Recent Changes/2014/Issue 03

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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 of these.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organisation in the United States that hosts the Wikimedia projects, and consequently is responsible for the improvements you may notice over time to the way the world's largest online encyclopedia works! It released its ten year anniversary report in January, showing how in 2012-13 individual contributors from around the world supported the projects; by making 160.2 million edits, adding 4.9 million Wikipedia articles, and uploading 4.3 million images, audio files and video files.

The Wikimedia mission is based on the belief that the content of the encyclopedia is kept up to date, accurate and independent because it’s collaboratively written by ordinary people giving up a bit of their time. In December the Foundation's engineering team announced that, beginning on the English-language Wikipedia, all users now have the option to start drafts of articles rather than jumping right in and publishing their contribution live. The idea is to stop people being discouraged from making their first contributions to free knowledge by giving them time to tweak their article and get feedback. If you've wondered about editing but worried about making mistakes this could be what you were looking for. You can help out by getting involved in user testing of the tool.

Many readers may also have seen and responded to the 2013 fundraising campaign, with the traditional end of year campaign kicking off in December. As ever, you were staggeringly generous, with donors in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand giving the equivalent of £11 million in more than one million individual gifts in December alone. Thank you so much for your continued support of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement!

To keep up to date with highlights from the Wikimedia movement around the world you can follow the Wikimedia Foundation blog here.

Supporter update

Wikimedia UK's new expanded Trustee board met for the first time at the National Library of Scotland in December

Wikimedia UK has recently seen some exciting changes, both within the charity itself and in terms of the work that is being delivered to carry out its charitable mission.

Following the decision made at the charity’s AGM in early 2013, ongoing work to recruit new Trustees to co-opted positions led to the announcements that Carol Campbell, Simon Knight, Padmini Ray Murray, Joseph Seddon and Kate West would join the expanded Board. Bringing with them a wide range of Wikimedian and professional experience they met with the full board for the first time at the National Library of Scotland in December. They will feed into ongoing work to develop a five-year strategic plan for the charity, and continue to ensure funding is spent in areas that will have the most impact in delivering educational knowledge resources that can be accessed freely online.

The autumn and winter months were also busy and exciting for the charity in terms of its programme of work. In October over three times as many events as the same month in the previous year were held to celebrate Ada Lovelace day which engages women in contributing to Wikipedia and increasing the amount of content detailing women's contributions to the fields of science and technology. In the same month an editathon held in partnership with Breast Cancer Care focused on improving several key articles relating to breast cancer. It was therefore fantastic to see the announcement last month that Cancer Research UK would be recruiting its very own ‘Wikipedian in Residence’. This position will help ensure Wikipedia has the most up to date and accurate information on cancer research and treatment. Finally, in January we had a minor brush with celebrity when Stephen Fry recorded a vocal introduction to his own Wikipedia entry as part of the Wikipedia voice intro project! You can listen to it here

We are expecting Spring 2014 to see even more announcements and events, so if you would like to hear from us on a regular basis you can sign up to receive the brief monthly ‘Friends of Wikimedia UK’ newsletter.

Closer look: Wiki Loves Monuments UK

This stunning image was the overall winner of the 2013 Wiki Loves Monuments UK competition.

There are hundreds of local history and archaeology societies in the UK, and there’s a reason there were 50 million visits to heritage sites in England alone in 2010; we love our history. Wiki Loves Monuments is an annual international competition that was held in the autumn, aimed at supporting the capture and donation of images of historic buildings and monuments to Wikimedia Commons. It covered some headline attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and Westminster Abbey, but many photos were of buildings that are less well-known.

On 7 September 2013, Wikimedians and amateur photographers gathered in the Grade II listed St Michael’s Church for Wikipedia Takes Chester, a day-long photo scavenger hunt, held to increase participation in Wiki Loves Monuments UK. Events like these are always good fun; attendees get a chance to explore a city anew with a view to improving coverage of it on Wikimedia projects (and because of the free licence – potentially anywhere).

Throughout the month-long competition participants had a great chance to learn more about their local history by getting out there and grabbing some snaps, either on their doorstep or around the country. By the end of September 573 contributors from across the United Kingdom had donated 11,995 photos of buildings, monuments, statues and other sites of interest for the competition.

On 10th December, Jimmy Wales – the co-founder of Wikipedia – visited the Wikimedia UK offices in London to award prizes to the eleven prize winners who had produced stunning images of listed buildings around the UK. The sheer number of photos meant the UK was the eighth biggest contributor to the global competition. However, if anything the biggest winner was the Wikimedia movement. With 573 people in the UK alone getting involved, many of whom had never edited before, it was an amazing way to introduce new people to the satisfaction and fun of being a contributor.

You can view the full list of finalists images here

Closer Look: EduWiki 2013

More than 75 people attended the 2013 EduWiki conference held in Cardiff in November

Educators and Wikimedians from around the world met in November in Cardiff for Wikimedia UK’s second annual EduWiki Conference.

The conference addressed issues that concern both the education sector and the Wikimedia movement. These include how we promote digital literacy, discourage plagiarism, assess learner contributions, and how we can use the data about users and their behaviour (“learning analytics”) that online tools give us.

The two-day conference brought together academics, students, librarians, and support staff – as well as contributors to Wikipedia, Wikiversity and Wikinews – for talks, presentations and workshops including three keynotes. Gareth Morlais, Digital Media Specialist for the Welsh Government, spoke about the difficulty of getting minority languages recognised by the web’s big names such as Google. The size of Welsh Wicipedia is one marker of the importance of the language, and this is one way Wicipedia creates opportunities for Welsh speakers. Gareth delivered his presentation in Welsh, with live translation through headsets.

