Friends' Newsletter/2014/Issue 04

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Wikimedia UK Friends' Newsletter

Annual General Meeting

Chris Keating speaking during WikiConference UK 2013

Wikimedia UK's 2014 Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 9 August starting at 4pm, and will take place at the Barbican Centre in London, during Wikimania 2014. Members of the charity who wish to attend the AGM will be able to do so even if they do not have a ticket for Wikimania. Apart from dealing with the formal business of the charity, the AGM is a great opportunity to meet other members, to hear about the work we are doing and to discuss our progress to date. The past year has seen some incredible work done by our volunteers, with the global Wikimedia conference - Wikimania - coming to the UK for the first time!

If you would like to vote in the AGM but are not currently a member there is still time! You can join Wikimedia UK for an annual fee of £5 by simply filling out our online form. However, don't delay, as the deadline for applications that will be eligible to vote is 20th July - that's in just four days time! This cut off date is so that voting members can receive a verificatory ballot paper through the post prior to voting online or in person at the AGM. You may still join as a member after this date and vote in future AGMs and EGMs.

Don't forget! If you're not sure we have your most recent postal address you can update it here - just make sure you use the same email at which you received this newsletter so it is matched with your record.

A number of resolutions will be discussed and voted on at the AGM, including a Special Resolution to simplify part of our constitution, and another which would fix an upper time limit for continuous trustee service. Three positions on the Board of Trustees will be voted on at this general meeting. Board members legally act as the chapter's Directors and Trustees. The eligibility criteria and duties are set out here - please check that you are eligible and accept these duties before putting yourself forward for election. The deadline for nominations to be submitted is this Friday 18 July.

Members will receive their voting packs in the post after the 23rd July. Any questions about this process please contact

A global editathon – teaching Wikipedia to Barclays

Participants and trainers at the Barclays editathon

Doug Taylor tells us about a worldwide editathon he organised

It all started in January when Dave Robertson, who works at Barclays Technology, emailed Jimmy Wales with an idea to get his colleagues at Barclays editing Wikipedia. Not just that, but he wanted to get more women involved in editing – and it would be a global event involving Barclays sites worldwide.

Jimbo was encouraging, even as he was warning of the dangers of editing on topics where a conflict of interest could occur. He introduced Dave to Jon Davies, CEO of Wikimedia UK, who asked me if I'd be interested in helping them out. I have no connection with Barclays and the ideas ticked all the boxes for me: finding new editors; engaging more women; a global reach; and plenty of scope for training.

So a few phone calls later I paid a visit the technology centre at Knutsford to meet Dave, Sarah Firth, Carol Morris, and the rest of the folks who were putting their efforts into the project. I soon grasped that Barclays has a staff development programme that encourages their staff to broaden their perspective, take on new skills and develop abilities like collaboration and research. The concept of global Wikipedia editathon ticked all those boxes for them as well, so we set to work in creating a structure for a large event that would span the globe on Thursday 12 June.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the rapid response to my enquiry to WMF legal for permission to use Wikimedia trademarks for the internal publicity. Kudos to Andrei Voinigescu for giving me a positive reply within 10 hours!

I was keen to get editors registered and it turns out that's a good idea from Barclays side as well. They were concerned with the possibility of somebody anonymously editing from the Barclays site and causing problems on Wikipedia with a consequent bad press for them. Having everyone who would take part register an account gave us some assurance that we could correlate edits with any problems that might occur.

I was also determined to make sure that editors would not go into the day "cold" so I proposed a series of sessions leading up to the editathon where we could spread the message about Wikipedia, teach the basics of editing and try to mitigate the steep learning curve of policies, conventions and conflicts that acts as such a huge barrier to becoming a Wikipedia editor. The first result was a launch day where I gave a presentation to interested staff at Knutsford and a video was made to advertise the event. This was followed by an in-person training session where I took about a dozen staff through a training session on basic editing.

It soon became apparent that the idea had taken off and a lot of interest was growing in Singapore, India, Lithuania and the USA and I wanted to encourage as many sites as possible to become self-sufficient, so finding active Wikimedians locally was sensible. Jon Davies knew a contact in India, Pranav Curumsey, and I put Arun and the Barclays team in India in contact with him. It took a little bit longer for the States, but Asaf Bartov at Wikimedia Foundation suggested the New York City Chapter, and Newyorkbrad put me in contact with Richard Knipfel, who was able to liaise with Miles Dolphin at Barclays in NY.

