Grants:Project/Rapid/Rachel Wexelbaum/What is Wikipedia?/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Rapid Grant approved in FY 2016-17 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Project/Rapid/Rachel Wexelbaum/What is Wikipedia?.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
  • You are welcome to Email rapidgrants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.


Did you meet your goals? Are you happy with how the project went? I was overly ambitious with our project goals. While we did not meet all of our goals, those who attended the edit-a-thon had a rich learning experience. Once again, we had quite a few people who originally said that they wanted to participate, then dropped out at the last minute due to other engagements, illnesses, etc..

1. Recruit new editors;
I promoted the Wikipedia edit-a-thon in several venues: Main Street (St. Cloud State University's Student Involvement Fair, where all of the student organizations promote themselves), the Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference during a panel discussion on Wikipedia, through our St. Cloud State University Library's social media, and through an email list of students, alumni, faculty, librarians, St Cloud Community & Technical College faculty, and community members who want to participate in Wikipedia events. I also posted our edit-a-thon on the Minnesota Wikipedia Meetup Facebook page, and it also appeared on the Wikipedia page for MeetUps. While multiple parties expressed interest in attending this event, no new people came.
2. Increase skills for existing editors;
The people who attended this edit-a-thon were all returning editors. They wanted a review of how to cite sources, so we reviewed this and they were able to perform it. I also taught them the following:

  • How to search for WikiProjects on topics of interest using the WikiProject Council Directory search;
  • How to locate and identify Wikipedia articles in their areas of interest that needed improvement;
  • How to create redlinks;
  • The meaning of Creative Commons and public domain;
  • How to upload photos to Wikimedia Commons.

3. Add or improve content;
In spite of the small turnout, we had an incredibly productive day! Here is the event page: [[1]] 14 articles were improved 31 photos were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons There was intent behind the selection of articles to be improved. Our University Archivist had uncovered a photograph of a late St. Cloud State University Art professor who was the mother of the Coen Brothers. This is one (of many) things that made our late Art professor Rena Coen notable, so we indicated this on our university's Wikipedia article as well as the Coen Brothers' article. Rena Coen is now a redlink, and may be officially added to Wikipedia during a future Art + Feminism event. In central Minnesota there is a local morning radio show host on a heavy metal radio station who is empowering people to make anti-Semitic jokes and threatening people in the community who oppose him. People in this region are unaware that so many heavy metal musicians are Jewish. I wanted to make sure that this information was available in their Wikipedia articles. Knowledge of music idols' identities may change hearts and minds.
4. Increase community engagement at St. Cloud State University;
I am spreading the word about Wikipedia, how to use it for educational purposes, and edit-a-thons in different venues at St. Cloud State University, the surrounding community, and the librarians within our state. While interest is growing, it has not taken off in St. Cloud like it has in the Twin Cities. I will be presenting on Wikipedia at the Library Technology conference in March 2018; this is a conference that attracts librarians and tech people from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. In general, this region has low Wikipedia participation compared to the coasts and to some Southern states.
5. Build network of Minnesota Wikipedia editors; I have informed all current and potentially interested Wikipedia editors about the social media channels and email list that informs people about upcoming events and allows folks to ask questions. Our Minnesota Wikipedia editor "network" includes librarians from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Hennepin County Public Library System, St. Paul Public Library, 3M employees, St. Cloud State University faculty and students, St. Cloud Community & Technical College librarians and faculty, Anoka-Ramsey Community College librarians, St. Catherine University's library school students and several faculty, Quatrefoil Library, and community members in central Minnesota and the Cities.
6. Build a student Wikipedia community at St. Cloud State University;
The people who participated in this edit-a-thon were the students who had a positive experience at our Spring 2017 "Wikipedia as Social Activism" edit-a-thon. They would definitely attend a future event. I had taken student advice from last spring's edit-a-thon and visited all of the student organizations at Main Street to promote the edit-a-thon and explain what it was all about. I also reached out to the fraternities and sororities to suggest that editing Wikipedia articles may count as service for them. While they were receptive to the idea at Main Street, no further communication took place about the idea. There are still quite a few faculty at my institution that fear Wikipedia, and pass that fear on to their students. I have begun to incorporate use and evaluation of Wikipedia into my library instruction sessions, and this is helping. If more faculty speak positively about Wikipedia to their students to help change hearts and minds, the more likely our students will want to participate in these events. In the future I may work with the English Department on how to accomplish this.
7. Promote open access resources using Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects as examples.
I showed participants Wikimedia Commons, as well as shared stories and examples of how people are using wikis for textbooks, activist networks, and so on.

Participants enjoyed the experience, but due to lack of participation and interest from our community, I am not sure if I will facilitate another one next fall. I will continue the conversation about Wikipedia on our campus, though, to show faculty and students how it can be used for research and instruction.


Please report on your original project targets.

Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
Number of events: If this event leads to the creation of another event on campus or in the St Cloud area, that is success. Attendees expressed interest in having another event.
Number of participants: 10 or more participants. 4 people participated in the edit-a-thon. While 8 other people had expressed strong interest in attending the event, illness, work assignments, or travel kept them from participating. We provided a remote access option but no one expressed interest in using it.
Number of new editors: 5 or more new editors. 0 new editors. 4 returning editors. Two of the four returning editors were SCSU students.
Number of of articles created or improved: 10 or more articles improved or started as stub-class/start-class articles. 14 articles improved, 31 photos uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Click on the link to our event page to see our work.
Number of repeat participants (for projects that include a series of events): If our "regular" Wikipedans from campus and the Cities sign up, show up, and edit or create new entries, that is success. 1 veteran Wikipedan from the Twin Cities participated in our edit-a-thon.


Projects do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:

*What worked well? We have an excellent workspace in the library for edit-a-thons--well-lit, with loaner laptops, and tables designed for collaborative work and discussion. Free parking was also available in a lot close to the library for out of town participants. We also had a great promotion plan for the event, using social media, flyers around campus, individual emails to potentially interested faculty, and word of mouth to students through faculty. Support provided by library staff, campus foodservice, and the Academic Technologies Team was excellent.

What did not work so well? I designed the edit-a-thon following guidance that I had gotten from the previous year from students, and promoted it to the hilt. If I do this again I will need to get more faculty and students engaged in promotion. The challenge is that so many of our faculty and students are afraid of Wikipedia and are convinced that it is not for serious research.

*What would you do differently next time? If I organize an edit-a-thon next time, I would like to do it with a single academic department, class, or student organization so that the students and faculty could help spread the word about their experience.


Grant funds spent[edit]

Of the $215.16 that we received, we spent $121.89 on food.

Remaining funds[edit]

Do you have any remaining grant funds?

We have $93.27 left--the University Library had no need for additional signage for the event.

The remaining funds can return to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Anything else[edit]

Anything else you want to share about your project? We are thankful to the Wikimedia Foundation for the funds that they provided for this event.