UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Facilitating a Wikipedia Editing Session; the #solo13 Experience

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 11 November 2013

The Wikipedia Editing Workshop Session at the SpotOn 2013 Conference

@pixievondust tweet on the Wikipedia workshopThis has been my second extended week of conferences since I started work at Innovation Advocate at Cetis. As described in a post on my Reflections on the EduWiki 2013 Conference on Friday and Saturday, 1 and 2 November 2013, I attended the EduWiki 2013 Conference. On last Friday and Saturday, 8 and 9 November I attended SpotOn 2013, the Science, Policy, Outreach and Tools Online conference. The conference provided a further opportunity to engage with use of Wikipedia, but this time as a facilitator of an hour-long Wikipedia editing workshop session. The conference organisers had asked me to ensure that the session was a hands-on session, with participants having the opportunity to create Wikipedia resources rather than listening to speakers talk about the potential of Wikipedia. The workshop session therefore provided me with an opportunity to facilitate a Wikipedia session for the first time. Earlier this year I attended the Queen Victoria’s Journals University of Oxford editing day which provided an initial opportunity to familiarise myself with the format of an editing workshop. This was followed by participation in a Sphingonet Wiki workshop, which provided my with initial experience in working with other Wikimedia experts. This time, however, I led the workshop and developed the accompanying materials, but I was fortunate to be supported by Toni Sant, the Education Organiser for Wikimedia UK as well as the Director of Research at the University of Hull’s School of Arts and New Media in Scarborough. I have an interest in expanding the community of Wikipedia editors. There will therefore be a need to expand the community of those who can train others in using Wikipedia. Therefore in this post I will share my experiences of facilitating a workshop.

Reflections on Facilitating the Workshop

The Eliot room used for the Wikipedia workshopOn the Friday I visited the Eliot Room, which we would use for the workshop. As can be seen from the accompanying photograph, the room layout was less than ideal for a hands-on session, in which Toni and myself would wish to mingle with the participants, helping them out with any problems they had. The layout also meant that it would be difficult for participants to share what they were doing with others. Fortunately during the lunch session when I was installing my slides on the room’s PC I met the two facilitators of the #solo13lego session on Making Research Useful: The Consequences of (Bad) Communication. The abstract for this session described how “In this workshop, we’ll be getting hands-on with Lego to explore how good and bad communication can impact on research utility and impact“. The facilitators were happy for the room layout so be changed with chairs being arranged in three circles so that the participants could more easily share what they were doing. As illustrated below. participants were able to follow the slides during the initial presentation but work collaboratively when they signed up for a Wikipedia account and created their user profile.

Wikipedia editing session

Photo by Toni Sant and available under a CC BY-SA licence.

As can be seen from the slides (which are available on Slideshare), only one slide provided reasons why researchers may wish to make use of Wikipedia; as Cameron Neylon had said in the “Wikimedia UK Annual Review 2012-13” (PDF format):

If you’re serious about ensuring public engagement in your research then you need to make damn sure your work can be incorporated into Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the most important engagement channel for your research.

After this, and the introductions for the facilitators and hearing about the level of Wikipedia expertise of the participants we then provided details of the task to be attempted during the session:

You will:

  • Create a Wikipedia account (go to http://tinyurl.com/SpotOnWiki and register!)
  • Create a user profile & add personal details (e.g. name, organisation, interests, …)
  • Add hyperlinks to (a) external Web sites (e.g. your organisation) and (b) Wikipedia articles (e.g. areas of interest)
  • Add simple formatting

We provided the following examples of user profile and suggested that participants could view the source of these profiles and copy markup of interest:

After just over half an hour into the session we found that most of the participants had created their use profile. I have created a Storify summary of the session which provides links to a number of the profiles which had been created:

David Freeborn's user profile

The accompanying screenshot illustrates a user profile which a relatively new Wikipedia user can create in about 30 minutes. The use of Twitter during the session was useful in providing useful feedback on the users’ experiences. In particular @pixievondust commented that:

This is a genuinely useful hands on session, thanks @briankelly! Lets see more unis running workshops like this!

with similar sentiments being echoed by @FunSizeSuze:

This session has done exactly what I hoped it would do – I now have increased confidence in getting involved in all things Wiki.

After we realised that everyone who had attempted to create a user profile had successfully done so the session concluded with discussions on strategies for creating new articles, the fundamental Wikipedia principles and details of other Wikimedia projects beyond the Wikipedia service. The slides used in the session are available on Slideshare and embedded below. In addition a recording of the live stream of the session is available on YouTube and also embedded below. I hope these resources and this description of how the resources were used will be of interest to others, especially those who may wish to train others on how to contribute to Wikipedia.

YouTube video:


Note: The Wikimedia UK web site has a page on the SpotOn London 2013 Wikipedia editing workshop which provides additional information about the workshop session. The following information has been included in this post for the sake of completeness 23 SpotOn conference delegates (10 female and 13 male) attended this session. We were also able to observe that there were 14 postgraduate students, while the rest were academics, researchers, or other non-students. The following attendees created new Wikipedia user accounts during the workshop:


View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy] | View Twitter statistics from: [TweetReach] – [Bit.ly]

One Response to “Facilitating a Wikipedia Editing Session; the #solo13 Experience”

  1. […] leaving UKOLN I have continued by involvement with Wikipedia including taking the lead role in Facilitating a Wikipedia Editing Session at the SpotOn 2013 conference and attending the EduWiki 2013 conference. I will also be running a […]

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