Microgrants/RMS Titanic research in Northern Ireland

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This is the second of two related microgrants I'm requesting (see Microgrants/RMS Titanic research in England for the other).

14/15 April 2012 is the centenary of the Titanic disaster. In advance of that, a number of editors, including myself, are working on articles relating to the ship and the disaster. is currently a Featured Article candidate, with the aim of getting it onto the Main Page on the anniversary day itself.

To support this research, I propose to visit Belfast, Northern Ireland between 12-16 April to carry out the following activities:

  • Research at new Titanic Belfast museum (opens 31/03/12)
  • Research at Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
  • Research at Linen Hall Library and Belfast Central Libary (Titanic book collections & exhibitions)
  • Attend & photograph Centenary Commemoration (14-15/04/12)
  • Attend SS Nomadic tour (date tbd, hopefully between 12-16 April)
  • Air fare to Belfast (return) — £60.00
  • Accommodation - B&B, £35/night x 3 nights — £105.00
  • Rail/bus travel — £32.20
  • Subsistence — £20/day x 3 — £60.00
  • Museum admissions — £20
  • Copy expenses — £22.80
  • Total — £300

This will require three full days. I plan to stay a fourth day at my own expense. The dates are crucial as the key event is the anniversary itself, so this is really a one-time-only opportunity.

Expected outcomes
  • Improved coverage of the RMS Titanic and related articles in time for the 100th anniversary on 14/15 April 2012, particularly to support Sinking of the RMS Titanic becoming a Featured Article on the Main Page on the anniversary day itself
  • Improved articles on museums that will be visited
  • Expansion of image resources on Commons related to the Titanic and Belfast, as well as the museums and archives to be visited
  • (Possibly) Improved relationship between Wikimedia and the museums involved?
Who I am

Some of you know me already. I've been a contributor to the GLAM project for some time and I have a solid track record of writing featured articles and DYKs, some of which I've been able to illustrate with my own photography (e.g. Inner German border, Battle of Vukovar, Murder of Julia Martha Thomas (which is likely to be on the Main Page next month)). I'm a frequent contributor to the Commons as well (see uploads) and regularly go on museum visits to document particular topics or artifacts (see Hallaton Helmet for a recent example). Prioryman 22:04, 7 February 2012 (UTC)


Hi Prioryman. Both of your proposals sound great, thanks for posting them. :-) I know that there's other volunteers also interested in the topic of Titanic - are you in touch with them about this, either on- or off-wiki? In particular, it would be great if there was a local in Belfast that could team up with you on this project (those on the wikimediaie mailing list or at WikiProject Ireland may be able to help here). It would also be good to try to collaborate with the museums - at least seeing whether they would provide free access if they charge for it, but ideally if they could provide access to extra resources that aren't normally available, if they could make archival images that they own the copyright for available on commons under a free license, if they could provide expert peer review for the articles, etc. A phone call might lead towards the first - and a quick in-person chat might help lead towards the latter. Mike Peel 22:39, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

You're right, there's others interested in Titanic, but I'm afraid I don't know anyone who happens to be based in Belfast. I can make some enquiries to find out - thanks for the pointers. I've been to Belfast before so I know my way around the place. Unfortunately the Titanic Belfast museum isn't yet open but I am planning to make contact with them to see if they would be interested in some sort of collaboration - there is a stubby article already but there is clearly a lot more that could be done to improve coverage. There is a also fairly basic article on the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum which could do with a lot of improvement. I'm sure both museums would welcome some interest from Wikipedia, but I was wondering if the first contact should be made by someone involved with the GLAM task force (I was thinking Victuallers or Fae). Prioryman 23:24, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Great. :-) Those I've talked to about Titanic are based in Great Britain rather than Ireland and hence will be more relevant to your other microgrant proposal than this one. I'd recommend talking to User:Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry and User:HJ Mitchell about this - they are either directly interested, or they can put you in touch with other UK-based volunteers who are interested in this topic. With the GLAM task force: I'd recommend having a chat with someone from that about the best approach to take, and the general context and approaches, but would encourage you to make first contact if you're willing to do so. The task force is there to help and guide, rather than being a required middle-man. Thanks. Mike Peel 23:40, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Good suggestions all, I'll pursue them and see how it goes. Prioryman 00:05, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

These two proposals (and I think they are sufficiently related, being by the same person and for the same purpose, that they should be treated as one proposal) come to £375. The limit for a microgrant is £250, so this would need to be treated a regular grant rather than a microgrant. A grant to support improvements to our content relating to the Titanic in this anniversary year sounds like a great idea to me (so thank you very much for proposing it), but if I were still on the board I would want to see a little more detail (microgrants are supposed to be very easy to apply for and not involve lots of paperwork, but a little more is required for a regular grant). For instance, could you expand your "expected outcomes" section into more detailed and specific "measures of success"? It's important to be able to tell if a grant was successful. I would also want some detail on why WMUK should pay to send you to these various places rather than having a Wikimedian that is already there do it (it may well be that there is no-one there willing and able to do it, but you should try and find someone if you haven't already). --Tango 23:16, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

