Activity Report for the First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2013–14

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This report describes the activities of Wikimedia District of Columbia from October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

Content programs

During the quarter, Wikimedia DC held three edit-a-thons, two of which were held in partnership with local cultural institutions. A total of 38 volunteers attended these three edit-a-thons, volunteering approximately 147 hours in total, including time spent editing Wikipedia, learning how to edit Wikipedia, and helping others in their editing. Twenty of these volunteers created their Wikipedia accounts at these events or in the preceding week, constituting approximately 52.6% of the total attendees. None of these newcomers have attended edit-a-thons since, making reaching out to them all the more necessary. Indeed, only three volunteers participated in two or more edit-a-thons. We expect repeat attendance figures to increase as more events are held and more efforts are made to reach out to past attendees.

Smithsonian Libraries Edit-a-Thon

The American Art/Portrait Gallery branch of the Smithsonian Libraries held an edit-a-thon with Wikimedia DC on October 25. The event, focusing on American artists of the World's Columbian Exposition, was made possible by library books, journals, and curatorial files made available by the Smithsonian Libraries. The Exposition was largest exhibition of American art ever assembled at the time, and many of the artists who participated lack adequate coverage on Wikipedia. This edit-a-thon was organized as part of Wikipedia Loves Libraries, a national campaign to encourage Wikipedia outreach in our nation's libraries.

Sara Snyder opened with an introductory presentation on editing Wikipedia for newcomers. Eleven newcomers and eight experienced editors participated in the edit-a-thon that followed. Of the 11 newcomers, eight made edits, contributing 13,577 bytes of content across 82 edits. These new editors created three articles (Walter Launt Palmer, Amanda Brewster Sewell, and Aloys Loeher) and improved five existing articles. The eight experienced editors contributed 23,052 bytes of content across 64 edits, including three new articles (Alice De Wolf Kellogg, Sarah Paxton Ball Dodson, and Mary Lizzie Macomber) and improvements to six existing ones. In total, 36,629 bytes of text content were contributed across 146 edits, with six new articles created and 11 existing articles improved.

The event attracted many new editors and resulted in improvements to articles on notable women throughout history, helping to address Wikipedia's gender gap in coverage. We look forward to working with the Smithsonian Institution on improving Wikipedia's coverage of subjects in fine art.

Laurel History Edit-a-Thon

The Laurel Historical Society Edit-a-Thon was a one-day event held at the Laurel Museum in Laurel, MD, with two major goals: to train Laurel Historical Society (LHS) volunteers on editing and contributing to Wikipedia and Wikimedia, and to allow LHS and Wikimedia DC members to edit and create Wikipedia articles using the LHS’s library and archival holdings. As a small city museum, the Laurel Museum and the LHS have holdings specific to the city of Laurel, Maryland and its environs, largely dating from the nineteenth century to the present day.

There were several activities during the edit-a-thon. The event started with an introduction to the Laurel Museum by LHS Executive Director Lindsey Baker, including a tour of the museum and of its library and collections storage. After lunch, Dominic McDevitt-Parks and other Wikimedia DC members assisted LHS volunteers with creating Wikipedia accounts and with the basics of article editing, while other Wikimedia DC members were given open access to the LHS library, archives, and collections to work on articles, either on topics of their own interest or identified previously as having relevance to the LHS.

The edit-a-thon was primarily organized by two individuals associated with the LHS: Lindsey Baker, the Executive Director of the LHS, and Abram Fox, a member of the LHS Board of Directors. Abram Fox coordinated the LHS grant proposal to Wikimedia DC and organized a list of potential subjects and resources for editing. Lindsey Baker coordinated scheduling and facility usage, access to archival and library material, and food for the event, as well as the attendance of Wikimedia DC’s Dominic McDevitt-Parks. Two other LHS Board Members, President Jhanna Levin and Chairman and Treasurer Jim McCeney, attended the event but did not participate in its organization. In total, there were 13 participants at the edit-a-thon, all associated with either the Laurel Historical Society or Wikimedia DC.

Of the thirteen attendees, twelve participants signed up through the edit-a-thon questionnaire. Five of the registered attendees were newcomers, while the remaining seven were experienced Wikipedians. The three newcomers who made edits contributed 3,288 bytes of content across 34 edits, creating one new article (Edward Phelps (mayor)) and improving four existing articles on topics related to Laurel. The seven experienced attendees contributed 15,959 bytes of content across 45 edits, creating four new articles (Kenilworth Avenue, Patuxent Iron Works, Laurel Sanitarium, Laurel Mill) and improving ten existing ones. In total, 19,247 bytes of content were contributed across 79 edits, with five new articles and 14 existing ones improved.

