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Wikimedia UK Members Newsletter

Message from a Trustee - Chris Keating

Chris Keating is currently Chair of Wikimedia UK, and has been a trustee since April 2011. He edits Wikipedia under the username The Land.

Have your say in Wikimedia UK's future!

In just over a week, Wikimedia UK will be holding its Annual General Meeting in Lincoln. We'd absolutely love you to come along - it's a great chance to meet other members, learn more about Wikimedia UK's work, and also to make some key decisions about the future of Wikimedia UK.

Most importantly, you have the chance to elect four Trustees to join the Wikimedia UK Board. We have nine candidates standing, and the decision on who's elected is entirely down to you, the members. As we grow and develop as an organisation, our Board is going through a transition as well. When I first joined the Board in 2011, we had no staff and the only way Wikimedia UK did anything was if a Board member went and did it. Now the Board is in the middle of a transition to focusing more on strategy and governance, while empowering a broader group of staff and volunteers to actually run initiatives. This means it's ever more important that we have a strong Board with a range of skills, experience and backgrounds - and also ever more important that our members stay active and involved! So even if you can't make the AGM please do use your vote.

Register to attend the AGM here!

Hello from the Office - Katherine Bavage

Katherine attended a recent event with volunteers to get more of a chance to edit on Wikipedia

Katherine talks about her her recent visit to the offices of the Wikimedia Foundation and her role after ten months in post

When I joined the Wikimedia UK team in July 2012 I had barely edited before and was used to working in traditional fundraising roles in UK universities. Nearly a year on and I find it hard to imagine working without the idea of collaborative drafting and version histories, or planning marketing campaigns without input from your supporters.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to go visit the Wikimedia Foundation's offices in San Francisco in late April to chat with members of the fundraising team about their work and how this could marry well with what the Chapter delivers. Pending the follow up review of our governance the UK Chapter won't oversee the implementation of fundraising banners for UK readers in 2013, but there are still plenty of opportunities for the UK Chapter to fundraise to support an expanded programme of outreach work led by our volunteer community.

Two of these particularly interest me, and are what I want to focus on in the coming months following on conversations with foundation staff and my own learning curve since joining the chapter's staff team and becoming a part of the UK editing community. The first is the idea that we should be reaching out to donors more in terms of inviting them to events, both to give them a chance to benefit from and be a part of what we offer off-line, but also because these can be great opportunities to learn more about what our donors want from the projects. The second is that we often have more ideas for outreach work than we can reasonably support with our budget and current staff levels, and so we ought to be looking as a community at a process for developing bids for external funding to deliver ideas that exist without resources to support them. I believe we have a lot to offer external funders in terms of what we do and the results we know we can achieve.

There are of course other opportunities on the horizon - the fantastic work done by volunteers in putting together and securing the bid for Wikimania 2014 will bring with it a host of opportunities to interact with sponsors and donors around this event. This is an amazing chance not only to fund the conference but to begin to build relationships the chapter should aim to foster post-Wikimania. The ongoing work to migrate the Chapter's database (Civi CRM) to a new platform, while seemingly administrative and therefore possibly a bit dull on the surface of things, will hopefully allow us to be intelligent in the services we offer donors, members and volunteers - allowing people to update address details and subscription preferences online and receive more tailored and regular communications from the Chapter, keeping them up to date and hopefully deepening understanding and support for what we do.

I am particularly keen for volunteers with experience of writing bids, or reviewing them (say, as a trustee or grantee of an organisation) to get in touch on my talk page, as I'd like to start up a working group to look at the process for bringing the community together around bid applications. Do get in touch!

Amsterdam Hackathon

Attendees at the opening of the 2013 Amsterdam Hackathon

Harry Burt writes about Wikimedia's annual development community meet-up took place in Amsterdam last weekend

Though Wikimania (which comes to London next year) remains the biggest international conference targeted at Wikimedians, it is certainly not the only one. A particularly popular alternative (or complement for the ultra-committed), the Berlin Hackathon ran annually between 2009 and 2012, providing those with an interest in the software that underpins Wikimedia wikis and supports its editors a place to gather, exchange ideas and learn new skills.

