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A GLAMorous romance

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  • Català


QR codes at Joan Miró Foundation, 2011

One of the most fruitful collaborations between the community of Catalan-speaking Wikipedians and the GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) is taking place at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona. Let’s peer into this little love story between GLAMwiki pioneers.

The first rendez-vous occurred in September 2011, when the Foundation was preparing the exhibition “Joan Miró and the Scale of Evasion” using QRpedia to offer the visitors QR codes linking to Wikipedia articles. A wikimarathon followed by a translation campaign was organized by wikiGLAM volunteers in order to assure complete articles translated in several languages for the seventeen most remarkable works in the exhibition. The participation in this first experience consisted mostly of core editors who worked on the initial seventeen articles and created fifty more. All these articles, originally written in Catalan, were completed with a range of two to fifty translations. Their effort resulted in more than 12,000 readings of QR codes during the period of the exhibition.

This was the beginning of a great friendship; the GLAMwiki experiment proved that a community of motivated volunteers and the good predisposition from a welcoming institution could bring good results. However, after this first experience together, the volunteers and the institution each followed their own paths.

Miró Editathon, 2013

The next rendezvous would come two years later, in 2013. Espai 13, a space within the Joan Miró Foundation devoted to exhibit works of young and emerging artists, was celebrating its 35th anniversary. Wikipedia volunteers and the institution thought that this was a good occasion to work together again. They ran another wikimarathon together, the longest organized in Catalonia so far, lasting 35 hours, topped by the coincidence of creating the 400,000th article of Catalan Wikipedia during the event.

This time, core Wikipedia editors mingled with a legion of new users who came from universities and the fine arts scene. They created 121 articles (in Catalan, Spanish, English, and even French) about artists and commissioners involved with Espai 13 during its thirty-five-year history. The romance between Wikipedia and the Joan Miró Foundation made clear steps forward. The names of the viquipedistes were listed in the acknowledgments section of the exhibition, and a plaque was hung in the main room to remember the wikimarathon that created Wikipedia articles for all the featured artists.


Remembering Adrianne Wadewitz

Portrait of Adrianne Wadewitz at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, DC.

Each of us on the Wikipedia Education Program team is saddened today by the news of Adrianne Wadewitz’s passing. We know we share this sadness with everyone at the Wikimedia Foundation and so many in the Wikimedia and education communities. Our hearts go out to all of you, her family and friends. Today is a time for mourning and remembering.

Adrianne served as one of the first Campus Ambassadors for the Wikipedia Education Program (then known as the Public Policy Initiative). In this role, she consulted with professors, demonstrated Wikipedia editing and helped students collaborate with Wikipedia community members to successfully write articles. As an Educational Curriculum Advisor to the team, Adrianne blended her unique Wikipedia insight and teaching experience to help us develop Wikipedia assignments, lesson plans and our initial sample syllabus. Her work served as a base for helping university professors throughout the United States, and the world, use Wikipedia effectively in their classes.

Adrianne was also one of the very active voices in the Wikimedia community urging participation and awareness among women to tackle the project’s well-known gender gap. She was an articulate, kind, and energetic face for Wikipedia, and many know that her work helped bring new Wikipedians to the project. The Foundation produced a video exploring Adrianne’s work within the Wikipedia community in 2012.

Many in the Wikimedia community knew her from her exceptional and varied contributions, especially in the areas of gender and 18th-century British literature – in which she received a PhD last year from Indiana University, before becoming a Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College. Since July of 2004, she had written 36 featured articles (the highest honor for quality on Wikipedia) and started over 100 articles – the latest being on rock climber Steph Davis.

Adrianne touched many lives as she freely shared her knowledge, expertise and passions with Wikipedia, her students, colleagues, friends and family. She will be deeply missed by all of us. Our condolences go out to her family during these very difficult times.

Rod Dunican
Director, Global Education

Wikipedia Education Program

  • See Adrianne’s user page on the English Wikipedia, her Twitter account, her home page and her blog at HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory)
  • Wikipedians have begun to share their memories and condolences about Adrianne on her user talk page.
  • The leadership of the Wiki Education Foundation, where Adrianne was a board member, have also expressed their condolences.
  • Memorial post from HASTAC Co-founder Cathy Davidson.
  • Wikinews story on the passing of Adrianne Wadewitz.

Wikimedia RU expands Wikipedia Voice intro project to include music

WikiMusic logoRecently, Wikimedia RU (the Russian Wikimedia chapter) successfully launched the Russian version of the “Wikipedia voice intro project” and expanded it to incorporate the “WikiMusic” project. Now it not only covers celebrity voices but also free music – which prior to this had no significant presence in any Wikimedia project.

How did it happen?

