Wikimedia partnership workshop

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This is an outline for a workshop that can be delivered in an hour or hour-and-a-half, with an audience that includes people with whom we'd like to collaborate. The ideal audience size is one dozen to two dozen.


Participants will:

  • learn about the diversity of the Wikimedia projects.
  • get a taste of how the UK's eminent cultural and scholarly bodies are already working with the Wikimedia projects.
  • see how Wikimedia's ecology of mutually linked resources has benefits that transcend the virtues of any one of the projects.


Computers are not necessary: this is a paper exercise.

The activity will involve writing things on the wall: take four blank sheets from a flip-chart pad and stick them up to make a large rectangle on the wall at the front of the room.

Print out A4-sized logos of some of the Wikimedia projects: Wikipedia, Commons, Wikisource and others that you want people to think about.

It may also help to have a presentation laptop, projector and slides to explain the Wikimedia projects, or an internet connection to go to the live sites.

Print out the scripts (see below) and hand them out folded up with the text on the inside.


Explain the goals of this session and that it will involve a role-play, but that they will have a written script to read out.

This will interest people who want some opportunity for self-expression, but reassure people who are put off by the idea of role-play.

Explain the differences between some of the Wikimedia projects.

Don't go through all of them: just the ones that might be relevant to the audience.

It might be helpful show how the projects have different content related to one topic. For example, Wikipedia has an article about Lord Byron, Wikidata has structured facts and figures about him, Wikisource has his poetry, Commons has his portrait and handwriting, and so on.

Hand out scripts. The first audience member reads out the first line of their script.

They will say something like "I am the British Library". Emphasise that back to them to encourage them to take on the role, and to give a moment's pause for people to think about how the partner organisation might work with Wikimedia projects.

The audience member reads out the "I can" part of the script.

Make sure the audience understand the point: expand on it if needs be.

Invite discussion on why the partner organisation did that action. What was in it for them?

This isn't answered in the script, so needs discussion in the room.

If the person reading the script, or anyone else, comes up with additional ideas or suggestions, encourage them and keep the discussion going.

The person who read the script now goes up to the paper chart to draw an arrow representing their collaboration.

They may need some help on what label to use or which way the arrow runs. This might prompt more audience discussion.

While that person is drawing their arrow, keep things moving by asking for the next person to read out the top line of their script.

Repeat this for all audience members (or all scripts).

At this point the chart is a rough map of selected existing or past collaborations.

Focus attention on the chart as a whole. Do the different activities support each other?

Point out, for example, that students on a writing assignment want illustrations for their articles, and archives want their images to be used in education and reference, so those two activities support each other.

In a way this is the punchline of the whole workshop, so you might prefer to leave it to the end.

Now announce that we are all going to go through the exercise again, but now the audience will take part as themselves rather than playing roles.

Remind them that they can speak as themselves, as their institution (e.g. university or scholarly body), or as their project or department. If they are still having difficulty thinking of a collaboration, suggest they think of people or projects that they work with.

Go through the same procedure. People identify themselves, describe some way they could work with a Wikimedia project, and what benefits there would be.

Get audience members to add these suggestions to the chart as they go. Suggest specific help they might need to put the idea into action, e.g. giving contact details for follow-up.

Give everyone a chance to discuss the suggestions and to come up with further ideas.

Focus attention on the chart as a whole again. It might look very complicated at this point. Do the different suggestions benefit each other?

Thank everyone for their suggestions.

Script examples

OER14 Workshop roleplay.pdf

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of collaborations or uses of Wikimedia, but a selection to pique the audience's interest. The selection is very much up to you to modify to your interests or those of the audience.

This embedded sixteen-page PDF (on the right) gives the scripts in a ready-to-print format.

I am... I have... I can...
Wellcome Images 100,000 digital images related to medical humanities Make them available under CC-BY (compatible with Wikimedia Commons)
BBC Radio Audio archives of public figures Invite public in to choose extracts, then upload these to Commons for inclusion in Wikipedia articles
The National Archives of the United States Public-domain documents related to US politics and history Share them on Wikisource or Wikimedia Commons
Derby Museum and Art Gallery Artefacts and artworks of local & historical significance Run an online competition to create/ translate Wikipedia articles
The Medical Research Council Photographs and archive materials from funded centres Host editathons on the theme of Women in Science
Translators Without Borders Multilingual volunteers with medical or biological qualifications Translate high-quality articles about core medical topics
The University of Exeter’s Economic Experiments lab Details of classroom experiments and their typical results with students. Write them up in Wikiversity 
The Journal PLOS Computational Biology Researchers and editors Commission review papers in Wikipedia-compatible form then paste into Wikipedia
Google A search engine Draw structured data from Wikipedia or Wikidata to supplement search results
A Geography lecturer First-year students Allocate them to improve Wikipedia articles about villages using standard gazetteers
WikiVet (a professionally-curated wiki for veterinary science) A Reliable Source for Wikipedia Host a combined WikiVet/ Wikipedia editathon
The British Library Public-domain historical books Upload to Wikisource
A mobile app developer Users who want to tour Bath’s historic sites Download and freely reuse images and text, with attribution
BBC Nature A web site about threatened species Import introductory text from Wikipedia
The Herbert Museum, Coventry Exhibits relevant to local history and architecture Host a “Wiki takes Coventry” photography competition where all entries must be uploaded to Commons
A retired librarian Research skills and an eye for detail Provide corrections and citations for Wikipedia articles