Two newspapers covered the event, with articles appearing in the Baltimore Sun and the Gazette.

In their grant report, the Laurel Historical Society noted that this event helped with their outreach to a younger demographic, an audience of increasing interest to LHS which has been challenging to reach in the past. They hope that this event, and its focus on making information freely accessible online, will encourage further efforts to make more of its holdings widely available and accessible to the public.

International Year of Statistics Edit-a-Thon

Wikimedia DC worked with Justin Fisher of Statistics Without Borders and the American Statistical Association to host an edit-a-thon in honor of the International Year of Statistics. The event, attended by twelve editors, saw the contribution of 20,504 bytes of content across 46 edits, with five new articles created: Lynne Billard, S. N. D. North, Isador Lubin, and Katherine Wallman. An additional 21 articles were improved, including articles related to the American Statistical Association and its past presidents, as well as the article on the Censuses of Egypt.

This was our first event related to statistics. Given our access to statistical resources and volunteer interest in the subject matter, there is an opportunity to hold future events and continue our work in this field. The edit-a-thon was also our first event interrupted by weather conditions. The library hosting the event was shut down in the afternoon because of icy weather, and we reconvened at a cafe in a nearby museum and continued working safely behind its thick stone walls.

Technology programs

During the quarter, Wikimedia DC held a single hack-a-thon in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. The event proved to be a successful inauguration for our technology program, and we anticipate holding additional hack-a-thons in partnership with other local institutions through the remainder of the year.

Luce Foundation Center Hack-a-Thon

On November 16 and 17, the Smithsonian American Art Museum hosted a hack-a-thon at the Luce Foundation Center for American Art. The Center is a visible art storage and study center that provides new ways to experience American art. Visitors can select an area to explore at a glance with more than 3,000 works from the permanent collection in 64 secure glass cases.

Participants at the hack-a-thon included local web and software developers, who were invited to work individually or in teams to create concept prototypes for part or all of a new digital interpretive solution for the Center. The two-day hack-a-thon included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Luce Foundation Center, a demonstration of the Center's existing information kiosks, and an overview of the requirements for the new solution. The event concluded on Sunday afternoon with presentations and prizes.

Community programs

During the quarter, Wikimedia DC held a WikiSalon on October 13 to discuss ideas for the year, followed by dinner. We also held a dinner meetup on October 23, continuing our tradition of dinner meetups.

The Social Media Club of DC and Wikimedia DC held the Holiday Happy Hour at Buffalo Billiards on December 16. The event included the presentation of the Wiki Loves Monuments 2013 finalists, projected on screens throughout the venue. Wikimedia DC President James Hare delivered remarks at the event, encouraging attendees to learn more about contributing their own photography to Wikimedia Commons. Three attendees signed up to learn more, which is a good start.

Annual meeting


Our annual meeting for Fiscal Year 2013–14 was held on November 9 at the National Archives. The meeting featured the presentation of various reports, including the Annual Report and Annual Financial Report for the prior year. The Annual Plan for the upcoming year was also presented, and the members voted to approve the Annual Budget.

This fiscal year, Wikimedia DC introduced the Distinguished Service Award to honor volunteers who made exceptional past contributions in the prior year. The inaugural Distinguished Service Award was awarded to Sara Snyder and Effie Kapsalis in recognition of their work within the Smithsonian Institution to encourage people to learn how to edit Wikipedia. Attendees also enjoyed a discussion with a panel on perspectives in the GLAM-Wiki community, featuring speakers from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and American University. The event's success was an indicator of the progress Wikimedia DC made in the past year on reaching out to new editors and keeping experienced editors engaged.

Organizational development

Wikimedia DC's Board of Directors met four times during the quarter; these meetings took place on October 5, October 29, November 8, and December 7. At these meetings, the Board approved three new policies: the Travel Policy, which provided guidelines business travel done at Wikimedia DC's expense; the Fiscal Control Policy, which describes Wikimedia DC's financial controls and accounting practices; and the Advisory Committee Policy, which provides a standard framework for Wikimedia DC's advisory committees. Additionally, Wikimedia DC adopted a memorandum of understanding with Wikimedia New York City regarding the conduct of WikiConference USA 2014, a national Wikimedia conference to be held in New York City in 2014, and created two new advisory committees, the Content Programs Committee and the Technology Programs Committee, to assist the Board with organizing Wikimedia DC programs in those respective areas.

During the quarter, Wikimedia DC's membership increased from 58 to 71, representing an increase of 22.4%. Wikimedia DC also instituted an automatic membership renewal program; to date, 29 members have signed up for automatic renewal, corresponding to 40.8% of the total membership.