World Science Fiction Convention

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Wikimedia UK was represented at LonCon3 (the World Science Fiction Convention in London, August 2014) by a group of volunteers.

There was no cost to Wikimedia UK, except for some leaflets and badges which were distributed (see below).

Wikipedia drop-in session[edit | edit source]

Harry Mitchell and Doug Taylor ran a drop-in editing session on the Thursday afternoon of the conference.

The Computer Made of Meat[edit | edit source]

Photo by Sydney Poore

Martin Poulter gave a presentation session on the Saturday, in a 45 minute slot, titled "How Wikipedia Works: the computer made of meat". This covered:

  • Some facts and figures about Wikipedia/Wikimedia
  • Sister projects: Sci-fi and relevant content on Wikisource, Commons, Wikiquote, and Wikivoyage
  • Popular misconceptions about Wikipedia: in a reversal of what I normally find, the audience overwhelmingly understood that "Wikipedia is not a democracy" but did not agree that "Wikipedia is not censored". This led onto an unexpectedly long discussion of what we mean by "censorship".
  • Wikimedia as science fiction: 1) making human knowledge machine-readable on Wikidata; 2) collaboration between humans and robots on Wikipedia
  • Advice for anyone editing Wikipedia on sci-fi or fantasy topics, including shortcuts to relevant Wikiprojects.

Audience members had questions about notability, neutrality, bias on Wikipedia and so on. I answered these during the talk so that the session was more about two-way discussion than me presenting. However, I was probably too accommodating to long-winded questions and digressions. Feedback that I later read via Twitter was that some in the audience were impatient with the questioners, and wanted to see the presentation at its intended pace. This delay, plus the fact that the session was a little shorter than I expected, meant that I somewhat rushed the final section about pitfalls in editing.

It was hard to get an accurate count of the audience since a large proportion arrived just after I'd started talking, but it was around 70 to 80. A significant minority (a couple of dozen) of the audience had tried editing Wikipedia before. Four or five had had "a bad experience"- making a change and getting it immediately reverted and/or an unfriendly response.

There was no time to do a proper evaluation. Instead I held out a bag with 20 small Wikipedia badges and invited the audience to "Take a free badge if you are going to edit Wikipedia as a result of this session." All twenty went rapidly. Roughly two-dozen of the small green Wikimedia UK leaflets were distributed. These leaflets have a tear-off form requesting further information, and one attendee handed hers to me at the end of the session. This was passed on to the office.

I took some photos of Hugo Award trophies, a few of which might be good enough for sharing on Commons.