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Wikimedia UK: Supporting free and open knowledge

Archive for September, 2012

Joint statement from Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Over the past six months, a Wikimedia UK trustee led two Wikipedia-related projects, Monmouthpedia and Gibraltarpedia, in a way that seemed to some observers to blur his roles as a Wikimedia UK trustee, a paid consultant for the projects’ government partners, and an editor of the English Wikipedia. This raised questions in the Wikimedia community about whether a trustee was able to balance appropriately the interests of his clients with his responsibilities to Wikimedia UK, the values and editorial policies of Wikipedia, and whether any conflict of interest that arose as a result was effectively managed.

To better understand the facts and details of these allegations and to ensure that governance arrangements commensurate with the standing of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia UK and the worldwide Wikimedia movement, Wikimedia UK’s trustees and the Wikimedia Foundation will jointly appoint an independent expert advisor to objectively review both Wikimedia UK’s governance arrangements and its handling of the conflict of interest.

The review will consider Wikimedia UK’s current governance arrangements, current internal policies, such as the Trustee Code of Conduct, the Nolan Committee Requirements, the Conflicts of Interest policy, the Representing Wikimedia UK policy, any other relevant policies of Wikimedia UK, and best ethical practices.

Considering specifically the conflict of interest, we will ask the expert advisor to identify any gaps between how the conflict of interest situation within Wikimedia UK would ideally have been handled and how it actually was handled, and to recommend how situations such as this should be managed in the future. The review will also touch on any activities that may have blurred work as a paid consultant with work as a Wikipedia editor, but recommendations for changes to Wikipedia’s policies and practices will be outside its scope: we leave the broader topic of reviewing Wikipedia’s editorial policies to the community.

Once the review is completed, it will be reviewed by both the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK and then published.

At the same time, Wikimedia UK has agreed with the Wikimedia Foundation that the Foundation shall process payments for the United Kingdom during this year’s fundraiser.

Wikimedia UK has the benefit of legal and professional advice to assist in understanding and handling conflicts of interests. The goal of both organizations in carrying out this review, and Wikimedia UK’s in deciding to absent itself from the 2012 fundraising campaign as a payment processor, is to demonstrate that we mutually recognize the importance of handling conflicts well beyond simple requirements of the law. We understand our responsibilities to you: the members of Wikimedia UK and the Wikimedia movement, its donors, editors, and readers.

First ever Wikimedia UK intern waves goodbye

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Isabelle Yates at EduWiki

Isabelle, the first Wikimedia UK Intern, has finished her internship on 21 September 2012. Here is a message from her written on the last day in the office:

 

Today is the final day of my internship at Wikimedia UK, and now that the last few things have been wrapped up or handed over to my lovely successor Hasina, I have time to reflect a little on my past six weeks here.

Considering this has been a bit of a trial run for the office, having never had an intern before, as far as I’m concerned it couldn’t have gone better! They welcomed me with such warmth and explained everything so well that the ‘settling-in’ process took all of a day and I quickly felt comfortable as part of the team. I’ve particularly enjoyed working in an office building with numerous other charities doing interesting and worthwhile things, and where the environmentally-friendly ethos is proudly upheld.

The time has certainly gone quickly but it’s been long enough to achieve some things that I’m rather proud of!

Firstly, the compilation of a database of contacts at every university in the UK which then enabled us to mail out our Education Booklets to over 300 academics, plus many more digitally. This was a key process in raising awareness of the Education Program amongst teaching specialists who will hopefully realise the potential of Wikipedia in education practices, and this database of contacts should be a useful resource in the future.

This led into the EduWiki Conference in Leicester (5-6 September 2012), which was the highlight of my internship. It was extremely satisfying to see everything come together and the preparation pay off when the two-day event (the first of its kind) took place with great success. For me it was nice to put faces to the names I had been adding to lists and printing onto badges, and to see the passion of the attendees as they shared their ideas and experiences, and returned to their various posts with fresh optimism about the progress that can be achieved by collaborating with Wikimedia. This was certainly the largest event I have helped to organise and was therefore a valuable experience in working on such a scale and over two days.

