Tag Archives: Wikimedia UK

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.


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




Wikipedia’s Monmouthpedia Project – passion for a town’s cultural heritage is a powerful (and profitable) force for good

Jimmy Wales in a now notorious Slashdot interview from 2004, said: “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.”   Last weekend a small town in Wales offered the world a glimpse of what Wikipedia might look like if and when it was ever finished.
Assisted by global volunteers who have been writing hundreds of articles in not just English and Welsh but also Hungarian, Esperanto and Latin (really). The people of Monmouth painted a loving picture of their whole town on Wikipedia. Last Saturday celebrated this achievement with1,000 QR codes added to signposts, listed buildings, exhibitions and shops around the town. Now, remarkably, a Hungarian can wander around the town using their Smart phone to scan QRpedia codes which automatically detect the phones chosen language and delivers an article from the Hungarian Wikipedia .
The important bit here is that the people of Monmouth are now in control of this information. They can decide what it written about their town, their museums and their leaders. The cost of the project was repaid within hours as the story was picked up in over 250 articles that cover 36 countries. For an outlay of a few thousand pounds on a Project Coordinator, the treasures of the town are being read about in press from Shanghai to Las Vegas, from Washington to Canberra.  Now, with every likelihood of visitors from all over the world coming to the town waving their smartphones at the QRPedia codes to learn how it all works – the people are set for a welcome financial bonus in these tough economic times. Indeed, the council are so impressed that they signed a deal with Wikimedia UK to ensure that the work continues.
They’ve taken the first step in Monmouth. Wikipedia can do this, one town at a time. It only took about a dozen people to get it moving. If you think you could do this then Wikimedia UK want to speak to you.

Why we’re taking Wikipedia down for a day

Over the last few weeks, the Wikipedia community has been discussing proposed actions that the community might take in protest to proposed legislation in the United States called Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (Pipa) in the US Senate.

If passed, these laws would seriously damage the free and open internet, including Wikipedia. With more than 2,000 Wikipedians commenting on this legislation from all over the world, and a clear majority in favour of taking action, this will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made. From midnight on America’s East Coast and from 5am in the UK, Wikipedia will go dark for 24 hours.

It was felt that both Sopa and Pipa are pieces of clumsily drafted legislation that are dangerous for the internet and freedom of speech. It provides powers to regulatory authorities to force internet companies to block foreign sites offering “pirated” material that violates US copyright laws. If implemented, ad networks could be required to stop online ads and search engines would be barred from directly linking to websites “found” to be in breach of copyright.

However, leaving to one side the fact that there are more than enough adequate remedies for policing copyright violations under existing laws in most jurisdictions, these draft bills go too far and in their framing. Sopa and Pipa totally undermine the notion of due process in law and place the burden of proof on the distributor of content in the case of any dispute over copyright ownership.

Therefore, any legitimate issues that copyright holders may have get drowned out by poorly-framed draconian powers to block, bar, or shut down sites as requested by industry bodies or their legal representatives.

Copyright holders have legitimate issues, but there are ways of approaching the issue that don’t involve censorship.

Wikipedia depends on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. This needs other sites to be able to host user-contributed material; all Wikipedia then does is to frame the information in context and make sense of it for its millions of users.

Knowledge freely shared has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikipedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or, if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, will mean that the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.

All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy — and regulate the internet in other ways — that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond Sopa and Pipa: they are just part of the problem. We want the internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.

Steve Virgin is a Board member and Trustee of Wikimedia UK (published 17 January 2011)

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/01/wikipedia-copyright-community  (as author I’d like to thank Staggers for agreeing to allow this to be published elsewhere)

Bristol trustee’s delight at charity status for Wikimedia UK

 Bristol-based trustee of Wikimedia UK has spoken of his delight that the organisation has been given official charitable status. The Charity Commission approved Wikimedia UK, the UK membership organisation supporting Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, as a registered charity last week. The news comes as this year’s global Wikimedia fundraiser begins today. Wikimedia UK aims to raise £1million to support Wikipedia and its sister projects. The Charity Commission’s decision means that for the first time British donors to Wikimedia will be able to make their donations go further with Gift Aid. Speaking to Bristol24-7, Steve Virgin from Wikimedia UK said: “This is great news for Wikimedia UK, and Bristol, where Wikimedia UK is highly active with two local directors and a vigorous volunteer community. We can now claim Gift Aid on donations for the fundraiser that starts in the next few days, and the extra funds will help us to do more in Bristol.”

