Wikimedian in Residence 2014 review

From Wikimedia UK
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Wikimedian in Residence programme review - Wikimedia UK 2014

by Chris McKenna (volunteer reviewer) and Daria Cybulska (Programme Manager, Wikimedia UK)


infographics summarising the achievements of the project

This report assesses the Wikimedian in Residence programme supported by Wikimedia UK over 2012-14 and provides recommendations in order to improve how it is delivered. [1]

It will be useful to any institutions considering hosting a Resident; to current and prospective Residents wanting to know more about the programme in the UK; and to anyone keen to learn more about the process of evaluating a programme.

Wikimedia UK is a charity registered in England and Wales that supports and promotes Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects such as Wikimedia Commons. Our mission is to help people and organisations create and preserve open knowledge, and to help provide easy access for all. We do this by supporting volunteer editors and contributors, by working in partnership with cultural and educational institutions (particularly UK based ones), and by acting to advocate the benefits of open knowledge generally.

‘Wikimedian in Residence’ project is one of our key programmes that contributes to this mission by building partnerships with other institutions.

Having a Wikimedian in Residence at the Natural History Museum coincided with a paradigm shift in how we think about our digital content and the start of a project to rapidly digitise the museum’s collection of more than 80 million specimens at an industrial scale. Having an advocate for Open Science and a culture of reusable content helped us to frame these projects in a context that makes this work useful to a wider audience.

- Vincent Smith of the Natural History Museum about their 2013/14 Wikimedian in Residence.

This valuable programme has been run for several years in the UK, however, it has not been accurately reviewed. With considerable investment of time from staff and volunteers, and resources from Wikimedia UK, it is very important that we are sure that the programme delivers to our expectation. It is also crucial to be aware where improvements could be made so that the programme is most effective. Overall, such reflection has not taken place so far, meaning we lacked awareness of the points above.

The report is timely as Wikimedia UK, in 2013-14, has been focusing on reviewing its strengths and looking to build on programmes that deliver most impact.

The analysis of the current programme found that
  • The programme strengths lay in the good reputation of past projects and the Wikipedia ‘brand’.
  • It combines the prestige of host organisations, their commitment to open agenda, working with the web and digital projects.
  • The programme is faced with several challenges:
    • Obstacles within the host institution
    • Insufficient tools for demonstrating metrics
    • Community can support a limited number of projects
    • Small pool of potential Residents
    • Limited capacity from Wikimedia UK to support and help resolve the issues above
  • For detail of the analysis see here. See here for the SWOT analysis.

Delivery of the projects is already strong in several areas
  • Residents create broad awareness through media coverage, and more targeted training and outreach events.
  • They advocate for change internally, and externally via connecting with other organisations in their networks.
  • They produce resources about open knowledge which are useful for the host organisations, but also the global Wikimedia movement.
  • They facilitate crucial content improvements by supporting media uploads, distributing content already available, and supporting article creation on Wikipedia.
  • See here for detailed descriptions of each of the residency, and here for the summary.

To address the challenges, and build on the potential impact of the programme, we are putting forward a series of key recommendations
  • We believe that the Wikimedian in Residence programme should continue as it has been one of Wikimedia UK’s strong areas of activity.
  • Duration of residencies - residencies should be six months long at minimum for small institutions and 9-12 months minimum for larger organisations with an ambition of changing the institution’s culture.
  • Supporting the programme - in the light of the gaps in support for the programme outlined throughout the report, Wikimedia UK should find additional capacity for supporting the residents and the programme.
  • Sharing of information and best practice - set up a forum for sharing of advice, information and best practice between institutions and between residents.
  • Project goals - consider re-evaluating goals of the project, potentially creating individual sets for each residency.
  • Project format - consider alternative residency formats to increase the potential resident pool.
  • Resident skills - ensure the skills identified in the review are reinforced in the job description.
  • See here for the full list of key recommendations for the future of the programme.

The review is also summarised on a poster found here.


An international take on the WIR project

A Wikimedian in Residence (WIR) is a role in which a Wikimedia editor accepts a placement with an institution to facilitate a close working relationship between the Wikimedia movement and the institution through a range of activities, both internal and public-facing. They can work on facilitating content improvements on Wikimedia projects, but even more importantly serve as an ambassador for open knowledge within the host organisation.

Their activities can include:

  • Organising outreach work to encourage understanding and development of Wikimedia projects internally and externally
  • Exploring sharing institution's digital resources on Wikimedia Commons
  • Organising events to create or expand existing articles about notable items or subjects of specific relevance to the collection and the organisation's expertise
  • Working with institution's staff to explain Wikipedia's and sister projects' practices and how they might be able to contribute. This can be done via events, workshops, producing a case study and documentation
  • Developing other projects supporting open knowledge

The Wikimedian in Residence projects in the UK have been run with varying degree of support and supervision from Wikimedia UK since the first ever WIR position at the British Museum in 2010, as well as ARKive WIR in 2011. These residencies were initiated after contacts between Wikimedia UK volunteers and board members, and the institutions, with support from the chapter. During 2012, Wikimedia UK sought to build on these successes with a systematic programme of residencies supported by the newly-established Wikimedia UK office. In this light the British Library residency, which began in May 2012, was a transition case where Wikimedia UK staff we were progressively more involved with the resident. In November 2012 for the first time we ran a call for applications to attract institutions wanting to host a Wikimedian in Residence. Please see here and here for background. We received a good response of 15 applications from a range of institutions, from which we chose, in the first round, the organisations listed below. The projects were delivered or started in the 2013-14 activity year.

  • Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums (residency took place between March-June ‘13)
  • Science Museum, arranged by Wikimedia UK to be combined with
    • Natural History Museum (March ‘13 - July ‘13, then extended)
  • National Library of Scotland (July ’13 - Feb ‘14, then extended)

National Library of Scotland had a delayed start, which then overlapped with the second round of institutions in 2013-14 activity year (chosen from the original applications received in late 2012):

  • York Museums Trust (October ‘13 - April ‘14)
  • The Royal Society (January ‘14 - July '14 - deferred from original October ‘13 start to suit internal timelines of the host institution).

The staggered start of the residencies allowed for better management, as the setup process is resource intensive.

Most of the institutions above belong to the cultural sector, but this is not a requirement of the programme. We also set up a Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador (July ‘13 - April ‘14) which followed some of the elements of the WIR model and will be included in this analysis. Therefore we are looking at a group of seven projects in this report - British Library, Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums, Science Museum with Natural History Museum, National Library of Scotland, York Museums Trust, The Royal Society, Jisc, with seven residents and eight host institutions.

The operational details of current, past and potential residencies are kept on Wikimedia UK’s office wiki.

Before the first round of the projects was set up in November 2012, there was no standard agreement that would codify the cooperation between the two parties - Wikimedia UK and the host institution - and serve as a guide for key procedures. There was a need for a document that would clarify the expectations towards the project of both sides including expected outcomes, but also serve as a binding document explaining procedures such as termination, institution’s obligations, funding details, and trademarks.