Although I was unable to attend the GLAMcamp in London at the British Library I did assist during the run-up, booking flights and accommodation for GLAMcampers coming from all over Europe to attend, as well as a few from the UK, and arranging the restaurants for the all-important evening meals. There was certainly a lesson to be learnt in making group hostel bookings! But I believe the weekend went well, and I’m sure next year’s GLAM conference will be even more of a success.

As well as making the odd cup of tea or coffee, I also made myself useful in the office by helping out with the annual accounts, sourcing expenses claims to fill in a few gaps which involved a bit of detective work that was actually quite fun! I made the acquaintance of the franking machine and the shredder, too – happy memories. And my French skills even came in handy when a document on Wikimedia Commons needed translating, so my seemingly irrelevant degree actually did have some use!

All in all I’ve had a genuinely fulfilling experience working for Wikimedia UK. I’ve felt valued by the team and been allowed responsibility and independence in the tasks set for me, which have been varied and interesting. More importantly I’ve met some fantastic people with overwhelming knowledge and dedication, who have convinced me that in nine months’ time (maybe ten – I’ll give myself a few weeks off!) when I’ve finished my Masters and I’m looking for my first ‘real’ job, the charity sector is the first place I’ll look.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Wikimedia UK, especially Daria and Richard who have been such wonderful managers, and all of the board members and volunteers I’ve met along the way who have been so supportive to a newcomer like myself. Thanks to WereSpielChequers I now have the basic skills to edit Wikipedia, so I can continue to contribute to the Wikimedia mission of free and open knowledge for all wherever I go next.

Gibraltarpedia: WMUK press release

Friday, September 21st, 2012

1. What’s Gibraltarpedia?

Gibraltarpedia is a project by the Government of Gibraltar to improve coverage of Gibraltar-related topics on Wikipedia. It is co-ordinated by two Wikipedians, Roger Bamkin and John Cummings, who are working with Gibraltar residents to train them in how to use Wikipedia and add appropriate photos, etc to Wikimedia Commons; as well as adding QRpedia codes which link places and buildings in Gibraltar with their Wikipedia articles. Roger and John are being paid as consultants by the Government of Gibraltar to help deliver this project. This project was announced at Wikimania in July 2012, and is currently underway. Gibraltarpedia was inspired by the successful Monmouthpedia project (see below).

2. What’s Wikimedia UK’s link to Gibraltarpedia?

Wikimedia UK has not funded this project – our only material involvement has been to supply some “how to edit Wikipedia” leaflets, which is the kind of thing we would do for any institution, and to refer any enquiries received by the office about the project to Roger. However, we do think that mobilizing volunteers to write Wikipedia articles is a good idea – and indeed we do exactly the same thing with the help of galleries, libraries and museums. To this end, we have long intended to give more formal support to this project; before we can do so we would need a clear memorandum of understanding with the Government of Gibraltar setting out shared aims and objectives, and we are working on such a document.

3. What’s Monmouthpedia, and what’s it got to do with Wikimedia UK?

Monmouthpedia is a project by Wikimedia UK and Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) to improve coverage of Monmouth-related topics on Wikipedia. Monmouthpedia took place mainly in the first 6 months of 2012 and, similarly, involved Wikipedians working with local volunteers to help write articles, upload photos, and tag places in Monmouth with QRpedia codes. Wikimedia UK was very much involved with this – we co-funded a Wikipedian in Residence in Monmouth, and a number of QRpedia plaques, as well as various other expenses relating to the project. Again, Roger Bamkin had a consultancy relationship with MCC, though in this case not directly concerned with the delivery of this project.

4. Who owns QRpedia and does anyone benefit from its use in these projects?

Roger Bamkin and Terence Eden have developed QRpedia, which is a system which allows you to generate QR codes which link to Wikipedia articles.  They own the domains qrpedia.org and qrwp.org which are used by this service. They have developed this service as volunteers, there is no advertising, and there is no charge to anyone for its usage. The software is released under an open licence and anyone can re-use it. Wikimedia UK is in the process of finalising an agreement which will transfer qrwp.org to Wikimedia UK’s ownership, with the intention that Wikimedia UK will support existing and future QRpedia codes. No money will change hands as a result of this agreement.

