Jump to content

Grants:Project/Amyc29/Community of Soul: Writing Black Music History in Wikipedia

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

statusnot selected
Community of Soul: Writing Black Music History in Wikipedia
summaryIncreasing diversity of Wikipedia by doing outreach events themed around Black Musical History in the US
targetEnglish Wikipedia
amount50,000 USD
contact• amymarie(_AT_)mit.edu
this project needs...
created on15:57, 20 February 2020 (UTC)

Project idea


What is the problem you're trying to solve?


What problem are you trying to solve by doing this project? This problem should be small enough that you expect it to be completely or mostly resolved by the end of this project. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

Our project uses a series of community events (hybrid tech-training/editathon/social gatherings) to empower a more diverse pool of Wikipedia editors to contribute on music-related topics--particularly those of significance within the Black community. We are focused on engaging individuals from historically underrepresented groups in communities where there are demonstrated gaps in knowledge equity.

The main problem we are trying to address is the lack of editor diversity in the English language edition of Wikipedia. Another (equally important) problem we wish to address is content gaps, particularly those pertaining to Black contributions to American musical culture. We feel strongly that with regard to editor diversity, this can be attributed to a lack of platform-specific training as well as a lack of awareness of the specific content gaps that exist (and opportunities to contribute to the Wikimedia projects).

What is documented depends on who is doing the documenting. That said, if Wikipedia is to be reflective of the world, its editor base should be too. Knowledge is power, and we believe that this initiative functions as a form of social activism by deliberately empowering a broader range of contributors to document cultural history and notable biographical figures. Further, we both believe in the power of music as a connecting force, a point emphasized by educator and musician John Gray in this TEDX talk. Given that, we have seen music serve as a way to garner community interest and attendance at our events and are excited to continue this work.

Your friendly event coordinators and grant requestees, Amyc29 and qcsoulman at Wikimania Stockholm 2019

What is your solution to this problem?


For the problem you identified in the previous section, briefly describe your how you would like to address this problem. We recognize that there are many ways to solve a problem. We’d like to understand why you chose this particular solution, and why you think it is worth pursuing. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

To address the main problem of editor diversity, our strategy is thus:

1. Partner with local cultural community centers in key cities (with a particular focus on those with limited Wikimedia project involvement)

2. Produce all-day music-themed events that offer new editor training; an edit-a-thon tied to a regional-specific musical genre; local guest speakers; a DJ; and refreshments.

3. Advertise/promote our events in diverse media outlets to reach a broader public audience

4. Review event outcomes for process improvement and community reach, document our work through multimodal storytelling vehicles

We believe that this is a formula worth pursuing as we have been beta-testing it and have now run successful events using this format in the following places:

Chicago, IL (January 12, 2020) at The Stony Island Arts Bank: our theme was "Frankie Knuckles and Friends"--Knuckles is widely considered the 'godfather of house music' and Chicago is considered its birthplace, so this all-day event at Chicago's newest African-American cultural center brought out a really good crowd, trained a new cache of editors, solidified local community connections, and yielded numerous contributions to Wikipedia. (We have been invited back this spring for another event!)

DJ Duane Powell at Chicago's Stony Island Arts Bank
Library Room @ Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago

Cambridge, MA (February 1, 2020) at MIT. This event was titled "Prince-o-pedia" and was focused on expanding coverage of Prince-related articles (and his collaborators, etc) on Wikipedia. Attendees were from the Prince fan community and were excited to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, which resulted in some good edits.

Prince-o-pedia Editathon @ MIT, February 1, 2020

Charlotte, NC (February 8, 2020) at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art and Culture. This event was tied to WikiProject Hip Hop and featured a local DJ and two guest speakers (Grammy-nominated songwriter, rapper, and producer Mad Skillz and acclaimed film editor/director Farah X, who most recently directed the award-winning documentary The Remix: Fashion X Hip Hop as well as videos for Prince, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Rapsody, and others). We received a lot of local news coverage for this event--one such piece is this one: https://qcitymetro.com/2020/02/05/hip-hop-edit-a-thon-addresses-lack-of-diversity-in-wikipedia-content-editors/

Wikipedia Hip Hop Editathon, Charlotte NC
Speakers from Charlotte, NC Hip Hop Editathon
Charlotte, NC Hip Hop Editathon speakers and attendees
Continental Breakfast from Charlotte, NC Hip Hop Editathon

Our next two scheduled events will be March 28 in Washington, D.C. at the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association's annual conference (with a focus on Go-go music) and April 4 in Memphis, TN at the Memphis Slimhouse (http://memphisslimhouse.org/) in partnership with the Memphis Stax Museum and will focus on Memphis Soul and Gospel music. We believe our approach is distinct for a few reasons. First and foremost, we are committed to expanding coverage of Black History in the English language edition of Wikipedia. We believe the best way to do this is by empowering a more diverse pool of editors through community training (outside of a traditional classroom setting). We have seen music serve as an effective tool for engagement. By adding additional elements (guest speakers, refreshments, partnering with a local cultural center), we also offer a way to build community that will remain after our event is over.

