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Wikimedia UK Members Newsletter

Hello from the Office: Jon Davies

Jon Davies, Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK, at Shire Hall, Monmouth.

A day at the office in early November

There are never two days the same in the office which makes it fun working here. Today has been fairly quiet with small meetings happening all over the place and the constant click of the keyboards but Monday and Tuesday were crazy. We had two groups of visitors. Many of the international visitors to EduWiki swung by to meet staff and volunteers and almost by coincidence we had a meeting of European chapter representatives working towards a joint statement in preparation for the next European elections. It was really exciting meeting fellow Wikimedians from all over the world and making links that we know will bear fruit in the years to come.

And all this happened on the day we had moved from our old space to a bigger one next door! We now have a much bigger volunteer space and our own quiet room for small meetings. Please come in and visit and put December 10th in your diaries for our Christmas party from 4 until 8. If you're interested in learning more about photography, there's also a session earlier that day where you can learn about how to take good photographs of objects in museums.

Join us at our party or drop by the office at another time, we always welcome visitors!

Women in Science events in December

Join us to create articles about Women in Science

Wikimedia UK is running several initiatives during December to continue our celebration of Women in Science - and you are invited to attend! They are inspired by Ada Lovelace Day, which exists to celebrate the contributions of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In this spirit, we are running events to improve the coverage of Women in Science on Wikipedia. You can help!

1. The Royal Society of Edinburgh is hosting an editathon on Tuesday 3rd December. You are welcome to attend the whole event, or join us for a free evening reception and a panel discussion about Women in Science. More details are available here.

2. For those in or around Southampton, BCSWomen, part of the British Computer Society is hosting an informal get together on the evening of 9th December - more details will be publicised here as and when they are available.

We hope to see you at one of these events!

Meetup in focus: Leeds & Belfast

The New Conservatory was the chosen location for the Leeds meetup.

Bazonka gives a rundown of what happened in Leeds & Belfast

Meetups are social events where Wikimedians old and new can, as the name implies, meet up and have a chat about Wikipedia or anything else that takes their fancy. Personally, I find that engaging with the offline Wiki community is just as rewarding as the normal online editing. It’s a great way to share knowledge, bounce ideas off one another, discuss concerns and gripes, put faces to names (and real names to user names), and of course it’s an excuse to have a few non-obligatory drinks.

Perhaps it’s a consequence of the British pub culture, but there certainly seem to be considerably more meetups in the UK than elsewhere. Just looking at the list of recent meetup locations shows this quite starkly: Oxford, London, Cambridge, Dhaka, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Hong Kong – only a couple of foreigners in a sea of Britishness. Where are New York, Sydney, Cape Town and Mumbai?

But even with so many meetups taking place across the country, there are still a few blackspots. Until recently, neither Yorkshire nor Northern Ireland had had a meetup. Time to set things straight!

The first Leeds meetup took place on 5 October. There were five attendees, a little disappointing perhaps, but we still had a lively discussion on topics such as chemistry, cartography, photographing notable people, and beer. A good meeting, and hopefully the first of many. (The next Leeds meetup will probably take place early in 2014.)

The schedule for Belfast’s first meetup was to have an informal photography competition at the Ulster Museum on the morning of 23 November, followed by a regular pub meetup in the afternoon.

Six Wikimedians signed up to the event, interestingly only one of them being based in NI. However, just before the event, one-by-one they dropped out, due to family commitments, illness, travel costs etc. Only J Milburn (Josh) and I remained, and Josh was only able to attend the afternoon meeting anyway. Well, my flights were booked, so I decided that I may as well still go ahead and use them. As expected, no-one turned up to the museum, but I still had an interesting and productive time taking lots of photographs of zoological, artistic and historical subjects (including bog butter!). I only scratched the surface of the museum's content, so there’s still plenty of scope for further events there.

Disappointingly no-one showed up to the afternoon meeting. Josh contacted me later to apologise, explaining that his partner had been taken ill, so we arranged to meet up the next morning, which we briefly did before I had to dash off to catch my plane.

We agreed that despite the poor turnout, there’s still definitely a need for Wikimedia events in Northern Ireland, perhaps focusing on recruiting new editors from the two universities. I admit that I was feeling quite negative after Saturday's no-shows, but since meeting Josh, I now feel much more positive. Watch this space...

Meetups will be taking place at Glasgow, Chester, and London this month

Review: EduWiki Conference 2013

A video featuring interviews with organisers and delegates at EduWiki Conference 2013.

Education education education

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

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

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

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

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

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

The presentations were filmed and will be shared over the coming few days on Wikimedia Commons and YouTube once editing is complete. If you have media files from the conference, such as photographs or video, why not upload those to Wikimedia Commons, too? You can also read reactions on Twitter from day one and from day two.

Wikimedia UK is particularly grateful to all of the volunteers that made such a great contribution to delivering the event, and especially would like to say a big thank you to Hannah Jones and Jasbir Saund for all of their efforts in making the conference go smoothly.

Wikimedia UK project grants

Detail of railings at the Albert Memorial in London, taken with the aid of a microgrant.

How can Wikimedia UK help you with your editing or outreach activities?

Since the summer of 2010, it has been possible for members of Wikimedia UK to apply for a small grant to help improve or facilitate their editing or outreach activities. This could be an essential piece of equipment that they do not have, or some printed sources as reference material to improve Wikimedia articles.