A draft was created by Saad Choudri, board member of Wikimedia UK, which was commented on widely by the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK volunteers. This document was trialled with the first round of the institutions - following their comments the Agreement is undergoing iterations to make it clearer and more effective. Current version can be found here - this is adapted to fit individual projects.

Over 2013-14 a stronger support structure was created for the programme, not only including the Agreement document, but also application forms, job descriptions, induction day, monthly reporting templates, review meetings.

The WIR programme is seen as one of the key ways we can engage with external organisations, extending Wikimedia UK’s scale of activities and outreach. These residencies are often a considerable investment for Wikimedia UK (£2-10K) and at the same time, there is a risk of low impact if they are not conducted in a focused way.

Aim of the review

We agreed to reflect on the programme’s successes and challenges through a review. With a year and a half since the agreement’s introduction, we should not judge too quickly - by May 2014 only three institutions completed their residencies - however we can learn a lot already.

We are aiming to review the programme to date, focusing on the feedback from the residents and host institutions on the successful models for the residencies, and analysis of key obstacles to greater success.

This report is to produce recommendations for future development - progress or cessation. The recommendations are to be shared with wider community in a number of ways (e.g. Wikimania related presentation, blog post, mailing lists).


  • Questionnaire for the residents (both completed and current residencies)
  • Questionnaire for residents’ line managers, or other key staff at the host institution
  • Questionnaire for the UK Wikimedia community, and Wikimedia UK staff working with WIRs
  • In person brainstorm for the residents to discuss SWOT and open to wider dialogue
  • Existing data gathering - analysing available residents’ monthly reports and available final reports


  • Working with the Programme Evaluation and Design team
  • Producing final report for wider dissemination


  • From May 2012 to April 2014 - investigated period of the WIR projects
  • Jan 2014 - work with Programme Evaluation and Design team to improve the questionnaire and survey. Shared with staff and GLAM committee for comments
  • March-April 2014 - consultation with relevant parties (WIRs, host organisations, community). Surveys, additional phone or in-person meetings as needed
  • 5 April 2014 - SWOT analysis meeting
  • May/June 2014 - creation of the review document
  • Q2 and 3 of 2014 - dissemination

Key issues of consideration

  • Length and any other considerations
  • Cost analysis and funding model - initial conclusions
  • Who should we be working with (potential, types, locations)
  • Assessment of Wikimedia UK involvement - setup, documentation, support for the host organisation
  • Perception of effectiveness of the residencies vs initial goals
  • Assessment of needed skills
  • Experience of the project
  • Wikimedia UK support for the residents
  • Documentation / reporting
Statistics of the first two years of the international programme (2010-2011)
Benefits of the programme
  • Are the residents delivering on objectives as set by Wikimedia UK
  • What do residents/hosts/community see as the benefits of the programme
  • Analysis of impact delivered so far, and the potential impact
Measuring the programme
  • Assessment of the objectives vs needs of the programme, and vs the delivery by the residents [2]

Initial survey

Once the key issues for consideration were specified, we created survey questions to start the consultation. Survey creation was supported by the Programme Evaluation and Design team from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Three surveys were created to explore issues specific to 1) Residents, 2) Host institutions, 3) community opinions of the programme.

Here are the questions for the survey:

  1. Residents
  2. Host institutions
  3. Community

The surveys were circulated over March-April 2014.

Results - the residents

The participants of a brainstorm meeting

Responses from all seven residents were received. The summary of points raised is below:

  • Length. 57% felt the project’s length was about right, with 43% feeling it was too short/far too short (5 out of 7 projects were part time). However, later in the survey it is often mentioned that the timing was not sufficient to meet their objectives for the project.
  • Meeting objectives. 5 out of 7 residents felt they fulfilled the objectives moderately, 2 - completely. This was explored in further questions later.
  • Support from the host institution. It was judged to be at the right level.
    • Improvement. It was suggested that it would be helpful to have a better connection with the department heads within the host institution. Residents working within big organisations mentioned that in a context of many departments and internal changes, their project was prone to have little visibility.
  • Support from Wikimedia UK. It was judged to be at the right level. Event support (materials, promotion) was seen as by far the most important support area. Induction meeting was judged as useful, with various areas of it flagged as helpful (e.g. Conflict of Interest considerations) depending on the knowledge level of the resident at the start.
    • No significant improvements suggested.
  • Challenges faced during delivery of the project. Many residents focused at the difficulties with the host institutions.
    • Organisational structure, the number of stakeholders involved, staff’s resistance to the project and the openness in general were seen as hindrances.
    • Not enough time to deliver the objectives.
    • Not enough skill to deliver the objectives.
    • Community buy-in and caution around paid editing.
  • Solutions employed by the residents to address the above:
    • Focusing on achievable actions and timetabling.
    • Connecting with local open knowledge community.
    • Working with the host institution to get the project’s events more visible.
  • Objectives. Residents were provided with key areas of delivery for their projects (engagement with the host institution; engagement with the Wikimedia community; increase number of editors; facilitate content improvement; produce case study and documentation). The residents assessed their achievements, most of them stating that they have been moderately successful at delivering on the objectives, with most confidence around facilitating content improvement.

    The residents flagged their achievements in the areas:

    • Engagement with the host institution - change in policy, significant awareness raising of open knowledge within staff.
    • Community engagement - modest connections made between the host institution staff and the editor community.
    • Increase number of editors - respondents were counting on continued editing of editathon attendees.
    • Facilitating content improvement - delivered content mostly pending at the time of the report, but the residents mentioned improvements during editathons, and smaller scale image donations.
  • Biggest achievement. Residents were asked about what they judged to be their biggest achievement over the residency. A wide range of projects were mentioned: licensing change at the host institution, delivering workshops at universities, running an editathon which created a lot of awareness, facilitating a Did You Know article.
  • Further remarks
    • What residents enjoy most about their projects vary from person to person. Working with many partner organisations was often mentioned, delivering training and linking with the open knowledge community.
    • Residents found it useful to be open to the possibility of changing objectives during the course of the project.

Results - host institutions

Cultural institution hosting a Wikipedia event

The residencies are designed so that after the initial setup work they are largely managed by the host institutions. That is where the key line management structure sits - it is important then to analyse the host institutions’ assessment of the programme.

A combination of online survey, phone or in person interviews were conducted - focusing on line managers. Responses from eight people were received, from six of the residencies. Some of the interviews did not follow the survey questions exactly to allow for variances between projects (e.g. British Library did not have some of the documentation in place; some residencies started before we introduced induction meetings).

