Learning patterns/Wikimedian in Residence Support Group
What problem does this solve?
So, with our range of WiRs in different institutions across the country, we found that they were often working in isolation, with varying different focuses and projects they were working with.
But we wanted to enable WiRs to pursue more ambitious projects beyond Wikipedia and Commons such as Wikidata, which requires more training and supervision, but not limited to that.
We also wanted them to have a “peer group” to work with, who would understand the specific challenges of working with a GLAM and also Wikidata, but without the cost of arranging face to face meetings.
What is the solution?
So we simply introduced them all via email, along with a couple of resident Wikidata experts. The email chain has continued as a conversation and “helpdesk"
This was a safe space for those that didn’t understand Wikidata at all, but had a very specific and common application for it (working in a GLAM).
- It works better than directly asking a larger community that may have Wikidata knowledge, but not an understanding of the GLAM issues.
- It has solved some specific technical issues for WiRs.
- It has also contributed to the development of the training manuals for non-technical users of Wikidata that are in a position to establish Data Partnerships with GLAMs for less technical users.
We currently have 6 current and former WiRs and a Wikidata expert, and we plan on developing this small group further. With formal training and a “summit” of some sort, but this has been a cost-effective way of bridging the gap until we can arrange this.
Things to consider
- Keep the group small and task-focused. It builds trust quicker and the fewer people; the less likely it is to go off topic.
- Have someone or all in the group documenting learnings.
When to use
- When you are running multiple WiRs but want to maintain consistency.
- When you want to expand the range of projects your WiR is contributing to beyond Wikipedia.
Subsequent developments in WiR support
As at a year later, we have found that these networks have been very useful and led onto more developed activities. From covering initial areas of understanding via email and building up a working relationship and trust, we were in a place where we could move onto more expansive discussions.
- Information shared is specific and related to work not only in terms of content, but also scale. E.g "How a small library collection with x standard of metadata can work with Wikidata" vs "How a large library can work with Wikidata?"
- We have found that access to tools and information via a personal network isn't scalable, but is a good stop-gap and a way to work on building documentation, learning what is missing, what tools are connected to other tools. This has led onto further work which will create sustainable resources for WiRs and other GLAM coordinators and project participants.
Beginning this conversation helped us work on a Wikimedian in Residence Summit where we had members of this group work together to share experiences and problems faced.
- The above event supported research which is being fed back into centralised GLAM documentation available to the wider community and aimed at supporting developing GLAM community work as well as established communities. Presented at the 2017 European GLAMWiki Coordinators meeting.
- It's not just "What and how" questions. Design, accessibility, location and user-profiles are being covered.
- We have recognised and confronted problems that can't be solved with "Just another Wiki page that looks like an encylopaedia article" approach.
- The research is also being fed back into the work Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO is doing helping them build UNESCO resources to expand understanding of Wikimedia in the global heritage community.
- As part of the Wikidata Muggle support group I found it very helpful to have a space to try things out, especially where the documentation was sparse or we were trying to do new things. I agree that it was useful to keep the group focussed on a specific task, the cultural partners mailing list fulfills the function of a general group for Wikimedians working with GLAMs. John Cummings (talk) 10:35, 24 March 2016 (UTC)