Category Archives: Wikipediana

A Wikimedia Strategy for a Radio Station

I had a chat with Nelson radio station Fresh FM, and they were very interested in what Wikipedia and Commons might mean for them. The following is a crash course in copyright and WikiCommons for them, and any other radio station or sound archive.

  1. Under NZ law, the station owns the copyright for any creative work created by its employees (audio and photos) in work time unless their employment contracts state differently.
  2. Again under NZ law, that copyright is automatically All Rights Reserved for 50 years after the end of the year the work was made or first broadcast (whichever’s later). That means no making copies, sharing, mixing, quoting etc by anyone without the station’s explicit permission.
  3. A few exceptions for criticism and study, but that’s it. No “non-commercial” exemption. No parody/satire exemption – that’s illegal in NZ. No “Fair Use” (that’s American).
  4. What if the station goes bust in the next 50 years? Whoever buys the assets buys the copyrights. Sometimes it’s impossible to know who the copyright holder is, so the work’s effectively unusable.
  5. Listening to a podcast is not “making a copy”. Nor is streaming it. Posting MP3s to one’s own website or emailing them to people is though.
  6. There is a licensing scheme called Creative Commons that lets you choose a more lenient licence than All Rights Reserved. Examples include CC Attribution (anyone can use the work for any purpose but they have to credit the copyright holder), CC Attribution Share-Alike (ditto but anything remixed out of the work has to be shared under the same open licence), and CC Attribution Share-Alike Non-Commercial (ditto, but nobody can make money out of it). More here.
  7. “Non-commercial” sounds great, but it stops any other media from using the work, as well as some heritage organisations, publishers, educational establishments etc. Also you’ll want to have a lawyer enforcing it.
  8. Wikimedia Commons (WikiCommons) is the sister website to Wikipedia, and stores all the maps and photos Wikipedia draws on. It also has some video and a little bit of audio. Everything in WikiCommons is shareable under an open licence like CC Attribution, CC Attribution Share-Alike, or Public Domain. Notably, “non-commercial” is NOT an open licence, so WikiCommons can’t host it, so Wikipedia can’t use it.
  9. Copyright holders can choose to share their work to WikiCommons under an open licence. It’s effectively an irrevocable donation, and only they can do it – there’s a short legal document involved.
  10. There are a multitude of possible uses of radio in WikiCommons, emphasis on educational and encyclopedia-useful content: • Someone stating their name and occupation, which can be added to their Wikipedia infobox so people can hear how their name’s pronounced • An explanation of something in their own words, such as an artist talking about their work • A song or musical performance (note that the tune and lyrics might be copyrighted to someone else, even if the recording’s copyrighted to the station – it gets complex) • Oral history of an event or place that’s in Wikipedia • Historic broadcasts from the archives • Pronunciations of words in a New Zealand accent, or Te Reo pronunciations of place names by a local speaker
  11. Audio needs to be converted into an open file format (see instructions)
  12. A station that wanted to share audio should create a Commons category (example) and uploads should be made by someone with a Wikipedia account and something on their user page making it clear they’re an employee and authorised to release audio to Commons. I suggest working with an experienced Wikipedian to set all this up.

Smaller stations can take the lead on this while big stations spend years arguing about protocols and procedures. No radio station in NZ is engaging with Wikipedia or WikiCommons yet. Any community-centred radio station should see releasing some of this audio under an open licence as part of their mandate to share their work. WikiCommons is archived permanently, so that audio will be safe no matter what happens to stations or archives in NZ in the future.

A digital strategy for a small museum

These recommendations were developed after meeting with Otautau Museum, Southland, on April 24, 2019, but they’re applicable to any small heritage institution with limited staff and budget. The examples here are for an imaginary museum, the Staveley Historical Museum, with a director, part-time registrar, and various volunteers who write labels, blog, register objects, host school groups, and give tours.

Mission statement

A museum needs to have a clear mission statement that includes a responsibility to make its collections as accessible as possible to its stakeholders. In many cases the stakeholders will be the owners of the collection (likely the community) and those who fund it (national funding bodies or regional government). If collections have already been paid for by the public, they should be made public and usable for whatever purpose the stakeholders desire. The museum’s job is to safeguard the physical objects, not the images and information.

Website

It is vital the museum has a web presence. Most stakeholders and interested parties will not be able to physically visit a regional museum. The constituency of even a small museum is global. Even a single web page is sufficient to outline the museum’s history, holdings, copyright policy, and of course location and contact information.