The list below is the summary of the responses to the survey questions (both online and interviews):

  • Setup and format of the residency assessment. Managers were asked to comment on the application process, setup, skills of the resident and length of the project. The opinions were mixed, with many improvements suggested - particularly for the residencies that took place early on.
    • Application process was judged as unhelpfully open by several institutions (e.g. in terms of what would Wikimedia UK expect from this project). [3] Another aspect is that the setup can take up to a year, which can give institutions useful preparation time, but is cumbersome.
    • As a note from Wikimedia UK’s perspective, the institutions which enjoyed the openness of the process were the ones that were most proactive during the setup stage, reaching out to other institutions and residents to learn more about the possible projects. They were often more successful in later delivery.
    • Length. Suggested longer than four months; part time (even 1 day/week) seen as useful for pilot work. Some managers mentioned slow rate of change at the institution as a factor to consider.
      • Often at the setup stage institutions feel that six months will be sufficient to deliver their plan; however in hindsight it is usually seen that a longer residency would deliver stronger results.
  • Support from Wikimedia UK. Initial meetings (before project starts) and recruitment support were flagged as key and very useful.
  • Challenges during the planning stages of the residency. Managers mentioned a range of problems, including low response to the advert (some identify that the skill set of the potential resident is very specialist). Selling the programme internally (and explaining the difference between Wikimedia and Wikipedia) can be challenging as well.
  • Challenges during delivery of the project. Again several areas were outlined:
    • Resident focused on personal topic interests.
    • Finding time to line manage and increase skills of the resident.
    • Internal resistance to the changes proposed by the project, lack of staff understanding around the function of the residency (especially if the residency coincided with internal restructuring of the host institution).
  • Solutions offered to these difficulties included arranging networking with other WIR managers, and finding time for the line management meetings.
  • Objectives. Managers were provided with key areas of delivery for their projects (engagement with the host institution; engagement with the Wikimedia community; increase number of editors; facilitate content improvement) to assess. Their overall rating for all of them was ‘at least moderately met’. Managers were also asked if they needed to change the objectives during the residency, and four managers who answered these questions stated that changes were not necessary. This may suggest that objectives were broad enough that they still included modifications that were introduced.
    • Engagement with the host institution - positive, training and events for staff were useful, together with a possible guidance explaining how staff could engage with Wikimedia. Policy change was also mentioned.
    • Community engagement - positive, public events were important.
    • Increase number of editors - events were mentioned as a tool to gain contributors.
    • Facilitating content improvement - facilitating article creation was mentioned, although answers focused on lower impact projects (e.g. ‘two articles were improved’).
  • Biggest achievement of the residency. A range were identified:
    • Raising awareness of openness and possibilities of working with Wikimedia was seen as important (this included event work, e.g. final ‘dissemination workshop’).
    • Changes in policy was also a very significant element.
    • The residency creating case studies and toolkits that could then be used by other organisations, thus spreading the impact of the project.
    • Being (seen to be) involved in a new, innovative project.
  • Further remarks
    • Institutions were grateful that they had an opportunity to explore ways of working with Wikimedia projects and Wikimedia UK.
    • Limited staff resources, time, dedication, skill or organisational change meant that often staff were not able to engage with the project fully.
    • Sustainability was seen as a difficult element to achieve.

Interviews with hosts

Phone interviews were conducted with two of the host institutions, which included the survey questions, but also allowed for exploration of broader themes around the residencies. Below are the key points raised relevant to this review that go beyond the survey questions.

  • There are 3 prerequisites for a Wikimedian in Residence project at any organisation: technical infrastructure to support the project, existing content generation project in place, environment within the institution (e.g. various departments working together).
    • When any of these areas are not ‘mature’, the residency can focus on raising awareness. When the areas are mature, a project can work on concrete content creation projects - this would also allow for a shorter residency.
    • When deciding on a host institution for the project, we need to assess its maturity, especially in terms of attitudes to open licensing.
  • One institution marked tactfulness, ability to work independently and understanding of the internal structures of the host institution as important soft skills of the resident.
  • For best chance of success, the resident needs support from two people in the organisation: 1) Line manager who is well networked laterally within the institution, 2) An oversight from somebody who works with senior management.
  • Organising the residency as a joint project between several institutions can be challenging. With a bigger number of stakeholders the processes take much longer. It is also likely that one of the partners’ objectives will be given more weight than the other’s, leading to conflict or dissatisfaction with the project.
    • Joint line management, regular appraisals from all stakeholders and jointly agreed work plans could be solutions to this.

Results - the community

GLAM-WIKI 2013 attendees.jpg

23 people responded to the community consultation survey, which was promoted on the UK mailing list and the Watercooler. It was also mentioned on the international GLAM-related mailing lists, and Twitter. Of those who indicated their affiliation, the vast majority were linked with Wikimedia UK. Questions were broad enough to be applicable to the overall Wikimedian in Residence programme, not just the UK one.

  • Benefits of programme. Various threads were identified: around creating open knowledge, raising awareness of Wikipedia and open knowledge, increasing reputation of Wikipedia, increasing cooperation between institutions.
    • Are residencies effective in achieving their goals? Largely, yes.
  • How could the programme be improved? Several areas were identified: have clearer objectives; better reporting, clearer metrics (which would help to involve the community and increase dissemination); work on sustainability (longer length of the project).
    • Community work - it was commented that the projects have been a good catalyst for community when they worked well, but at the same time the organisers should be careful not to overburden the community.
  • What institutions should host WIR projects? Many respondents were positive about the range of institutions worked with so far. London focus was seen as an issue, while some people recognised the reasons for this bias.
    • Factors to be considered when choosing the host institution were: commitment to delivery of the project; open knowledge enthusiasm and commitment; commitment to sustainability after the residency finishes; relative importance of the institution.
  • What skills should WIR have? Several key areas were mentioned, particularly ability to teach Wikimedia skills, tactfulness, experience of editing Wikimedia projects.
  • The community was asked how they would like the programme to develop. Areas mentioned were, particularly, longer length residencies, focus on fuller reporting, creating residency ‘teams’ rather than having one person responsible for the whole project.

SWOT analysis

Brainstorming meeting to analyse the SWOT elements of the programme was organised on 5 April 2014 (see here). The residents who took part in the first survey were present to discuss the programme in person.

Key questions considered were:

  • What is the SWOT of the Wikimedian in Residence programme?
  • What are the recommendations to amplify the strong parts of the programme and tackle the weak ones?
  • Summary of survey results, including host organisation challenges - how Wikimedia UK can we help with these?
  • What learning can we share?
Strengths - What advantages does this programme have? What does the residency programme do better than other activities? What unique resources can we draw on while being residents?