Leading charity law specialists Stone King LLP, who advised Wikimedia UK on the successful application for charity status, said the registration was “a milestone in the development of charity law in England and Wales”. “Wikimedia UK’s registration as a charity is a significant step toward the updating of charity law to reflect developments in modern communications and the evolution of user-generated content,” they said. “The promotion of open access to content and user-generated and -enriched content has not, until now, been recognised as a charitable purpose. Stone King and Wikimedia UK are therefore delighted that the Charity Commission has made the bold and wholly justified step that acknowledges the profound contribution that properly managed and regulated open content makes to society.”

Bristol has been active in the Wikimedia project, hosting an international conference on fundraising and working with the University of Bristol to create a student ambassador for the organisation. Earlier this year, the city hosted the only global public speaking engagement of co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales during the encyclopedia’s 10th birthday celebrations.


Jimmy Wales Talk at University of Bristol @Wikipedia 10 – (full 1 hour talk)


Sponsored by HP Labs, Bristol Festival of Ideas, University of Bristol, Watershed, Bristol City Council – organised by Steve Virgin on behalf of Wikimedia UK

Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia – Public Lecture at University of Bristol

Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales, gave a public lecture on the birth of Wikipedia at the University of Bristol in January, 2011, as part of the site’s 10th Birthday celebrations….this whole event was organised by the ‘editor’ of this site’s content – Steve Virgin – who is currently a Board Director of Wikimedia UK as well as a Director of Media Focus uk – a global media monitoring and evaluation consultancy.

Can this be your missing link? It has 100m users and is known as ‘the Facebook for suits’. Is LinkedIn is the business site you can’t ignore?

What’s your idea of business networking? A round of golf perhaps, a brief exchange of business cards at a trade show or a meeting in the dowdy conference room of a provincial hotel?   Like most people you probably find it a chore, but the stewed tea and broken Bourbons might soon be a thing of the past because social media is oiling the wheels of commerce — and LinkedIn is handling the introductions.   You might know LinkedIn from the daily requests from someone you have never heard of to join a network in which you have no interest. Or you may have joined at some stage in the past, thought it was a good idea, never to return. But according to some media and business experts, you ignore it at your peril.

Dubbed the “Facebook for suits”, the US social media site now has 100 million global users, six million of them in the UK, where it opened for business three years ago. The word from the internet’s other great growth business, social media analysts, is that if you’re not on it you’re nobody.

“If I was a CEO and time was precious I’d probably not bother with it much, but anyone else would be foolish to ignore it,” says Steve Virgin, director at Media Focus UK and a trustee of Wikimedia. Today we’re all marketing people and the most important thing we market is ourselves.”   I signed up to the site 18 months ago after an invitation from a colleague, but like most people have done little with it. Am I ignoring a potential professional goldmine? If I take LinkedIn seriously, will it double my business?

These are the questions that lead me to the company’s freshly minted offices behind Tottenham Court Road, Central London, to receive a networking masterclass from its communications chief, Richard George. A large TV screen in the boardroom displays LinkedIn’s mind-numbingly anodyne website and, more importantly, my perfunctory profile. Outside, employees beaver away providing IT support and recruitment and sales services in an open-plan office. At the far end is a canteen where staff gather to hear proclamations from Jeff Weiner, CEO and former Yahoo! executive, at a fortnightly videoconference.   “Everything starts with your profile. This is your professional identity, your CV,” George says, regarding mine with evident disdain. “You need to provide more information about yourself.   We give away a huge amount of functionality, it’s up to you to use it.”

LinkedIn was launched in California in May 2003 by Reid Hoffman, a US web entrepreneur and former executive on PayPal, who helped to engineer the meeting between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his first investors.   It took LinkedIn a year from its start to reach 500,000 members; today it is growing at a million a week. A month ago it also became the first social network to float on the New York Stock Exchange, prompting a frenzy of trading that saw shares leap from $45 to a high of $122 each. The valuation of $9 billion recalled the gold rush of the first dot-com boom a decade ago.

“It has grown massively in importance and in numbers and the one is a consequence of the other,” says Jan Vermeiren, founder of Networking Coach and author of How to Really Use LinkedIn. “Whether you are an individual or a company it is essential in your professional life.”   Perhaps. But most people just register and that’s it. “They don’t do much with it,” Vermeiren agrees. “But once you define your goal, what or for whom you are looking, you can see its value.”   Back at LinkedIn’s office we go about making “Brand Me”. A picture is uploaded, my skill summary is expanded, my past history filled in. Privacy has become one of the biggest issues of today. Cookies mean your electronic footprints are everywhere and for the (rightly) paranoid, revealing more information about your education, background, skills and interests to the world seems foolish, but LinkedIn stakes its reputation on ring-fencing your image.   “I was chatting to a guy recently who was worried about his daughter being on Facebook,” Virgin says. “I told him there’s a new form of privacy now. You have to accept that old notions of privacy don’t exist. You’re there whether you like it or not. It’s about turning it to your advantage and LinkedIn can be controlled in a way that Facebook can’t.”