A quick note on the procedure: Tango's right in saying that this is outside of the standard microgrants scope, which means it needs to be approved by the board - but we have a board meeting this weekend so the decision-making process here shouldn't delay things too much. It's not black-and-white as to how much detail is needed for a regular grant vs. a microgrant; we really don't want to over-complicate things. :-) I agree with Tango with his point about in situ volunteers (no-one likes to discover that someone's been trucked in from afar to do something they would have been happy to do), but I think you've already answered this above. :-) Thanks. Mike Peel 23:30, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
I've treated them separately as they are non-interdependent; that is, if the Northern Ireland proposal is turned down it has no impact on the England proposal, and vice-versa. We have the luxury of a bit more time in deciding the NI proposal but the England one would really need to be carried out by mid-March to enable the followup work to be done in time for the anniversary. The England one can also be treated as a microgrant as it is for a much lower value – I would hope that this would enable it to be decided upon more speedily.
The reason I'm applying for it as opposed to asking another Wikimedian is threefold. First, as the author of Sinking of the RMS Titanic I know what I want to look for and where to look for it, as I have a great deal of familiarity with the subject matter - which someone not so exposed to it would not have. Second, given that the time is very limited this needs to be a really focused effort; I will be writing, photographing and researching at the same time, with particular objectives in mind. Third, I have the skills and experience needed for an effort such as this. I take a highly organised and structured approach to writing articles. In the comparable example of the Inner German border article I carried out a lot of research and planned out the article before going to the location concerned, walking and cycling about 500 miles along the former border, writing the article as I went along, taking photographs to support specific themes within the article, collecting documentation to support sections and spinoff articles and obtaining specific information from specific museums along the way. That level of planning and research is, I think, not a common skill. I don't want to sound immodest but I think I'm probably better placed than most other UK Wikipedians to make this a success.
It's getting late now so I'll return to the "measures of success" issue tomorrow... Prioryman 00:05, 8 February 2012 (UTC)
I disagree strongly with aggregating the applications. The UK-based one is requesting a small amount of money to allow a volunteer with an excellent track record to improve high-impact encyclopedic content on Wikipedia and Commons in a specified and positive way. I think it would be a no-brainer to approve on its own. By insisting it is aggregated with the other application, we are in effect penalising it. The two are related in that the target content to be improved is the same: they are independent activities. The NI application involves more money and more travel and so deserves more debate along the lines above, but let's consider it on its own merits. MartinPoulter 12:53, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Per Tango's request, I've come up with some specific indicators/goals which may be of help:

  • Improve image resources on Wikimedia Commons relating to RMS Titanic (to support work on the topic across all languages)
  • Sinking of the RMS Titanic to be a featured article by the time of the anniversary (14/15 April)
  • RMS Titanic (a former featured article) to be improved to a Good Article by the time of the anniversary
  • Improve coverage of multiple articles in Category:RMS Titanic
  • Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to be improved to a Good Article
  • Create new articles covering "Titanic in Belfast" and "Titanic in Southampton" topics
  • Conduct GLAM outreach to Titanic Belfast, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Southampton Maritime Museum and SeaCity Southampton museums
  • Facilitate requests from other editors for images and documents relating to RMS Titanic.
  • Coordinate RMS Titanic-related article improvements with editors from Wikipedia:WikiProject Ireland and Wikipedia:WikiProject Ships

Prioryman 08:58, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Excellent! Thank you very much. Those are good goals. Something like "Get article X to Y status" is great because in a couple of months' time we can easily and objectively take a look and say "Yes, that goal was achieved and this grant was instrumental in achieving it." That way, we know that the grant did, indeed, further our goal of creating and distributing free content. These are the kind of goals people should be trying to come up with for any grant request (even microgrants, although we should be more flexible when them). --Tango 21:54, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Is there any news on this request? Prioryman 00:26, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Hi. Sorry for the delay with getting back to you about this. We discussed it at the WMUK board meeting, and I'm happy to say this microgrant (and its sister grant) are approved. Please liaise with the office with the financial aspect of this (email richard.symondsatwikimedia.org.uk) - we may be able to use our travel agent to book the flight directly for you, while we'll probably have to reimburse your expenses with the other aspects. Thanks. Mike Peel 18:09, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Thanks very much. I'll get in touch with Richard. Prioryman 10:47, 18 February 2012 (UTC)