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A report from the EduWiki Conference in Serbia

April 15th, 2014 by Stevie Benton

The photo shows a group of around 15 people gathered together in an office space

Selection of the participants at the Eduwiki Serbia learning day event

In a post entitled Preparing for the Wikimedia Serbia EduWiki Conference published on this blog on 20 February Brian Kelly described how he would attend the Eduwiki Serbia conference and learning day and report on educational developments taking place in the UK. This post provides his reflections on the events.


The Eduwiki Belgrade conference was organised by Wikimedia Serbia and held at the Belgrade Youth Centre on Monday 24 March 2014. The conference provided an opportunity for sharing of experiences of educational use of Wikipedia in Serbia which was complemented by summaries of similar activities in the US, UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine. Prior to the conference a learning day event was held in the Wikimedia Serbia offices.

The Learning Day

The Learning Day event provided an opportunity for Wikimedia Serbia staff to outline education activities taking place in Serbia and receive feedback from those working or involved with other national Wikimedia chapters (the Wikimedia Foundation and chapters in Germany, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Macedonia and the UK).

The learning day was structured so that feedback was provided for a number of areas, which helped to provide focussed attention and helped to ensure that the day was valuable for all participants. The topics covered were project metrics; leadership; target groups; quality and quality of articles; attracting new editors; feedback on the educational projects and opportunities for cooperation across Wikimedia chapters.

As can be seen from the accompanying photograph of a slide which summarised plans for the future, the Wikimedia Serbia organisation is ambitious, with the intention that “in 3-5 years Wikipedia [will be] a part of the Serbian educational system“.

The Eduwiki Conference

The Edukwiki conference provided a series of presentations about Wikipedia and related activities. Following the welcome to the conference from Rod Dunican, Wikimedia Foundation and members of Wikimedia Serbia the morning session provided an overview of Wikipedia, details of the education programme and examples of the educational projects which are taking place in schools and colleges. The morning session also included presentations on Creative Commons and open access. The afternoon session provided details of activities taking place beyond Serbia. Following an overview of the Wikimedia Education Programme given by Rid Dunican, Director of Global Education Programs at the Wikimedia Foundation, details of national activities were provided from speakers from Germany, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine and myself who summarised activities in the UK.

I had previously written a blog post on Open Education and Wikipedia: Developments in the UK which went into some detail of some of the key activities I would describe in my presentation: highlights from the EduWiki UK 2013 conference, the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador post and the forthcoming Wikimania conference, to be held in London in August 2014. However after I submitted my slides I discovered that I would only have 15 minutes for my presentation, rather than the 45 minutes which the layout of the conference timetable suggested! I was able to provide an edited summary of my slides (which are available on Wikimedia Commons) although the original slides are still available and are hosted on Slideshare.


The Eduwiki Serbia conference only attracted small numbers of participants, many of whom were speakers at the event. It would seem that the value of Wikipedia in education is not yet being appreciated beyond the early adopters. It seems to me, therefore, that there is a need to explore outreach strategies which go beyond the early adopters and appeal to the early mainstream community who may be willing to make use of Wikipedia if they see benefits for their mainstream activities.

Such approaches may require use of communications and outreach channels which go beyond use of mailing lists, blogs and wiki resources which are managed by Wikimedia chapters. I found it interesting to observe how Wikipedia Serbia has a Facebook page and makes use of this Facebook page for its outreach activities, with 678 current ‘likes’ of the page. Might monitoring metrics of social media uses by Wikimedia chapters provide useful insights into potentially valuable outreach channels., I wonder?

Further Information

A large number (currently over 130) of photographs about the EduWiki Conference Belgrade 2014 have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons with an additional 110 photographs about the Learning Day also available.

I also created a Storify summary of the two events. I decided to do this after making use of Storify to provide a report on the WIKIsymposium which took place in the University of Stirling a few days before the events in Belgrade. As I described in a blog post on Emerging Best Practices for Using Storify For Archiving Event Tweets Twitter has the potential to enable discussions and ideas shared at events to be made available with a wider community and if there are enough people tweeting at an event a useful summary of the event can be produced. Perhaps this might be a useful approach for raising the visibility of Wikipedia events within the Twitter community? I’d welcome your thoughts.