The recent launch of the “Wikipedia voice intro project” got extensive coverage in Russian and European press. While the topic was hot, directors of Wikimedia RU achieved an agreement with the chief editor of “Echo of Moscow” radio, Alexei Venediktov, to start a similar joint project in Russia – “WikiVoices“.

It should be mentioned that Echo of Moscow has the largest audience among Moscow radio stations and broadcasts in more than 40 cities in Russia, the United States and Baltic states. It has the highest citation index between all Russian media, exceeding even TV channels. So, we are really happy to start working together with such a partner. According to the agreement, Echo will do the following:

  • ask their guests for short neutral stories about themselves without propaganda, advertising or personal attacks so that they will be suitable for future usage in Wikipedia;
  • search through their archive records (dating back to 1990) and provide us with interesting samples;
  • not only provide us with records of guests who came to their studio but also ask their external correspondents to make such records;
  • publish  photos of their guests under free licenses.

“Waves of the Danube” waltz.

Gypsy song from the opera “Carmen.”

“The Lost Chord.”

Voice Recording of speech “On the cultural role of the gramophone.”

Echo of Moscow not only agreed to donate such materials but also did a lot for simplification of this process: all records are posted at their official website with information about the person and direct statement of CC-BY-SA license for the records. The log of uploads is prepared in the machine-readable XML format and new records are automatically uploaded to Commons via bots in the free OGG format. At the moment about 40 records were uploaded: now we have voice records of the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (with translator), the USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, journalist Vladimir Pozner and many other famous people.

Fortunately, that’s not the only good news we want to share. While we were announcing the start of WikiVoices project on the, we were heard by the Russian State Archive of Sound Recordings. This archive was founded in 1932 and at the moment has more than 240,00  records. Many catalogs are not available online and many records are not digitized, but the Archive is ready to convert desirable records into the digital format and donate them to us.


For Rexford Nkansah, Wikipedia represents the future of education for his country

Despite its growing economy, Ghana is not the first place one would associate with technology, but for 20-year-old native Rexford Nkansah, it’s second nature.

Wikipedians attending WikiAfrica’s Open Africa 2014 course in Cape Town in February of 2014. From left: Abel Asrat, Rexford Nkansah, Michael Phoya, Cyriac Gbogou, and Erina Mukuta.

“In Ghana you don’t have hobbies like skiing or going to restaurants,” he says. “So these are the little things I do to keep myself busy.” The youngest of five, Rexford is now spearheading a campaign to form a Wikimedia Chapter in Ghana. “I’m actually considered to be Ghana’s Wikimedia person,” he explains.

He first stumbled upon Wikipedia in 2006, and like many, at first did not realize what made it so special. It wasn’t until five years later that he began contributing himself. “I thought – how can anyone, anywhere on the planet put in anything just like that? So I decided to read about it, to learn the rules for editing, and that’s how it all started.”

A biography on Ashesi University founder Patrick Awuah was his first foray into writing, an article that took him six hours of non-stop work. “I took my time to write it. I sat down, researched, did everything, put it all together, added photos… I just dedicated that time to do it. I said, this guy – I need to do something to say thank you to him, for how he’s helping Ghana grow.”

Nkansah is a passionate web developer, and is keen on emphasizing the value of open source software. “Not all of us have access to credit cards, buying something online is like going a million miles to fetch something,” he says, “so when you get free software, you get happy about it. Because software that is not free… it’s hard to pay for it even if you have the money.”


Wikimedia-RU changes Russian Civil Code

FOP in RussiaOn March 12, 2014, the Federal Law that introduced changes to the prime source of Russian civil law, the Civil Code, was signed. This sign-off brought to life many amendments that Russian members of Wikipedia have been eager to see for a long time.

The main changes relevant to Wikimedia projects are listed below:

  • introduction of free licenses: before license agreements were only in the form of a written agreement; now CC-BY-SA-3.0, which is used by Wikipedia, has a legal basis and Wikipedia editors can defend their own author rights;
  • freedom of panorama: now photos of architectural and urban development objects and objects of garden design in public places can be published under free licenses without consent of architect or designer;
  • now an author can revoke publication of own materials only before such publication actually occurred;
  • libraries now have right to create electronic copies of certain types of works.

These changes are a result of a lot of hard work on behalf of Wikimedia-RU, the local chapter of Wikimedia movement in Russia – proposing, discussing and defending amendments to the Code.

Wikimedia-RU officially started work on changes to the Civil Code in 2009 when the first open letter to the State Duma was published.

In 2010, we sent a detailed list of our proposals to the Codifications Council. The list was a result of real wiki-corroboration: editors published their comments and proposals on the village pump and all ideas were brought together by WM-RU. Afterwards, the list was published on a number of popular websites where it gathered feedback from external users who helped evaluate possible drawbacks of proposals and suggested some additional changes. The Final list of proposals became “a light at the end of the tunnel” for WM-RU.