Barclays uses WebEx for conferencing, and it was suggested I might like to use it to do training sessions for the far-flung new editors. I miss the feedback I would get from face-to-face training, but it seemed an interesting challenge. So sitting at home at 9am I connected via video and audio links to about 60 potential editors from Singapore and India and shared my browser with them. An hour later, I was reasonably confident that I'd managed to get across the main points of basic editing. Later that same day I repeated the exercise for around 40 participants from Lithuania and the east coast of the USA. By the time of the editathon, I'd done eight of those sessions covering 'basic editing', 'more advanced topics', and 'what to write on Wikipedia'.

On the day, the preparation paid off. Harry Mitchell and Dan Haigh joined us for the event at the Barclays Technology Centre Radbooke, near Knutsford, and worked all day giving advice and encouragement to the new editors there. Around the world we had had 460 registrations of interest; around half of them showed up and edited on the day. There were 472 "saves" and 378 articles edited or created across 18 different language Wikipedias from 12 different Barclays sites. The topics edited ranged from ABBA to Zeng Jenlian.

I'd like to express my thanks to everyone who made the day a success. I'm convinced that the format works and that Wikimedia can forge links with commercial entities with the right sort of benefits for each. I'm now looking forward to a follow-up event at Barclays sometime soon.

Free Culture Weekend

Attendees at the Free Culture Weekend

Free culture, free summary

The Wikimania Fringe Free Culture event took place on 7-8 June at the Barbican Centre with 20 people attending from a range of cultural organisations, Wikimedia chapters, open knowledge projects and members of the public.


A series of talks on topics related to open knowledge took place, presented by a wide range of speakers:

Further notes on talks are available on the event Etherpad here.


Sunday was used as a space for discussion of open projects, sharing knowledge and planning future work. The day included a tour of the Conservatory at the Barbican Centre by the events manager. Photos of the event are available here.

Future Wikimania events

There are a number of future Wikimania events, culminating in Wikimania on the 8–10 August at the Barbican Centre.

Tickets for Wikimania are available here, the Open Scholarship Weekend fringe event are free to attend.

  • £60: Three-day ticket to Wikimania and hackathon
  • £50: Three-day ticket to Wikimania
  • £30: One-day ticket to Wikimania

The Future of Education

Future of Education weekend group photo

Past, present, and future of education

The weekend of 21-22 June saw the latest in the series of Wikimania fringe events. This time, the focus was on the future of education – what role do the Wikimedia projects play in the education world?

The two-day event was attended by around 30 people from a variety of backgrounds, including teachers, academics and Wikimedians. The group explored several topics, including the Wikipedia Education Program and visions of the where the group would like the relationship between Wikipedia and education in one year, five years and ten years.

We were fortunate to be joined by Floor Koudijs from the Wikimedia Foundation and by LiAnna Davis and Jami Mathewson from the Wiki Education Foundation who all shared with us some excellent insight into how the Wikipedia Education Program works and its reach.

One thing that was particularly interesting is the potential that the WEP has to address the gender gap on Wikipedia. Current estimates are that around 9-12% of Wikipedia editors are female. However, that percentages soars to 61% (and higher in some cases) when examining the WEP.

Digital literacy was a recurring theme throughout the two days of the event. If some way can be researched and implemented to encourage the development of these skills through the use and editing of Wikimedia projects, there’s the potential to deliver great impact.

The second day of the conference was spent with short presentations on various topics before breaking into groups to plan sessions for a pre-Wikimania education event to take place alongside the Hackathon at the Barbican on 6-7 August. Plans for those sessions were developing well and more information will be available soon.

More more details of the event, you can see the etherpad notes here. For more information about other upcoming fringe events, and the conference itself (including details of how to book your tickets) visit the main Wikimania website.

Opinion: Let's get serious about Wikipedia

Dr Martin Poulter

Dr Martin Poulter, Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador wants to get serious about Wikipedia

If you use Wikipedia to read about shell shock, look at the skeleton of a greater flamingo, or investigate the Enquiry into the Cost of the National Health Service, you benefit from scholarly content shared by academics or institutions.

Over the last year, I've been working with Jisc, the national charity providing expertise on digital technology for education and research, to explore how academia and Wikimedia can work more closely together. From an office in the University of Bristol, I've reached out to lecturers, librarians and other staff across the country, running events and creating guidance documentation. It has also been a chance to explore these experts' perceptions of Wikipedia and its sister sites.

