I have been meaning to get into Wikipedia editing for awhile, particularly as I have become increasingly aware of the lack of diversity among Wikipedia editors and campaigns to change this. However, I have always been daunted by the prospect, unsure where to start, and fearful that I didn’t know enough about anything to be able to make a meaningful contribution (hello imposter syndrome). Well, I was pretty confident that I did know a lot about Harry Potter, but it turns Harry Potter fans are very thorough Wikipedia editors so there wasn’t much more I could contribute. When monthly Shut Up and Wiki sessions started up at MPOW, I fought imposter syndrome and seized the opportunity to start building my confidence and contribute in small ways during my lunch break. While I still don’t think I really know enough about anything, I know I am pretty good at finding information (#librarylife) and do have a few niche interests that I know a fair bit about (hello Eurovision and LGBTIQA+ archives and special collections pages!)… and I have discovered that editing Wikipedia is pretty addictive. In fact, it’s a lot like a game and I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Given the GLAM blog club topic of passion this month, I thought I would share some resources and projects that have helped me get started. Editing Wikipedia articles is a great outlet for my passion for advocating for social justice and inclusion by facilitating access to knowledge/research and promoting the power of play in libraries.
Some resources and projects that have helped me get started:
1 Lib 1 Ref – the Citation Hunt is particularly fun (or at least fun for librarians)
Ling Wiki project
One of the fellow Wikipedians at MPOW is a linguistics academic involved in the Ling Wiki project and some of their suggestions for getting started look great for GLAM folk and could be adapted a little – particularly archive linking!
A few other Wikipedians at MPOW at have been involved in translating Wikipedia articles from English into other languages and there seems to be quite a bit of work to do there.
Wikipedia is pretty open and transparent about its weaknesses and biases and I recommend checking these articles they have prepared to find out more (and work to change them):
A quick summary of tips I have come across from these resources and from the ‘Shut Up and Wiki’ sessions I have been to include:
- Connect with the ‘Teahouse‘ (log-in required): a safe online community for new editors to ask any questions they may have. No question is stupid.
- Start small by cleaning up pages (i.e. adding credible sources and citations).
- Search WikiProject pages to find things that need to be cleaned up and connect with the community of Wikipedians working on the project. Apparently pretty much everything has a project page! There may be a better way to do this, but if you search for something in the Wikipedia search box, you can then refine your search to look only in help and project pages.
- View the page edit history by checking out the talk section: everything that happens behind the scenes of an article is recorded!
You can read about the ‘Shut Up and Wiki’ origin story in this great Why ‘Shut Up and Wiki’ post by Dr Tseen Khoo. RMIT University have also started Shut Up and Wiki sessions, there’s a Wikipedian community of practice at the University of Melbourne, and Monash University library has recently hosted a few WiKiD Wikipedia editing sessions to encourage Women in Design to contribute.
I encourage you to register for this Wikipedia Editathon for International Museums Day (later this month) hosted by Mike Jones and Sayraphim Lothian at ACMI X.
Speaking of nerdy niche things I know quite a bit about, I think MPOW’s inaugural librarian, Dietrich Borchardt, would have been a Wikipedian and would have encouraged other librarians to contribute too…
There is a great quote from the Australian Parliament Joint Committee on Publications Inquiry into the Purpose, Scope and Distribution of the Parliamentary Papers Series, 1976–77: Official Hansard Transcript of Evidence Canberra sn 1977, p 103:
“Perhaps every librarian is somehow also a bit of an educator, or thinks he ought to be, or he has a social conscience which urges him that he should share his inquisitiveness with the public at large. I have strong feelings about the importance of the demo-cratic process-this has nothing to do with any particular political view, it is just the democratic process itself-and I cannot see how we can overcome the inertia with regard to politics which does abound in so many countries, including Australia, without taking some steps to at least make it possible for people to find out more about what government is about. I understand that this is a philosophical view, but I do think it is an important one which has some bearing on librarianship in general.”
It looks like we shared a penchant for bowties too!
I realise MPOW is pretty obvious in this particular post!