan here. As a UK registered charity, the Chapter also receives donations directly, with the benefit of attracting gift aid on all donations made to the movement by UK tax payers. This allows donors to set up a regular gift or send a cheque and claim back tax benefits on behalf of the charity.

The huge success of the Wikimedia Foundation's 2012 fundraiser on English Wikipedia bodes well for the global fundraiser across other language Wikipedias in April. The continued generosity of donors is cementing the ability of the movement to meet new challenges and opportunities with relish. The Foundation's most recently launched project, Wikivoyage (about which you can read more below), shows that the Wikimedia movement will continue to look for new avenues to explore and articulate its unique principles of collaborative working and freely licensed knowledge.

Wikimedia UK is excited about the big projects it will be delivering as a part of the movement this year - from training new editors, to working with outstanding British cultural institutions, to delivering news and innovative technological solutions. We're looking forward to telling you more about how we're making your donations deliver for the Wikimedia movement.

Supporter Update

Jimmy Wales visited the UK offices to meet some of the Charity's staff team

This regular section of 'Recent Changes', Wikimedia UK's new donor e-newsletter, will be dedicated to sharing the most important news from the Charity's HQ - our offices in Old Street, London - making sure you know how the organisation works from the inside, as well as seeing how we deliver our programme of work to improve Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Supporters may not be aware that Wikimedia UK is one of many international chapters created to further the Wikimedia mission in the country it serves. In our case, we work to promote the project to UK editors and interested parities, and try and bring together our natural bedfellows in the fields of open knowledge, free culture, national historic and cultural institutions and the education sector. We were formally recognised as a Charity in November 2011 and since then have sought to fundraise by working with the Wikimedia Foundation, asking those in the UK who read Wikipedia to make a donation. As you can see from the post-2012 fundraiser update above, supporters of our work have been unfailingly generous and have allowed us to really grow as an organisation.

The Charity first appointed a member of staff, our Chief Executive Jon Davies, in 2011, and since then it has grown incrementally to take on posts to support its events delivery, communications, and management of fundraising activities. Recently three new posts were advertised - excitingly these will be specialised posts aimed at deepening and strengthening our engagement with volunteers across the UK, educational institutions and some of our most internationally renowned libraries, museums, galleries and archives. You can see details of our full staff team here.

It's bound to be exciting for any charity entering its second year, but for Wikimedia UK it will be even more so. The appointment of dedicated staff is creating more opportunities to engage in the work of the charity on a number of levels for people new to the world of Wikimedia. Whether by attending an event, becoming a volunteer, getting a taste of editing for the first time or joining as a member, the increase in activity has the potential to see a real step change in the level at which we deliver our mission, and how we raise awareness of the importance of what we're trying to achieve.

As such, it seems appropriate that to begin this year we are creating a series of opportunities for people to engage with helping us plan what the next five year ahead will look like. At a very basic level we have invited donors to fill in a very short survey to try and get a sense of what those who have made a donation hoped to see the charity they support achieving. Of course, if you want an opportunity to shape this more directly we are holding an open day in London on 23rd March. Places are limited, so please email if you are interested in attending. Furthermore, you are warmly invited to attend any of the Meetups that take place on a regular basis around the UK. If you are disappointed these aren't on your doorstep - we can help with that. Just email[1] and we'll be happy to help you organise something in your area!

Closer Look: Celebrating Women in Science - Ada Lovelace Day

WMUK trainer, Katie Chan, watches as Uta Frith edits the article on Mary Buckland, who had previously rated only a mention in her husband's Wikipedia article, even though they had worked as a team on fossil discovery in the early 19th century.

It is a typical late October afternoon in Central London - dark, rainy and cold. Yet, inside a grand regency building, former home to King George IV and later the Foreign Office in WWII, in a room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and gilded mouldings, are over a dozen women fiercely concentrating as they type on their laptops. The fruits of their labours are obvious however, as a large projection on the far wall of the room reveals a list of links, some red and some blue, on a Wikipedia page. This isn't just any list - it is a collation of articles about women made substantial contributions in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and whose lives are being documented on Wikipedia by this team of volunteers from the heart of the Royal Society HQ.

Ada Lovelace day was launched in 2009 following a call for people to publish a blog about women in science they admired - the rationale following research that suggested that women need to see female role models in order to pursue a career or interest in more traditionally male-domated fields. One of the five key goals of the Wikimedia movenment's five year strategic plan is to increase participation and by reaching out to women editors in recognition of the fact they represented less than a fifth of volunteers who have written the content of Wikipedia. It seemed to make sure the world's largest encyclopaedia coverage of women contribution was improved as a better source of information and inspiration, and as a way to ensure women themselves were participating in discovering and recording the contributions of these amazing pioneers.