Thoughts on the Wikimedia Conference

April 14th, 2014 by Stevie Benton
The image shows a very long, hand drawn mural outlining the conference

A mural storyboard from the Wikimedia Conference

This piece was written by Stevie Benton, Wikimedia UK Head of External Relations, and is one of a series of reflections on the Wikimedia Conference 2014 in Berlin

As I write it’s the final day of the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin. It’s been a very busy but incredibly worthwhile few days. It is my first time attending a Wikimedia Conference and having also never attended Wikimania I wasn’t at all sure what to expect.

The reality of the conference is that it’s hard work. From the outside looking in this may not be obvious but I can promise you this is the case.

The conference featured a very full programme of presentations, workshops and discussions alongside plenty of opportunities to meet with people from across the chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation. I was fortunate enough to be personally involved in the delivery of one of the sessions, a panel about advocacy. This proved to be a very helpful session and there was a strong consensus that achieving favourable reform to copyright should remain a focus of movement advocacy.

It was extremely useful to meet with so many people that I have worked with for the last couple of years that I’ve only encountered online. I was very encouraged by the diversity of the conference and its very international nature. There are so many intelligent and motivated people, both volunteers and staff, working to share the sum of all human knowledge and I was inspired by them all.

Our movement is in great shape. The progress made by chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation would be difficult to overstate. Wikimedia UK is no exception to this. There is admiration for the progress our chapter has made in terms of governance, strategy and measuring our impact and the lessons that we have learned are being widely shared across the movement.

The strongest message I have taken away from the conference is that the future looks very bright indeed, albeit with much work to be done. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the volunteers and staff that made this conference such a success – they did a remarkable job of keeping things organised, helping people get to where they needed to be and welcoming so many people to their office. Without their efforts the conference wouldn’t have been such a productive, useful and enjoyable experience.

Conference scholarships

April 14th, 2014 by Katie Chan
Group Photo, WikiSym+OpenSym2013, Hong Kong

Group photo of participants of WikiSym+OpenSym 2013 in Hong Kong

As a part of Wikimedia UK’s continued efforts to support the Wikimedia community the the UK, we regularly offer scholarships to enable attendance at international conferences and meetings. Past scholarships have enabled members to attend previous years’ Wikimania, WikiSym and Wikimedia Hackathon events, such as the 2013 Hackathon event in Amsterdam. This year, as a result of our support, Wikimedians in the UK have been able to attend the European Parliament in Strasbourg to take photos and videos of European Parliament members and attend the EduWiki conference in Belgrade, Serbia to share Wikimedia UK’s experiences from our education-related outreach activities.

Two further scholarship opportunities are now available, the first for Open Knowledge Festival and the second to OpenSym. OKFestival, run by the Open Knowledge Foundation is an open data and open knowledge conference that will bring together over 1,000 people from more than 60 countries in a bid to encourage innovation in the open sector through sharing experiences and skills. Furthermore, the event is a celebration of the open movement itself and what it has already achieved. OpenSym, previously known as WikiSym, is the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration where researchers from all over the world gather to present their latest research and practice on “open access, open data, open education resources, IT-driven open innovation, open source, wikis and related social media, and Wikipedia”. Both of these conferences are being held in Berlin, Germany with OKFestival on 15th-17th July and OpenSym on 27th-29th August.

To qualify for either scholarship, you must be based in the UK, be able to travel to Berlin and attend all days of the event, and agree to produce a public report (which may be published on the Wikimedia UK blog and in our newsletters) summarising the key things that you have taken from the event. Applicants for OpenSym must also be engaging in research about Wikimedia or other free content projects. The scholarship will cover conference registration fee, travel, accommodation, along with a per diem allowance to cover local expenses.

Complete this online form by Sunday 20th April to apply for a scholarship to OKFestival. The deadline for OpenSym scholarship is Sunday 30th April, and you can apply here.