The best solution for a small museum is a hosting service such as squarespace.com, which costs $220–$300 per year, and often offers email and domain name services as part of a bundle. It’s also possible to use a cheaper web host and install a free website service like wordpress.org, but this requires more IT skill. Whatever solution is chosen, the site should be easily editable, with staff and volunteers able to be assigned logins and editing privileges over different sections as needed.

Domain

The museum needs to register a domain name such as staveleymuseum.nz. A .com or .co.nz extension implies the museum is a business; a .org might be more appropriate, but .nz domains are best. Domain name registration is about $40/year if not covered by a hosting service.

Email

Professional organisations need multiple email addresses; at least director@staveleymuseum.nz and info@staveleymuseum.nz. Email addresses are often offered as part of a hosting bundle, and can redirect to other addresses such as gmail. It’s important that email is archived and available to future staffers, and thus that professional and personal email accounts are kept separate.

Copyright policy

In a nutshell, under New Zealand copyright law any creative work is copyrighted for 50 years after the death of its creator. Anyone who commissions a creative work owns its copyright, unless other arrangements were made. With a few exceptions, there is no “fair use” provision in NZ law: anyone wanting to use a copyrighted work for any purpose needs to get permission. A variety of Creative Commons licenses offer an alternative to this all-rights-reserved copyright, allowing a copyright holder to make works freely available on a “pre-approved” basis under certain conditions (such as always giving credit when they’re used).

The ability to share and use works in the collection, especially photographs, is a critical part of a museum’s mission, so everybody involved, from the entire board who set policy to the front of house staff who deal with visitor photography. The museum should have clear copyright policies, stated on their website for a) works they’ve created and b) works in the collection.

If a museum is publicly-funded, graphics and photographs (which I’m calling “works”) that it creates should be made available under a free open license, such as Creative Commons Attribution, for anyone to use for any purpose. The public have paid for these works, so they should be allowed to have them. Having a collection of images of the museum and its people freely available online also makes it as easy as possible for media and visitors to talk about and share the museum experience.

Works in the collection will fall into three basic categories.

  1. Works with “no known copyright” (the NZ equivalent of “public domain”): mostly photographs taken pre-1944, or where the created died more than 50 years ago. These are no longer copyrighted to anyone, certainly not the museum. The museum cannot license them under any conditions, because you have to own a copyright to license something. Just scanning a photograph does not create a new copyrighted work – although this hasn’t been tested under NZ law, it’s the assumption the large heritage organisations here make. Therefore works in this category should be made available freely under a “no known copyright” license, which in Creative Commons terms is CC0 or public domain. Anyone can use them for any purpose. The museum can indicate they would like to be credited as the source of course.
  2. Works where the museum was given the copyright as well as the work. This is uncommon, as both museums and donors often don’t realise that giving someone a physical copy of a work, such as a print or negatives, is not the same as signing over the copyright. If possible, talk through these conditions with donors, pointing out that if copyright is not assigned the museum will have to negotiate with representatives of the donor for the next 50 years or more every time a photo is used. One of the requirements of a collection being given to a publicly-funded institution to preserve in perpetuity is that the public have access to and use of collection images, so these works should be released under an open licence, such as CC Attribution or CC Attribution Share-Alike. (If donors are not happy with this, they’re of course welcome to set up and staff a private museum to look after their image collection!)
  3. Works that are still in copyright. The problem here is that often the copyright holder is unclear. Copyrights usually pass to the beneficiary of a will when the copyright holder dies, or are purchased along with other assets when a business goes bankrupt. For the next 50 years, someone still has to approve use of those images, but it can be almost impossible to know who. The museum needs to do its best to track down copyright holders, and ideally arrange a copyright donation, but if this attempt is fruitless the works are considered “orphaned”. It is perfectly possible for a museum to share and use orphaned works with a clear statement that the copyright holder is unknown and they welcome information on who it might be; if the owner come forward, they can negotiate licensing terms or donation, but this will be quite rare, and in the meantime the work will be available to the public. A good copyright policy for a museum is “open by default”: all its works will be made as freely available as possible, and the museum credited where possible, unless other conditions apply. For example, the copyright might belong to someone else, the donor imposed conditions of access, or the photos might be culturally sensitive and require permission from the relevant iwi or whanau.

