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

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This report describes the activities of Wikimedia District of Columbia from April 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014.

Content programs

During the third quarter, Wikimedia DC supported a total of nine edit-a-thons across the region, including seven in Washington, DC, one in Frederick, MD, and one at the University of Delaware. All of these events were held in partnership with other institutions, including universities and libraries. A total of 73 volunteers participated in the six edit-a-thons for which we were able to collect data, which is 155.3% of the attendance rate for the prior quarter. The participating volunteers include:

  • 22 who created Wikipedia accounts this quarter;
  • 4 who created accounts at an edit-a-thon and have attended at least one additional edit-a-thon; and
  • 28 who have attended at least two edit-a-thons this fiscal year, including 7 who attended two or more edit-a-thons this quarter alone.

In total, as of the end of the quarter, a total of 124 volunteers have participated in Wikimedia DC edit-a-thons, which is 248% of the goal set for the fiscal year and an increase of 39.5% since the last quarter. These volunteers contributed:

  • 73,637 bytes of content added to Wikipedia;
  • 295 total edits to Wikipedia; and
  • 15 new Wikipedia articles.

The edit-a-thons held in this quarter included:

  • The National Museum of the American Indian Edit-a-Thon, held with Andrew Lih's class at American University on April 1. The edit-a-thon opened with a presentation by Heather Shannon, a photo archivist with the museum. During the edit-a-thon, several articles related to Native American art and current affairs were improved, including the articles on Larry McNeil, Rick Bartow, Emmi Whitehorse, Norval Morrisseau, George Morrison, and Edgar Heap of Birds. There was also a guest appearance by the Wikipedian who was a prominent contributor to the article on the Washington Redskins name controversy, edited during the event.
  • The Africa Collection Edit-a-Thon, held in the Africa Reading Room of the Library of Congress on April 11. It was our long-awaited inaugural edit-a-thon at the Library of Congress, and we look forward future events there. This event gave Wikimedia DC the opportunity to observe the depth of the Africa Collection—a collection which is in need of further cataloging efforts. Highlights of the event include the digitization of six items in the collection, plus the creation of two articles (Verne Harris and Jallouli Fares) and the improvement of several others.
  • The Colored Conventions Edit-a-Thon, held at the University of Delaware on April 26. The event focused on the Colored Conventions Movement, an article created at that event. Nine new articles were created in total, of which two—John C. Bowers and Josephine Brown—were nominated to be featured on Wikipedia's main page in the "did you know" section. An additional 12 articles were improved.
  • The Freer and Sackler Edit-a-Thon, held with the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on April 29. A new article on The Peacock Room was written, and a remote volunteer translated four articles into Catalan, including biographies on Arthur M. Sackler and Ernst Herzfeld.
  • The Wikipedia APA Edit-a-Thon was held with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center on May 10. The event was part of a national campaign, with corresponding gatherings in Austin, Los Angeles, New York, Providence, and San Diego. Articles developed include Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Daniel G. C. Wu, Shoson Nagahara, and South Asian Journalists Association.
  • The Federal Register Edit-a-Thon, held on May 23, featured significant participation by employees of the National Archives and Records Administration, including the Office of the Federal Register. Dominic McDevitt-Parks facilitated the event as NARA's full-time Wikipedian in Residence. The event was focused on improving Wikipedia articles on publications of the Office, including the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These efforts help make information about the U.S. government available and accessible to the public. Two such articles created include the List of CFR Sections Affected, a publication on changes to the CFR, and Title 49 CFR Part 600 - 699, an experimental article on a very specific portion of the CFR. Existing articles improved include Title 1, Title 3, Title 4. Title 28, and Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • The Frederick County History Edit-a-Thon, held at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick, Maryland on June 14. We improved articles on local history in Frederick, including the 14th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry monument, Landon House, plus two new articles on Monocacy, Maryland and Utica, Maryland.
  • The Wikipedia in Your Library Edit-a-Thon, held at George Washington University's Gelman Library on June 24. The edit-a-thon featured a presentation by Jennifer Kinniff of GWU and Chloe Raub of Catholic University of America on planning edit-a-thons at universities and cultural institutions. With the help of GWU's archives we improved articles on local and LGBT history, including articles on James V. Herring, Langston Terrace Dwellings, Town Center East, and Billy Simpson's House of Seafood and Steaks.
  • The Phillips Collection Edit-a-Thon, inspired by the museum's Made in the USA exhibit, took place on June 29. We improved articles on items in the exhibit with the help of resources from the Phillips Collection. Articles improved include Stuart Davis, Migration Series, Barnett-Aden Gallery, Ilya Bolotowsky, and Kenzo Okada. The participants also enjoyed free admission to the museum!
Event Cohort Total Participants Editing Participants Number of Edits Pages Created Bytes Added
NMAI Experienced Editors 20 8 30 1 11,743
Wikipedia APA Newcomers 3 2 5 0 140
Experienced Editors 10 6 73 3 14,931
Federal Register Newcomers 5 5 12 0 998
Experienced Editors 16 8 46 3 8,060
Frederick History Newcomers 2 1 1 0 121
Experienced Editors 6 4 29 0 5,323
Wikipedia in Your Library Newcomers 8 3 8 0 2,098
Experienced Editors 8 4 12 1 4,748
Phillips Collection Newcomers 2 2 19 0 2,054
Experienced Editors 9 7 60 7 23,421