This year the focus moved from Berlin to Amsterdam, where Dutch chapter Wikimedia Nederlands organised their first multi-day developer event (May 24-26). Other chapters, among them Wikimedia UK, supported the event by helping with participants’ travel and accommodation costs. I was one of the people lucky enough to be supported by WMUK.

A couple of things strike the casual observer at a hackathon like Amsterdam’s. The first is that there are no casual observers at a Wikimedia hackathon. Everyone brings a laptop for a start. And moreover, united by common interests and common skills, you can’t help but get dragged into conversations on an array of different topics – related to the Wikimedia movement or otherwise.

The second is the diversity of the developers who make the trip. This year, 140 developers attended; a sizeable chunk were staff from the Wikimedia Foundation, but there were also numerous representatives of different chapters (French, Swedish, Czech, German, Dutch and so forth) as well as individual developers from around the world.

Although the bulk of the time at a hackathon is (as the name suggests) spent “hacking” – with individuals working on their own pet projects – there are also a selection of workshops available. This year, they included talks by the teams behind Wikidata, Wikimedia Labs and new template programming language Lua. Each allows not only for expertise to be shared, but also for volunteers to find out and become enthused about new technologies. All workshops were recorded and will soon be watchable online.

Of course, most developers have a specialism. For some, it will be a technology already at the heart of a Wikimedia project; for others, it will be something they want to introduce to the projects. Above all else, however, hackathons allow developers with different specialisms to meet each other in person – to put faces to names and pseudonyms, to build relationships (as I have been lucky enough to do) that are sure to outlive the event itself.

Have a look at photos from the hackathon here

Focus on meetups - Glasgow

Attendees of the first ever Glasgow Meetup on Sunday 12 May 2013.

Graeme Arnott writes about his experience of the first ever Glasgow Meetup

I've done a little bit of editing on Wikipedia but not much. I don't really have much confidence on it but I've now got a new user name I now feel better about contributing on a regular basis. (I was using my own name which increased the pressure not to publicly mess up). I'm going to do the P2P University's School of Open course 'Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics and Beyond' when it starts in July (for European times).

Anyway, getting back to the story. Whilst assembling the material for the TMA presentation I happened to find out that the very first Wikimedia meet up in Glasgow was taking place a fortnight or so before the TMA's hand-in date, and this was too good an opportunity to miss. Eleven of us met in the Sir John Moore pub on Argyle Street on 12th May and I think it went really well, although you wouldn't know it from my expression in this picture :-).

It transpired that the pub's name was not insignificant. Dan and Julia looked up Wikipedia to get some background on Sir John Moore and found out that he was a Glaswegian who had first seen action for the British Army in the American War of Independence. One of his postings in the 1790s was to the West Indies under a certain Sir Ralph Abercromby. Now, bizarrely the Sir Ralph Abercromby is the pub where Wikimedia hold their meetups in Manchester. How odd is that? Was there then some strange hand guiding the choice of these pubs? If so, what was the pattern and what did it signify? Were these pubs in these similar ex-industrial cities effectively hyperlinked in a way reminiscent of psychogeographic ley lines? Were we like the people on Borges' map only now were we living on a Wikipedia article? Was the fact that Wikimedia held their meetups on the territory of these one time opponents of liberation a tongue-in-cheek comment on web freedom? Perhaps the solution lay with a certain Richard John Blackler the gentleman after whom the Wetherspoon's pub is named and where the Liverpool Wikimedia meetups are held. Would he also be a representative of the imperialist redcoats?

The truth in the end was rather prosaic, and a different sort of coat altogether. It transpired that Blacker is remembered for having once owned a department store in Liverpool, and so it turned out there was no mysterious hand at play after all. (This probably means in the future there will be a pub called the Sir Philip Green, although it won't, of course, be owned by him). Even so, having read how exciting a Wikimedia meetup can be, can you possibly afford to stay away next time?

Seriously, I did actually enjoy the afternoon. Sometimes the admin talk was a little over my head but not alienatingly so, and people mingled and there certainly were no awkward group silences. For a first meeting I thought that we quickly built up a friendly welcoming atmosphere. I'm not sure that I know everyone's name but we're starting to think about Glasgow/2 in a couple of months so hopefully we can do it again, and build the group up a bit.