A Proposal for Wikimedia’s New Privacy Policy and Data Retention Guidelines

Shields, circa 1870

Privacy policies play a vital role in protecting the privacy of users. At the Wikimedia Foundation, our Privacy Policy is particularly important to us, because it is a key way we protect our users and reflect their values. It also has a broad impact, because it protects and governs the information of over twenty million registered users and 490 million monthly unique visitors.

Our current Privacy Policy was approved by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees in October 2008 and has not been updated since. Given the growing concern over privacy, especially on the internet, it is important to have an updated policy which reflects both technological advances and the evolving legal issues surrounding new technology.

So, almost eight months ago, we started a conversation with the Wikimedia community about key privacy issues. Based on that conversation, we crafted a new draft Privacy Policy and introduced it to the community for feedback about five months ago. And, thanks to that feedback, we created and discussed Wikimedia’s first Data Retention Guidelines. Today, we are closing the community consultations on the new draft Privacy Policy and Data Retention Guidelines. [1]

The new proposed Privacy Policy will now be presented to the Wikimedia Board of Trustees for review before its next meeting in April 2014. If approved, it will replace the 2008 Privacy Policy.

We would like to thank the many community members who participated in the discussions. The new proposed Privacy Policy and Data Retention Guidelines would not be what they are today without your help. (You can actually see the changes to the drafts in the Policy’s and Guidelines’ wiki revision histories that happened as a result of your feedback!) We received hundreds of questions, comments, and suggestions. In fact, the discussion on the Privacy Policy, along with the related Data Retention Guidelines and Access to Nonpublic Information Policy (whose consultation is also closing today) totaled approximately 195,000 words, making it longer than the Fellowship of the Ring! Together, we have created a transparent Privacy Policy draft that reflects our community’s values.


Developing through Collaboration: A New Access to Nonpublic Information Policy

The Wikimedia projects depend on countless dedicated community members who generously donate their time, knowledge, and skills to the free knowledge movement. In addition to creating, editing, and maintaining articles, some community members have taken on important roles in safeguarding and supporting the projects. They protect the sites against vandalism, respond to helpdesk emails, and ensure that users are not violating Wikimedia policies, among other things. To that end, certain community members are entrusted with limited amounts of nonpublic information regarding other users.

In 2007, the Board adopted the current Access to nonpublic data policy (“current policy”) to set out procedures for entrusting community members with nonpublic user information. For two reasons, it is time to update that six-year-old policy:

  • Current identification practices are not consistent with the current policy; and
  • The new policy should provide guidance about:
    • how and when to use those access rights;
    • when and to whom nonpublic information may be shared; and
    • what specific confidentiality obligations should accompany those access rights.

Under the current policy, community members with access to the nonpublic user information are required to be “known” to the Wikimedia Foundation. However, current identification practices in fact do not result in the Foundation knowing the identities of the community members with access rights: (1) community members now provide an identification document or copy to a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s staff; (2) the staff member informally “checks” it; and (3) the staff member returns or destroys the identification or its copy. As a result, the identities of many community members with access rights have progressively become unknown to the Foundation over the years.

In this spirit, we drafted a new Access to Nonpublic Information Policy draft (“new draft”) and announced the start of a community consultation on September 3, 2013, to get community feedback on the new draft.


Wikimedia Foundation supports Wikipedia user subject to defamation lawsuit in Greece

Wikipedia does not exist in a vacuum. It was built by and continues to grow thanks to real people, who give their time, knowledge, and enthusiasm to a movement that touches the lives of millions around the world. Unfortunately, giving this gift of knowledge is not without risk and often reveals the courage of our community.

Because of his involvement with Wikipedia, Greek Wikipedia user and administrator Diu is a target of legal action by politician and academic Theodore Katsanevas. Mr. Katsanevas complains that the Greek-language Wikipedia article about him contains some unflattering statements. Instead of addressing his concerns with the Greek-language Wikipedia community through the appropriate processes, Mr. Katsanevas chose to file a lawsuit against Diu.

The controversial statements in question reference the will of Andreas Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece and father-in-law of Mr. Katsanevas. The will allegedly characterized Mr. Katsanevas as a “disgrace” to the family and reportedly accused Mr. Katsanevas of “attempting to politically exploit George Papandreou”, also a former Prime Minister of Greece. The statements were properly sourced and in accordance with Wikipedia policies. In fact, the controversy received a great deal of media coverage in Greece.

Diu has apparently been targeted because Mr. Katsanevas seems to believe that the statements were added to the article by Diu and because Diu did not remove the statements after Mr. Katsanevas demanded that he do so. In June 2013, Mr. Katsanevas filed a defamation lawsuit against Diu and The Greek Free / Open Source Software Society (“GFOSS”, also referred to as “ELLAK”), a nonprofit organization in Greece that Mr. Katsanevas mistakenly believed to be the organization running Wikipedia. The case is set to be heard in January 2016.