Although the Wikimedia sites aim for universal accessibility, their complexity and patchy documentation can be off-putting for newcomers. Then again, there are extremely helpful resources that just need to be better-known, such as the educator portal and case study booklet, expert outreach portal, or guidance for new users.

I have focused on discussing three kinds of opportunity: using Wikipedia in education, promoting content collections such as image archives, and expanding the impact of research. The case studies I've written with academics address:

Exploring the wiki way of working

The project supported three 'editathon' events, delivering free training in using scholarly resources to improve Wikipedia. These included the first-ever editathons on veterinary science (hosted by WikiVet) and medical humanities (hosted by the Wellcome Library). The Women in Science editathon hosted at Oxford University was one of the most successful ever in terms of content created and improved, including five articles that were linked from the front page of Wikipedia. Since the relative lack of female Wikipedians has been in the news recently, I'm pleased to say that the great majority of contributors at these Jisc-supported events have been female.

One of the main outputs of the project is an infoKit, Crowdsourcing: the wiki way of working. It looks at cultural reasons for Wikipedia's success and shows how professionals and volunteers can work together to create or improve scholarly and educational materials.

Another output is the collaboration flowchart, which shows how Wikimedia sites including Wikidata, Wikisource, and Wikimedia Commons can benefit projects in scholarly and educational sectors. In each case, the flowchart suggests next steps and key links.

Digital literacy and digital enlightenment

We've all heard that academics are hostile to Wikipedia and its 'anyone can edit' ethos, but I've found attitudes right across a spectrum. Peter Murray-Rust, of the University of Cambridge, recently described Wikimedia as "infrastructure for the digital enlightenment": a phrase that also applies to many of Jisc activities. He is one of many who see strong parallels between Wikimedia's open way of working, based on continuous mutual review, and the core values of academia.

This overlap of values is a topic that many people are keen to explore. My 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.

Starting small

Each Wikimedia site is driven by a community with its own policies and values. Working with those communities, we can do more and reach huge audiences. Work against them and there will be frustration and wasted effort. The practitioners I've met are quick to understand this. They appreciate Wikipedia's goal of free knowledge for everyone, and its relevance to their own goals in education or public engagement. They don't want to barge in recklessly, but to learn in small steps. Starting might be as simple as adding a citation or uploading an image. For many of them, their involvement with my project is just the start of a relationship with Wikipedia.

The relationship between Jisc and Wikimedia is also at an early stage. Both are now established parts of the landscape, and both are helping institutions and experts around the UK work in an environment of increasingly free and open access to knowledge and culture. I'm sure that Jisc will continue to be an evolving source of advice about Wikimedia and the contacts and working relationships made in this project will continue for a long time to come.

Opinion: What's Wrong With Wikipedia in Education?

Wikimedia UK's Education Organiser Dr Toni Sant delivering his keynote presentation at the 6th International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference

Hannah Jones, Wikimedia UK volunteer on education

Some readers of this blog may remember me from EduWiki 2013 in Cardiff or the more recent Future of Education Workshop ahead of Wikimania, but most others will probably not know me as a volunteer on other Wikimedia UK activities. I have worked mostly with Dr Toni Sant and Darren Stephens on Wikipedia classroom assignments at the University of Hull's Scarborough Campus. I am also a postgraduate student in education at York College.

From the 16th to the 18th of June 2014 I attended the 6th International Conference on Integrity and Plagiarism at the Sage Gateshead, just across the Tyne River from Newcastle. It was an excellent opportunity to meet other educators and discuss Wikipedia in the context of this conference. It was also an excellent opportunity to catch Dr Sant's keynote address on the second day of this event.

He took the stage in Hall 2's impressive theatre in the round, in front of an audience of about 200 delegates. After an introduction by Turnitin's Senior Vice President Will Murray, Toni started off by introducing the efforts of the Wikimedia movement to support the use of Wikipedia and sister projects in education.

Taking a leaf out of a recent report by Turnitin entitled What's Wrong With Wikipedia?, Toni proceeded to outline the perceived problems with Wikipedia in higher education. On the one hand, students in Higher Education are largely consumers/readers, are unaware of what Wikipedia really is, and use it freely as a source for their (research) papers. On the other hand, academics continue to discourage the use of encyclopedias in general, and while fully aware that students use Wikipedia widely, they are mostly against the use of Wikipedia at University.

Paraphrasing a CC-BY-SA slide from Jake Orlowitz, who gave a similar presentation earlier this year, Toni pointed out that Wikimedia and academia are natural allies. Wikipedia is often the starting point for research, but it can lead students back to sources, so they can critically think about subjects, understanding knowledge production, contributing to Wikipedia, and in the process deepening their learning.