Over 20 people around the world joined in online with 20 participants and volunteers at the Wikimedia UK Ada Lovelace event at the Royal Society, creating and expanding over thirty five articles about leading women in fields as diverse as botany, astronomy, engineering, mathematics, chemistry ecology and biomedical sciences. From these 11 unique 'Did you know?' snippets were created, that promoted and linked through to the entries on the front page of English language Wikipedia, which alone receives approximately 9 million global pageviews every day. This event not only reached out directly to women to demonstrate how rewarding editing could be, but raised the profile of hitherto hidden womens' achievements to a massive global audience. This was built on by a panel event hosted afterwards, looking at why female scientists are less prominent than male scientists, and what might be done to improve the situation.

Wikimedia UK's event was one of many that took place globally to celebrate and address these issues, with successful events held in the US, India, Russia and Stockholm. It was a great example of the way in which working on Wikipedia can not only improve the content of the worlds largest encyclopaedia, but can go to the heart of tackling social issues around recognising and celebrating the contributions of groups which is overdue. Certainly the media coverage in the Guardian, Telegraph and on the Today programme suggested that the aims of event struck a chord. Wikimedia UK is very much looking forward to developing and delivering more outreach work of this kind, and would be very interested to hear from readers who would like training delivered in their workplace, school or reading group as a part of getting more women involved in editing, and contributing to better representation of womens' contributions on Wikipedia.

Closer Look: Wiki Takes Coventry

Chair of Wikimedia UK, Chris Keating (Right) holds the image which scooped first prize in the Wiki Takes Coventry photo competition

2000 photos. 50 people. 5 hours. In September 2012 Wikimedia volunteers ran a scavenger hunt with a twist to show a different side to the UK's 13th largest city, and to bring new, high quality image content to Wikipedia's sister project - Wikimedia Commons.

In partnership with the local Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, this event built on the historic success of other 'Wiki Takes...' events around the world since their first incarnation in Manhattan, New York. The 'Wiki Takes...' concept aims to better document the hidden side of the cities we live in, and share the resulting photos under a Creative Commons licence to be reused and redistributed inline with the Wikimedia mission to support the sharing of freely licensed content wherever possible.

Coventry, and arguably the West Midlands, have been something of a hot-spot for Wikimedia UK activity in recent years as a result of the number of enthusiastic and experienced volunteers based in the area. The Wiki Takes Coventry event was entirely volunteer-led and made possible through the Charity providing donated funds to obtain prizes for the photo competition underpinning the hunt; the top three prize winning images were screen-printed onto canvass and presented to the photographers who took them.

The results were staggering - a wealth of images showing all sides of the city; from monuments, to Polish delicatessens - a rich archive of photographs capturing the city in late 2012. Such collections are not only valuable as a result of how they can improve Wikipedia articles, through providing images to substantiate and illustrate the encyclopaedia's content, but because they capture our communities for posterity and will one day evolve into historic archives, documenting the world we lived in.

Wikimedia UK volunteer, Harry Mitchell said, "This was a great day - not only because we got fantastic pictures uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, informing many articles across Wikpedia, but because we were able to engage new people with the idea of recording and sharing their local community. Being able to award prizes for the best photographs was a great motivator, and we were happy the Charity could support this with some donated funds."

In 2013 Wikimedia UK is keen to support more 'Wiki Takes...' events in cities around the UK. If you are interested in participating or even being supported to organise one in your home town or city then simply email[2] with your ideas and we can help you take this forward with funding and advice from other volunteers.

If you would like to read the volunteer report documenting the full Wiki Takes Coventry event, then you can find it here

Hearing From You - Donor in Profile

We're very grateful for the support of donors for enabling us to deliver our misson

We hear some wonderful things from those of you who have not only been generous with donations, but have troubled to write and tell us what it is about what we do that leads you support us. Here's some of the feedback Wikimedia UK has received:

"...why did I offer to raise my contribution? Well, I use Wikipedia all the time, both professionally (I lecture in History), and just when I get curious about something, or when family or friends get embroiled in some discussion or other! It is so useful to be able to check a date, or to 'gen up' on something at the flick of my fingers. I also think it is a profoundly democratic and educational project, in the sense of spreading (often profound) knowledge throughout the world for free - especially since you introduced footnotes to sources, so that readers can judge the authority of a statement, or follow it up in a more specialised source."

"I am a retired pensioner but I am still seeking and searching ways of improving my knowledge and keeping my brain active... Wikipedia has been a lifeline to me and it must be sustained."

"I can't afford much, but I wanted to make a gesture of thanks for a free info-community. People are often cynical about the value of Wikipedia information, but I love the payoff that comes from the 'risk' of the open format. Keep up the free ethos in this very-connected but way-too commercial world. There's a place for everything and you're filling yours well."

"I reference things on Wikipedia often; it is useful and helpful to me, so please also accept my appreciation for the excellent work that you all do at Wikipedia, one of the best aspects of which is the encouragement that everyone that wants to contribute may do so."

