Friends' Newsletter/2020/Issue 02

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Calfaria Baptist Church by Mark Edwards, CC 4.0.

Welcome to the autumn and winter newsletter[edit | edit source]

Hello and welcome to the autumn and winter edition of the Wikimedia UK newsletter. We hope you’re all keeping well, and thank you for following along with what Wikimedia UK is up to. We’ve had a lot going on in autumn that we’re excited to tell you about as we head into the festive season, including introductions of new staff members. In a time when so many charities are struggling we’re so grateful that we are not only running our programmes effectively, but that we actually have the resources to grow our team. We’re so thankful to all our supporters, volunteers and everyone who helps us carry on adding to the sum of all human knowledge.

Wikimedia UK staff update[edit | edit source]

Natasha in St Malo earlier this year.

As prefaced above, we had a new staff member join our team in October. Natasha Iles has been recruited as Head of Development and Communications, leading a newly formed team consisting of Katie Crampton, our Communications and Governance Coordinator, and a new role of Fundraising Development Coordinator that we are currently recruiting for. Having Natasha on board gives us a strategic approach to our public image, fundraising, and external outreach, while also growing our senior management team. With a background in the corporate world, Natasha took a career change into the Third Sector over ten years ago knowing she wanted to make a broader, more positive impact with her skills. Meet Natasha properly in her intro blog, and find out about the fundraising role we’re currently shortlisting applicants for here.

Happy Birthdays all round[edit | edit source]

We were thrilled to wish Wikidata a happy eighth birthday, highlighting the amazing projects that have been launched by the platform. Collectively we’ve become aware of just how much data there is out in the world, but most of it is held by private companies for their own gains. So Wikidata stepped up. A free, democratically created software that has no agenda beyond the spread of information for the betterment of human knowledge. It’s a noble goal, and seemingly one that wouldn’t work without at least having ad revenue. But Wikipedia succeeded, and now, so has Wikidata. We published a blog with input from a couple of our Wikimedians in Residence on how they’ve used Wikidata here, including a look at its use in the arts sector and the award winning accused witches project.

Wikipedia also turns twenty in January, a momentous achievement that we’ll be celebrating throughout 2021. For January events we’ll be having a celebration on the day of the birthday, on the 15th January, with talks from our community, games, and general party vibes, so save the date! And do let us know if you’d like to deliver a lightning talk on Wikipedia work at the party, or if you’ve got any ideas for how to celebrate the twentieth throughout the year. We’re also excited to announce we’ll be hosting a Great Wiki Bake Off competition on our social media, with a judging panel to announce winners after the weekend of the 16th-17th. We’re incredibly proud to be part of such an excellent project that truly shows that even in a world driven by capitalism, the human desire to create and share outweighs monetary value. The Internet and knowledge in general would look very different without this amazing encyclopedia. If you’d like to give feedback on what you think we should include in our birthday celebrations for Wikipedia’s twentieth, please get in touch with Katie at

Giving Tuesday[edit | edit source]

Giving Tuesday 2020 graphic, photo by Henry Iddon/BBC, edited by Katie Crampton.

To enable our twentieth birthday events and outreach we’re taking part in this year’s Giving Tuesday, happening today. Giving Tuesday is a charitable alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and in a year in which Wikipedia has been credited with preventing the spread of Coronavirus through zero tolerance for misinformation, we’re asking for supporters to see if they can donate again. Whether you’ve saved on commuting or perhaps your daily coffee from that cafe on your way to the office, we’d appreciate any little bit of help as we prepare for more outreach events as Wikipedia turns twenty in January. We’re so pleased that with our new Head of Development and Communications in place, we can grow our comms and fundraising in campaigns such as this one.

Wiki Loves Monuments winners announced[edit | edit source]

The biggest photo competition in the world has announced this year’s winners, including three great UK winners. Third place was taken by Mark Warren, who took this lovely photo of Fort Perch Rock in England, second place by Mark Edwards who captured Wilder's Folly in England, and Mark Edwards also nabbed first place with this season’s newsletter header image of Calfaria Chapel in Wales. We thoroughly congratulate all the UK and international winners, and thank the judges for volunteering their time.

Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton at Sunset by Mark Warren.

Wikipedia in the classroom[edit | edit source]

Blended learning, aka mixing online teaching with face-to-face, has been common as universities return to in person classes for the first time since March. While we’re pleased to report that this did not directly affect our work, the national context was of great uncertainty about how universities would cope with outbreaks and how practical in-person teaching would be. With the courses we support the teaching was well suited to be done remotely.

We’ve been holding events with the University of Sussex for Wikipedia in the classroom. A dozen people attended the event, with lots of discussion for the potential of hackathons and student involvement. Professors at the university are keen to do a module for next semester in January or February, with a further project next academic year for Wikipedia being used in a more widespread sense.

London College of Communications student changemakers had their first decolonisation session. While not attached to a particular module, the project is around decolonising the curriculum, bringing in diverse voices, and looking to bring into their Wikipedia work. The initial project was over a two week period, and we’re now looking to expand to several months though there’s a strong overlap with a previous group involved. The students and staff involved have identified gaps in Wikipedia that they want to get stuck into, and are also identifying issues such as access to Wikipedia for international students such as those in China.

Our Scotland Programme Coordinator, Dr Sara Thomas, delivered a talk for information studies at the University of Glasgow. 140 students attended and had really good questions.

Matthew Smith is Professor of Health History at the University of Strathclyde. He approached us about a class as part of the MSc in Health History and MSc in Historical Studies course; Food and Health in the West since 1900. Matthew thought that a wiki in the classroom project would be a great fit for remote teaching under covid. Dr Sara Thomas provided training and support, and the class chose articles about food, health and history to update.

Scholars at the University of Aberdeen will be doing a  "Caring and Sharing" project around North American and Mexican artefacts, particularly writing and improving articles relating to the North American items in their collection. The project is part of a wider brief that looks to improve the care and documentation of these items, and is funded by Museums Galleries Scotland.

National Wikimedian for Wales, Jason Evans, has finished a project with WikiEducation doing an after hours education video. Working with teachers, the projects looked at which 100 articles on Wikipedia were used most by schools, and then worked on these articles so the first paragraph or two are more understandable to younger readers. Jason has also announced that Wikipics will be going ahead, with input from WikiMon.

Wikimedia Trainer Intern, Hannah Rothmann, a Classics undergraduate, completed her 12 week full-time basis this Summer to work on developing professional looking and scaffolded resources that would chunk the challenge of taking someone from beginner to advanced in Wikipedia and Wikidata. She created 20 new short instructional 'how to' video tutorials which have been given captions and shared to the university's Media Hopper channel and the residency's YouTube channel also. Hannah has also created a new 41 page website on the University of Edinburgh's Digital Skills site to pull all the best resources for understanding Wikipedia and Wikidata into one place and support staff and students to work with these projects in a much more scaffolded, self-directed way as part of teaching and learning.

A new website for the Wikimedia residency is being published on the University of Edinburgh's Digital Skills site. The new site will support staff, students and members of the public to get started with Wikipedia and Wikidata in a much more scaffolded and self-directed way, with 41 clear webpages and 20 short video 'how to' tutorials. The new website is now live here.

The education work in Wales led by MenterMon and the National Library of Wales is being facilitated by a series of short term grants from the Welsh Government. After WiciAddysg, the next project that became successfully funded was ‘Wicipics’ (wiki pictures), which has just been launched. This project will focus around a series of school and community events to improve content on local history, focusing on media content. Wikidata will be created for historic local sites and used to identify, photograph and document them on Welsh Wikipedia. Bilingual 'how to' videos are being produced for the WiciPics project; we are also working with the partner organisations in Wales, encouraging them to openly release photos they hold that may be relevant to the project. Over 300 images have been donated so far.

Minority and indigenous languages[edit | edit source]

Building on the successful model of Llen Natur collaboration with Welsh Wikipedia and Wikidata, we are scaling up into 6 other Celtic languages. This is being discussed with editors of each community - it involves some automated content generation, so it’s important editors know what’s happening and are supportive of it. Alongside this, again inspired by the Welsh book covers project done a few years ago, we are supporting the Irish Wikipedia community to upload over 3,000 Irish book covers onto gdwiki and creating a database of the books. This activity involves on-wiki policy work, e.g. interrogating current notability and fair use rules to make sure this project is ‘allowed’.