5. What about Roger’s conflict of interest between his role in these project and as a Wikimedia UK trustee?

Roger has always been open with Wikimedia UK about his commercial interests and has declared them in public at appropriate times. He has not voted in any Wikimedia UK decisions about Monmouthpedia since the start of his consultancy relationship with MCC or on any decisions about Gibraltarpedia or QRpedia. All our decisions about this have been taken by the other trustees, with the aims of the charity in mind.  Roger has not received any Wikimedia UK funds for any of these projects, except for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in his role as a volunteer in the early development stages of Monmouthpedia before becoming a consultant, paid in line with our normal expenses policy.

6. If he hasn’t done anything wrong, then why has Roger resigned?

After discussions with the Board, everyone agreed that the best way to avoid any confusion between Roger’s role running projects like Gibraltarpedia and Wikimedia UK projects, was for Roger to step down.

– Chris Keating, Chair of Wikimedia UK on behalf of the Board of trustees.

Board update

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Wikimedia UK would like to announce that Roger Bamkin has stepped down as a Trustee.

“Roger’s energy and enthusiasm has been central to the establishment of Wikimedia UK as a registered charity, our outreach programme, and to many other aspects of our work. QRpedia, one of his creations, is now in use in dozens of museums and galleries worldwide,” said Chris Keating, Chair of Wikimedia UK.

“Roger has always conducted himself with openness and honesty with regards to his business interests, which the Board greatly appreciates. However we have reached the decision together that it is best if Roger steps back from the Board, and thus the Board has accepted his resignation. I look forward to working with Roger in future.”

The constitution of Wikimedia UK allows the Board to co-opt a Trustee to fill Roger’s place until the next AGM when elections will be held, and we will update the community about our intentions about filling this vacancy in due course.

Wikimedia UK appoints Saad Choudri to its Board

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Wikimedia UK is pleased to announce the appointment of Saad Choudri to its Board of Trustees. This appointment is effective from 19 September 2012.

Saad brings a wealth of skills and experience to the Board. He is a practising solicitor in the video games industry and has offered legal advice pro bono in the past. He is a member of the Law Society, and stood as a candidate in this year’s Trustee election, where over half of the membership voted for him. You can see his candidate statement and his answers to candidate questions from that election.

We welcome Saad to the Board and very much look forward to working with him.

Chris Keating, Chair, Wikimedia UK

EduWiki 2012 – a review

Friday, September 14th, 2012
EduWiki 2012 infographic by Amber Thomas

EduWiki 2012 infographic by Amber Thomas

The first week of September saw the first EduWiki Conference at the University of Leicester, England, bringing together educators and Wikimedians for two days to talk about the Wikipedia Education Program and other ways we can support each other.

The keynote speakers were Annie Lin from the Wikimedia Foundation; Leigh Thelmadatter from ITESM Mexico; and Amber Thomas, a programme manager for the JISC, a publicly-funded body for information technology in education and research.

The topics included assessing student work on Wikipedia, using Wikipedia’s corpus of 4 million English articles for language learning, creating customised reference books using the Wikipedia book tool, and Wikiversity. Video and slides are being added to the conference programme.

Both the Wikimedians and the external speakers were surprised at how much we shared a common vision for the future. Amber Thomas created an infographic (see right) to express how Wikipedia fits into the opening up of research and education. There was much less agreement about how we should accredit the informal learning that goes on in online communities. Doug Belshaw of the Mozilla Foundation prompted a vigorous debate when he introduced Mozilla’s Open Badges project.

Audience reaction to EduWiki has been very positive: “I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I signed up for this conference, but looking back it was easily the most thought-provoking event I have been to for some time,” writes AJ Cann on the ”Science of the Invisible” blog. Sarah Currier, who runs a national repository of open educational resources, titled her post-conference blog post “how this skeptic was won over” and wrote in praise of “brilliant, reflective and committed Wikipedians everywhere”.

