Category Archives: Monmouthpedia

Monmouthpedia – a small step for the PR industry on a longer road to deeper understanding of Wikipedia

How to turn a crisis into an opportunity for the PR industry

It was Winston Churchill who said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  For Wikimedia UK, the press coverage surrounding the issue of unethical editing of Wikipedia pages by Bell Pottinger was the moment for an optimist to step forward.  For the public relations industry, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) made a statement that it intended to develop CIPR Social Media Guidelines that could help it work with PR industry professionals to clarify the position specifically in relation to Wikipedia.

As a Wikimedia UK Board Trustee I met with the CIPR in early February to confirm our willingness to support this CIPR initiative. I then met with the Public Relations Consultancy Association in March, to ask for its support and collaboration in this too.

At these meetings common threads were emerging. Most PR professionals are keen to work with open, online communities such as Wikipedia, and many already do so. However, there would be benefit in increasingly the level of understanding about the two community’s respective values, processes and needs.

It was felt that on the PR industry-side there are many Wikipedia policies on best practice for editing and on the issue of paid for editing, which many believe are too dispersed, and so not easy to find. It was felt that the belief system or culture which motivates 100,000 Wikipedian volunteers to donate their free time to creating the World’s No1 encyclopaedia needs better explaining.  In a traditional commercial environment where time is billable, the nature of expectations of another’s actions is different from those in a volunteer-driven world. Being in a position to ‘think more like a Wikipedian’ and to ‘appreciate what motivates a volunteer’ would help to set support expectations at a more realistic level and lead to a deeper understanding of what the wider Wikipedia project is setting out to achieve.

In a more practical sense, it was felt that there was a need for the codification of existing Wikipedia paid for editing policies, WMUK training support in how to best use Wikipedia for PR professionals across the UK and a strong desire on the CIPR and PRCA side, to create a formal training module that could be introduced into PR training courses at university level at some time in the future.

So, a goal was set; to create a set of Social Media Guidelines for PR industry professionals. A target was agreed, to have these ready for the Wikimedia UK AGM on May 12th at the Science Museum, where they would be introduced by a representative from both industry bodies: Neville Hobson (on behalf of the PRCA) and Phillip Sheldrake (on behalf of the CIPR). Then, if this was well-received by the Wikimedia UK membership, to post the Guidelines online shortly after the AGM and to launch a Wikimedia UK-PR industry public consultation process which invited comment from both PR professionals and Wikipedians. This is a process that is now underway and will conclude later in June. I’d encourage Wikipedians to get involved and to post comments on these guidelines.

A second goal was set. That was to get the two PR industry bodies to approach their membership and ask them to get involved in the launch of Monmouthpedia the World’s First Wikipedia Town on May 19th, one week after the AGM. The idea behind this was to get PR professionals working alongside Wikipedians on a project of common benefit. It was also to show the value of the work that Wikipedians do in a fresh light to public relations professionals, thereby, starting the process of deepening the level of understanding of each others’ ways of working on both sides.

The Monmouthpedia initiative involved a number of PRCA member agencies who produced some fabulous communication support.  With agencies such as Montpellier PR behind the Wikimedia UK communications team, the press campaign saw 277 news stories across 36 countries and created immense value to the town of Monmouth and to the technological innovation-driven notion of hyper-localism using multi-lingual Wikipedia pages.

Steve Virgin Board Member & Trustee of Wikimedia UK (2009-2012)

About Wikimedia UK

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Wikimedia UK is the Wikimedia chapter covering the United Kingdom. Their aim is to help collect, develop and distribute freely licensed knowledge by bringing the Wikimedia community in the UK together, and by building links with UK-based cultural institutions, universities, charities and other bodies. Wikimedia UK is a registered charity and is supported entirely by voluntary donations.

References

1)      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/wikipedia-founder-attacks-bell-pottinger-for-ethical-blindness-6273836.html

2)      http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/news-opinion/press-releases/105707/cipr-to-work-with-wikipedia-on-clear-guidance-for-pr-profession

3)      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/wikipedia/9274591/Monmouth-to-be-worlds-first-Wikipedia-town.html

4)      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/monmouthpedia-monmouth-wikipedia-town-wales_n_1524961.html

5)      http://thenextweb.com/uk/2012/05/16/monmouthpedia-the-worlds-first-wikipedia-town-is-set-to-go-live/

6)      http://monmouthpedia.wordpress.com/ (online press resource)

7)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/MonmouthpediA (project pages on Wikipedia)

8)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/MonmouthpediA/Public_Relations (public relations messaging)

9)      http://www.nevillehobson.com/2012/05/19/qr-codes-at-the-heart-of-monmouthpedia/

10)   http://www.prca.org.uk/PRprofessionalspresentatWikimediaUKAGM

 

 

 

World launch for Wikipedia town paves way for global roll out across local communities

Innovative collaborative project puts Monmouth on the world map and provides access to almost half a billion people.

