Wikimedian in residence

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Documentation of Wikimedian in Residence or Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) roles is spread across a number of wikis, including:

Early Wikipedians in Residence were in GLAM institutions, but the role has expanded - for instance:

  • Several university-based residencies, etc.

What are the requirements and expectations of a WiR, their employer, and the community?

Role[edit]

A Wikipedian-in-Residence (WiR) is different from both: a) a paid editor; or b) a project leader or participant, whether or not those in the latter group have an organisational sponsor/champion.

Concerns about Conflict of Interest are well documented, understood, explained and monitored already, so we can leave them aside in this discussion. Organisations, GLAM, non-GLAM or commercial, may employ paid Wikipedians – people who, as part or all of their job, have the task of editing Wikipedia and monitoring Wikimedia generally. The role of WiR is distinguishable from these other two types of involvement.

Among those criteria for a WiR, it seems that advocacy, negotiation, relationship-building, training, consultation and the like are central. By contrast, a paid editor or an unpaid project leader/editor is likely to have none of these responsibilities. Furthermore, organisations could and in fact, already have, quite independently of the community, added the task of editing Wikipedia articles to the other work of a staff member. Although there are many commercial organisations that have done this in bad faith, the National Museum of Australia is an example of one that did it correctly and productively. In the case of paid editors or project leaders, the organisation would not be happy to be paying for such staff members to work beyond what is authorised by their supervisors – for example to work on other areas of Wikipedia or to begin cross-departmental negotiations. From the point of view of industrial relations, the distinction is comparable to that of consultant (or independent contractor) and employee.

Match[edit]

Apart from the relationship of the individual to the organisation and the scope of the role, another of the important reasons for having a clear idea of what constitutes a WiR is that it affects the skill set necessary for the job and the match with the organisation concerned. In turn, an appropriate match (skills and expectations) is crucial to success.

Success[edit]

Success for a WiR will be judged differently from success for those in the other two groups. Paid editors and project participants are likely to have success judged by the number of articles, edits, links or click-throughs that have been generated as a result of their efforts. For a WiR, success will be more complex. In addition to quantitative measures, there will be qualitative measures of success such as how well various relationships have improved and the willingness of partners to continue.

Benefits of a separate account[edit]

Some chapters warmly recommend all their WIR to use a separate account, with username "First Last (Institution Acronym)" because it makes it extremely easy to track what is going on (if anything) in a WIR initiative.

Additionally, the uploader name makes the institution happy and can easily be imitated by the other staff of the institution without feeling "strange" compared to the wikipedian.

One past WIR reports to have liked:

  • being able to use tools like Special:CentralAuth, editcounters, crossactivity, RSS feeds etc. etc. for my WIR activities only;
  • ability to separate my inboxes and notification preferences so that useful messages about each WIR/job go into their own mail directory where I handle them at appropriate times and with appropriate mail filters or scripts;
  • ability for institution staff to do the same, following only my WIR user talks instead of any drama that might happen on my main user's talk page ;
  • ability to have separate userpage in wholly different tones without a need to take care of 10+ years old stuff in my userspace on hundreds wikis;
  • ability to set the account email address to an institutional address so that the entity can where necessary take control of it (very unlikely but means the WIR doesn't to worry about things lingering in their name in 10 years from now);
  • mental transparency of using two different browsers for two different activities;
  • transparency when I acted as community member in reaction to a request from myself as WIR (only happened once, for a help page that really need an update and for which consensus had been found).

Resources[edit]