An introductory course on Wikipedia editing at the foot of the world’s tallest TV tower in Tokyo

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On 26 February 2023, an ‘Introduction to Wikipedia Town’ was held in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, to bring together local information. Sumida Ward is located 5 km from Tokyo Station and is an administrative ward close to Asakusa. It is also the town where the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest existing TV tower, stands. The lecture was organised and hosted not by the municipal library, but by Yutoriya (Sumida Lifelong Learning Centre), which is responsible for lifelong learning and community activities. As a community centre, Utiriya not only organises events for residents, but has also organised many events and workshops that delve into the history of the area under its auspices.

Until now, Wikipedia Town has been organised in the ward by a regional group, but this time it was planned as a course to learn more about Sumida Ward through Wikipedia. Wikipedia Town, which has been organised by the community group “Sumida Sumizumi-horiokokokitai”, has been held twice so far in Sumida Ward. The first one was covered in my own personal blog, so please refer to that.

For this course, the maximum number of participants was set at 15, and the content consisted of an explanation of Wikipedia and the Editathon, the details of the initiative, an introduction of case studies that have been held in Sumida, and actual work. The planning was based on the assumption that the content would be fairly introductory, with Wikipedia Town beginners in mind. The person in charge of organising the event said, “I have found Wikipedia writing very fulfilling when I have participated in previous Wikipedia Towns. I also believe that there are potentially not a few ward members who find it rewarding to be able to contribute to the introduction of the community”. She also stated that “the course may not be enough for experienced people, but if we can develop it with content suitable for introducing beginners, I think it will be a good opportunity for them to make friends in the future.” He also stated.

Two months before the event, the programme and the proposed themes to be written about were finalised. There were 10 possible themes, and one of the key elements was that the person in charge actually selected the items he or she would like to write about, and the programme was further refined by discussing whether there were materials available in the region or at the library, and how it would fit in with Wikipedia guidelines such as the “Notability”. An announcement was also published in the 21 December 2022 issue of the Sumida city News to reach a wide range of city residents.

For a text version of the contents of the city bulletin, see the following link. (Japanese)

A PDF file of the city bulletin that was actually distributed to all households is available on the Sumida city website, and the notice can be found on page 6.

On the day of the event, 13 people attended. In this workshop, we decided not to conduct a town tour, so that we could have as much editing time as possible. When I hold workshops myself, I ask the participants to read articles in newspapers and other media, firstly through individual and group work to summarise in their own way what the articles are trying to convey, and then on paper to think about what kind of content would be good to include in a certain article on Wikipedia. This time, they selected an article that touched on the discovery that killifish were living in the firewater tank of a ward junior high school and how they were eventually displayed in an aquarium in Tokyo Skytree. Myself, the organiser chose this topic and one of the things I look forward to hearing about the episode and the reasons for the selection.

Lecture at the venue / File:Wikipedia入門講座.jpg on / Photo by Sumihoritai / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The actual Wikipedia edits included Mukojima Hyakkaen([[ja:向島百花園]]), Higashi Mukojima([[ja:東向島]]), Shirahige Bridge ([[ja:白鬚橋]]), Edo Kiriko([[ja;江戸切子]]), Sumidagawa Shichifukujin ([[ja:隅田川七福神]]) and Shirahige Shrine ([[ja:白鬚神社]]). In this editing, the aim was to add even one sentence per person, so the organisers and themselves took care not to set the bar too high. Many of the comments on the questionnaires after the event stated that there was not enough time, but that the event was fulfilling. Here are some of the participants’ comments.

  • I’ve been using Wikipedia for a while, but I didn’t have the perspective of a writer, so it was new for me!
  • I was able to start my first steps here comfortably. I could see that it was fun. Thank you very much for your help.
  • I enjoyed learning how to write Wikipedia and information about Sumida at the same time.
  • I was very happy to be able to add articles! It was a lot of fun for me to learn about the participants and the many edits they made!
  • The time flew by. It was good to be able to talk about the local area with local people.
  • I enjoyed the work from “What is Wikipedia Town?” to information literacy and the dissemination of Sumida city information.
  • It was the first time to have Wikipedia Town indoors, and the work of writing out two articles was fresh. I would like to do this in my home town.
  • It was the first time for me to attend a course and I was shivved! I think this would attract participants even with the same content more than once.
  • I think we had just the right number of people and each person could experience editing Wikipedia individually.

As we are approaching the end of the financial year, some plans for the following year are still undecided, but Wikipedia Town in Sumida is likely to expand still further.

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