Ahead of New York, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Beijing and Berlin, the global digital age reaches a new landmark this week as Monmouth, Wales officially becomes the world’s first Wikipedia town on Saturday 19 May.

This world-first in information sharing will provide instant multilingual access to Wikipedia pages for smartphone users through data collection and recognition tools known as QRpedia codes.  Wikimedia UK, the charity body that promotes Wikipedia and other wiki projects in the UK, has been working in partnership over the past six months with the town of Monmouth and local government body Monmouthshire County Council on the project, known as Monmouthpedia.

The Monmouthpedia project creates multilingual versions of Wikipedia pages, about every notable place, person, artifact, flora, fauna in the town of Monmouth and makes them instantly accessible to smartphone users in the town through the installation of QRpedia codes in key locations. The clever part, according to the Monmouthpedia team, is that QRpedia codes display the content in the user’s own language. So, if someone from France whose device is set to work in French scans a code, the Wikipedia content will display in French. The same applies to any language that has related content on Wikipedia.

Roger Bamkin, a Director of Wikimedia UK and co-creator of QRpedia,said: ”We’re delighted that Monmouth is becoming the world’s first Wikipedia town. Both the quality and quantity of the new Monmouth Wikipedia content is outstanding, reflecting the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of the town. At last foreign visitors cannot only read information in their own language, but they can edit it too.”

The project has galvanised the local community of residents, businesses and volunteers who have teamed up with the Wikipedia community to create hundreds of new articles about Monmouth in 25 different languages, as well as improving hundreds of others and according to Wikimedia UK, helps to make this a truly global project as well as a very local one. With the focus on collaboration, many of those contributors taking part have never been to Monmouth, or even the UK.

John Cummings, the local project lead, said: “Wikipedia is all about working to share the sum of all human knowledge with everyone. Monmouthpedia has shown that whole towns can make a contribution to this effort. Because QRpedia codes can be accessed in different languages they have been used throughout the world. I think that giving free access to information in this way allow us to have a richer experience of the world around us.”

Becoming the world’s first Wikipedia town has attracted numerous benefits for Monmouth, including a boost to both local tourism and business alike. Kellie Beirne, Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Officer for Regeneration and Culture said: “Monmouth has always been known in the UK as a great place to visit and do business. We very quickly realised that embracing technology and fantastic global community projects like this benefits everyone in Monmouthshire and we are delighted to be involved in something so innovative, creative and forward-looking.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has taken a keen interest in the project from its inception and the fact that the world–launch is in Wales has not escaped his attention: “I’m really excited by the Monmouthpedia project. Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward thinking people of Monmouth, all of the volunteers and the Wikimedia UK team. I’m looking forward to seeing other towns and cities doing the same thing!”

Since its inception the project has been the subject of intense global interest and has been covered by media from all five continents, partly because of its simplicity. According to Wikimedia’s Roger Bamkin it’s this simplicity that makes the project replicable in every town, city and village around the world, a fact that the team is keen to highlight.

Roger said: “We’ve shown in Monmouth that all it takes is a little creativity, energy and cooperation to put a town on the map and take it to an audience of 480 million people a month. Monmouth may be the first Wikipedia town but we’re hoping for many, many more to follow. Your town could be next, and we hope it is.”

Contact details

For Wikimedia UK press enquiries please call Stevie Benton, Communications Organiser, on +44 (0) 20 7065 0993 or +44 (0) 7771 778 734.  You can also email press@wikimedia.org.uk or stevie.benton@wikimedia.org.uk

For Monmouthshire County Council press enquiries please contact Helen Reynolds at HelenReynolds@monmouthshire.gov.uk or on 01633 644 788.

For the Monmouthpedia project lead please contact John Cummings at john.cummings@monmouthpedia.org or on 07579 965 063.

Notes to editors

1. Wikimedia UK is the Wikimedia chapter for the UK. It works to support, develop  and promote Wikimedia Foundation projects, such as Wikipedia. It does this by bringing together the Wikimedia community and by building links with UK-based cultural institutions, universities, charities and other bodies.

2. Wikipedia is the largest reference work ever created. It’s the sixth most visited website in the world, attracting around 480 million unique visitors every month.

3. The Wikimedia Foundation’s projects include Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikibooks, Wikispecies, Wikiversity and Wikimedia Commons.

4. Pictures relating to Monmouthpedia are available here and here