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.

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

 

 

 

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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.

http://www.bristol247.com/2011/11/14/bristol-trustees-delight-at-charity-status-for-wikimedia-uk-90241/

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

http://youtu.be/wU67vB2r4d0

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