Editathon held to celebrate Wikipedia

The Oxford Internet Institute held a three-hour Wikipedia Editathon on January 15 to mark the free encyclopaedia’s 15th birthday. 

In particular, researchers set out to improve entries about the ‘The Social Internet’, which covers topics from Uber, electoral predictions and the digital divide to freedom of speech, emojis and data surveillance. 

The encyclopaedia is ranked among the ten most popular websites in the world and constitutes the internet’s largest and most popular general reference work. The latest in a series of fundraising campaigns to keep the website free began recently. 

Dr Martin Poulter, the Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian in Residence who led the Editathon told Cherwell, “The Oxford Internet Institute wanted to run an event in which researchers and students would improve Wikipedia, and I suggested it happen on Wikipedia’s birthday as it would make the ideal present for Wikipedia. 

“We had about 30 people turn up. There were presentations from six researchers about Wikipedia’s strengths and weaknesses: there are still big problems of inequality across countries and across languages. Then again, a lot of those inequalities are present – even worse – in the traditional scholarly literature. 

“Wikipedia and its sister projects (collectively called ‘Wikimedia’) are potential platforms for researchers, librarians and educators that improve the knowledge that’s freely and openly available on these sites, they can reach a huge audience and shape public understanding of their subjects. But there’s a cultural change needed (and gradually happening) to make these sites accepted as part of their work.” 

When describing his role at Bodleian libraries, Poulter added, “My job is to build those links. Working in the Bodleian, I can use its collections of cultural treasures from around the world, but I also get to run training events with the Oxford Internet Institute and other parts of the University. Some are open to students; keep an eye on the IT Services events list.” 

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