David White from Oxford University used his keynote to report on interviews with students about their use of Wikipedia. He contrasted the official disapproval that many schools and universities show for Wikipedia against the success learners find in using online tools to efficiently answer homework questions. The resulting “learning black market” discourages learners from being honest with their lecturers or teachers about their use of Wikipedia. White challenged universities to rediscover their original ethos of educating for leadership rather than for retrieval and synthesis of facts.

Day two’s keynote came from Rodney Dunican, the Director of Global Education at the Wikimedia Foundation. He reported that there are now sixty countries with a Wikipedia Education Program, including dozens of different universities and colleges in the US and Canada. He highlighted the great motivation that students can get from writing for Wikipedia’s global audience.

Dr Toni Sant, Education Organiser for Wikimedia UK, said: ”I feel privileged to have been entrusted with the opportunity to convene the second annual gathering of the main Wikimedia operators in the UK’s education sector. We’re also blessed with the presence of similar collaborators from various other countries around Europe, Australia, and North America. We are now well placed to extend our international reach at Wikimania 2014 in London next August, where the future of education will be among the main themes.”

This article was originally published on the Wikimedia UK blog – follow us to stay updated on events and other activities by the charity.

Hearing from you

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

We hear from Felicity, a donor from Bedford, England…

I feel privileged to support Wikimedia because to me, Wikipedia represents all that is best about the internet. It brings together an unlimited number of experts who genuinely want to share their knowledge on every subject under the sun and make it freely available to people like me, who need to look something up in a hurry (at 3am if needed!) and get a reliable and unbiased statement of the facts. Like anything written by human beings it is fallible, but errors soon right themselves with your self-policing system.

Recently my brother in the USA emailed late at night to let me know that his youngest grandchild had just been born with a medical problem. I was able to look up this condition instantly and get a clear summary of causes and prognosis, written in simple language that I could understand.

Would the average person in the street know if “Kiribati” was a spicy West Indian dish, a genus of mountain goat, an African language, a group of islands, a mountain state in South America, a river in Indonesia, or a medieval disease? (Apologies to Kiribatians!) Type the name into Wikipedia and you instantly know it is an archipelago of 21 inhabited coral islands in the middle of the tropical Pacific Ocean, an independent republic and a UN member state. You also know its population, its politics, economy, history and geography and its key points of interest. Where else could you find such information, so clearly organised and so instantly available?

You have my sincere thanks for all the ways in which you enrich our lives today.

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

Working with the Theatre and Performance Research Association

Attendees at the first Theatre and Performance Research Association workshop

The Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) has been working in partnership with Wikimedia UK to further its mission to ‘facilitate research through and into theatre and performance'. Becoming the first organisational member of Wikimedia UK, it has been granted matched funding to support an archival release project, led by Dr Kate Dorney, TaPRA Research & Development Officer. Dr Dorney is also Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum and co-editor of the journal 'Studies in Theatre & Performance'.

The project will work to see as many TaPRA archival documents and media files as possible released under a CC-BY-SA licence, train TaPRA members in creating and editing Wikipedia articles on theatre and performance, and well as contribute other theatre and performance materials, as appropriate, to Wikimedia Commons, WikiSource, and any other Wikimedia projects. The collaboration will also work to create an awareness of knowledge sharing through Wikimedia projects among TaPRA members themselves.

The first planned workshop to train members of the association took place on 1 February 2014. With the second due in March, this is another great example of the practical effect Wikimedia UK can have working with research and education organisations to achieve its charitable mission.

If you know or work with a special interest group or professional organisation you think could benefit from working with Wikimedia UK please email your ideas to

Training the Trainers: In Welsh!

Wikimedia UK Training the Trainers event, February 2014.

Wikimedia UK held its latest weekend workshop aimed at offering attendees the chance to gain an in-depth understanding of how to train new contributors to become a part of the Wikimedia mission this month in Cardiff.

Run by a professional consultant and targeted at volunteers in Wales and the immediate surrounding areas, these sessions were especially aimed at reaching editors of Wicipedia Cymraeg who work in the Welsh language. However, both English and Welsh language editors on all Wikimedia projects were present.

There will be another Training the Trainers event in August, open to Wikimedia UK volunteers who can make a credible commitment to support training in future, and held at the Wikimania 2014 conference in London. While it is a strong advantage to have already been involved in other Wikimedia UK training events, if you have experience of academic writing or teaching and are looking for an exciting opportunity to volunteer and get more involved in the Wikimedia movement this may be for you.

You can read more about the Cardiff event and the programme on the February event page and if you would like to make an expression of interest in this type of work then please contact the charity's Volunteer Support Organiser.

Board members from around the world trained by Wikimedia UK

Wikimedia Conference 2013 group photograph.

In March 2013 the Wikimedia UK Chair of Trustees gave a presentation to members from Wikimedia chapters across the world at the Wikimedia Conference about how organisations in our movement could learn from each other about leadership and development.

The outcome of the discussions this started was delivered in March 2014, as Wikimedia UK played host to international attendees at a training workshop for leaders across the movement. Designed to help board members of chapters and thematic organisations develop the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to do a good job, it drew on experience within the movement and best practice from outside the movement.

The Wikimedia movement is still a complex and developing international organisation, comprised of volunteers, in-country 'chapters', networks of specialists and the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco. Being able to support developing groups in the organisation and share from its own experience is an important milestone the life of the UK chapter. You can read more about the event here, and it will continue be a topic of conversation at the Wikimedia Chapters conference in April.