Learning about residencies with the Wikimedians in Residence Exchange Network

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This year’s Wikimania in Singapore will feature a roundtable discussion with members of the Wikimedians in Residence Exchange Network, an international group of people participating in Wikimedia residencies.

This roundtable will share the experiences of various Wikimedians in Residence (WiR) and share best practices and tools they have used in their work with Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, and other projects. Get to know each of the participants below in their own words, and join us at Wikimania to ‘Learn and discuss with member of the Wikimedians in Residence Exchange Network‘.

Florence Devouard

WiR at World Intellectual Property Organization (UN agency)

In February 2022, I started a part-time paid position as Wikipedian in Residence at the World Intellectual Property Organization, also known as WIPO. WIPO is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations. It was created to promote and protect intellectual property.

Two years ago, WIPO started working with several wikipedians on a pilot. They then decided to go a step further with a long-lasting wikipedian in residence. In the past 18 months, I have been working with over 15 teams of WIPO experts, to facilitate the reuse of their content on the English and French Wikipedia, on Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata. Recently, Salvador Alcantar also joined to work on the Spanish language.

WIPO is an amazing source of information, the content they provide, through their databases and reports, is completely aligned with our work and a lot can be used to improve our articles as WIPO publications and website are under a CC BY licence since 2017.

Content-wise, the initiative mostly concern either articles related to WIPO divisions, or articles directly related to IP, or articles which constitute interesting showcases. For example : patent application, cybersquatting, collective rights management, but also, emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, assisting technologies, fuel cell vehicule, tequila, or cherimoya.

In some cases, experts write most of the content to add to wikipedia and I boldly edit it according to our own expectations and explain them why. I can tell you… they had no idea how detailed-oriented we are 🙂 In other cases, the WIPO experts try to be editors and my role is training and coaching. And yet in other cases, the experts point me to resources and I fully decide of content to add. There is so much useful content and it is a joy to work with experts who understand what a source is and why adding references is needed ! More on that Wikimania 2022 video.

Most WIR activities are conducted online, through emails, shared documents, and online meetings. However, I was invited to share experience and organise an hybrid edit-a-thon in May for an IGO working group meeting, coordinated by WIPO and FAO. In fact, WIPO is conducting ongoing and relentless efforts to convince other UN agencies to embrace free licensing for their publications. So hopefully, it will become easier in the future to work with them.

Lane Rasberry

WiR at School of Data Science, University of Virginia

Since 2018 I have been Wikimedian in Residence at the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia in the United States. In this role I support researchers in moving knowledge from the university into the Wikimedia platform, and also support other researchers in exporting content from Wikimedia projects for off-wiki data analysis. My recent projects develop metadata for WikiCite, including through promotion of Scholia as the Wikimedia scholarly profiling service, WikiProject Clinical Trials for medical research, and Wiki99 for Open Source Software, SEEKCommons for community resources for environmental research, and facilitating metadata-related machine learning for Wikipedia misconduct detection and sorting art with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My advice for anyone organizing Wikimedian in Residence projects is to leverage Wikipedia’s audience. Wikimedia platforms have many features, but the one most likely to get anyone sponsored is providing communication service. Universities, for example, produce massive amounts of knowledge, almost all of which is trapped in the library or inaccessible digital formats. Wikipedia is the most requested, published, accessed, and consulted source of information on nearly every topic. Demonstrating that Wikipedia has a communication impact is a great conversation starter with potential sponsors in scholarly research.

James Gaunt

WiR at Australian Performing Arts Collection

I was Wikimedian in Resident at the Australian Performing Arts Collection (APAC) in 2022 where I spent 12 weeks digging through their archives to create new Wikipedia articles about Australian musicians and entertainers. This included creating a Wikipedia page listing all of APAC’s exhibitions, which was a massive task!

Following my residency I joined the staff at Wikimedia Australia and continued running events around getting more Australian music content onto Wikipedia. This included acting as facilitator for Bianca Valentino as our First Nations Wikipedian in Residence, as she improved Wikipedia articles on First Nations musicians.