  • Backed by a strong brand - Wikipedia
  • Good record of successful projects (although something that works in one residency may not work for others)
  • Resident can utilise the reputation / prestige / profile of the host institution to generate event attendees and leverage projects with other organisations
  • Strategic. Can be linked to the open agenda
  • Host institutions use it as driving force of change towards open knowledge. Residency has a push factor for evaluating host institution’s open commitment
    • Can have high impact on the institution
  • Flexible. Resident can release content or work on groundwork - open policy, creating a system for opening in the future
  • The community involvement, trainers support
  • Generates toolkits, materials
  • Wikimedia UK’s support
  • Has a system of reporting, contracts
Weaknesses - How could you improve in the residency? (internal factors)

Host institution-specific
  • Staff are too busy to engage
  • Staff are against the project (e.g. image releases) or support is mixed. Enthusiasts are not always the decision makers. Lack of understanding of the project aims (especially if it wasn’t introduced well). It can be difficult for Wikimedia UK to know the institution’s attitudes before the project starts
  • Technical competencies of staff are very varied
  • Institution can misunderstand the aims of the project initially and expectations are not fulfilled. Institution isn’t clear on what it wants the project to deliver once it starts
  • Wikimedia policies (e.g. conflict of interest) can be hard to understand
  • It is difficult to engage staff in editing Wikipedia
  • Involving institution’s volunteer group can be seen as driving them away from their original tasks
  • Wikimedia metrics are not included in the institution’s metrics (e.g. they only consider page views of their own website, and does not include Wikimedia Commons)
  • Changes take a long time
Tools and metrics
  • Wikimedia GLAM tools are not reliable nor are they documented well. Seen as the biggest ‘top down’ problem of the programme
  • Policy change and culture change is hard to measure. Targets for each residency should be set individually
Wikimedia UK
  • Limited capacity to support projects once they start
  • We have less leverage than the partner organisation – we are usually the junior partner
  • Wikimedia outreach materials are hard to find and out of date. Residents create materials, but they are not shared well
  • A small intersection of people from the community are interested in a Residency project, especially in attending the in person events ( editor + interest + able to attend an event). Community can support a limited amount of projects
  • Engaging community/communities – the biggest bottom up challenge
  • Small pool of potential residents
  • Projects too short
  • Project is very dependent on the individual resident
  • When working with multiple institutions but physically based only at one, the other organisations may get less attention and thus less benefit
  • Flickr can be a better solution for some GLAMs than Wikimedia Commons
  • Legacy difficult to attain
Opportunities - What good opportunities can you spot? What interesting trends are you aware of? (technology, policy, social, cultural)

Host institutions
  • Sector is keen on opportunities - open agenda is important. Focusing on open policy could be a fruitful area of work
  • Cultural institutions use web in an increasingly forward thinking way – Wikipedia can be employed in these strategic objectives
  • Because of lack of clear idea for the project in the host institution, residents can shape their work
  • Community offers a potential
  • Access to experts in the host institutions, their volunteering community
  • Resident can help grow local community
  • Wikimedia UK could develop resources used more widely by the movement
Threats - What obstacles do you face? What are your ‘competitors’ doing? (external factors)

Host institutions
  • Financial cuts
  • Restructuring within the organisation interferes with the residency
  • Rate of change is very slow
  • Interaction between GLAM professionals or newcomers and community can be tense and may need to be moderated by the resident
  • Support for a given project is very contextual and needs to be manoeuvred by the resident.
  • We need to be careful not to oversaturate it
  • Cannot be directed - projects can’t be entirely reliant on support

In depth discussion

As a part of the SWOT analysis workshop, we went beyond these points and worked on recommending solutions to the issues flagged up above. These have been grouped in sections around Host institutions, Wikimedia UK and the resident, depending on who they relate to most.

Host institution
Digitisation project at the British Library
  • Prepare infrastructure beforehand (technology for the resident and events; staff support). Hot desking should not be expected (but it could also be beneficial)
    • Think about what department the resident will be based in. Digital team may work well but is often separated from other departments
  • Think about how the resident will be handled once they start. Structured induction is important, but ongoing contact with staff and inclusion into the organisation is vital
  • Make key department heads aware of the project’s strategic opportunities
  • Both the line manager and senior staff need to act as ambassadors for the project. Directorate support is key, especially in case of hostility to the project
  • Be open to flexible work patterns for the resident
Wikimedia UK/host institution
  • Make sure host organisation knows what to expect - initial excitement can be unhelpful if not managed well
    • Create a document outlining what an institution should/shouldn’t expect from a WIR. Include past examples
    • Institution needs to see the value of getting involved in an openness project, rather than choosing to be involved for a particular benefit
    • It needs to be clear about whether the goals are focused on engaging institution’s staff or public, generating content for Wikimedia projects, changing the internal culture of the institution in favour of free content, etc. This can help with getting the right people with the right expectation
    • These goals needs to be clearly articulated in language that senior managers and other relevant staff can understand, ditto job description of WIRs. Make it clear we cannot guarantee community engagement
    • Be strict in asserting the expectations in the job description [4]
    • Be clearer on metrics and objectives. Not expecting editor recruitment may be an area to consider
  • When the residencies are set up, use a checklist to ensure the infrastructure is in place
Resident/host institution
  • Organise regular curatorial meetings to identify who can support your project
  • Project focus. Be flexible and don't get tied in to one project idea. Have exit strategies for unsuccessful projects. Exclusive project focus can be harmful – it can make it easier to sell the project and give early success, but you may become an assistant to that particular project
  • Don’t assume community engagement
  • Engage with the host organisation once you are appointed, ideally even before the project starts (e.g. put events in the calendar)
  • Building on wider community can be helpful (e.g. wider open knowledge community). Having a persistent presence within a community can help it grow
  • Have specific groups to pitch events to – it will increase attendance
  • Be cautious against planning to do too many kinds of work
Resident/Wikimedia UK
  • Resident’s role consists of 1) facilitating content creation 2) internal consultation for policy change, ambassadorial awareness raising 3) working with the community for its benefit. This can be seen as three different jobs, and the remit can be confusing for a new starter. Wikimedia UK should be clearer on articulating these different expectations
  • Be flexible about projects to be delivered
  • Consider creating a portal for the residents. Include toolkits and past materials
  • Ask the host institution for a public statement about the residency to be used in publicity
Wikimedia UK
  • Consider choosing institutions where the resident is not fixed to sit within a very specific project. This allows for work across various departments
  • Run fewer residencies but longer – at least six months (the first two months is for the resident to find their feet)
  • Organisational structure of the host institution can be hard to understand before starting on the project. Assess if the person advocating for the project is the best to run it. Assess the place of the department within the organisation
  • Residents need confidence in running Wikipedia events. Offer support
  • Note that ‘outpost’ residencies, geographically separated from other hubs of activities, bring up risks. Building community takes longer and it is harder to deliver on the objectives
  • Run exit interviews for the residents and host institutions to assess the project and extract learning points

Economics of the programme

Ally Crockford, the resident at the National Library of Scotland has been co-funded by Wikimedia UK

In 2012-13 activity year, we have budgeted £15,000 for the Wikimedian in Residence activities. This budget remained largely unspent, partly due to the big British Library project being fully externally funded, perhaps partly due to some potential partnerships not being developed. There was no dedicated staff to oversee the programme. The budget was allocated to support other activities within Wikimedia UK's programme.

The lack of spend in the budget lead to increased effort to manage the programme and budget of this area, a first step of which was the November 2012 recruitment drive as described in the background section of this review, managed by the Wikimedia UK Events Organiser with support from a volunteer working group. Seeing the potential of many organisations getting in touch with Wikimedia UK and being interested in cooperating with us, in 2013-14 we had a new budget of £30,000. This was fully allocated to the projects delivered, by and large to the residencies discussed in this report.

An average grant from Wikimedia UK was £5,000 which allows for a pilot project of a length of several months. Due to the budget flexibility of Wikimedia UK which is often larger than the host institution’s, this seed funding was often essential to start the project.

