Matt Lingard’s blog

Writing Wikipedia

Last June I took part in LCC’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and I’m now an active member of the College’s new Decolonising Wikipedia Network. Prior to this my wikipedia editing experience amounted to adding and removing the same word when facilitating web 2.0 workshops back in the noughties.

The network and last year’s edit-a-thon have involved LCC staff and students, including the LCC Changemakers and collaboration with WikimediaUK.

LCC’s Decolonising Wikipedia Network supports students and staff to become Wikipedia editors and creators in order to increase the visibility and credibility of under-represented and marginalised figures and topics

From: LCC Decolonising Wikipedia Network

Editing Brenda

For the edit-a-thon in June 2020 we were encouraged to find an existing page of a creative practitioner that needed improving. I was keen to find someone with an education angle. Finding a page was much harder than I thought. The people I found either had well-developed pages or no page at all. In the end I found Brenda Rawnsley. Not a person of colour but, as women are really poorly represented on Wikipedia, accounting for only 18% of biographical pages, the page fitted the overall aim of the project.

One reason to bring Wikipedia into educational settings is to help develop information and digital literacies. Wikipedia has three core content policies:

  1. Verifiability
  2. No original research
  3. Neutral point of view

Brenda Rawnsley’s page lacked citations and referrencing reliable sources is essential for the encyclopedia. I found obituaries in several newspapers as well as magazine articles about related art exhibitions. To my suprise our University library had a book on Rawnsley’s School Prints project but COVID-19 scupered my access to it! The catalogue’s Search Articles Plus option also found some recent magazine articles.

These before and after screenshots show how I was able to improve the inline citations.

Screenshot of May 2020 references - one reference.
Before: References (May 2020)
Screenshot of June 2020 references - twelve references.
After: References (June 2020)

I was aided by advice on how-to write women’s biographies from the Wikipedia Women in Red project and Wikipedia’s own detailed training modules.

Introducing Alvaro

I have just finished my first original page. In March I read an article in The Guardian about the black artists selected for The Helpworth Wakefield’s School Prints project 2021. A project inspired by Brenda Rawnsley’s original School Prints. One of the artists – Alvaro Barrington – didn’t have a Wikipedia page. He does now.

With two pages under my belt I’m looking forward to helping other member’s of LCC’s Decolonising Wikipedia Network develop and introduce further pages. I plan to do more too but may switch my focus to my own discipline of digital learning.

Collaboration

We’ve had excellent support from Wikimedia UK in getting the LCC Wikipedia activities off the ground. A keynote for our Academic Leaders Day in 2019 by Wikimedia UK Chief Exec, Lucy Crompton-Reid, was followed by a workshop co-facilitated by her colleague Richard Nevell and UAL Librarian Alexandra Duncan. But kudos to Lucy Panesar and the LCC Changemakers for really making this project a success as one of the college’s decolonisation projects.

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