Improving Wikipedia coverage of women artists

April 8th, 2014 by Stevie Benton
The photograph shows three women at a computer screen, having a conversation

Daria Cybulska of Wikimedia UK (centre) speaking with some of the event attendees

This post was written by Althea Greenan of the Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths College

How did the Wikipedia editathon come about with regards to women artists? There have been a number of editathons that led to the session I held here recently.

I organized a modest follow up (8th March) of a much bigger event (1 Feb 2014) organised with Wikimedia NYC. This major event in the US inspired satellite events elsewhere including an event that took place at Middlesex University. The event I organised for the Women’s Art Library to celebrate International Women’s Day, was not only a follow up to this initiative from the librarians in the US, but is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I became aware of the Wikimedian community and the GLAM projects that connect with collections in Galleries, Libraries and Museums. I have also been in discussions with artists groups such as conversation to be had from which emerged the awareness that women artists are not represented adequately in Wikipedia. It demonstrates the bias of content resulting from a lack of women writers, scholars and content creators.

I am the curator of the Women’s Art Library which was originally set up in the late 1970s as a slide registry building a centre of documentation and arts activities that raised awareness of women’s art practice. This organisation operated over several decades and the collection, now in Goldsmiths, continues to act as a centre for research and new art projects, and a space for interventions promoting the work of women, such as the Wikipedia workshop. The charity Wikimedia UK provides trainers, volunteers, who demystify, but also set standards on how to contribute good quality articles to Wikipedia, and it seemed like a very obvious thing to set up and see if it flies.

It was a very successful, exciting debate regarding the feminist strategy, born of necessity, that we need to write our own histories, set in the context of a rapidly expanding global resource that is seeking to be inclusive and yet maintain high, impartial standards of knowledge sharing. It is absolutely necessary to take up the challenge this opportunity brings and the important result from my first workshop is that everyone would like to follow it up with more to build on the knowledge and confidence to create records.

Pages are set up in Wikipedia relating to these events that might list records created etc (like this one), but it takes time to generate these, and to track down images that can be licensed to Creative Commons. The fact that an image can only be used if you relinquish aspects of copyright, allowing unrestricted use, can feel like an obstacle to some artists, but museums and others are increasingly putting images online, and allowing photography in public displays that acknowledge a different cultural approach to image-sharing.

In the past the Women’s Art Library  has ‘tackled gender equality in the arts’ through publications, especially a magazine that was distributed globally by the time the funding came to an end in 2002. It is a strategy that creates a context for contemporary and emerging artists to see themselves alongside each other, and historical women artists, and the powerful resonances that perspective gives is something that remains not only in reading back over those articles (an anthology is forthcoming in 2015 from IB Tauris), but also in the articles that now appear in a different publishing setting: the Internet.

The workshop was attended by a multi-generational cross-section of artists, students, lecturers, a trainee archivist and a musician, and all felt welcome into the conversation. I think that’s not only because I invited them to the Women’s Art Library to take a place at the table, but because, yes, I think Wikipedia is a good place to start redressing the balance. There is a very rich world of women’s art practice that we are aware of but which should become part of our shared knowledge too.

Wikimania – Submission deadline expires with a blaze of proposals

April 4th, 2014 by Stevie Benton
Image shows the blue, white and red logo of Wikimania London

Wikimania 2014 logo

This post was written by Matthew Wood, Wikimania / Wikimedia UK volunteer

As many will no doubt be aware of by now, Wikimania, the annual global conference of the Wikimedia movement, arrives in London for the first time this summer. The conference, hosted at The Barbican, Europe’s largest conference venue,  with the main body of events running over a long weekend from the 8th -10th August and activities happening from the 4th – 11th August.

Over the past few weeks, Wikimania 2014 has been inundated with open session proposals related to several tracks as detailed by the conference organisers. These proposals, workshops, presentation and talks from people connected to the Wikimedia movement, revolve around and incorporate the following themes:

  • Wikiculture and community
  • Social machines
  • Legal and Free Culture
  • GLAM outreach
  • Education outreach
  • Open scholarship
  • Open Data

The deadline for submission for these exciting topics expired 31st March. Everyone involved in Wikimania and would like to thank all of those who took the time to submit proposals for Wikimania 2014 in London. It is with great pleasure that we can announce the reception of 514 unique and exceptional proposals, all of which will be scrutinized thoroughly and intensely.