During November, a number of applications have been made by members like you. First off, we have prizes for the Core Contest on the English Wikipedia. Core Contest is an article writing competition whereby participants seek to improve articles considered vital or core on the English Wikipedia. A second related application for prizes for the Stub Contest were also made at the same time. Here, the aim of the competition is the expansion of existing stub articles. The Stub Contest will be running during December. Have a look if you are interested in taking part.

In additional to these two competitions, applications have been made by the Theatre & Performance Research Association for a match funding digitisation project, for support on his ongoing Wikimedia Commons batch upload projects, and GregXenon01 to host a Wiki-Themed Symposium. There's also an ongoing discussion on the Water cooler regarding possible reform of the grants system.

Don't forget to make an application if you have an idea that Wikimedia UK can help you with

Review: North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers editathon

Attendees on the day.

Robert Forsythe, former Wikimedian in Residence at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums review one of his events

For fans of the Victorian Gothic and Dr Who’s Tardis, a visit to Newcastle upon Tyne’s North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (also known as “The Mining Institute”) is a must. The building is an outstanding creation in the Victorian Gothic style and, as with the Tardis, it is much more spacious than the outside might suggest.

Robert Forsythe began talking to the Mining Institute about a relationship with Wikimedians in the summer, a relationship cemented by a visit from Harry Mitchell – which itself was a direct result of the first Newcastle meetup in September. The outcome was a very successful editathon at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers on 6th November. Harry Mitchell led the event and 12 people attended from the North East of England. Four Wikimedians (Peter Gans, Dan Garry, Chris McKenna, and Harry Mitchell) travelled to Newcastle to assist. One newcomer to Wikimedia travelled all the way from Plymouth and was so impressed by the day she requested an editathon for her institution. At least five new accounts were created on the day (several people had already created accounts in anticipation of the event) and the new editors, helped by the experienced Wikimedians, made edits to multiple articles relating to the Mining Institutes’s collection and uploaded a couple of images to Wikimedia Commons.

The exercise was designed to develop relations between the staff and volunteers of the institute and Wikimedians. It was a great success in this, partly because some of the Wikimedians who travelled in came the night before and attended a lecture by Bill Lancaster in the Mining Institute's lecture theatre. The lecture revealed that key contributors from the North East have not been well served by classic academia despite a wealth of information existing about them. Bill Lancaster expressed the hope that Wikimedia could be a tool to pay people like Christopher Blackett and Edmund Mills Hann their due.

A number of the institute's trustees and management team spoke directly about the opportunity they saw over the two days the Wikimedians were in town. As part of the learning curve, Jennifer Hillyard, the institute’s librarian took everyone on a tour of the institute. This included seeing a very early painting of the coal industry whose uploading to Wikimedia Commons she suggested. The Institute has always had an excellent library. However in recent years some very significant collections threatened by the implosion of Britain’s coal mining industry have arrived. All of us were somewhat stunned by 16 roller racked rows of material which had arrived. One whole row contained 16,700 pamphlets from the Coal Research Establishment in Stoke Orchard (near Cheltenham). Another massive rack is full of German mining resources. The institute is therefore in pole position in terms of providing an authoritative view into the mining world of Britain and further afield. And it wishes to see Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource, Wikipedia contributions as routes whereby its increasingly very rare holdings are made available to the world.

Discussions are ongoing about the possibility of a follow-up event and about other projects which can be undertaken with the Mining Institute so watch this space.

Quick updates

Community Chat

Wikimedia Community Logo

Alongside its ongoing search for a new Executive Director, the Wikimedia Foundation has began a search for a new Chief Communications Officer and Vice President of Engineering. The position of Chief Communications Officer has arisen following the departure of Jay Walsh last month. Vice President of Engineering is a new position following the division of responsibilities from the current Vice President of Engineering and Product Development. Wikimedia Foundation's Deputy Director Erik Moeller will be taking up the position of Vice President of Product Development when an appointment has been made.

Community feedback are being sought by the Wikimedia Foundation legal team on its draft Access to nonpublic information policy, Privacy policy, and Trademark policy. Comments are accepted until mid-January 2014.

Voting for the for the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee is open until end of the day 9 December. Following five withdrawals, there are a total of 22 active candidates.

Wikipedia Zero

Open Letter for Free Access to Wikipedia video.

A video has been produced showing students from Sinenjongo High School in South Africa reading an open letter encouraging local telecommunications operators to waive data charges for customers accessing Wikipedia using their mobile phone. The initiative for free mobile access to Wikipedia in developing countries is known as Wikipedia Zero. The objective is to reduce barriers to access of educational information in places where data charges are prohibitive for a majority of its residents.

Wikipedia Zero has received a great deal of awards, recognition and coverage, including the 2012 Africa news Innovation Challenge, 2013 Knight News Challenge, and 2013 SXSW Interactive Award for Activism.

Beta Features

Glyph variants of Greek letter Beta in medieval and early modern minuscule handwriting, according to C. Faulmann.

The Wikimedia Foundation has announced a new program called Beta Features which lets logged-in users of the Wikimedia projects test out newly developed features while editing. A link to enable or disable beta features can now be found next to "Preferences" for logged-in users.

The exact features available for testing vary according to which project you are on. Current options include Media Viewer, Typography refresh, Near this page, VisualEditor, and VisualEditor formulae editing. Media Viewer displays images being normally shown as a thumbnail in a large overlay enabling more details to be seen by a user. Near this page is a newly developed extension that adds a button to the top right corner of each page containing geographical information, which when selected shows a list of pages containing geographical information indicating they are nearby.