The residencies can attract co-funding from the host institutions, particularly for project extensions (once the institution had time to organise internal funding). This is usually explored and encouraged by Wikimedia UK if the project is seen to be delivering strongly and there is a potential for a larger future impact during a review meeting.

The WIR projects consistently attract outside funding; approximately 70% of the projects are funded or co-funded by the host institution. Two of the projects delivered in the UK so far were fully funded by an external grant secured by joint bids from Wikimedia UK and the host institutions.


British Library
  • AHRC - £30k for salary in two tranches; £3k allocated for AHRC workshops
  • BL - £3k allocated for events and promotion; £4.7k for overheads
  • Event allocation was not fully spent.
Natural History Museum and Science Museum
  • NHM - £2.5k for salary + in-kind overheads
  • WMUK - £17k for salary in two tranches, est. £500 for events
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
  • TWAM - in-kind overheads
  • WMUK - £2.5k for salary
  • Jisc - £15k for salary + in-kind overheads
  • WMUK - £15k for salary; £500 event support (was a separate budget head)
National Library of Scotland
  • NLS - £9.5k for salary + in-kind overheads
  • WMUK - £9k for salary (from a separate Scotland outreach budget)
  • Costs are ongoing due to extensions, the residency is current
The Royal Society
  • RS - £3k in-kind overheads and estimated event costs
  • WMUK - £3.3k for salary
York Museums Trust
  • YMT - in-kind overheads
  • WMUK - £5.5k for salary

Project delivery - overview of the residencies

British Library

Image from the Picturing Canada collection - Commons:British Library/Picturing Canada

Full time May 2012-May 2013. [5]

  • Media coverage summarised here. Additionally, two articles oriented towards librarians were commissioned and published during the programme:
    • Wikipedia in the Library. Refer 29 (2) Summer 2013. [co-authored with Max Klein, OCLC]
    • Wikipedia and Information Literacy: a springboard for research. The School Librarian 61 (1) Spring 2013.
  • Toolkits and resources. A series of guidance documents for academics and researchers interested in working with Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects were produced, notably this resource.
  • Content improvement. The content-oriented program within the library aimed to use Wikimedia projects to distribute material from existing digitisation programs more widely. This was carried out alongside the development and release of the Library’s existing Access and Reuse Policy, which was seeking to support the release of material by curators. Over five thousand images from the British Library’s collections were made available with full metadata and cleared licensing through Wikimedia Commons. The residency skillfully built on policy change within the host institution.
    • The residency gave an opportunity to repurpose material which had been digitised but never publicly released, or to use information produced by the Library’s projects to enrich Wikipedia. Projects worked on included the Library’s Nineteenth Century Books Collection, Picturing Canada (several thousand culturally important photographs) and the International Dunhuang Project, amongst others. Thanks to the resident being based in house and being able to interact with various staff, it was possible to discover these projects and use them to contribute to open knowledge.
    • By the end of the residency, around 3,000 Wikipedia pages used images related to the British Library in some way, 750 of which used images known to be sourced from its collections and provided with full metadata and catalogue links.
  • Training and advocacy. 62 Wikimedia awareness and editing training delivered for 15 different high profile institutions within the ‘Skills training programme’ of the residency. Around 400 people attended the practical sessions - mostly targeted were researchers (because of the link with AHRC, the funder) and librarians, two key audiences for Wikimedia projects. This list gives an idea of the range of events. Model for a training session on “Wikipedia as information literacy” was developed that could be used within the Wikimedia UK's Expert Outreach work.[6] In fact, much of the resident’s advocacy fell into the Expert Outreach work, an area that is often supported by the Wikimedian in Residence projects, but otherwise not strongly delivered within Wikimedia UK.
  • Outreach and events. The residency supported the three-day “GLAM-Wiki” conference in April 2013, hosted by the British Library for 120 attendees from the cultural sector. This was the highest profile event of Wikimedia UK’s in 2013 and would not be possible without the residency being based there. Many other Wikimedia UK outreach events were supported by the resident over the year.

Natural History Museum and Science Museum

John Cummings, the Resident at the Natural History Museum

Joint residency April 2013 - January 2014, 4 months full time and 4 months part time (0.5FTE). See the full case study report here.

  • Toolkits and resources. The resident created a series of improved process documents (e.g. [1] or [2]). However, some of these (like a report on open licensing for the Natural History Museum and Science Museum) have not been finished and shared with the community. This was at least partly due to lack of feedback received on the content, and support in producing the documents.
  • External partnerships. The resident focused on working with external organisations on open knowledge initiatives, many of which lead to further cooperation with Wikimedia UK. Among partner organisations were London Zoo, Office for National Statistics (presentations to high level staff, resulting in valuable infographics donation and an indication of further cooperation), Imperial College (possible Wikipedia classroom assignment project in the future), British Computing Society, Medical Research Council, Collections Trust, United Nations, Royal Society of Chemistry (triggering a WIR project), Royal Society, Department for Culture Media and Sport, Cabinet Office, Wellcome Collection and Royal Veterinary College.
  • Content improvement.
    • A trial release of Natural History Museum archive content under a Wikimedia compatible open license which was then added to Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource.
    • The Science Museum has started to open its collection with 50 images of significant objects which around 20,000 people are viewing on Wikipedia each day.
    • 400 photos from the National Media Museum (part of the Science Museum Group) were released to Wikimedia Commons (see here).
    • As part of GLAM-Wiki Conference 2013, a guided photography visit to Blythe House small object store produced 130 images.
    • Three videos from Science Museum’s Pain Exhibition were released under an open license (e.g. No Pain). The resident worked with WikiProject Medicine to find uses for them on Wikipedia.
  • Training and advocacy. 508 people attended presentations delivered by the resident (educating audiences about possibilities of open licensing, some focusing on key NHM and SM staff - included a briefing on impact of open licensing for key teams, and senior staff), 202 were trained to edit. The resident ran many editathons during his project, including supporting the ones originating from Wikimedia UK. However, managing this logistical support required time commitment from the chapter.
    • Advocacy work on changing the attitudes and licensing of content towards openness cannot be understated. Much of the project’s time was spent on producing documentation, pilot evidence, and delivering talks (e.g. [3]) advocating open knowledge.
    • This work resulted in The Natural History Museum, who will digitise 20 million of its specimens in the next 5 years, choosing to make these available under an open license - [4].
  • Technical innovation. The creation of a prototype 'multilingual virtual museum' using QRpedia in a new way [5] - by web links that connect people to Wikipedia articles in their language.
  • Supporting other chapters - the resident worked with WIRs in the US, some of whom don’t have the same level of support as the UK residencies. Wikimedia UK's structures and solutions are worth sharing, but it requires time to do so.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Wikimedian in Residence

April-June 2013, part time (0.4 FTE).