Additionally: though our events are held at local cultural centers in the cities that we visit, we are also partnering with librarians, faculty, and staff at local colleges and universities, public libraries, and affiliate organizations like afroCROWD. We also reach out to the local Wikimedia user groups in those communities and invite them to participate.

Project goals


What are your goals for this project? Your goals should describe the top two or three benefits that will come out of your project. These should be benefits to the Wikimedia projects or Wikimedia communities. They should not be benefits to you individually. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

  • Encourage members of underrepresented groups to become Wikipedia editors
  • Address content gaps in Wikipedia pertaining to Black History and Arts and Culture
  • Establish local community connections in order to "plant" Wikipedia groups that will grow after our events are over

Project impact


How will you know if you have met your goals?


For each of your goals, we’d like you to answer the following questions:

  1. During your project, what will you do to achieve this goal? (These are your outputs.)
  2. Once your project is over, how will it continue to positively impact the Wikimedia community or projects? (These are your outcomes.)

For each of your answers, think about how you will capture this information. Will you capture it with a survey? With a story? Will you measure it with a number? Remember, if you plan to measure a number, you will need to set a numeric target in your proposal (i.e. 45 people, 10 articles, 100 scanned documents). Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

We will know that we have achieved our goals if we have new users attend our events and actively participate (we will measure user participation with a dashboard for each event)

Once our project is over, it will continue to positively impact the Wikimedia community as a new crop of editors will be trained contributors--in turn they will be able to train others (in addition to contributing to the various Wikimedia projects themselves).

Do you have any goals around participation or content?


Are any of your goals related to increasing participation within the Wikimedia movement, or increasing/improving the content on Wikimedia projects? If so, we ask that you look through these three metrics, and include any that are relevant to your project. Please set a numeric target against the metrics, if applicable.

Our goal is to run up to one event per month after the award cycle (June 2020-June 2021) and have at least 40 community members attend each event (in person), become new active editors, and contribute to the encyclopedia during our editathon, either through editing existing articles pertaining to our event theme (we provide a list of potential articles to expand or add on our Wikipedia event pages like this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/Charlotte/8_February_2020), adding photos to Commons, or drafting new standalone articles.

Our primary focus for now is outreach to the Black community and other underrepresented groups in southern US states.

Project plan




Tell us how you'll carry out your project. What will you and other organizers spend your time doing? What will you have done at the end of your project? How will you follow-up with people that are involved with your project?

My co-organizer (Michael Kitchen) and I will spend our time doing the following:

1. Coordinating event logistics (this includes venue selection, sourcing local speakers, DJ, and refreshments from a local small business owner)

2. Promoting our events (we have been using social media as well as traditional media forms--radio morning shows aligned with the musical genre we are focusing on in that particular city; local TV news; local newspapers and alternative weeklies; flyers--both digital and hard copy)

3. Researching our musical themes in order to identify content gaps on Wikipedia that we can add to our event pages

4. Generating digital tools pertinent to our events (Eventbrite signups, Wikipedia event pages, Wikimedia event dashboards for data collection)

5. Documenting outcomes through KPI reporting and multimodal storytelling which we will document on a project website and share through other online portals



How you will use the funds you are requesting? List bullet points for each expense. (You can create a table later if needed.) Don’t forget to include a total amount, and update this amount in the Probox at the top of your page too!

Category Cost
Air travel for organizers to event locations $7200 ($600 per event)
Accommodations for organizers in event cities $3600 ($300 per event)
Ground transportation for organizers while traveling $720 ($60 per event)
Meal per diem for organizers while traveling $2400 ($200 per event)
Food (for our all-day events we provide a continental breakfast, a light lunch, and coffee/tea/water throughout the day) $7200 ($600 per event)
Materials (includes Wikipedia swag—stickers, pins, etc. and a small number of printed instructional materials) $3000 ($250 per event)
Entertainment (music) $7200 ($600 per event)
Promotions $4000 ($333 per event)
Research and Project management (including KPI reporting and creating videos and other storytelling vehicles) $14680

Community engagement


How will you let others in your community know about your project? Why are you targeting a specific audience? How will you engage the community you’re aiming to serve at various points during your project? Community input and participation helps make projects successful.

Community engagement plans We will let others know about our project through traditional and new media (digital) promotion--as my co-collaborator's professional experience is in music promotions and event production, he has particular expertise (and a proven track record) in this area and we have already seen measurable outcomes in the form of attendees to our most recent events. We are targeting a specific audience--the Black community in the southern US due to lack of editor representation and to address content gaps on Wikipedia. We will engage the community we aim to serve throughout our project by centering our project on the local target community for each event by hosting events at local African-American cultural centers, by patronizing local Black-owned small businesses for refreshments, by inviting local speakers of color to share their knowledge pertaining to our event theme in each city.