The conference has started off a number of working relationships, including training workshops and joint events that we will carry out over the coming months. Wikimedia UK is planning to do a similar conference for pre-university education in the coming year, as well as regional workshops for campus ambassador training in universities.

Martin Poulter is a Wikimedia UK volunteer Associate who works on building relations between Wikimedia and academia. He was the convenor of the EduWiki Conference.

Wikipedia Takes Coventry – the winners!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Man's Struggle by Team Mattley

First prize winner: Man’s Struggle by Team Mattley

This blog post was written by Wikimedia UK volunteer and event organiser, User:Rock drum

On Saturday 1 September, local Wikimedians organised the first “Wikipedia Takes…” event in the UK, in the city of Coventry (which, contrary to popular belief, is home to many historic or otherwise interesting buildings and structures).

In the latest event in Wikimedia UK’s ongoing partnership with Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, 51 photographers, almost exclusively non-editors, descended upon the city for the one-day photo scavenger hunt. Over the course of the five and a half hours, over 2,000 photographs were taken and uploaded, making an invaluable contribution to open culture and the historical record about the key areas of Coventry.

Many articles to do with the history of Coventry and the surrounding area are now illustrated by lots of high-quality photographs.

Prize-winners

There were five prizes on offer for participants; for best photos, most points and a “judges’ choice”.

Best photo

The three best photographs, as chosen by the judges, were all printed on canvas and presented to the winners.

Allesley Walled Garden by Phil Radbourne

Second prize winner: Allesley Walled Garden by Phil Radbourne

The first prize winner was the photo called Man’s Struggle by Team Mattley. The judges said: “A masterpiece that captures the mural beautifully and makes it somehow more real, like a Picasso painting come to life.”

The second prize went to Phil Radbourne for his photo of Allesley Walled Garden. Here’s what the judges thought: “A quirky, playful photo that has colour, depth and texture. Good composition and it made us smile.”

A photo of the Reconciliation Statue, Coventry Cathedral, taken by Julia, was awarded the third prize. In the view of the judges: “This photo that shows what you can do when you have a feel for your subject. We felt that this image of the Reconciliation statue in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral successfully captured the spirit of the city.”

Most points

Every target on the list was given a points value based on its distance from the starting point and how important it was. The prize for most points was won by Team Wormova with a stunning 167 points.

Judges’ choice

The final prize on offer was the “judges’ choice”, the winners of which would be given a selection of Wikimedia merchandise. This prize was won by the Nicholson Family. The judges said: “The Nicholson Family win the judges’ choice award. They approached the event as a fun day together as a family, captured some excellent photos and got involved in the event with smiles on their faces – and to us, that’s what it’s all about.”

Third prize winner: Reconciliation statue in Coventry Cathedral by Julia

Third prize winner: Reconciliation statue in Coventry Cathedral by Julia

The organisers would like to thank all those who participated for making the day fun and memorable. All photos uploaded from the event can be found here on Wikimedia Commons.

Board update

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Wikimedia UK is sad to announce that Joscelyn Upendran has stepped down as a Trustee.

“It is with great regret that I have accepted Joscelyn’s resignation.” said Chris Keating, Chair of the Wikimedia UK Board of Trustees. “I would like to thank her for her important contributions on the Board and look forward to her continued involvement as a member of the charity.”

The constitution of Wikimedia UK allows the Board to co-opt a Trustee to fill Joscelyn’s place until the next AGM, when an election for 3 trustees will be held. The Board will make a decision about how to proceed at its next meeting on September 9th.

EduWiki kicks off amid great anticipation

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
Stamford Hall, University of Leicester, venue for the EduWiki Conference

Stamford Hall, University of Leicester, venue for the EduWiki Conference

There’s excitement in the air in Leicester this morning as our EduWiki Conference gets under way. Academics from three continents are meeting with Wikipedians and opinion-formers to discuss the use of Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia, in higher education.

As well as universities, organisations represented include JISC and the Mozilla Foundation. Delegates will be examining the impact of open educational resources and looking at the lessons from previous case studies.

Follow the event on Twitter across the two days by using the hashtag #eduwiki and keep an eye on this blog for more updates.

