Grants:TPS/Tedder/Legislative Data and Wikipedia Conference/Report

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Event name: Legislative Data and Wikipedia Conference

Description of your participation:

My major Wikipedian interactions were with w:User:PeteForsyth and w:User:Cryptic C62. My major conference interactions were with Francis Avila, who has been engineering the XML datastore used by Cato Institute for the legislative data. Francis, Cryptic, and myself collaborated to tackle one problem, which was mapping w:NIST agency names to readable names and their Wikipedia equivalents. We discussed other problems, such as the lack of machine navigation to legislative articles. For instance, the w:Taiwan Relations Act had several other names, had a house number, and is a public law. I investigated how to map these back- probably using Template:USBill to walk all the pages.

I spent a lot of time maintaining the etherpad notes during the conference, took several dozen photos of the event, and helped new Wikipedians with w:WP:LEGDATA-related issues such as notability and style.

What lessons were learned that could help others in similar events?

One of the key outcomes of this event was to put folks from the Cato Institute and open-legislative-data together with the folks from Wikipedia. This conference was a rousing success on those lines. I saw many people make their first edits to Wikipedia and expect at least a few will continue to edit.

Personally, I should have sought out the main technical contact (Francis) ahead of time so we could get on the same page sooner. Our time at the conference was rewarding and there is a huge backlog of work that can be done now if only I wasn't working 7 days a week already. The public policy world is new to me and I enjoyed learning about it and seeing how large the community behind it is.

What impact did your participation have on the Wikimedia Mission goals of Increased Reach, Increased Quality, Increased Credibility, Increased and Diversified Participation?

In my mind, this conference (and my participation) was about laying the groundwork for increased quality of content. The wins for Wikimedia were primarily intangible- discussing how the machinery of Wikipedia and of the Cato legislative data can be brought together. A huge win would be to list appropriations (spending) per department that are allocated in each bill; the start of this is the 'agency list' (mentioned above). Building a relationship between Cato and the enwiki community should be very beneficial for getting objective information on public policy pages.

Detail of expenditures:

All amounts in USD.

  • Flight: $468 (LAX-DCA, one stop, lowest price fares, March 13-March 17)
  • Lodging: $324 (three nights sharing accommodation with a fellow participant, I paid $216 personally for one extra night for recreation)
  • Transportation & food: I covered.
  • Total: $792

Amount underspent/left-over (please specify currency):

  • Not applicable, as my expenditures were preplanned and I covered all incidentals personally.