Get involved




Please use this section to tell us more about who is working on this project. For each member of the team, please describe any project-related skills, experience, or other background you have that might help contribute to making this idea a success.


Amy teaches writing at MIT and has been an active member of the Wikimedia community for many years. In addition to having her students write for Wikipedia (partnering with Wiki Education), she has been an active participant in the broader Wikimedia community including her local user group, attending the Berlin Strategy Summit (2016, 2019), Wikimania, and other regional events. She has published academic articles on Wikipedia, has a chapter in the upcoming Wikipedia @ 20book, and to date, has delivered over two dozen academic presentations on Wikipedia and information literacy. Her work on the Wikipedia project has been covered in the Times Higher Education magazine and highlighted multiple times by Wiki Education. In 2019, she received MIT's Teaching With Digital Technology Award for her work with Wikipedia in the classroom. In addition, she has run numerous community editathons and given that, is well-equipped to lead community training efforts and support the broader goals and mission of the Wikimedia Foundation.


Though a newer member to the Wikimedia community, Michael has jumped in enthusiastically to actively participate in the open knowledge movement. In the last two years, he has attended (and co-led) numerous editathons, attended the Strategy Summit and his first Wikimania, as well as other WM conferences (including WikiConference NA). His skills and experience as a music-industry insider with deep background as an event promoter and producer are the perfect complement to Amy's educational/training background and together they are able to create Wikipedia event experiences that engage a new community audience for participation.

Community notification


You are responsible for notifying relevant communities of your proposal, so that they can help you! Depending on your project, notification may be most appropriate on a Village Pump, talk page, mailing list, etc.--> Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips? Yes, and we have been co-sponsored for our previous events by afroCROWD, who highlighted our work on Instagram and in its monthly email events newsletter. We have also reached out to The Black Lunch Table and would welcome their support as well. Additionally, we would hope to partner further with Women in Red (thanks to @Rosiestep who helped us identify content gaps with Women in Hip Hop before our Charlotte event!) in order to augment coverage of notable women affiliated with regional music genres and movements.

UPDATE APRIL 4, 2020 A few quick updates--due to the current Covid-19 situation, we are strategizing about how we can adapt our current training model for times when there is need for online community events and have been testing some frameworks. While we are big believers in the benefits of offline events and interactions, we recognize the need to have different ways to engage our target community (while also recognizing the reality of digital accessibility when community centers and public libraries are not in operation). As our focus is music, and Michael has many contacts in the music industry given his line of work, we have thoughts about how to involve popular DJs (like D-Nice, Questlove, Kid Capri, Mad Skillz, etc.) in online events and get them involved with digital storytelling for this initiative. Further, as a complement to our work on this project and other community engagement efforts, we are both currently enrolled in a graduate certificate in Diversity and Inclusion through Cornell University and will complete the program at the end of this month.



Do you think this project should be selected for a Project Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • Strong support Strong support I admire the creative methods this project engages to increase participation. Matthewvetter (talk) 01:14, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support Strong support The focus and approach to increasing engagement is inspiring. Rtbhive (talk) 03:39, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support Strong support The focus on underrepresented histories and recruiting a more diverse editorship is essential. In addition, I think the focus on music as a point of connection is a great opportunity to think through how passionate fan communities interact with Wikipedia, and encourage more participation that way. Content-wise, as this is an underserved area of history generally, additional long-term outcomes would also include clearer work lists on areas that need improvement or a clearer sense of important sources that haven't been yet mined, which provide a framework for future working groups on- and off-wiki. I really appreciate the connection this project makes between musical passion and Wikipedia -- I think this is a great way to create long-term investment in the Wikipedia project as a whole. AmandaRR123 (talk) 14:09, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support Strong support I think this project could really bring people to Wikipedia that never thought about editing, or never saw themselves reflected in the Wikipedia community. Music is a great way to engage people as it is something many people are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about. Gkuriger (talk) 15:32, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support Strong support I have participated in one of these events and it was fantastic. I hope to see more of them in the future and continue to participate. ZachMcDowell (talk) 15:35, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Support - Amy has a long track record of educating with Wikipedia (she won an award for it!) as well as running these events, and absolutely has the skills to pull this proposed series off. She's already done a lot with no resources. I've worked with Amy on a variety of Wikipedia events at MIT and would be delighted to see her get funded to do more. -- phoebe | talk 14:50, 1 March 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Support Amy is a passionate hard working woman. She is definitly the right person to make such a project a succesful one. Youssefbhy (talk) 10:55, 2 March 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Support An innovative way of ensuring that communities not well represented in Wikimedia projects get represented and on their own terms. -Yupik (talk) 11:39, 8 March 2020 (UTC)