Collections online

A small museum with an “open by default” policy has a responsibility to make images of its collections available online to its stakeholders, and it’s wise to post as much information online as possible to cater for potential visitors or interested parties in NZ and overseas. There is a common misconception that collections online deter visitors. The opposite is true: people will come to see a real object that they’ve only seen pictures of online, and widely-distributed collection images will attract visitors who might never have known of the museum’s existence.

Collection photographs should be as high a quality as possible, and usable in print, websites, education, and the media. Scale bars and colour swatches should be kept to one side, to be cropped out as required. Backgrounds should be white or light-coloured, and smooth and even in tone. Lighting should be excellent: cheap LED lights are easily available on Ali Express, as are backdrops, diffusion boxes (sold for photographing jewellery), tripods, and camera remotes. A DSLR camera with good depth of field is ideal, but even high-end compact cameras can give excellent results if set to a small aperture with long exposure times, good lighting, and a remote shutter. Decent camera equipment and in training for staff and volunteers is money well spent.

There are several tools available to make online galleries of collections. When these are being chosen, the following criteria are important:

  1. Cost: The service should ideally be free. Time spent manually creating records is also a cost.
  2. Licensing: It should be possible to state a default open licence such as CC-BY, and adjust the licence for public domain or photos used with permission. The service should never add its own license to the work.
  3. Downloads: Downloading images at a number of different resolutions should be easy.
  4. Integration with collection management system: When a new object is photographed and registered, it should automatically be available online if its record shows a compatible license.
  5. Unlimited number of objects displayable.
  6. Easily-tailored fields that display appropriate collection information equally well for pinned insects and farm machinery.

Commons

Wikimedia Commons is the free, openly-licensed image library that supports Wikipedia pages. It’s also an excellent tool for sharing image collections online, used by museums large and small. It meets five of the six criteria above, but does not automatically integrate with a CMS; image uploads can be performed in bulk by exporting collection records as a spreadsheet and using an upload tool like Pattypan.

The great advantage of Commons is discoverability. Not only can images used on Wikipedia pages, they’ll be preferentially indexed in Google image searches and in the previews that accompany most standard Google searches.

One thing to note: Commons is hosted in the USA, so uses US rather than NZ copyright law. The main differences are that in the US copyright lasts for 70 years after death, not 50, and that images from 1923 or before are in the public domain. This means a museum might own a photo taken in 1933 that’s not copyrighted in NZ, but still in copyright overseas. If the museum owned that copyright, it could release it into Commons under an open license; if someone else did, and it was less that 70 years after their death, the museum would have to organise a copyright release, or just skip the image.

Wikipedia

It makes a lot of sense for a small museum to be engaging with Wikipedia and creating or improving articles. Wikipedia is a hugely influential image source – the fifth-most-visited website and near the top of most Google searches. Any can edit a Wikipedia article, and the sheer number of collaborating volunteer editors keeps articles quite accurate and speeds up fact-checking and error-correction.

Rather than adding basic factual information to the museum’s own website, staff should be improving the Wikipedia coverage instead, and adding the museum’s historical photos and collection images via Wikimedia Commons. Any work done here is a far better time investment, and will reach vastly more people; a good Wikipedia article can be read by 1000 or more people a day, far more than might visit the museum in person or read its publications.

Good articles for Staveley Museum to improve would be Staveley, New Zealand, other regional settlements like Mount Somers, Springburn, and Ruapuna, the historic building Ross Cottage, historic photos for the lime kilns article, and fossil species from the local limestone. One thing the museum could not do is create or improve an article about itself – that has to be left to other editors because of conflict of interest rules.

Wikidata, Wikisource

These are also projects relevant to small museums but will be dealt with in future posts.

Why engage with Wikipedia?

Moa bone over 1000 years old conveniently labelled with 1938 typography

I’m currently a Wikipedian in Residence at Auckland Museum, and have spent the last few weeks explaining to people why museums and other heritage organisations in New Zealand need to take Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons seriously.

Mission

Part of every museum’s mission is to maximise audience access to its information and share its collections with its community. (There’s nothing in most museum mission statements about driving traffic to the website!) So a museum should be looking at the most effective, efficient means to do that, whether it’s on their own website or someone else’s.

Impact

Wikipedia is the fifth-most-visited website in the world. Popular articles will get thousands or tens of thousands of unique readers a day. Wikipedia exists in nearly 300 languages and is a major information source for anyone visiting NZ, even tourists from Iceland. Its content is used by Google and Siri and AI projects; edits appear in Google search results in a few minutes.