So, it was a good turn out for a first meeting and we can only hope and try to build on that. However it was noticeable that although Katie was there from Wikimedia in London, and Julia had travelled up from Manchester, there were no Glaswegian wiki women. Apparently though this is not something unusual and it seems like Wikipedia has a gender problem. (This will be another post at a later date. At the moment I don't want to run the risk of parallel essay writing for the TMA). When I read about this edit-a-thon in the Biblioteca Salaborsa in Bologna I had the idea of doing something similar with the Women's Library in Glasgow.

The library is currently in the process of moving to Bridgeton so this might not be possible until later and depending upon what stage the move is at. A successful edit-a-thon could achieve a number of goals, such as

  • an increase in women in Glasgow editing Wikipedia
  • an increase in articles about Glaswegian women
  • an improvement in the digital skills of Glaswegian women

Thinking ahead, it would be great if the Library could access funding to roll something like this out to the community libraries in Glasgow, and the suburbs of East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

The next Glasgow Meetup will take place on Sunday 18 August

Members micro-grant - Photographing of London

Wheelchair racer during 2013 London Marathon

New to a city and want to familiarise yourself? User:Chmee2 shows one way to do it

Being new in town, it’s always difficult as you don’t know your neighbourhood, where to go for shopping, for culture, sports and much more. So, how does one go about getting familiar with your new (in my case) temporary home? One of the best ways is to just browse through the streets and look around. However, this could be taken as an opportunity to support Wikipedia too! One can easily browse through the streets with a digital camera, photographing, and then uploading the images to Wikimedia Commons to help the Wikimedia movement.

This is exactly my case. I am new in London and I decided to explore this city more deeply. Therefore I requested a small travel grant from WMUK to help cover my travel expenses. This has enabled me to freely travel around London, photographing a wide range of places in high resolution and therefore enriched Wikimedia Commons. Up to the end of May, I have taken 6 trips costing £15.50, resulting in more than 600 images. Two images have already been evaluated as featured pictures on Wikimedia Commons and four as Quality images. As you can see, one can help map the city in which he lives with minimum costs.

This grant has allowed me to explore parts London and learned more about its rich history. You might take this unique chance too and see your town from a new perspective. Just get inspired and apply for a similar WMUK microgrant focusing on your town!

Quick updates

Microgrants aren't just for Wikipedians

Wimkimedia family logos

While the last three newsletters have focused on microgrants towards buying books to improve articles on Wikipedia, this month’s article demonstrate how Wikipedia is not microgrants only possible target. With the addition of Wikidata and Wikivoyage, Wikimedia Foundation now operates a total of 11 collaborative wiki projects, all of which are supported by Wikimedia UK.

Whether you want to create or improve articles on Wikipedia, travel somewhere to take images as Chmee2 have done, set up a Wikimedia society at your local university, or travel to a major event to take photographs or conduct interviews as a Wikinewsie, we are here to help you. In fact, as the January article from Tom Morris shows, the project supported doesn't even have to be a Wikimedia project as long as it is to support open content.

Microgrants are for amounts between £5 and £250, and exist to help improve or facilitate your editing or outreach activities on any Wikimedia or other supported open content project. For amounts over £250 and up to £2,000, you can apply for a Macrogrant. To make an application for a microgrant, go to the application page, enter a short descriptive title into the text box, and fill out the short template.

Wikimania 2014 – London

Wikimania 2014 which will be hosted at Barbican Centre, City of London.

The Wikimania 2014 jury announced on 1 May that London have won the bid to host next year's Wikimania, the annual global conference of the Wikimedia movement. Wikimania allows the community and the general public to learn about and share their experiences with free knowledge initiatives all over the world. The 2014 conference is intended to be the largest yet by far.

Wikimania 2014 will be held on 6-10 August 2014 at the Barbican Centre in the City of London, the largest performing arts centre in Europe. The first two day will feature the usual Wikimedia hacking days and unconference along with chapters' activities, meetings, and tours, while the final three days will feature the main conference of talks and workshops. Alongside the traditional Wikimania presentations will be a simultaneous conference targeted at the general public comprising an exhibition, workshops and talks specially aimed towards outreach.

Wikimania 2014 is being organised by a large team of volunteers led by Ed Saperia and James Knight, who will be speaking about the event at the upcoming WikiConference UK 2013.