Step two in my social networking lesson: make some connections. Connections are like your Facebook friends: they’re people you might do business with or who might help you to do business. A quick way to get started is by synching your e-mail address book with the site, but each time you do business with someone you can also invite them to connect. The point is not that you connect with them but that you link into their network. You have to conclude that the more you put into something this way, the more you get out. Equally, you will receive requests for introduction, but you have a choice on whether you acknowledge them positively (do you know them? Are they likely to be of any use?).   As in life, not all requests are granted. There were some abject failures. An attempt to reach an editor on the BBC sport website crashed. The football agent blanked me (no surprise there). Nevertheless, I grew in popularity with 57 connections, which apparently linked me to a mind-boggling 1,303,000 professionals. Cool. Even if it did feel a bit like freshers’ week.

“Well it’s not new or especially radical,” Virgin says. “It’s taking something we’ve always done but it’s doing it faster than ever before.”   Of the many people to whom I spoke, — in PR, sales, finance and marketing — not one had a bad word to say about LinkedIn. Several said that it had got them a new job. The jobs market is a big driver for LinkedIn and a key source of revenue. You may not even know you’re in the market for a job until one is offered.   Tim McLoughlin, a social media expert at Aegis Group, had switched jobs the previous week when I contacted him. “I was looking for a change,” he says. “I did almost my entire job-surfing on LinkedIn by looking up companies I was interested in to see if I had any connections. I asked for some recommendations and ended up at a place where I had never met anyone face to face.”   For this reason LinkedIn is becoming an essential tool in the recruitment industry. Users are polishing themselves up, companies are using search tools to track them down.   Last year the recruitment agency Hays carried out a survey of 500 professionals and 60 per cent were aware that employers used it to research potential recruits.

Chris McCarthy, a Hays director, has been a member since the site opened eight years ago and now uses it every day. “It has increased our source pool,” he says. “Your profile is an online CV and we read hundreds every day, which we benchmark against others. That’s why you should make an effort. We search by job title or regionally or we can go through competitors. What we want is a career history with a solid track record of progression.   “Where we are really seeing its reach is as a global tool. I recently found someone for a UK manufacturer in China who was German. Advertising may not have worked for that. You can gain access to experts very quickly. It’s also meritocratic, it does away with all the old-school-tie stuff because your CV is there alongside everyone else’s.”

Actually your educational background is part of your profile, but one colleague in market research, who also uses it regularly, warns against an expectation that a job will drop in your lap. “I don’t think there are any epiphanies. It’s more subtle than that,” he says.   There is also the issue of potential conflict between companies and employees. “I tell CEOs that they have to trust the people who work for them,” says Vermeiren, for whom training companies is now his biggest growth area. “They need to have a calm discussion about the consequences of misusing LinkedIn. Generally, people act as ambassadors and promote the company. If you tell people you’re going to monitor their behaviour then they’re not going to show goodwill.”   McCarthy has seen the other side, the indiscretion and the bitching. “Companies need to be wary about how employees use it. I’ve come across some profiles with staggering stuff that doesn’t exactly represent the company in the best light,” he says. “Pictures revealing too much, indiscreet comments.”

With LinkedIn’s middle-management client base, the consequences of a bitch about the boss on the Twitter feed you synched to your account could be much worse than a PA getting fired.   And don’t think you aren’t being watched. Last month the software developer Actiance announced a new add-on called Socialite that intercepts new edits of LinkedIn profiles and automatically reroutes the changes for review. Employers might see any alteration as a “come-on” to recruiters.   Further potential conflict exists in all those useful connections you make in doinging your job: your client base. When the split happens, who gets the kids?   “The legal side of social media is evolving steadily,” Virgin says. “The data has a real value so you can see a time where the company wants to own your contacts if you leave because you built them up on the company’s time and through the company’s reach. If you attempt to hit on those contacts and get them to move their business it becomes an issue. Someone is going to clean their previous employer out and there’s going to be a court case.”