I see residencies like these a win for everyone. At APAC I showed their staff how to contribute to Wikimedia projects, added new content to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, and found ways to link back to APAC using Wikidata Property:P485 and referencing their catalogues and materials on Wikipedia.

Hugo Lopez

WiR at University of Toulouse, France 

I am the University of Toulouse‘s Wikimedian in Résidence for 2023–24. I am an e-learning professional passionate about non-Western languages. I have masters’ degrees in Chinese studies and a bachelor of Multilingual NLP from the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, as well as a bachelor of History from Bordeaux University. I lived in Taiwan for five years were I studied a MBA of Technologies, Innovation and Management. I love to read. I’ve been engaged with Wikipedia since 2004, mostly as a project facilitator, structuring and documenting those, organizing automomous-learning, IIRL events and training of interested parties. I’ve been quite active on Lingua Libre (d) and its Github code.

As Wikimedian in Residence I am tasked with helping university staff, teachers and students to understand Open Science and Wikipedia. My particularity is my affinity with Web engineering, e-learning, MOOCs acquired during my professional career in universities. As example, I recently lead an operation on Lingua Libre/SignIt to fix its video recording tool aimed to document world’s Sign languages under open licence.

Mike Dickison

Wikipedian at Large, New Zealand 

I was the first Wikipedian at Large; I spent 2018–2019 visiting or resident for up to 6 weeks in 20 New Zealand organisations (museums, research institutes, a library, an archive, a nature reserve, and a national magazine). I explained the Wikimedia Movement, ran small editing or upload projects, trained staff, and helped them use their expertise to improve Wikipedia and make images, text, and video freely usable.

I uploaded 1700 images as part of the  project, ran 55 events for the volunteer community and the public (edit-a-thons, meetups, Wikidrinks, Wikibrunches, and Wikiblitzes), gave 31 presentations (to community groups, international conferences, and everything in between), and was regularly on the radio and in the press as a public face for the Wikimedia Movement.

This project recruited 128 new editors, started a regular Wikimedia meetup in  Wellington and irregular meetups in three other cities, and led to the  formation of the first New Zealand Wikimedia User Group, now Wikimedia Aotearoa New Zealand (WANZ). It was very influential in catalysing the Movement in New Zealand. Two more short Wikipedian at Large projects have been run on the West Coast of the South Island and an annual Wikipedian at Large is now part of the WANZ 3-year budget.A Wikipedian at Large appeals to organisations that are unsure about whether to commit to working with Wikimedia projects—it’s low cost and low risk. It’s demanding on the Wikipedian, who has to be prepared to travel, work intensively, do a lot of training, and give many presentations to the media and the public. It can pave the way for an institution to recruit its first Wikipedian in Residence, and if the local editing community is able to support newbies it can be good for recruiting new dedicated editors.

Eric Luth

Wikimedia Sverige

I am working with the initiative for a thematic hub around content partnerships, and especially the parts that concern partnerships with UN Agencies and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs). In this work, I have noticed that there is a large and growing appetite for Wikimedian in Residence positions, but compared to similar positions at cultural heritage institutions, there is a lack of training, resources, peer-to-peer support, structures and many other aspects that have been developed at the cultural heritage institutions over the years. Working together with, among others, WIPO and FAO, we are trying to build such structures at the hub initiative, and how that it will eventually lead to more WiR positions at IGOs and more Wikimedians ready for such positions.

This work with WiR positions at IGOs is part of a larger work around Wikimedia–IGO collaboration, where we are exploring ways to get expert knowledge from UN agencies and other IGOs to fill gaps on the Wikimedia projects. This work includes supporting IGOs in their development of Open Access policies, training their staff internally, and adding their content (reports, photos, graphs etc.) to the Wikimedia platforms.