We would like to thank James Hare, Kristin Anderson, and Jim Hayes, each of whom helped at most or all of these edit-a-thons.

Technology programs

Wikimedia DC organized the first Open Government WikiHack on April 5–6; the event was our first hack-a-thon since the Open Data Hack-a-thon in 2011. The event was held in partnership with the Sunlight Foundation and included experienced Wikipedia editors and attendees from various government agencies. The goal of the hack-a-thon was to bridge the gap between open data repositories and Wikimedia projects, namely Wikidata. The work surrounding the event represented Wikimedia DC's largest outreach project to the open data and open government communities to date, as well as our first large effort in recruiting technical volunteers.

Four different projects were developed during the WikiHack: three focusing on importing datasets into Wikidata and one focusing on a general infrastructure for bots editing Wikidata. The dataset-focused projects include:

  • National Archives authority data, including the importation of author ID numbers into Wikidata. With the help of a script, we were able to import NARA ID numbers into Wikidata en masse, allowing for their use in Wikipedia articles alongside other authority controls such as VIAF. The source code for the script is available on GitHub.
  • Census Bureau data, involving records from the U.S. Census Bureau. Options were explored, but no final projects were submitted.
  • Sunlight Foundation API data, involving the myriad data repositories made available by the Sunlight Foundation. Their data was used for creating entries on Wikidata on sessions of the United States Congress, such as the 112th United States House of Representatives, and helped to improve some Wikipedia articles. It also led to the development of the U.S. Legislation Task Force on Wikidata.

As one of our first hack-a-thons, the Open Government WikiHack was a valuable learning experience as we experimented with this event format. Wikidata's technical limitations proved to be a limitation, as was the lack of Wikidata expertise in DC. We would stand to benefit from a standard Wikidata presentation, supplemented with an in-person Wikidata expert, either local or flown in from San Francisco while the project is still new. Further, software changes allowing more liberal use of Wikidata will be necessary. We also learned that hack-a-thon facilitation is difficult—while the object of an edit-a-thon is fairly cut and dry, hack-a-thons require more intensive planning. Without clearer planning, it is difficult to navigate volunteer labor toward a defined end-goal. Future hack-a-thons should make use of dedicated facilitators.