Back at my home page further surfing in Events (under “More”) reveals LinkedIn London, a face-to-face gathering run by Jorgen Sundberg, founder of Link Humans, a social media consultancy. I attend its next meeting upstairs in a Holborn pub, where Sundberg explains how to exploit LinkedIn to a dozen members including Jinessh, a business development manager, and Edita, an accounts manager, both keen for a move.   I meet Andrew Pothecary, the young MD of WCAFI, which makes a “clean air kit” aimed at companies interested in branding them as corporate gifts. Beer in hand he proves an enthusiastic LinkedIn proselyte.   “I’ve been using it an awful lot the past six months to analyse who I’ve been in contact with by e-mail and reconnecting with them by LinkedIn. I used a contact in Canada to set up a deal with Mastercard UK and I found three or four commercial agents on the groups page who are keen to meet me. It makes networking in real life that bit easier, it’s a great facilitator.

We’re here today meeting people, tomorrow we’ll be back on LinkedIn looking for more people to meet. That’s how it works.”   It’s probably me but there’s an air of forced bonhomie at such events: they feel awkward and artificial and it’s hard to say what value they have apart from reacquainting people with those redundant social skills.   It might be my misanthropic tendencies but it makes me want to retreat behind my profile and fire off more invitations. It’s a lot less effort after all.   How to control your career with LinkedIn   It all starts with your profile. It’s your resumé, so follow the instructions carefully.   Upload a head and shoulders picture eBay-style. Think “appropriate”.   Expand your summary. Explain your job role, making sure that you use keywords because this acts as SEO — search engine optimisation — pushing you up the rankings.   Avoid bad jokes.   Expand your network — send out invitations but don’t hassle people. Don’t play the numbers game — it’s quality, not quantity, that matters.

Join relevant Groups (some are open, some closed and you have to request admission).   Use the search engine tool at the top right of the page to find people who could be of use. Post recommendations. Someone must have been impressed by you. Ask them to add a testimonial. Don’t make it look like a swapsie.   Avoid posting sensitive information or complaining about your job.   If you Twitter, pair it up with your LinkedIn account. But remember that people are now receiving your tweets. We don’t care if you had a bagel for breakfast.   Be visible. Updating your profile and interacting subtly reminds your contacts that you’re out there.   What your social network says about you   I am not a LinkedIn user. When I receive a request from someone to connect with them on LinkedIn, I feel much the same way as the Times columnist Caitlin Moran, who wrote on Twitter recently: “*endless sorrow* My brother has invited me to join him on LinkedIn. I’d rather he’d just formally told me we have nothing in common.”   What social network you belong to says something about you — your background, your aspirations and, of course, your friends.

LinkedIn has the well-earned reputation of being “Facebook for suits”, emphasising networking rather than being sociable. The idea of making connections to others mainly to advance you career can seem a bit distasteful and phoney.   All the same, millions of people want to be part of LinkedIn and many of us are now active members of more than one network. At various times I have used Facebook, MySpace and Twitter — MySpace’s focus on new music appeals to my wannabe-trendy side. Twitter has become a valuable journalistic tool, keeping me in touch with the day’s events faster than any other news feed.   Then there’s Facebook, the biggest beast of them all with 700 million users worldwide. One person in three in the UK is on the site, which has become a one-stop socialising shop with tentacles that reach all over the web.   So, we may dabble in LinkedIn, especially with its promise to get us a better job and higher salary. But Facebook is the site that has made social networkers of us all.

Cancer charity to tidy up Wikipedia

Cancer Research UK is turning its specialists loose on the internet to get them to tidy up the online encyclopaedia – Wikipedia.

The charity said many people researching the subject are turning to the website. But it said there were problems with accuracy and clarity on some of the pages.

Wikipedia said it encourages experts to edit the site as they have a lot to contribute. Cancer Research UK’s website has pages of detail about a range of cancers.

However, using a search engine for the terms “Breast Cancer” puts the charity in eighth place on the results page. Wikipedia comes second. A trend it repeats across other cancers.

New audience

Wikipedia said it had more than 3.5m page views for cancer-related content in January 2011. Henry Scowcroft, scientific communications manager for Cancer Research UK, said: “It has been our intention for a long time to be involved in the online discussion outside of our own website.”

“Wikipedia is nearly always at the top of an internet search for cancers. It’s not always that easy to understand and sometimes it can be inaccurate or not completely up to date.” “We want to increase the accuracy and clarity.”

So far they have created a new entry on the hallmarks of cancer as well as information about screening for human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer. The charity has not decided how many staff should contribute to the site, or how much time they should spend doing it.

Mike Peel, from Wikimedia has been training staff from Cancer Research. He said: “Expert editors are really vital and have a lot to contribute.”