We want to dedicate this section of Recent Changes to you by profiling a new donor in each edition. We want to share the multitude of reasons why people love Wikipedia and its sister projects - how you came across Wikipedia, what you use it for, whether you've ever donated a photograph to Wikimedia Commons; what you think the potential of these projects is and will be.

If you'd like to share your story of why you think what we do is important please email and help us get the message out there.

On the Horizon

Wikimedia welcomes new staff posts

Three new members of staff will join the existing staff team at the London offices in Development House

Donors may recall the letter from our Chief Executive in January which reported that Wikimedia UK was kicking-off January 2013 by advertising three new posts to expand its staff team - a GLAM Organiser, an Education Organiser and a Volunteer Support Organiser. These posts mark an important milestone in the Charity's development, moving us from purely operational delivery to being able to offer more support to our vital outreach work.

A key role for Chapters to play in furthering the Wikimedia mission is working 'on-the-ground' in the country in which they are based to develop a network of experts, editors, volunteers and members. Bringing people together to improve the content of Wikipedia and other wiki-projects, whether by uploading amazing images to Commons, adding a 'must-see' destination to Wikivoyage, or helping translate articles, is as vital as the technology which keeps the projects online. These posts will offer high quality support and opportunities for personal development to a growing group of volunteers who are vital in helping deliver what we do by running events, approaching local groups and organisations to act as partners - all ultimately increasing the quality and depth of the articles on Wikipedia while celebrating public histories and culture.

The response was very positive with very strong fields applying for each post, with a wide range of experience and expertise demonstrated. The newly appointed staff should be in post by the end of March, and will be introduced via the Wikimedia UK blog. Over time is it hoped that they will greatly increase the Chapter's capacity to deliver outreach works in the education and arts sectors. So, should you have an inspired idea about an archival hidden gem in your local village, a potential partnership opportunity at your university, or simply wish to a see a meetup or edit-a-thon in your area, we will now have specialist members of staff who can help you realise its potential.

Virtual Learning Environment

Moodle software will underpin a training programme that draws its content from collaboratively written guidance

Wikimedia UK has been working for some time to develop a solution to delivering bespoke training to new editors, members and volunteers across the country, in particular with tips and tricks for how to edit Wikipedia, upload photos to Wikimedia Commons, and interact with other Wikimedia projects. It's recognised that while there are places to go to ask for help as a new editor, like the Teahouse or article talk pages, sometimes potential editors would like a walk-through of the community guidelines and processes that make the Wikimedia community tick.

It is now within sight that we will have a Moodle / wiki hybrid Virtual Learning Environment up and running. Those readers who have used Moodle before, particularly in Higher Education, will be familiar with the basic set-up - users can log in and access discrete modules which can provide an overview to a new topic, including video and audio learning materials, and run through an assessment following the completion of the module. The content for the modules will have been collaboratively written on a specific wiki, which means that materials can be updated to keep up with changes in the projects, and amendments can be tracked and discussed in order to arrive at the optimum content.

In the near future the hosting of the software will be moved onto a Wikimedia UK server and a page set up to draw together suggestions for the expansion and creation of content. It's important that it offers the kind of training and knowledge that prospective users would like to see. If you've ever felt that there was an aspect of editing or outreach in the Wikimedia community you'd like to know more about, but couldn't reach an event, then please do email suggestions and requests, which will be shared with Wikimedia UK education committee.


Wikivoyage is a free web-based travel guide for both travel destinations and travel topics written by volunteer authors

The Wikimedia Foundation has launched Wikivoyage, a free, worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit. In January the Wikimedia Foundation announced the launch of its 12th official project: Wikivoyage, coinciding with the 12th anniversary of the founding of Wikipedia on January 15th, 2001. Like Wikipedia and its sister projects, Wikivoyage is free to edit, free of ads, and built collaboratively by volunteers from around the globe. Currently available in nine languages - Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish - its articles are edited and improved by a core group of approximately 200 volunteer editors.

"The purpose of the Wikivoyage Association is to promote education and knowledge of all countries and regions in the world, as well as understanding among nations," said Stefan Fussan, Chairman of the board of the Wikivoyage Association. "We're very excited about the launch of Wikivoyage as a Wikimedia project, and about the future role of the Association in supporting the Wikivoyage community through its programs."

You can read more about the announcement in this article in the Independent, which includes an interview with Wikimedia UK member Tom Morris.

  1. E-mails to this address are reviewed and responded to by volunteers from the user community. Please understand that neither Wikimedia UK nor the Wikimedia Foundation (who operate the global volunteer helpdesk) can guarantee confidential treatment of any sensitive information you include in your message.
  2. E-mails to this address are reviewed and responded to by volunteers from the user community. Please understand that neither Wikimedia UK nor the Wikimedia Foundation (who operate the global volunteer helpdesk) can guarantee confidential treatment of any sensitive information you include in your message.