I believe that Wikimedia UK's presence at such conferences, especially when represented by professional experts from within its staff and volunteer members is just the right approach to ensure that Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects find a comfortable home in higher education settings. Our chapter has some very valuable resources to offer the UK higher education sector, and getting the word out to educators who are seeking solutions to the perceived problems in Education that involve Wikipedia is essential. I was simply amazed by the number of people who approached me during the conference saying that they never saw Wikipedia in a positive light as an academic resource before listening to Toni's keynote presentation.

Wikipedia Summit "Wikimania" comes to London – Largest ever gathering

Wikimania 2014 logo

Don't miss the annual international Wikimedia conference

- *Featured speakers include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and new Wikimedia Foundation Chief Executive Lila Tretikov; Thousands of Wikimedia volunteers; Leaders in Technology, Culture and Society. From August 8th to 10th at the Barbican Centre; Tickets are on sale now.*

- *Wikimania programme to focus on Social Machines, The Future of Education, Democratic Media, Open Scholarship & Open Data*

Wikimania's 2014 team announces the programme for this year's historic event. Wikimania 2014 will be held at the Barbican Centre in London from 8th to 10th August, with a two day pre-conference held August 6th and 7th. Over 4,000 attendees are expected; more than twice the number at any previous Wikimania.

The future of Wikipedia, and other Wikimedia projects, forms the central theme. As technological advances promise big changes on the platform, Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales will delve into what the future has in store for the world's fifth most popular website.

"Wikipedia is the largest knowledge base in the world, consulted by over half a billion people each month," says Wales. "However, we've only just begun to scratch the surface of what can be done with it. Through international expansion, a new focus on open data, and a big investment in technology development, our movement is charting exciting new territory."

Attendees will also welcome the Wikimedia Foundation's new executive director, Lila Tretikov. Her keynote will focus on the impact of Wikipedia in our changing world and its potential for our future. Tretikov sees Wikipedia, a top five website, as an opportunity to for unlocking and democratizing knowledge globally: "I'd like us to think beyond what we know today. Think beyond our accomplishments, towards opportunities. Opportunities for all our collective minds to build the future of knowledge, collaboration and trust." Recent developments have included plans focused on overhauling Wikipedia's user experience for readers and editors, a programmatic approach to grant-making and community, and establishing a development platform for knowledge building.

Open to the public, Wikimania is a five-day, community-organised event focusing on new projects in the world of MediaWiki, transparency, and open knowledge. Themes include collaborative working, natural language processing, crowdsourcing, education, journalism, scientific and medical research, open data, and multimedia.

You can book tickets for Wikimania here

Quick updates

Community Chat

Wikimedia Community Logo

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees has approved the Funds Dissemination Committee 2013-2014 Round 2 recommendation with regards to application for funds by Wikimédia France, Wikimedia Norge, and Centre for Internet and Society. As part of its grantmaking program for individuals or small teams, 12 projects led by 16 grantees have been funded through the latest round of Wikimedia Foundation Individual Engagement Grants process. Anne Clin, Dumisani Ndubane, Matanya Moses, and Osmar Valdebenito have been appointed by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees for a two year term on the Funds Dissemination Committee.

A new Term of Use has gone live for all Wikimedia Foundation operated wikis. The new terms requires editors who are paid for their contribution to disclose their employer, client, and/or affiliation, except where a Wikimedia Project has explicitly adopted an alternative paid contribution disclosure policy. The only project to have adopted such an alternative policy is currently Wikimedia Commons.

In exciting education news, it was recently announced that the formal education systems of both Serbia and Israel are to integrate the use of Wikipedia into their curricula.

Why not get on our wiki?

Our website is an important place for members and volunteers to communicate

This month we have been working to encourage people not only to join the charity as members ahead of the 20th July deadline for voting at our AGM, but to join our lively on-wiki community as well.

By creating an account on Wikimedia UK's site, you can gain all the added benefits of being a part of the community that is central to the charity's work. Whether by finding out about cool new projects and how to get involved, reading more about how volunteers can lead and influence the work of the charity, and as a member by reviewing and commenting on policy or board meeting documents.

A simple 'How to' page has been created here. This has links to a sign up page to create an account, and details of setting up a user page and adding a userbox to identify you as a member, and find other members on the site.

So why not create an account today and start finding out more about what being a member of our online community can do for you, and for the charity :)