It dwarfs every museum’s web presence. (Plus it’s far easier to find information on Wikipedia than most museum websites.) So there’s a powerful incentive for a museum to engage. But for the carrot there’s a stick: if an institution ignores Wikipedia, other institutions won’t, and their information and collections will become the iconic images representing New Zealand worldwide.

Efficiency

Improving Wikipedia is very cheap; it’s far more cost-effective than a museum writing its own content from scratch, in terms of impact per hour of staff time, and much of the heavy lifting will be done by volunteers, for free. The hosting costs are zero and mistakes can be corrected instantly. The content is regularly improved, corrected, and updated, and has a far greater life expectancy than a museum’s own web content, some of which is deleted after just a few years (or the institution has a website makeover and breaks all its URLs, which is much the same thing). Wikipedia has been around for 17 years, and its content is durable, backed up, and is shared and duplicated widely.

Prattkeeping in the Moa Gallery

Wikipedia content is freely available under an open license to be repurposed and used in a museum’s Collections Online database, as links from its website, and in-gallery digital content – no need to reinvent the wheel.

So there’s a good case for diverting some of the writing and web content effort already going on into Wikipedia, either directly or by supporting a group of community volunteer editors. The institution can recruit people to happily share its stories and images, who – I’ll mention it again – will do all this work for free.

Audiences

Wikipedia’s articles top Google rankings, and their text is shown as a preview on Google searches. So Wikipedia is where museum audiences are getting their information: to ignore Wikipedia is to ignore them. A museum’s audience is global, and this is a great way to engage with them: volunteers from all over the world are keen to help if you meet them halfway, by making authoritative information openly available able to be referenced.

Citing its publications and research in Wikipedia allows the museum to connect with specialists and researchers, and by working with Wikimedia projects a museum moves from being a one-way authority feeding out knowledge to engaging with multiple audiences and building new relationships.

Brand of trustworthy authority

Content in Wikipedia is trusted; a museum having its images and research prominently displayed there likewise makes it a trusted source of knowledge. Museums are used to having that respect and authority automatically, so realising that things have changed can take some getting used to.

Wikipedia is global. By engaging with it a New Zealand museum can overcome geography and position itself as an organisation of international importance, part of a global network of open knowledge institutions.

Website and collections online visibility

Blosyropus spinosus, Auckland Museum AMNZ49737, CC-BY 4.0

A museum should get its images into Wikipedia. If captions are written correctly, images can link to the museum’s Wikipedia page, which includes a website link; and anyone clicking though to the image in Commons can go directly to the Collections Online record. Although this isn’t the goal, it will increase website traffic, which will keep the people who care about that sort of thing happy.

Wikipedia images will be shared and reused, because they have to be released under an open license, usually Creative Commons with the Attribution proviso (CC BY). The “BY” means the museum will be credited every time the image is used. Encouraging widespread free use of the museum’s images and content, most effectively via Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, increases the museum’s visibility and creates enthusiastic brand ambassadors. It’s true: there are editors like Ambrosia10 who tirelessly promote Auckland Museum because of its generosity in using a CC BY license.

Openness as a strategy

The objections to CC BY licenses tend to come from institutions who’ve historically charged for people to reproduce their images.

First, it’s important to note that this is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Using Wikimedia Commons allows museums plenty of control: they can release lower resolution images for sharing, clearly state what people can and can’t do with them, and give the exact wording, including a link, to use when crediting the institution.

Collecting box to raise money for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Auckland Museum 1965.78.863, CC BY 4.0

Also, locking away collections costs. Charging for access to content often doesn’t make much money when the administration costs are subtracted. An institution that wants to restrict the reuse of its images has to be prepared to hound copyright violators, or its terms and conditions are a joke. Threatening letters from its lawyers is both expensive and not a particularly good look for a publicly-funded institution.

The hidden, and often forgotten, cost of closed content is turning away the community who just want to use the collections. The collections they own and pay the museum to look after. Museums have a bad record of copyfraud: taking publicly-owned out-of-copyright resources, slapping a copyright symbol on them, and selling the result back to the community as a postcard or book.

Open CC0 or CC BY collection access is the way institutions are going worldwide: the Reichsmuseum, the Met overseas, Auckland Museum and Landcare in New Zealand.