These new collaborations offered a basis for the Wikimedia 2030 strategy Celtic Knot gathering, where nominally editors gathered to discuss strategy, but the real energy was in exchanging knowledge and ideas to support each other's wiki projects. There is a lot of potential for WMUK to provide space for the language communities to connect, learn from each other, and collaborate on Wikidata work.

With this increased scalability of the Wikidata work within Welsh Wikipedia, we’ve put together a video, part story part tutorial, on what’s possible for small languages to do on Wikidata and how it could expand their Wikipedias.

Integration of Wikidata into cy-wiki v 2

Underrepresented heritage[edit | edit source]

The Khalili Collections have shared catalogue data and high-resolution images relating to 400 items from six of the eight collections. The first image set is from the Khalili Collection of Enamels of the World and includes 104 enamels from China, Japan, Russia, Europe, Iran, India and Turkey. This residency was also extended from August till February after joint advocacy efforts, allowing for this work to happen.

Gender Gap[edit | edit source]

At Edinburgh University, three Women in Red workshops were held in August & September 2020 themed on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Another Wikipedia Women in Red event was held in October for Halloween, with the fitting theme of accused witches. An Ada Lovelace Day event was also held in October to celebrate Women in STEM, and we were pleased with the turnout of the lunchtime Lightning Talks.

At the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, a member of the society has been working on a List of 'Lady Associates' from 1780 to 1901. The efforts to create this list has also provided the Society with a significant number of resources we can use to improve their Wikipedia pages. Lady Associates were a class of ‘member’ for women when they couldn't actually become members. Some of the very first women archaeologists in Scotland were 'associates' and would have their papers read out by a trusted man in the meetings, while they waited outside.

The resident at Humanists UK, back from furlough, delivered a Banned Books Wikithon on 27 September. The event was also used to launch a volunteer group (‘Humanist Wikipedians’). The next event  will focus on Humanist Women - freethinkers, atheists, and humanists are distinctly underrepresented, not just on Wikipedia but also in the history of organised humanism. Wider research has uncovered plentiful suitable sources for improvements and reliable citations. Further, the new Humanist Heritage website is due to be launched at the beginning of 2021, in celebration of the 125th anniversary. With this, a significant number of pages will go live covering many previously uncelebrated and lesser known individuals, groups, and historical events.

A 3,000 word chapter has been submitted for the Wikipedia and Academic Libraries book by our Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, Ewan McAdrew, on the work of the Wikimedia residency in addressing the gender gap over the last five years. The chapter is currently being peer reviewed.

UK policy[edit | edit source]

One of Wikimedia UK's strategic aims is to create changes in policy and practice that enable open knowledge to flourish. As part of this work, our staff team, and broader network of volunteers and partners, advocate for open knowledge at an institutional, sectoral and public policy level. Over the past few months our Chief Executive, Lucy Crompton-Reid, has spoken at two Westminster Media Forum policy seminars - on the cultural sector and copyright policy - and has attended a number of meetings and seminars to explore the policy issues surrounding information literacy. With free and open access to neutral, unbiased information more imperative than ever before in the light of the pandemic, Wikimedia UK has signed the Open Covid for Education pledge. We are also delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has launched a new open licensing policy for grant recipients, and pleased to have been involved in the advisory group that supported this significant change in approach.

Volunteer community[edit | edit source]

This year’s shift to delivering editathons exclusively online has led to some reflections on practice and structure of events. Online training sessions are now shorter than in-person events, and may take place in segments over an extended period. We have experimented with different formats, and pared down the amount of information being presented to suit the online format. The two main advantages of editing events continue with the new formats: improving content and convincing people of the need and value of engaging with Wikimedia.

Other[edit | edit source]

If you’ve got an activity linked to Wikimedia UK’s outreach and would like to see it included in the next issue of our newsletter, please do get in touch with our Communications and Governance Coordinator, Katie at