“A recent dust-up between Wikipedia and Canada’s largest university raises questions about how collaborative the popular website that bills itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” truly is. The online information portal recently took a professor from the University of Toronto to task for one of his classroom assignments. Steve Joordens urged the 1,900 students in his introductory psychology class to start adding content to relevant Wikipedia pages. The assignment was voluntary, and Joordens hoped the process would both enhance Wikipedia’s body of work on psychology while teaching students about the scientist’s responsibility to share knowledge.” (via CTV News)
“Wikipedia isn’t just the encyclopedia anyone can edit—it’s also the encyclopedia anyone can illustrate. Starting this week, logged in users browsing the mobile web on smartphones with upload capability will see a new feature: the ability to add images to articles that lack them. In one easy step, you can upload an image from your phone’s camera or image library and add it directly to an article that has no images. You can also donate images for use on articles that already have images but may need more.” (via Wikimedia blog)
“Sue Gardner, who oversaw a period of rapid growth and evolution of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, said she would step down as executive director of the nonprofit foundation that runs it. In an interview on Wednesday, Ms. Gardner, 45, said she would leave in roughly six months, after the Wikimedia Foundation board had picked a successor. She said she wanted to advocate more directly on behalf of an open Internet, by starting a nonprofit group, writing a book or joining an advocacy organization.” (via NYTimes.com)
“Wikipedia has long been pushing for access to its communal knowledge among those who can’t afford the latest technology, going so far as to strike deals with carriers to deliver free mobile web viewing. It’s set to expand that reach to those for whom any advanced cellphone is out of the question. In part through the help of a Knight News Challenge grant and South Africa’s Praekelt Foundation, the non-profit’s Wikipedia Zero effort will offer its content through SMS and USSD messages in the next few months.”
“One of the great strengths of Wikipedia is that community members can employ the same tool used to write the encyclopedia – a wiki – for collaborating on documentation about the project. The downside of this approach is that these pages, written by encyclopedists, tend to be broad and extremely detailed. New contributors to Wikipedia face a daunting list of thousands of help pages, policies, guidelines, and best practices that have developed over our 12-year history. Today, we’re happy to announce interactive guided tours, a new software feature that will enable Wikipedia editors and readers to learn about the project in a way that is much easier to digest. Wiki-based documentation can now be complemented by concise, step-by-step instructions presented via tooltips. Instead of simply describing a process, we can show you how to complete it yourself, and when you’ve seen enough, you can dismiss a tour instantaneously.”
via Wikimedia blog
“Graduate student and Wikipedian Michael Barera became the first Wikipedian in Residence at a U.S. presidential library last week. Barera, who attends the University of Michigan’s School of Information, is serving as resident at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, which is located on the university’s Ann Arbor campus. This fresh partnership is a wonderful example of how outreach and education about Wikimedia projects can be key components for fostering opportunities such as this. Barera, who has been editing Wikipedia articles and uploading photographs to Wikimedia Commons for over five years, joined the Michigan Wikipedians, a student club on campus, and the first of its kind in the United States. Through the club, Berera attended a seminar held by the Wikipedia Education Program in the fall of 2012. The seminar educated attendees about the opportunities for using Wikipedia in the classroom as a learning tool and showcased partnerships being held around the country.”
via Wikimedia blog
“Ranging from projects that turn no-frills mobile phones into radio stations to applications that help newsrooms manage a deluge of incoming mobile content, eight media innovation ventures received a total of $2.4 million today as winners of the Knight News Challenge: Mobile.
Many of the projects focus on using mobile to get news and information in developing countries. Among them: Wikipedia, which will develop new tools to allow people to access articles and knowledge via text message in multiple languages. The project is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to offer access in the developing world to its site without prohibitive data charges.”
“Wikipedia, one of the world’s biggest websites, is losing many of its English-language editors, crippling its ability to keep pace with its mission as a source of knowledge online, a study says. The study led by Aaron Halfaker of the University of Minnesota found that the number of “collaborators” or volunteer editors has been on the decline from around 56,000 in 2007 to some 35,000 at the end of 2012.
The researchers said there are a number of reasons, including the rise of automated programs or “bots,” but also noted that some potential contributors are being discouraged by Wikipedia’s structure.”
“On December 4, 2012, Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, hit the 15 million media file milestone. The 15 millionth picture depicts Tropical Depression Seventeen-W, a tropical cyclone that developed during the 1996 Pacific typhoon season, and was created by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The public domain image was uploaded by User:Supportstorm, who has participated on Wikimedia projects since 2009. Supportstorm mainly contributes to Wikimedia Commons and English Wikipedia, specialising in tropical cyclones.”
via Wikimedia blog
“Despite recent publicity about businesses and high-profile individuals attempting to edit their Wikipedia entries to show themselves in a better light, Mr Wales told The Telegraph that the problem of inaccurate or dishonest editing was “a dull roar in the background about a problem that I don’t think is getting worse”. Although he conceded it is “hard to tell” the extent of the issue, he said he welcomed negative publicity for inaccurate entries. “We’ve greeted investigations into our accuracy; I want to be able to say to companies ‘if you do this you will get bad press. It doesn’t make us look good but it makes you look even worse’.”