  • Content improvement. Work on articles, and image releases was supported during the residency. File list is here, and article information is here. The exact metrics of content creation were not tracked. Staff capacity was spent on managing the article content creation.
  • External partnerships. Leveraging the resident’s position, it was possible to work with outside cultural agencies that had links with TWAM, such as Great North Museum Hancock (Newcastle University and Natural History Society of Northumbria), Circus Central ([]) and North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers.
  • Training and advocacy. Wikipedia editing training for staff was linked to the internal ‘Learning at Work’ programme, increasing the reach of it. 27 accounts from TWAM were created. A Knowledge Transfer event was run at the end of the residency to summarise the project. This type of an event, tried at TWAM, should be run with every residency - so far it has not always been a part of every residency.

Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador

Slides from - Research impact and open education 2013 Oxford

July 2013 to April 2014, part time at about 0.6FTE.[7]

Differently focused than the typical Wikimedian in Residence post, it offered a unique opportunity to work closer together with the higher education sector in the UK. It explored three kinds of opportunities: using Wikipedia in education, promoting content collections, and expanding the impact of research. Much of the work covered the chapter’s Expert Outreach work. The cooperation with Jisc began with a World War I editathon in 2011, since then the idea for an Ambassador has been worked on. It required persistence during staff changes at the host organisation, and time commitment to be set up two years later.

The Ambassador independently produced a detailed list of objectives,[8] plans and stakeholders analysis. With more capacity this impressive resource could have been better mapped to the Wikimedia UK’s strategy, and the Education Outreach plan. This would have resulted in the programmes working more closely together - it was felt during the project that more synergy would be beneficial.

  • Media coverage. Over the course of the project significant mainstream media attention was attracted, see here for a highlights list. A lot of blogging and social media activity was produced, raising awareness of the project and the role of Wikimedia in open education.
  • Toolkits and resources.
    • A main output of the project, an infoKit “Crowdsourcing: the wiki way of working” is a detailed guide through the theory and practice of a topic, tailored to the academic and cultural sectors. It shows how professionals and volunteers can work together to create or improve scholarly and educational materials.
    • The "Ten ways educators can use Wikipedia" listicle was a very popular item in Jisc's online magazine.
    • Case studies. The key case studies produced with academics address getting students to improve Wikipedia articles for course credit, publishing scholarly papers on Wikipedia, and using Wikipedia’s policies in the classroom to promote digital literacy. The article for librarians and information professionals about educational assignments on Wikipedia passed 300 mentions on Twitter and prompted a Reddit discussion among teachers and students about the proper use of Wikipedia and other sources.
    • The collaboration flowchart produced shows clearly how Wikimedia sites can benefit projects in scholarly and educational sectors.
    • ‘Spotlight on Digital’ was a project hosted by Jisc, where Wikimedia UK were a recommended partner organisation. The guide covers a wide range of approaches to making digital resources easier to discover, making national recommendations to maximise impact of scholarly writing. Each approach is linked back to research on how users search and discover digital resources, and Wikimedia projects feature prominently thanks to involvement of the Ambassador.
    • With the bulk of the high quality resources produced, there is a risk that they will not be used sufficiently by other Wikimedians, or generally by the chapter, if no time is put to collecting and circulating the materials.
  • External partnerships. Leveraging the unique position of Jisc in the education sector, and the Ambassador’s existing networks, many links with key institutions were created - for an illustration please see the list of the Ambassador’s meetings, or events requested resulting from the residency. During the project, the Ambassador advised many organisations about sharing content via Commons (e.g. British Geological Survey), spreading the advocacy work.
    • Coleg Cymraeg Wikimedian in Residence was made possible partly due to advice and negotiations provided by the Jisc Ambassador.
    • Open Scotland consortium announced a draft Scottish Open Education declaration in 2014, which plans stronger engagement with Wikimedia UK. The Ambassador was credited as an influence on this declaration.
  • Training and advocacy. Much of the advocacy was done via the media and case studies work. Additionally, a series of workshops for universities about research impact and open education was delivered, together with Jisc webinars on sharing resources.
  • Outreach and events.
    • Three editathons, focusing on using scholarly resources to improve Wikipedia (veterinary science, medical humanities - hosted by the Wellcome Library, Women in Science) were organised and delivered.
    • The Ambassador supported chairing EduWiki 2013 conference. As a result of his presence there, further links with the institutions present were created.
  • Supporting other chapters - the Ambassador worked with Mauritus van der Graaf on a report for Dutch Libraries.

National Library of Scotland

Forth Bridge, image uploaded as a part of the Resident's work

First ever residency in Scotland, part time at 0.5FTE, started in July 2013 and was extended on a regular basis thanks to strong delivery. This project, geographically removed from other areas of chapter activity, and with a resident not coming from a core Wikimedia community, required more support in the beginning stages. Even further support would enable better links with other residents around ideas and resources exchange.

  • Media coverage. As an innovative project in Scotland, it attracted significant attention - highlights can be seen here (includes a feature in the NLS public magazine). It produced interest from the Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland (Introducing Scotland' First Wikimedian in Residence), which then lead to more collaboration.
  • Toolkits and resources. Early on, guides for the Library were produced to help explain ways of engagement with Wikimedia projects (see here).
    • GLAMWiki information booklets designed for the NLS have been made publicly editable and available [6], as a much needed attempt to pull various resources together. As other work has taken priority, this has only been partly delivered, and would have benefited from more support.
  • Content improvement. Work aiming to change NLS’ policy on releasing digitised content started with month 1 in July 2013. Thanks to persistence and continual presence, June 2014 saw the first pilot releases.
  • External partnerships. The project attracted much interest from external organisations, particularly libraries considering releasing content. Resident became a true spokesperson for open knowledge, and was e.g. invited to speak at CERN and Swiss National Library in Bern, and has been speaking about the residency to many interested organisations (e.g. Special Libraries Association Europe).
  • Training and advocacy. An ongoing programme of training events for various departments was being delivered (e.g. Digital Access team). Teaching was incorporated into the organisation, e.g. Wikipedia & open access training was given during all staff annual ‘Learning at Work’ event.

    It took many months of the resident’s work to make changes to the NLS’ policy on digital materials.

  • Outreach and events. To have a sense of the vast range and amount of events managed by the resident, see here. All new accounts set up during training events were listed in the monthly reports (see this one for example).
    • The resident provided invaluable organisational support of EduWiki 2014 conference in Edinburgh.
  • Scottish community building. Much beyond the call of the project, the resident was involved in attracting volunteers to Wikimedia UK in Scotland via supporting regular meetups (previously only occasional), working with Open Knowledge Foundation in Scotland, organising joint events, creating a mailing list. Link with a much valued Glasgow volunteer was created.

The Royal Society

Editathon at the Royal Society

January-July 2014, part time at 0.2FTE. A pilot project aimed to explore how the Society could work with Wikimedia, as such it was not focused on producing tangible outputs. Much awaited is the final report and case study, which will form a basis of how the cooperation with the Society could be brought forward in the future. Summarised here is the period of the first three months as those are the only reports available.

  • Media coverage. Significant interest was attracted by the high profile events run by the resident, see for example here. The Royal Society events gave Wikimedia UK a lot of awareness in the sector, especially with learned societies (Expert Outreach) and organisations working with Women in Science projects.
  • Content improvements - article improvements delivered via events.
  • Training and advocacy. Much of what the resident was doing was focusing on delivering training to staff (see here for new editors trained). Training also targeted Research Fellows of the Society, a group that Wikimedia UK would be keen to work with around its Expert Outreach programme.