We administered a survey following the WikiHack; however, due to a low response rate, we cannot make use of the quantitative measurements taken. Attendees noted in written portions of their survey responses, however, that they appreciated the exposure to Wikidata and the Sunlight Foundation APIs. However, future events should have more brief introductory presentations and should provide better technical assistance.

With the experience of our first WikiHack, we look forward to future WikiHacks and further engagement with the open data community. We would like to thank Maite Fernández and Aamir Khwaja from the Technology Programs Committee, as well as Rebecca Williams, Amy Ngai, and Zubedah Nanfuka at Sunlight for their help planning and facilitating.

Community programs

Wikimedia DC held evening WikiSalons on May 15 and June 11, as well as dinner meetups on May 17 and June 21.

WikiConference USA

WikiConference USA, held in partnership with Wikimedia New York City, took place on May 30 through June 1. Approximately 250 people from throughout the United States, as well as a handful of Canadians, participated in the three-day event, which featured four keynote speakers and several panels, presentations, and discussions on all manner of topics affecting the Wikimedia community, including the gender gap, paid editing, on-wiki policy and procedure, and offline outreach.

Wikimedia DC was well represented at the conference, with several members of our community attending, presenting, and playing an active role in planning the conference. Our organization in particular was responsible for administering scholarships. We administered 25 scholarships, allowing attendees to travel to the conference from as far away as San Diego, California, and Kelowna, British Columbia.

Public policy

Wikimedia DC volunteers met with House and Senate staffers on Capitol Hill for briefings on subjects of mutual interest, including copyright rules and support for making cultural content freely available online. We received a friendly reception, like last year. Public Policy Committee member Jim Hayes presented a summary of these briefings at WikiConference USA, and we discussed ideas for future briefings with attendees at the conference.

Wikimedia DC submitted official comments to the U.S. Copyright Office on proposals to handle orphan works, mostly written and edited by Public Policy Committee member John Sadowski. A copy of the submitted comments has been published.

Grants

Wikimedia DC approved grants to Dorothy Howard and Jason Moore to host "Wiki Loves Pride" themed events. The funded events were held at the Jefferson Market Library in New York City and at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. These two events were part of a global campaign, with additional events held in Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, South Africa, South Korea, and Vancouver. Articles created and edited include Dan C. Tsang, Timeline of LGBT history in New York City, Gay & Lesbian Switchboard of New York, Gay Liberation Monument, LGBT rights in New York, Timeline of HIV/AIDS, Cascade AIDS Project, Q Center, and LGBT culture in Portland. There is an additional list of articles that need improvement, a useful tool for editors online and for future Wiki Loves Pride campaigns.

Both the New York and Portland events reported modest turnout, but noted that there is a high potential for a more organized campaign in the future, drawing parallels with the more successful Art+Feminism campaign. Moore recommended the appointment of a specific communications manager for future campaigns, while Howard wrote that future efforts should include securing a more high-profile venue.

Organizational development

The Board of Directors held regular meetings on May 3 and June 8. During these meetings, we joined the Congressional Data Coalition, adopted a fundraising plan for the remainder of the fiscal year, and cast votes for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

We appointed Emily Temple-Wood as Vice President during a special meeting on June 19 following Kristin Anderson's resignation as Vice President and from the Board. We also engaged Leo Zimmermann as our Project Manager for Wikipedia Summer of Monuments on June 1. Congratulations to both!

Wikimedia DC had 72 members as of June 30, representing an increase by one membership over the prior quarter.

As part of our effort to provide organizational support to emerging Wikimedia groups in the United States, we signed a fiscal agent agreement with the New England Wikimedians, authorizing us to serve as their payment processors. We also registered domain names and set up a website (ne-wikimedians.org) on their behalf.

During the third quarter, we began our transition to Insightly for constituent relationship management services. As of the end of the quarter there were over 800 contacts in our database. We prepared this exhaustive database of contacts following a massive reconciliation of over two years' worth of records. There are still challenges but we expect the CRM to be a crucial component in our effort to build institutional memory.