This post was written by Rebecca O’Neill
It is hard to believe that I completed the #100wikidays challenge on the 9th August, as the time absolutely flew by. The challenge, as many people know, is to write an article a day for 100 days straight and draws on the idea of the 100 days of happiness. Within a few days of the challenge being mentioned to me by Asaf from the foundation, I had fallen down the rabbit hole and created a To Do list in my user space. Unlike the project’s originator, Vassia, I could not place my faith in finding a subject on each day or letting the article subject find you, I needed a plan of attack. As I’m involved in Wikimedia Community Ireland, I had become familiar with the list of Irish National Monuments through our running of Wiki Loves Monuments, and knew that many did not have articles. That was my jumping off point. From there I went to my own areas of interest, Irish naturalists from around the turn of twentieth century, and Irish museums. I choose these areas as I worked for a number of years in the Natural History Museum in Dublin and had become intrigued by the social history and people behind the specimens. My excuse on the museums is a childhood spent in local museums dotted across the county as my parents attempted to entertain children and visitors over the years. Soon enough I had a list of almost 100 potential articles right there.
Although I was not entirely new to creating new articles, I certainly had not created many, so had a lot of the new(ish) editor fears of deletion or criticism. Particularly as I am a woman, you sometimes come primed to expect a little push back, and as I began to focus on women more and more I wondered would I ever have the notability of my articles contested. I was pleasantly surprised. All of my articles are surviving as of right now, and I’m delighted to say that some have been improved upon since I created them. There was no greater pleasure for me than to see an article on an Irish botanical artist or collector edited by someone else adding to the story. It meant that I’m not the only one on Wikipedia who cares!
Soon the Irish naturalists and botanists I was writing about led me to the list of Irish botanical illustrators, which had its fair share of red links. It was finding this that led me to searching the Dictionary of Irish Biography for female entries that mentioned the word “artist”. Suddenly the flood gates opened. Having been an art student in a previous life I have some interest and limited knowledge of art history, and even I was shocked to find the obvious omissions from Wikipedia of Irish female artists. I had found a niche that felt more like a lacuna. If I had fallen down a rabbit hole with 100wikidays, I was through the looking glass now, with a seemingly endless list of artists to write about! Every one artist seem to alert me to at least one or two more red links. As it turns out, 100 days was never going to be enough. It looks as if a second challenge may be on the horizon for me, and rather than just having a general Irish theme it may be 100 Irish women, as there seems to be no end in sight.
Many of the red links languishing in my To Do list are still National Monuments and museums. Non-promotional, non-tourist driven, and comprehensive sources were hard to come by. My hope is to find homes for some of these smaller, or more obscure monuments and institutions, within other articles on their localities etc. Some people I have listed are perhaps not suited to Wikipedia and may be retired from the list, though I hold out hope for some of those early geologists and botanists yet! Doing the challenge has definitely made me a more confident Wikipedian, it has made me feel more like a “real” Wikipedian too, rather than just an enthusiast. I have met some wonderful people both on Wiki and in real life through it, and it has made editing more of a daily habit for me. Saying that I have taken a short break in editing to get PhD and other work done, but it is only a matter of time before another 100 days begins. Having written about everything from the stump of a windmill, to a butter museum, to an almost literal flying nun, I feel like this might only be the beginning.