York Museums Trust

October 2013-April 2014. part time at 0.4FTE.

  • Content improvement. Several of the Trust’s collections were targeted after consultation with the curators - Tempest Anderson, W.A. Ismay Studio Ceramic collection, Middleham Hoard - also leading to an article on Sydney Harold Smith photography collection. Over 400 high-quality images were delivered to Commons, many have contributed to the quality of Wikimedia projects (e.g. see [7] - images were used to enrich the biographies of the potters). Some of the collections were previously hardly used by the museum, so the uploads lead to them being known more widely. The programme originally aimed at a more extensive upload programme, however, the resident had to adapt to technical delays and obstacles.
  • External partnerships. Committed to the idea of engaging with many cultural organisations in the region, YMT was exploring the possibility of scoping the project out and reaching more than just the institutions in the Trust. This resulted in an idea of a Yorkshire-wide Wikimedia ambassador linked to the Museum Development Yorkshire, a project YMT have shaped and planned to run in second half of 2014 and beyond.
  • Training and advocacy. All key curators at YMT were trained to edit Wikipedia. The resident also delivered a range of external talks reaching c. 80 people, including one to the Museum Development Yorkshire.
  • Outreach and events. The resident delivered three training sessions for staff and volunteers (including a link with the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, which could be explored further), and a high profile public editathon - substantial content improvements to a range of articles that was done can be seen here, three new articles were created and c. 20 were improved.

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Not included in this review, but worth a mention, is a residency in Wales (started in March 2014) which focuses on media release and content creation, a valuable area in the context of Welsh Wikipedia. See a report covering May 2014 here. An outpost residency, it would benefit from connecting up to other residents in the UK.

Project delivery - summary of impact

Please see Wikimedia UK’s strategic goals for background information.

G1 Develop open knowledge

  • G1.1 The quantity of open knowledge continues to increase
  • G1.2 The quality of open knowledge continues to improve
  • G1.3 We are perceived as the go-to organisation by UK GLAM, educational, and other organisations who need support or advice for the development of open knowledge
  • Managing image uploads has been a strong area of activity for most of the residents. Many of the image donations came from institutions where a WIR project was based.
  • Many key and unusual collections of the host institutions’ were being uploaded, with such valuable material the content was often used on other Wikimedia projects. The residents have the time available to ensure the content is being used in a way that benefits the projects.
  • Working with external organisations is very commonly a focus of the residencies. Building on their position within a valued institution, they are able to collaborate with external organisations and advocate the benefits of open knowledge in a way that scales the chapter’s reach. It is commonly beyond what the chapter could achieve on its own. Often a successful residency would enable setting up another WIR project.

G2 As a volunteer-led organisation, ensuring effective use of the resources available to us

G2a Develop, involve and engage Wikimedia UK volunteers

  • G2a.1 We have a thriving community of Wikimedia UK volunteers.
  • G2a.2 Wikimedia UK volunteers are highly diverse.
  • G2a.3 Wikimedia UK volunteers are skilled and capable.
  • Editathons and training events provide opportunities for others to volunteer.
  • Many of editing training and editathons delivered by the residents focused on gender gap.
  • Editathons and training events provide opportunities for the volunteering community to contribute in the skills area.

G2b Use effective and high quality governance and resource management processes

  • G2b.4 We ensure a stable, sustainable and diverse funding stream
  • The WIR projects consistently attract external funding; approximately 70% of the projects are funded or co-funded by the host institution. Two of the projects were fully funded by an external grant secured by joint bids from Wikimedia UK and the host institutions.

G3 Reduce barriers to accessing open knowledge

  • G3.1 Access to Wikimedia projects is increasingly available to all, irrespective of personal characteristics, background or situation.
  • G3.2 There is increased awareness of the benefits of open knowledge.
  • G3.3 Legislative and institutional changes favour the release of open knowledge.
  • One of the resident was a keen supporter of QRpedia. If this is deemed to be a priority project to explore, with support given to the residents, more QRpedia projects could potentially be started. The resident is in the right position to support the implementation of such project in the host institution.
  • With the amount of media interest that the projects and their activities attract, this area cannot be underestimated. Residents often deliver talks at internal meetings and external conferences further raising awareness. They also produce toolkits and materials that can be used in advocacy for open knowledge, and how to engage with it.
  • This is an important area of residents’ work, and one that really strengthens what Wikimedia UK should be doing. Thanks to the projects often lasting a reasonably long time, the residents can work on advocating policy changes within the host institutions that bring them closer to open knowledge.

G5 Develop, support, and engage with other Wikimedia and open knowledge communities

  • G5.1 A thriving set of other Wikimedia communities
  • G5.4 Open knowledge communities with missions similar to our own are thriving.
  • As noted above, some residents have been independently supporting residents or activities in other countries.
  • Some residents have worked to strengthen their activities by joining up with other open knowledge organisations, such as the Open Knowledge Foundation in Scotland.

Potential impact

Spreading the awareness of the project

The residents’ work cuts across the key goals of the chapter and the potential, including interest from high profile organisations, is strong. As identified through the SWOT analysis, the project has a support of a strong brand. It also responds well to the current openness agenda and so can be a catalyst for change at the host institutions.

However, the opportunities that they create are continually missed due to insufficient support provided by Wikimedia UK. The points below outline issues identified in the context of what could potentially be delivered:

  • As Wikimedia UK’s expertise grows, the residency programme is perceived as important in the global movement, and Wikimedia UK could contribute a lot to support others and share its experience (G5.1, G5.3). Doing this actively and in a clear manner requires time.
  • As mentioned, the residents create many links with external organisations (G1.3), but as such they are often not handed over to the chapter and the activity decreases when the residency ends.
  • Most of the residents produce resources and toolkits, many of which need additional support to be finalised and actually used. The resources that are done are not circulated and put together into an useful portal.
  • Residences often work in areas that could compliment other activities of the chapter. However, without an effort being made to connect these, often the activities remain disjointed and do not benefit from mutual support.
Management/set up
  • Setting up the residencies is an extremely time consuming process, crucial in managing the expectations and sharing the right objectives - this has been mentioned repeatedly in this report. Drawing up project contracts has been seen as innovative and useful in the movement, but requires effort spend in negotiations. Putting time into this process would result in better shaped residencies and clearer focus for the residencies.
  • Many projects have sufficient potential to be considered for an extension. Setting this up well and working with the host institution to find the funding is time consuming as has not always taken place.
  • External funding has been a strong area for this programme (G2b.4). External grants bring in an additional stakeholder; however, and the negotiations require time.
  • Some host institutions were never physically visited by Wikimedia UK during the projects, which reduced the opportunity to support finding solutions for key obstacles.
  • Outpost residencies in particular tend to suffer from limited direct support from Wikimedia UK; more effort is needed to link them to other WIRs and potential support communities.
  • Not all residents are able to supply the reports as needed by Wikimedia UK without support. This means that some metrics are not being captured regularly, and the impact of the program - cutting through most of the charity’s goals - is not fully recorded.
  • Comparing to other chapters, Wikimedia UK is strongly involved in the HR process of setting up the residencies, contributing to all stages of recruitment. This is valuable and very time consuming.
  • An essential stage in the WIR recruitment is promoting the opportunity to the right Wikimedia communities. Time required to do this cannot be underestimated as the roles are often very specialised and the potential group of candidates is limited. On one occasion, when no one from Wikimedia UK promoted a WIR opportunity, almost no applications were received. This shows the ‘one person sensitivity’ of the programme, which is a clear weakness of it.
  • After initial bout of interest from potential host institutions in 2012-13 recruitment drive, it has become harder to recruit further host institutions. This is not dissimilar to other chapters, but nonetheless means that more time is required to find opportunities for the residencies and work with potential hosts to encourage them to cooperate with the chapter.

