On Saturday 29 June 2013, a series of parallel World War I edit-a-thons was organized throughout Europe and Australia by Wikimedia Sverige as part of the Europeana Awareness project. To get people involved, we contacted a bunch of Wikimedia Chapters and individual volunteers, including many at the GLAM-WIKI 2013 conference, which just goes to show the great value of physical meetings. We told them about our plans and we were happy to receive great interest and positive responses, not to mention a few great suggestions for improvements!
Physical WWI edit-a-thons took place in five countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Successful online edit-a-thons also ran in Australia and Greece. All in all, well over 50 volunteers took part in the edit-a-thons.
We had four reasons for holding these events. First, there is always a spike in Wikipedia visitor numbers around the dates of a major event and we wanted Wikipedia’s articles about the First World War to be as good as possible before the centennial anniversaries. Given that many articles were created and improved during the edit-a-thons, we believe this to have been a step in the right direction.
Second, we looked at an edit-a-thon as a perfect way of getting representatives from different galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) to cooperate with each other and with us, and a great way of engaging experts. The idea was that this would give us a chance to approach the GLAMs and initiate collaborations to urge them to release pictures from their collections and to work with us in other ways during 2014. At the European level, we are already cooperating with Europeana and the Europeana Network in order to reach even more GLAMs. Europeana’s material was frequently used in the edit-a-thons, so the events further strengthened our partnership with them and the GLAMs participating in their Network. As part of the events, several Wikimedia Chapters also initiated new relationships with their local GLAMs.
Our third reason behind hosting the edit-a-thons was that we wanted to increase the use of Europeana’s enormous digital collection on Wikipedia, while making the community aware of this partnership and the many similarities between our two organizations. Europeana has thousands of pictures connected to WWI that have the free licenses that enable their use on Wikipedia. It would be a shame not to have these amazing pictures illustrating Wikipedia articles. The pictures come both from the public and from Europeana’s vast network of content providers. During these events, we showed GLAMs why they should use a truly free license (suitable for use on Wikipedia) and what the end users–Wikimedians–could do with their content.
The edit-a-thons were very successful with plenty of images from Europeana used and contextualized in our articles. We were all happy to see that volunteers explored Europeana’s material themselves and uploaded many more great images during the day. Also, there was a lot of work done in London with bringing more Europeana material to our projects from the British Library.