Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at GW

I was excited to attend my first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon today at George Washington University with Kristen Korfitzen! To read more about the meetup check out their Wikipedia page about the event which was lead by National Archives Digital Content Specialist and Wikipedian-in-Residence Dominic McDevitt-Parks, Jennifer Kinniff of GW, and Chloe Raub of Catholic University.

Dominic explained some of the basics about Wikipedia and how it can be useful for libraries. He talked about his list of Top 5 things to know first that included

Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia

  1. Neutrality (NPOV)
  2. Verifiability (V)
  3. No original research (NOR)
  4. Assume good faith (AGF)
  5. Be bold (BOLD)

After we were introduced to some of the key concepts of Wikipedia we were encouraged to start editing. There were some archival materials and books available for us to use. I ended up looking through The Guide to Black Washington by Sandra Fitzpatrick and Maria R. Goodwin and edited two small articles. These were only small safe edits, but I was just trying to get my feet wetHere is a screenshot of one of the articles I worked on about the Langston Terrace Dwellings in DC.

Screenshot of Wikipedia article on Langston Terrace Dwellings.

Screenshot of Wikipedia article on Langston Terrace Dwellings.

After editing for a couple hours Chloe Raub gave us some advice about how to use Wikipedia in libraries and with classes based on her experience at George Washington University.

Here is a list of some of the key points that I took from the session.

  • One of the key things for libraries to keep in mind when starting to use Wikipedia is that there is no option for an institution level account. Each person involved has to have their own.
  •  When you first log in go to Beta and turn on Visual Editor and then save preferences. Then you can hit “edit beta” and will get a visual editor.
  • In the visual editor there is a “cite” button which makes citing easier.
  • Wikipedia language – better to not make assertations, but say so and so says this and then cite it. Need to say why the person or thing is notable.
  • No original research – has to be from secondary sources. Can use primary sources as quotes or images. Can look at catalog records and finding aids, especially if they have a lot of prose in the front matter. The descriptive matter that archivists create can be used in Wikipedia.
  • Weird to Wikipedians that people get paid to edit Wikipedia, hence conflict of interest and new terms of use say that paid editors must disclose their affiliation. NARA has their own guidelines.
  • Don’t edit articles about your staff or library. But do edit the articles about your collections – that’s where you have the expertise. Act transparently.
  • Don’t appear to be a spammer – ie adding a bunch of links in a short amount of time.
Chloe – talking about using Wikipedia in your library
  • Identify Articles to be expanded / articles to be created
  • ex. GW added link to Ben’s Chili Bowl finding aid on that article under the External Links
  • Library could join GLAM
  • There is a list of active GLAM projects. So one can see what other people are doing. GW had a wikipedian make a page for them.
  •  At GW for quality control sent out 3 articles a week and got staff to rate them. That info went onto the articles Talk page. They put their matrix on the talk page to get others to assess the articles too.

Examples of events and activities a library could host / contribute to

  • Editathons
  • Class projects
  • Wikipedian in Residence