Three months as a Wikipedian in Residence at the British Library

Monday, September 3rd, 2012
The entrance to the British Library

The entrance to the British Library

Over the past two years, Wikimedia UK has been working with the British Library. These have involved a series of editing events and tours through 2011-12, and partnerships between curators and volunteers to write about some of the Library’s most significant material. In May 2012, with the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Library recruited Andrew Gray as the Wikipedian in Residence. Below is a blog post from Andrew outlining his experiences so far.


The main focus so far has been on getting a training programme off the ground. Since the first workshop in mid-June, I’ve had workshops for 55 staff at the British Library, and for nine more at the National Archives. Another 40 people have been to university-hosted workshops at Birkbeck in London and the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. These people are from more than ten institutions and represent a wide range of backgrounds: academics, librarians, researchers, support staff and postgraduate students.

At the British Library, again, we’ve had a diverse turnout. As well as curators, we’ve had reference staff, cataloguers, conservators, technicians, accountants, archivists… The emphasis in these workshops is essentially on “Wikipedia as information literacy”, on getting the basic skills to contribute to them or engage with them – understanding the dynamics of editing and communication, how to add footnotes, how to use talkpages.

The programme continues through a series of upcoming workshops, including one at the British Library for readers and two for AHRC academics. The university programme will resume in the new term with a workshop in early October in Oxford and I’m looking at organising some more outside London to follow on from this. If your institution might be interested in hosting one, please do get in touch.

Many thanks to the Wikimedians who’ve assisted in running these sessions, and to those who’ve offered to help at the upcoming ones.


On the content side, things have been simmering gently. I’ve been working on an overview of all British Library content on Wikipedia, looking at both the projects and the collections. One thing that’s been interesting is discovering how many languages currently represent the British Library with an (admittedly beautiful) image of the British Museum Reading Room – the Library split from the Museum years before I was born!

I’ve also been working with curators and the copyright group here to identify suitable collections that can be released openly. We’ve started trialling it with the gradual release of a collection of musical manuscripts, chosen to represent a wide sample of autograph material by around a hundred composers and prominent musical copyists. The uploads of these have begun, gradually, to let me work some bugs out of the system!

We have a number of curators who are interested in working with Wikipedia volunteers to write about their collections. In September we’ll be having a workshop where we’ll be inviting editors to come and meet curators, hopefully leading to some good partnerships. When we’ve had these in the past (eg, the collaboration on the Cuthbert Gospel) they’ve been very successful, and there’s great promise for the future here.

In September, with the assistance of User:Philafrenzy, we’ll be hosting a workshop at the British Library designed to reach out to people interested in a specific topic – in this case philately – and offer them support from the institution and from Wikipedia editors to help them contribute to articles on the topic. Reaching out to groups of potential contributors like this is unusual, outside of academia, but we’re hoping it’ll prove productive.


Being a Wikipedian in Residence also allows me the opportunity of supporting work for the broader library community. I’ve been working with Max Klein and a group at OCLC to prepare and roll out authority control identifiers – the system used in librarianship to uniquely identify individuals – across the English Wikipedia, building on work already done by OCLC and by the German Wikipedia community. We expect to have these going live by the end of August, with inclusion of VIAF identifiers on well over 200,000 biographies. This will be a major step towards tying our articles into a wider ecosystem of linked reusable data, and hopefully encouraging greater integration with libraries.


What else have we done? In June, the British Library hosted a World War I editathon organised by JISC and Wikimedia UK; around thirty Wikipedians and academics attended, working on a series of articles linked to key topics around the war. This prompted a number of institutions to reach out to us about future collaboration, and to talk about the work they could do with Wikimedia, which I’ve been working on following up.

As well as the workshops above, we’ve an event coming up on 10th September – an open session to talk about what the community would like to get out of the residency, for curators to meet editors, and work on some of the digital content. There will be a tour of the current Writing Britain exhibition in the evening, led by a curator, and we’d love to see as many people as can make it.

If you’d like to get involved or learn more about this project please email Andrew.Gray – at – bl.uk.

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