Bristol ‘Wikipedians’ taught to edit online encylopaedia

Wikipedia came to Bristol to host free workshops on how to edit the online encyclopaedia – all in the name of saving endangered wildlife


Andy Mabbett, right, teaches guests at the Edit-a-Thon how to edit a Wikipedia entry

Wikipedia came to Bristol yesterday to host free workshops on how to edit the worldwide online encyclopaedia – all in the name of saving endangered wildlife.

The Wiki Wildlife Edit-a-thons were organised by Wikimedia UK in collaboration with Wildscreen’s ARKive project, the Bristol-based digital archive of endangered species throughout the world.

Hosted at the Watershed, the editing sessions allowed Bristolians and beyond to learn how to set up their own Wikipedia account and play in an online “sandbox”, before getting going on making improvements to main pages on the encyclopaedia itself.

“This is for everyone,” said veteran Wikipedian Steve Woods of Bristol Wireless. “So many people use Wikipedia, it’s only right that they learn how to edit it too – so that they can put something back into it. There was lots of enthusiasm and positive energy today, which was great to see.”

For the past 10 weeks, “Wikimedia Outreach Ambassador” Andy Mabbett has been using ARKive’s text resources to update Wikipedia articles about endangered species.

The workshops at Watershed focused on improving the 200 texts about wildlife that ARKive shared with Wikipedia as part of the project.

“It was great to learn how to edit Wikipedia – really exciting,” said Wildscreen’s Ellie Dart, who has been helping co-ordinate the project. “The idea of our working together has been to help make Wikipedia’s wildlife articles more accurate, as well as encouraging more readers to come to ARKive.”

She added that no digital images have been used, only text, in the collaboration. ARKive is famous for its beautiful pictures, but these are strictly copyright.

Currently attracting 414 million visitors every month, Wikipedia, part of the San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation, aspires to create “a world in which every single human being can share in the sum of all human knowledge.”

Volunteer writers and editors round the world co-create the resource, and it’s open to anyone to add to or improve it. There are around 100,000 such volunteers, or “Wikipedians”, in the UK.

“This is a wiki-friendly city,” said Bristolian and enthusiastic Wikimedia UK trustee and Board member Dr Martin Poulter. “We already have great support from Bristol and Bristolians, and things like this Edit-a-thon are an amazing opportunity for anyone with an interest they want to share with the world to get involved.

“We’re hoping to have many more free events like this in Bristol, and of course all Bristolians can join in with the Wikipedian community online as well.”

For more information about becoming a Wikipedian, click here…

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