Experts and GLAMs – contributing content or "just" links to Wikipedia?
As Wikipedia tries to encourage contributions by academic experts and seeks collaborations with academic and cultural institutions, two examples reported last week illustrated that one of the most popular forms of such contributions seems to be enriching Wikipedia or Commons with links to one's own website.
In a letter to The Guardian, responding to an editorial that had called
"academics serious about public erudition" to contribute their expertise to Wikipedia (see below), three UK professors from "an independent network of nearly 300 historians" wrote that they had "discussed the pros and cons" of doing so, and "decided to insert links in the references of Wikipedia entries" to their own website, http://www.historyandpolicy.org/. "The result was startling: a few dozen links increased visitors from Wikipedia to H&P significantly, moving the online encyclopedia from below 10th to the third most popular source of traffic to our site. We intend to continue embedding links to our papers in relevant Wikipedia entries."
But if the goal is to increase overall exposure of the content in an institution's collection rather than traffic on its own website, uploading it to Wikimedia sites might be even more effective than inserting a link there. Last September, the Dutch National Archives and Spaarnestad Photo had donated more than 1000 images depicting significant events and people in Dutch politics, mostly since World War II (Signpost coverage). A report published last week (summarized in Dutch here, and in briefer form but in English by User:Zikoon his blog) found that the donated photos had been viewed two million times within five months, more than 500 times as often as on the original site. In January 2011, 52% of the uploaded images were in use on Wikipedia, a ratio that the authors compare favorably to the images uploaded by Deutsche Fotothek (3.42%) or Tropenmuseum (7.40%).
Links to databases maintained by GLAMs or academic institutions can carry additional value for Wikipedia as identifiers. A recent article titled "Linking NCBI to Wikipedia: a wiki-based approach" in the scholarly journal PLoS Currents: Tree of Life (abstract, full text) by biologist Roderic D.M. Page (User:Rdmpage) from the University of Glasgow described a project ("iPhylo Linkout") that has connected 53,000 biological taxa between Wikipedia articles and a genetic database from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, which now links to Wikipedia articles (example). However, on the Wikipedia side the insertion of these links in a prominent place, the Taxobox, has been controversial. In a Nature article last year, Page had explored the idea that "Wikipedia has emerged as potentially the best platform for fulfilling E. O. Wilson’s vision [of] 'an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth'".
Jesuit praise for Wikipedia: In its March 19 issue, the Vatican-based Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica published an article about "The Hacker ethic and the Christian vision", which gained the attention of several English-language media noting its defense of the former, and its praise for Wikipedia. As summarized by Techworld, the author, Jesuit priest Antonio Spadaro, "had particular praise for the collaborative knowledge-sharing model of Wikipedia, an example of networked intellectual collaboration that was capable of transforming the very idea of cultural production." In 2005, Spadaro had devoted an entire article in La Civiltà Cattolica to Wikipedia. In 2008, the Italian Wikinews interviewed the "jesuit 2.0" about the relationship between catholicism and Wikipedia, and Internet culture in general.
"World's biggest seminar" needs more academic contributors: A short editorial in The Guardian ("In praise of… academic Wikipedians") followed up on the paper's earlier coverage of the Wikimedia Foundation's "Expert barriers to Wikipedia" survey. After making a case for open access ("A Library of Alexandria in which all humanity held a card would indeed be an institution worthy of Plato's Republic"), it argued that more academics should contribute to Wikipedia: "Fresh means must be found to lure big brains into the world's biggest seminar."
Attempts to revive Odia Wikipedia: The Hindureported attempts to revive Odia Wikipedia. The Odia Wikipedia was one of the first few Indian language Wikipedias to be created. Although started in 2002, along with Wikipedias in Assamese, Punjabi, Nepali, Oriya and Malayalam, prior to even the Hindi Wikipedia in July 2003, the Odia Wikipedia never actually grew, with to date, only 700 articles. The revival of Odia Wikipedia is led by Indian Wikipedian Shiju Alex and another Odia Wikipedian Subhashish Panigrahi who jointly organised Odia Wikipedia workshops in Bangalore and Bhubaneswar. The article which was prominently featured on the rear cover page of the national newspaper, gained lots of attention.
Backstage Pass tour at Derby museum: As reported in BBC local news ("Derby's Silk Mill gets visit from Wikipedia volunteers"), a "backstage pass" event took place on April 9th in the industrial museum of Derby, which had closed to the public earlier this month but enabled Wikimedians to take photos and notes on this occasion. The event was part of ongoing collaboration efforts with GLAM institutions in the British city. They also included the launch of a "multilingual challenge" last week, "to show what Wikipedia could do for any museum, anywhere in the world" – in this case for the Derby Museum and Art Gallery, which together with the WMF will award prizes in September, to submissions that consist of new or improved articles in any language version of Wikipedia, with the condition that they must contain a blue link to the article about the Derby Museum and Art Gallery in that language, and that articles in at least two different languages must be submitted.
Britannica iPad app compared to Wikipedia: PC Magreviewed the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 2011 on the iPad, comparing it to Wikipedia several times (example: "A Wikipedia junkie, I found the entries a bit too brief; they often present a very basic overview of a topic. There also aren't any listed sources, something I've grown accustomed to using Wikipedia").