Difficult choices will be made over the next couple of weeks in order to refine the sessions for acceptance to be presented in a variety of ways at the conference itself in August. We wish you all the best throughout the assessment process and thank you once again for your eagerness to contribute to Wikimania and the Wikimedia community.

Wikimedia UK is now a member of the Fundraising Standards Board

April 2nd, 2014 by Stevie Benton
Image shows the blue and white tick logo of the Fundraising Standards Board

The Fundraising Standards Board is the independent regulator for charity fundraising in the UK founded in 2007

This post was written by Katherine Bavage, Wikimedia UK Fundraising Manager
‘Imagine a world in which every single human being is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing…”

These are the words used by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, that have historically inspired readers over the years to understand the heart of our movement and show their support by making a donation. The Wikimedia movement and Wikipedia would not exist without the sustained and fantastic generosity of donors from around the globe.

Wikimedia UK is funded partly by a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation, from global fundraising campaigns on Wikimedia project sites, and partly by direct donations made to the charity. As a registered charity we have our own objects to deliver public benefit, and stay in touch year round with our donors about the work their support has helped to create.

At Wikimedia UK we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to the support our donors have shown us, which in 2013 was over £250,000 of direct gifts to the charity. As a result we have become a member of the Fundraising Standards Board and committed to meeting the terms of their fundraising promise which are:
  • We are committed to high standards
  • We are honest and open
  • We are clear
  • We are respectful
  • We are fair and reasonable
  • We are accountable.

You can read the full fundraising promise here  and the Institute of Fundraising ‘Code of Fundraising Practice’ here.

Most importantly we have now developed a supporter complaint procedure which we will continue to highlight to donors. If you are unhappy with how a gift you have made has been handled, or have feedback about the process or any other aspect of our fundraising or donor communications you can let us know – in the first instance with an email to fundraising@wikimedia.org.uk. We hope we offer a good service, but we also believe that it can always be improved and that the best people to show us how are the people who it is designed to benefit – that’s you!

The unusual suspects…

March 31st, 2014 by Stevie Benton
Image shows a watercolour painting of a woman painting at an easel

A self portrait by Mary Ellen Best

This post was written by Pat Hadley, Wikimedian in Residence at York Museums Trust

A volcanologist, watercolourist, botanist and forger….walk into a bar? No, in this case the unlikeliness of our characters was not the set up for a bad joke. In fact, we had an even larger cast of York’s luminaries as the focus for our Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the Hospitium on March 16th. This public event was the culmination of my role as Wikipedian-in-Residence; a sixth-month residency helping the trust to share its collections through the online encyclopedia.
16 keen participants and eight members of YMT staff gathered on a surprisingly spring-like Sunday with the aim of improving content on Wikipedia – the world’s sixth-most popular website – using content from the collections and archives of the Trust. The event attracted keen York historians, experienced Wikipedians and those new to both. Curators had prepared lots of resources, participants brought their laptops and we had plenty of tea and biscuits to fuel us through the day. Groups spontaneously gathered around articles they wanted to tackle and could get help with resources or the technicalities of editing.

The day was themed around the lives and work of York’s luminaries who lived between 1800-1950. We were fairly broad with our definition though and wanted to encourage people to document some of York’s lesser-known figures. These included:

  • Mary Ellen Best – A key female Victorian artist. Best painted domestic interiors, in contrast to many of her contemporaries. Best has a number of works in the York Art Gallery but had no biography on Wikipedia until the edit-a-thon. A few days later, her article featured in a Did you know? on the front page of Wikipedia, creating 3500 views!
  • Walter Harvey-Brook – Was the Yorkshire Museum’s honorary curator of Medieval Archaeology and designed much of the Museum Gardens. Brook’s paintings, sketches and archaeological notes are key parts of the collections. His article was created during the edit-a-thon.
  • Tempest Anderson – Volcanologist, doctor, adventurer. Anderson’s images have been uploaded by the museum for use on Wikipedia. Some of his best are now available to use. His biography was significantly updated.
  • Edward Simpson – less of a ‘luminary’ Simpson was an itinerant archaeological forger known as ‘Flint Jack’. His biography was substantially improved during the edit-a-thon

Click through here for a full report of the day’s edits.

