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Wikimedia Foundation/Annual Report/2010-2011/Case Stories

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Case Stories[edit]

“Encyclopedia of Life: A Wikipedia Sampler,” is a print version capturing our ongoing collaboration with leading scientists to document life on earth.

Proof-of-concept for Expert Reviews: Encyclopedia of Life Curates Wikipedia Articles

There are more than 1.9 million animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. In May 2007, some of the world’s leading scientists announced the development of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) to document them all. Inspired by biologist E.O. Wilson and supported by more than $25 million in funding, the project aggregates and makes accessible information about species, ranging from 19th century journals to modern online databases, including Wikipedia content. EOL’s curators vet these Wikipedia articles for factual accuracy, and are encouraged to improve Wikipedia directly if errors or omissions are found. Over a hundred Wikipedia articles that were marked as “trusted” in this way have been collected into a hardcover book called “Encyclopedia of Life: A Wikipedia Sampler.”

The landmark 10,000,000th file uploaded to Wikimedia Commons was user Leinad’s photograph of a waterfowl observation platform near Lipno Lake in Poland’s Wdzydze Landscape Park. Taken during 2nd Wikiexpedition

10,000,000th File Uploaded to Commons

Wikimedia Commons, the sight and sound of Wikipedia, logged its ten millionth file in April. With more than five million new files added in less than two years, the Foundation’s repository of educational media is growing faster than ever, in part thanks to volunteers building enthusiastic relationships with cultural institutions around the world. The breadth and variety of the imagery is invaluable.

Wikipedia Editors Survey

Every word on Wikipedia is the result of work by a volunteer editor somewhere in the world. Early in 2011, we conducted an Editor Survey as the first iteration of what will continue as a biannual endeavor in an attempt to better understand the people who make Wikipedia what it is, and how their potential as a whole can be more fully realized. As the Foundation continues to expand its reach globally, an advanced knowledge of the existing community will increase efficiency as we grow across diverse cultures, as well as help us to retain core editors who keep improving the quality of Wikipedia going forward.


Wikipedia partnered with the Derby Museum and Art Gallery in England this year to launch QRpedia, an initiative that brings QR codes to museum walls, linking visitors with exhibit-specific articles on Wikipedia. Volunteers participated in the first-ever Wikipedia Multilingual Challenge to translate relevant articles into as many languages as possible. Museum visitors can point their mobile device to a QR code for an object, and Wikipedia’s QR tool, conceived with Roger Bamkin, chair of Wikimedia UK, then uses the language settings of the device to ensure the proper article is displayed. Unveiled in April, QRpedia is already in use at four other museums internationally. At a time when cultural funding is hugely constrained, the creation of a multilingual visitor experience that any museum is welcome to adopt at virtually no cost is an achievement to celebrate.

UploadWizard: A New Way to Share Pictures, Sounds and Video

As an outcome of the “Multimedia Usability Project,” a one-year effort funded by the Ford Foundation to increase multimedia participation on Wikimedia websites, the “UploadWizard” became the default upload tool on Wikimedia Commons. It replaced the earlier complicated upload form by a simple step-by-step process. The software improvement was flanked by the creation of an illustrated licensing tutorial, where a cartoon character explains copyright issues in an accessible way, to help novice users determine if their material can be uploaded and freely shared with the world. To date, the community has translated the tutorial into at least 35 different languages.

WikiLove is a cookie, or a cappuccino, or a skewer of meat — whatever image warmly sends the message of “job well done” from one volunteer to another.

WikiLove Rollout

A survey among Wikipedia editors revealed that 70 percent are motivated by receiving barnstars or other virtual rewards from the community for their work. In June, the Foundation unveiled the “WikiLove” feature. Designed to provide contributors with an easier way to bestow personalized virtual gifts upon one another in recognition of a job well done, user pages now play host to kittens, beer steins, and other images crafted by grateful editors. No matter the size of the contribution, editing Wikipedia should not be viewed by anyone as a thankless hobby. And now that there’s an easier way to share the love, we aim to continue perfecting methods of ensuring all users know they’re appreciated.

Eight researchers spent the summer digging up illuminating insights into the nature of Wikipedia’s collaborative online environment.

Summer of Research

Beginning in June and spanning three intense months, this year’s first-ever Summer of Research welcomed eight academics from around the world to Wikimedia’s San Francisco offices. Intended to spark an interdisciplinary examination of both Wikipedia communities and the online influences that either help or hinder collaboration, the researchers were selected primarily based upon previous commitments to studying Wikipedia topics. Of the eight, six were pursuing PhDs in fields ranging from computer science to social interaction on collaborative online environments. Timely, ambitious discussion and walls of intricately linked sticky notes began attempting answers to questions revolving around editor retention, editing policy, and community size.

Wikimedians as Officially Accredited Photographers

The world’s increasing recognition of Wikimedians as its storytellers becomes visible in the numerous events where they are officially accredited as photographers or reporters. When the wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling drew half a million visitors to Stockholm last year, two Wikimedians were among the media representatives that were granted special access to cover the event. With help from the Swedish and German Wikimedia chapters, they had obtained official accreditation from the Swedish foreign ministry, showing the Swedish government’s awareness of the importance of free information. Apart from the royal family, the event presented opportunities for portraying the guests of honor, who numbered more than a thousand.

Among the many other events where Wikimedians have been granted official accreditation are an international football match between Portugal and Argentina, the Prix de Lausanne ballet competition, and the 2011 G8 summit.

Cultural Partnerships Take Off

More and more galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) are partnering with Wikimedia to increase the reach of their collections. Many are uploading images and other media to Wikimedia Commons, thereby making them available for the whole world to use and enabling them to be employed as illustrations for Wikipedia articles. They are also providing Wikimedians with special access to their collections and to the expertise of their curators.

Many GLAMs are opening their doors to “Wikipedians in Residence.” Pioneered at the British Museum in 2010, this collaboration model has Wikimedia volunteers working in-house at a cultural institution, improving content in collaboration with staff and the Wikimedia community, organizing “backstage pass” or “editathon” events for Wikipedians, and generally laying the foundation for a lasting partnership. Among the GLAMs with Wikipedians in Residence are The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Château de Versailles, the Museu Picasso, the Archives of American Art, the U.S. National Archives, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Derby Art Gallery and Museum.

Among the image collections of cultural icons are over 1,000 photos of the Château de Versailles.