Lack of time capacity is a reason why many of these elements have not been delivered, thus missing the opportunities for larger impact.

Key findings - recommendations

Overall we believe that the Wikimedian in Residence programme has been one of Wikimedia UK’s strong areas of activity, and one that is able to increase the scale of Wikimedia UK’s involvement significantly. The programme had many successes and it is our opinion that it should continue with the following recommendations, which take on board comments from the community, the residents and host institutions.

Duration of residencies

Residencies should be six months long at minimum for small institutions and 9-12 months minimum for larger organisations with an ambition of changing the institution’s culture. This could be done part time, especially if that allows for a longer project.

  • Shorter residencies do not give sufficient time to achieve the set goals, although may work for smaller institutions or very focused projects.
  • Content generation projects at institutions with a mature attitude to open knowledge can be successful on a shorter timescale.
  • Shorter residencies are not economically attractive for many potential residents.

Supporting residents and the programme

In the light of the gaps in support for the programme outlined throughout the report, and lack of capacity to support the identified opportunities for growth and impact, Wikimedia UK should appoint a Wikimedian in Residence Coordinator, with the following suggested responsibilities:

  • Develop future partnerships, identify resources to support future partnerships.
  • Give capacity to the setup of the residencies, working on managing expectations, setting effective objectives and solving potential issues with the projects.
  • Coordinate the application process, managing the tension between it being unspecified and flexible.
  • Strengthen the event support and induction meetings.
  • Coordinate between current residents and between current host institutions to facilitate knowledge sharing, e.g. via networking meetings.
  • Facilitate best practice exchange, e.g. via a forum/portal.
  • Offer in person support via meetings.
    • Initial set up meetings, review meetings, extension discussions, exit interviews.
  • Monitor the progress and delivery of the residencies, assist in resolving the obstacles to delivery.
  • Offer training e.g. with delivering Wikipedia editing workshops.
  • Work on supporting the GLAM metrics tools.

Sharing of information and best practice

With added capacity of the Coordinator, set up a forum for sharing of advice, information and best practice between institutions and between residents (current and former residents and host institutions and other relevant parties).

  • This should be a discussion forum with ease of communication .
  • It should allow for sharing of documents - especially toolkits and past materials.
  • It should include guidance for prospective hosts about what an institution should/shouldn’t expect from a WIR.
  • Create a checklist for the host institution at the start of the project to allow them to prepare the infrastructure, induction, and regular meetings with key staff.
  • As an alternative, or additional task, WIR related outreach portal and materials need to be improved.
  • WIR coordinator should arrange periodic meetings between residents and host institution managers to discuss successes, strategies, challenges. Attendees could also include prospective hosts or residents.

Project goals

Consider reevaluating goals of the project, potentially creating individual sets for each residency.

  • Clearer objectives and metrics will mean better reporting, which will help with community engagement and project dissemination.
  • Retain flexibility.

Project format

Consider alternative residency formats to increase the potential resident pool. This could take form of one person covering multiple institutions concurrently, or creating a team of 2-3 residents with various skillsets.

  • ‘Multiple host’ model trialled so far has proven to be much more resource intensive and would require more support from Wikimedia UK to be delivered well.
  • It does, however, allow the institutions to share facilities and learning points. Combining residencies will also potentially increase the field of potential residents, especially as the work approaches full time equivalency.
  • Residency ‘teams’ approach would be a new solution that requires support from the Coordinator to be trialled successfully. The skill set required of a single resident can be too broad for projects with diverse goals.
    • Another approach would be to treat, and work with, the host institution group as the team.

Resident skills

Ensure the skills identified in the review are reinforced in the job description.

  • Training and communication skills.
  • Teaching Wikipedia skills and experience of editing Wikimedia projects.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Being tactful.
  • If goals are tailored, the resident skills would not have to be so broad (e.g. training less important if primary goal is to change licensing policy).


International group of Wikipedians in Residence
  1. The summary of the project is also depicted on this poster.
  2. As a part of the agreement signed between Wikimedia UK and the host institution, an overall list of objectives is provided. This, for most of the residencies analysed here, was a standard list including: 1) Functional relationship established between Wikimedia UK and the Institution; plans for sustainability once the project finishes. 2) Engagement with the Wikipedia community at large. 3) Increased the number of contributors to Wikimedia projects. 4) Facilitating content improvement of Wikimedia projects (uploads, events). 5) Case study produced. It is now being considered whether this should be more tailored to each project, and linked to Wikimedia UK’s strategic objectives. The tension here is creating firm objectives at the start of the project, and allowing for flexibility (seen as useful by the residents in particular, but some host institutions as well).
  3. Being open to innovative ideas and formats vs giving clear direction to potential hosts is one of the tensions of the programme.
  4. There is a tension between expecting the potential resident to be well versed with the Wikimedia community, policies and tools, and assuming that these skills can be gained later.
  5. The Wikipedian in Residence program was a full time year-long project (May 2012-May 2013) run at British Library to develop ways of working with online volunteer communities through an in-house liaison, supported and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project focused on two main aspects: firstly, skills training within the Library and the broader academic community, to build experience and confidence in engaging with these communities; and secondly, working to help make some of the Library’s existing digital collections more visible to new audiences. The start of cooperation between Wikimedia UK and British Library was marked in January 2011 with a two day editathon.
  6. Wikimedia UK is working with scientists, scholars, learned societies and funders to help experts improve Wikipedia and its sister projects, bringing that expertise to the widest possible public. This work, called Expert Outreach, complements Wikimedia UK's partnerships with galleries, libraries, archives and museums as well as its support for higher education (wmuk:Expert outreach).
  7. Among the many projects supported by Jisc are collections of digital content; research in areas such as Digital Humanities and Virtual Research Environments; and the UK Open Educational Resources programme. Jisc promotes open access to research as part of the UK Open Access Implementation Group and its work with institutional repositories. Jisc also influences practice in Higher and Further Education through its work in innovation and change management. See the blog post for more about the collaboration project's rationale.
  8. That could be summarised as “To demonstrate how publicly-funded research and education projects can benefit from crowdsourcing, using Wikimedia as a platform and a model. To capture this knowledge in a way that permanently changes how Jisc and the wider sector works with Wikimedia.”