It was great to have curators on hand to help with references and context for these topics. After lunch, they also treated us to talks and handling sessions with some fascinating artefacts and information. Though we got a huge amount done, these made it clear how much more fantastic stuff there was in the collections and archives at YMT. There’s plenty of scope for going much further!

Everybody had a great day and we’re really hoping that we can get together again soon to make even more improvements and that more people have the confidence to continue editing in their own time. Maybe we could have another theme next time? We’d love to have more people along – so perhaps your ideas will help share the next set of unusual suspects across the world!

Publishing scholarly papers with, and on, Wikipedia

March 28th, 2014 by Stevie Benton
Astragalus Mayeri plant

Image from an Open Access journal article, shared on Wikimedia Commons by Daniel Mietchen. Click on the image for credits.

This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter, Jisc Wikimedia ambassador

Wikipedia welcomes expert contributions, and is one of the most direct ways to promote public understanding of a subject area, but it isn’t always in researchers’ personal interest to contribute. It may seem as though any time spent writing for Wikipedia is less time to write the research papers which will advance their careers. One scholarly society, and its open access journal, have found how to do both at once. Read the rest of this entry »

What I know is…

March 25th, 2014 by Stevie Benton
The photo shows Dr Toni Sant standing giving a presentation while Dr Greg Sing sits on a stool

Dr Toni Sant (left) and Dr Greg Singh at the conference

This post was initially published by Lorna Campbell of Cetis and is republished here under its CC-BY licence

“We are all publishers now, publishing has never been so ubiquitous” - Padmini Ray Murray

Earlier this week I was speaking at What I Know Is, an interdisciplinary research symposium on online collaborative knowledge building organised by the University of Stirling’s Division of Communications, Media and Culture, together with Wikimedia UK. It was a completely fascinating and eclectic event that covered everything from new models of academic publishing, issues of trust and authorship, non-hierarchical networks of knowledge, extended cognition, collaborative art and the semantics of open.

Trust was a recurring theme that ran through the event. Symposium chair Greg Singh touched on fundamental issues of digital literacy and trust in his opening talk and Ally Crockford, the National Library of Scotland’s Wikimedian in residence, explored these themes in a talk about tensions and anxieties that persist around Wikipedia and collaborative authoring. Issues of trust persist around Wikipedia partially due to the unfinished nature of many entries, however Ally argued that the evolving nature of Wikipedia is one of its strengths, you can see the history of everything written there. More fundamentally, Ally argued that Wikipedia democratises knowledge and teaches the value of thinking critically. Wikipedia is no longer a resource, it has become a structure for open access knowledge. Ally also picked up on continued anxiety and distrust of open access policies that lingers in academia, and in the humanities in particular, a sentiment that was echoed by many in the room.
Read the rest of this entry »

Wikimania – ten days to submit your session proposal

March 21st, 2014 by Stevie Benton

Wikimania, the annual global conference of the Wikimedia movement, comes to London this year for the first time. The conference takes place from 4-11 August, with the main part of the conference being on the 8th 9th and 10th August.

The conference organisers are keen to receive a wide range of proposals, workshops, presentations and talks from people connected to the Wikimedia movement. There are several tracks to the conference:

  • Wikiculture and community
  • Technology, interface and infrastructure
  • Legal & free culture
  • GLAM outreach
  • Education outreach
  • Open scholarship
  • Open data


The team are looking forward to your submissions, but hurry! You have until 31st March to submit your proposal to the programme committee. You can submit your proposals here

If you are considering attending Wikimania then now is your opportunity to influence the programme – please click here and sign up for the six or so submissions you would be most likely to attend if they make the final programme.

If you have any questions about submitting a proposal for Wikimania please contact GLAM@Wikimedia.org.uk

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