A message to our supporters in lockdown

By Lucy Crompton-Reid, Wikimedia UK’s Chief Executive.

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well during the current crisis. I think if there is a silver lining to this horrible situation it’s that I see more care and concern from friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have only met a small number of Wikimedia UK’s donors and members in person, but I consider you all a part of our extended community. I know that many people are struggling at the moment, for different reasons, but hope that everyone feels able to cope with whatever you are facing – whether that’s isolation from friends and family, financial worry, health concerns or juggling home-schooling with working from home (speaking personally!)

Rainbow for the NHS in the UK during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic by Amanda Slater. CC 2.0.

Like many other charities and businesses that hold a lot of in-person meetings and events, Wikimedia UK has spent the past month ‘pivoting to online’. However, as part of what is ultimately an online movement, we were well set up to do this and have been working with a wide range of existing partners in the education and cultural sectors and beyond to support their own transitions. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a learning curve, because there certainly has been. But I’m pleased to be able to share with you some examples of online activities that the team and wider Wikimedia UK community have run over the past few weeks:

  • One of our trainers in Scotland, working with our Scotland Programme Co-ordinator, ran an online hackathon for Code the City in Aberdeen over the Easter weekend. The hackathon – which was very quickly re-imagined as an online event – focused on the social and industrial history of the city and resulted in the creation of thousands of new records on Wikidata.
  • Last weekend we held an online event with Banner Repeater for the Digital Archive of Artists Publishing. This is an ongoing partnership, committed to challenging the politics of traditional archives, particularly regarding inclusion and accessibility from a post-colonial, gender critical and LGBTQI perspective.
  • Back in August we trained a number of archeology volunteers at the Museum of London, and last week we ran a follow up session online. Participants were very enthusiastic about the training, and see a gap in Wikipedia’s content about archeological digs that they can very usefully contribute to.  
  • The National Wikimedian for Wales and Wikimedian in Residence at Menter Môn have started delivering introductory sessions to editing the Welsh Wikipedia on Twitch (the next one will be on Monday 4th May). We hope these will prove to be a useful way to continue delivering training and outreach to existing and potential contributors during the lockdown. 

You may have seen media coverage about Wikipedia’s essential role during the pandemic, with readership up by around 30% across all the Wikimedia projects and the articles related to Covid-19 receiving millions of views a day. But with this rise in users comes the challenge of keeping myths, misinformation and poorly-sourced content out of the large number of articles about the virus. So Wikimedia UK is working with WikiProject Medicine to mobilise experienced editors in the UK to help address these issues. We are also working with health bodies to ensure that the most accurate and up to date information about the virus, the disease and the pandemic is made available under an open licence and freely accessible on Wikipedia.

It is thanks to donations from supporters that Wikimedia UK can continue this vital work during the current lockdown. Whilst we know that our fundraising for the year is likely to be significantly affected by the pandemic and the associated economic downturn, I’m so grateful for the solid foundation of supporters who give when they can or regularly. On that note, please consider making Wikimedia UK your Amazon Smile charity. It only takes one click and can raise additional income for us with no cost to you. Thanks again for your support, and stay safe.