Nicolas Vigneron

WiR at the Musée de Bretagne, France 

The Musée de Bretagne (Brittany Museum) is a social history museum located in Rennes, France. It has been involved for years in opening their content (almost a million objects from prehistory to the present day) and engaging with the local community. In August 2022, I started a one year residency at the Musée to allow them to take the next steps, from doing some automated import on Wikidata to empower museum staff to become wikimedians themselves. Among many ideas, one was to go behind just Wikipedia and to discover and use other Wikimedia projects such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata and Wikisource and other tools in the Wikimedia ecosystem (SPARQL, OpenRefine, IIIF, etc.).Before that, from August 2021 to August 2022, I was in a double residency in Clermont-Ferrand in both the heritage library and the university library. See the final report for more info.

Alice Kibombo

WiR with African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA)

Established in 2013, AfLIA is an independent international not-for-profit organization which pursues the interests of library and information associations, library and information services, librarians and information workers and the communities they serve in Africa. With a membership of over 100 information institutions, thousands of information professionals and diverse partnership networks on the African continent, the organisation was in a prime position to mobilise their network to 

Starting with the Wikipedia in African Libraries Project in 2020, I have been a WiR with AfLIA for 2 projects so far. In the first project, working with colleagues, our team was responsible for customising an existing OCLC curriculum for African Librarians (link to customised materials here) which was subsequently used to train over 300 African librarians on how to  navigate and add to Wikipedia with varying levels of success. You can read the final report for more information on what we observed and collectively achieved.

As of November 2022, alongside 3 others I was further engaged as a course facilitator for the AfLIA Wikidata Project – a bilingual project “….to lead African librarians and other information professionals within the library sector to learn how to use Wikidata as a database and visualization tool for mapping knowledge and for connecting their collections through linking local metadata with a network of global metadata thereby making the information on library shelves, museums and archives more open and accessible” . This is ongoing and we have only recently enrolled the  second cohort and we will keep  you posted
In between, I have been helping with organisation of the annual African Librarians Week, conducting a number of webinars and as part of my residency, facilitated an english-speaking Wikidata workshop in Accra ,Ghana at the concluded 5th AfLIA Conference (dashboard and results here. )

Z. Blace

WiR with Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (+Croatian contemporary Culture)

I became the first WiR in Croatia at the Rijeka City Library (second biggest in Croatia) in 2020 at the start of the pandemic while Rijeka’s elaborate European City of Culture 2020 program collapsed and the institution lost financial autonomy. Plans kept changing, we kept extending and modifying work, then finally managed to do a few bigger activities online and a small group event in person. We informed key people and their blog readers about Wikimedia Movement complexity, Wikipedia’s 20th birthday and ways to find and add content on books (zoom) and published a shared interview on IHLIA. We keep in touch in hope for new opportunities (as Wikimedian at Large?). I faced personal and social challenges with both notorious Croatian Wikipedians (who did not know WiRs existed, pulling out COI-arms) and vague commitments during the pandemic. 2021-2022 focused on organisations (in WD) working in independent cultural field and/or contemporary arts, first with CLUBTURE, national network of NGOs working in this field and later with Multimedia Institute who were one of co-founders and one of oldest organisations doing work in Open culture, pioneering CreativeCommons and wikis in Croatia. Both efforts were much more diverse as they included different people working with me in different formats and with different targets (de-centering Wikipedia) with Wikidata, Commons and Outreach in Croatia. After these two small projects we were able to strengthen the local Open GLAM initiative to be more competent and aspirational for future collective work & partnerships. I discussed the issues and possible developments forward in workshop noGLAMorɚ at WM CEE Meeting 2022, as well as presented in Kiasma (Helsinki) and plan to in Wikimania 2023 online session.

In 2023 I am primarily WiR with MSU.hr (Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb) where I helped establish basic understanding and urgency of open knowledge, data and media work in the institution and among some of their partners. We did multiple demos *(with Yamen Bousrih) and workshops (with guests), including first Art+Feminism model event accompanying the big overview exhibition of works in major institutional collections by women contemporary artists The Visible Ones. Institutional capacity to absorb input and change slowly expands and we are hopeful of disseminating not only technical knowledge but methods and work on content gaps (+with minoritized communities) in the Croatian cultural field that has a historic debt of +10 years of Wikipedia’s local negative reputation and no WM affiliates.

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