Conclusion

Some institutions see a Wikipedian as a someone to help the marketing department fix the institution’s Wiki page. But that’s not really taking Wikipedia seriously. Wikipedia, not its website, is the face of a museum. But it’s also the way people can find its collections, and benefit from its expertise. In New Zealand, museums are well behind in taking advantage of this, and over the next year I hope I can help some of them catch up.

New Zealand Wikipedian-at-Large

I’m excited to announce that from the end of June I’m on a one-year contract, funded by the Wikimedia Foundation in the USA, to be Aotearoa’s first ever Wikipedian-at-large. Who? What? Read on.

Who and What

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit based in San Francisco that runs Wikipedia, as well as Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, and a handful of other projects. They don’t write or edit Wikipedia: that’s all done by hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Their job is to run the servers, fundraise, and administer outreach programmes and community grants worldwide. This funding round they gave out US$355,473 to 11 successful grant proposals, one of which was me. It’ll cover my salary and travel and some conference fees for the year while I’m a Wikipedian-in-residence at institutions all over New Zealand.

Me helping beginning Wikipedians at the NZ Insect Cards workshop last year. Pic: Lanipai CC BY-SA

A Wikipedian-in-residence is based in an institution or organisation for a fixed term, and their job is not to just sit and edit Wikipedia. Again, that’s done by volunteers. The Wikipedian trains staff about editing, copyright, and how to make collections more freely-usable. They run public events, like Wikipedia workshops and edit-a-thons. And they help the organisation develop a Wikipedia strategy, figuring out how to engage with this amazing resource—because after all Wikipedia is the first place most people go for information, and if your institution’s mission is to communicate you can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist.

New Zealand currently doesn’t have a strong community of Wikipedia volunteers, and the coverage of New Zealand topics in Wikipedia is a bit dire. We’ve fallen behind. Another part of my job description is working out how to boost the number of editors, by organising regular editor meetups, running training sessions, and encouraging institutions to support the editing groups in their community. The Wikimedia Foundation is especially keen to recruit from under-represented groups, such as women and Māori, to help counter some of Wikipedia’s biases.

Where and When

Lots of institutions are keen to have me as a Wikipedian-in-residence, so I’ll be travelling all over New Zealand for a year (that’s the “at-large” part). I’ve enjoyed the last four and half years at Whanganui Regional Museum, but it’s time to move on. The timetable for the next year has to be negotiated between all the interested parties, but at this stage it might be:

  • June–August: Auckland, based at New Zealand Geographic magazine, Auckland Museum, and Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua
  • August–September: Dunedin, to give a talk at the SPNHC conference and work at Otago Museum
  • October–March: Wellington, in residence at Zealandia, the National Library, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, DOC, and Forest & Bird
  • I’ll also be working with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition in Christchurch, the Nelson Provincial Museum, and other organisations as time and funding permits.

For more information, see the news story by Farah Hancock back when I first applied for the grant, and the detailed Project Page, which has timelines, reports, details on upcoming activities and so on. I’ll be blogging the highlights of each month here, filed under Wikipediana. You can also join the Facebook group Wikipedia New Zealand to keep up with the news, or subscribe to the Wikipedian-at-large mailing list, so you can hear about what events I’ll be running in your area.

How you can help

Are you part of an institution that might be interested in hosting me as a Wikipedian-in-residence? Would you like me to come and give a talk on Wikipedia to your colleagues or run a workshop? Get in touch and we can find a space in the calendar.

I’ll be putting my possessions in a storage locker and being a digital hobo for a year all over New Zealand. Do you know of any house-sits, writer’s residencies, spare rooms, sublets, visiting-scholar accommodation, or DOC huts in need of a warden in your area? All suggestions and offers gratefully received, as long as they have wifi.

Are you just interested in Wikipedia and want to volunteer to help? We have a good team of volunteers and can always use more.

Wikipedia as an Entomology Outreach Tool

(Notes for a presentation I gave at the 2018 Entomological Society of New Zealand conference in Whanganui.)

It all started when I wrote a piece for the local paper in 2015 on conservation funding for threatened species, lamenting how all the money goes to charismatic birds and not much to ugly insects and endangered leeches. Jesse Mulligan interviewed me on the radio, and wanted to know what he could do to help spotlight our more obscure threatened species, and Critter of the Week was born, a regular interview with DOC’s endangered species ambassador Nicola Toki. It’s been a great success, covering 120 critters to date – many of them insects, snails, fishes, shrubs, and other overlooked organisms.

My role has been behind the scenes, wearing my Wikipedian hat. Every week, when the critter is announced, I check to see if it has a good Wikipedia page – or indeed any page at all. With the help of other volunteer editors, I work on improving the article and adding photos. We maintain a list of all the species covered, with notes on which still need work. You can see the effect of the project by comparing the article for the New Zealand giraffe weevil (Lasiorhynchus barbicornis) before and after. Sadly, despite all this, Jesse Mulligan still calls me a Wikinerd. Sigh.

Critter of the Week is an example of how Wikipedia can be part of your science communication toolbox. Wikipedia is where people are getting their information, and anyone can edit it. it’s easy and quick to update it and correct mistakes or vandalism. There’s a whole spectrum of ways that scientists can work with Wikipedia and take advantage of its reach and impact.

  1. Lend your expertise, even indirectly on a Talk page. Every article has a Talk tab, and anyone can leave comments there, even if they don’t consider themselves a Wikipedia editor. Weevil researcher Chrissie Painting for example left some great suggestions on the giraffe weevil Talk page, noting inaccuracies and possible references for more information.
  2. Publish in open-access journals or make PDFs available in a repository. Everything in Wikipedia needs to be referenced, and so often when I’m trying to track down sources for an article I hit a paywall. It’s wonderful to find a repository or publications page that posts PDFs, even if it’s since been taken down and exists only in the Internet Archive. Open-access publications are 47% more likely to be referenced in Wikipedia.
  3. Lasiorhynchus barbicornis male and female
    Lasiorhynchus_barbicornis by Christina. J. Painting, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  4. Donate images to Commons, and use Creative Commons licenses (not NC). That giraffe weevil illustration was taken from an open-access paper in PLoS, and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, a repository for freely-usable images. This was possible because it was published under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY). Creative Commons, invented in 2001, is a great alternative to All Rights Reserved copyright if you want people to be able to freely use your work – here’s a book (released under a CC license!) if you want know more. There are hundreds of Wikipedia articles on New Zealand moths (like this one) because Landcare Research made its photo collection available under a CC-BY license. Some institutions don’t. Adding a “non-commercial” condition (CC-BY-NC) is too restrictive: Wikipedia is published under an open license so its content has to be usable by anyone for anything. Almost none of the thousands and thousands of photos in NatureWatch NZ for example can be used in Wikipedia, because NatureWatch’s default setting when you create an account is CC-BY-NC, and most users would never think to change it.
  5. The New Zealand Insect Cards edit-a-thon, banner by Emma Scheltema and photo by Leilani Walker, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  6. Help your local editors. Wikipedia editors are all volunteers, often toiling anonymously. It’s nice to reach out, for example via the Wikiproject New Zealand noticeboard. You can offer to host an edit-a-thon, like the University of Auckland did. You could give editors freebies, like behind-the-scenes tours of your insect collections or the opportunity to help with a research project. And you can give them access to your expertise and your institutional library. Let them know their hard work is appreciated.
  7. Develop an institutional Wikipedia strategy, like you would for any other public comms or outreach. Effort put into Wikipedia pays off. This pūriri moth article, for example, is not very good, but it uses Landcare Research photos, and those photos are getting (as of April 2018) 560 unique views a month. Popular or timely Wikipedia articles (like “Kiwi”) can get thousands of views a day, far greater impact than newspaper stories or magazine articles. To help develop this strategy, you can host a Wikipedian in Residence, a short-term paid or volunteer position where an experienced editor teaches staff about Wikipedia, helps you move images to the Commons, and runs edit-a-thons and other events.
  8. And you can just edit Wikipedia yourself. Your advantage is you’re a subject expert, with all the literature at your fingertips. You still need to reference every sentence, as if you were writing a student essay – your authority doesn’t count here, and you can’t base an article on unpublished research. Like any other written medium, it has its own style and codes, so it’s worthwhile getting experience with small corrections and adding citations before you launch into new articles. Luckily there’s plenty on guidance and information available, in Wikipedia’s help pages, and even from other researchers. There are plenty of Wikipedians delighted to help a new editor: let them troubleshoot for you. Ask me if you get stuck.

If you want to get your research out there, and communicate with the largest number of people in the most efficient way, Wikipedia is a good tool to use. Institutions seem very keen to create information silos that proudly display their brand identity, but keeping these up to date can become a huge time suck, and they often just stagnate and die. Working with a community of editors and putting your effort into open resources is far more rewarding. Wikipedia is where people are already going, and you may as well meet them there.