However, Mr. Katsanevas has now attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction ordering Diu to remove the statements from the Wikipedia article. The hearing is set for March 11, 2014. In the meantime, yesterday the Court issued a pre-preliminary injunction, ordering Diu to provisionally remove the reference to the handwritten will of Andreas Papandreou in the Theodore Katsanevas Greek Wikipedia article, until the March 11th hearing. However, even if the content is removed by Diu, there is no guarantee that the statements will not be republished by other users. The attempt to obtain such an injunction further illustrates Mr. Katsanevas’s apparent fundamental lack of understanding of how Wikipedia works.

The Wikimedia Foundation is deeply disappointed by the unwarranted actions taken by Mr. Katsanevas in this matter. Wikipedia is an open and collaborative project that is committed to uncensored information presented in a neutral point of view and supported by reliable, secondary sources. Diu acted within the scope of these principles and policies — the statements were and still are supported by reputable secondary sources [1] — and the Greek Wikipedia community decided, through discussion, that they were appropriate for the article.

Mr. Katsanevas has ignored these facts and is now using the legal system against those who do not share his financial means and influence. Diu faces serious monetary and criminal penalties as a result of Mr. Katsanevas’s lawsuit. We have offered — and Diu has accepted — assistance through our Legal Fees Assistance Program. Through this program, Diu has obtained independent legal representation with the well-known Lambadarios law firm, who we thank for helping Diu during this difficult time.

We hope that Mr. Katsanevas will reconsider his pursuit of this unconscionable lawsuit, which we see an assault on our users, our projects, and freedom of speech.

Until then, we stand with Diu.

Michelle PaulsonLegal Counsel


[1] See sources used in the Theodore Katsanevas Greek Wikipedia article:,,, and

Launching an Unconventional Trademark Policy for Open Collaboration

The Wikipedia puzzle globe and wordmark.

On February 1, 2014, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved an unconventional new trademark policy. The new policy is uniquely permissive, was developed in a massive online collaboration among the Wikimedia community, and contains cutting-edge information design principles to make it user-friendly.  Just like the content on the Wikimedia sites, the new trademark policy is licensed under a free license, so everyone is free to build upon it when crafting their own trademark policies. In short, it is the perfect fit for Wikimedia’s collaborative projects.

Unlike the legal policies of other companies that are drafted by lawyers in a vacuum (if not simply copied from other websites), this trademark policy was developed through a seven-month long consultation with the Wikimedia community to address its particular needs. This unique process distinguishes Wikimedia from virtually every other top website.

We began by asking the community how they would like to change our 2009 trademark policy. Using their suggestions and other concerns, we prepared a draft policy that we posted on a wiki for online discussion and editing. According to the page’s revision history, the draft policy was edited 138 times in the course of the remaining consultation. While the policy itself has only about 4,000 words, the consultations around the policy resulted in a discussion of 52,000 words. That’s more words than in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Here are some of the major changes.


Wikimedia and Open Access — a rich history of interactions

This post is part of a week of action by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations in January 2014, to which the Wikimedia Foundation is invited to contribute, particularly on Wednesday January 15, when the topic of action is Open Access.

Open access is about freedom to read and to reuse research communications, including to remix, revise and redistribute them.

You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.

Courtship song of a male Cotesia congregata wasp.

Fluorescent fish and sponges

Paedophryne amauensis, the smallest known vertebrate.

You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.

Humpback whale song

CC BY logo

Wikipedia aims to collect the sum of human knowledge and is operating under five fundamental principles, also known as the “five pillars” – it is (1) an encyclopedia that can (2) be read, modified and shared by anyone, while it strives for (3) a neutral point of view and (4) civil discourse on the basis of respect within its community of contributors, which (5) can amend policies and guidelines.

Writing with the aim of representing a topic neutrally requires access to quality sources of information. Citing these sources allows readers of the encyclopedia to verify statements made in its articles, and to explore the topic further, be it for themselves or to enrich future versions of the same or some related Wikipedia article.

Existing copyright legislation makes it difficult to use sources in these ways. In the current default mode with “all rights reserved” articles hidden behind paywalls, Wikipedia authors are barred from reading the sources they might need to improve Wikipedia content, readers might be prevented from verifying the information they find in Wikipedia articles, or even whether it represents a copyright violation or plagiarism. In the event that they can eventually get read access to specific sources, they still do not have the right to use any materials from there (e.g. images, audio or video) to illustrate Wikipedia articles or blog posts about relevant topics.

Over the years of exposure to this set of problems, the Wikimedia communities have come up with a number of approaches to handle the situation. Two of them shall be presented today in a pair of blog posts. The first one is about the Wikipedia Library, an effort to provide read access to the scholarly literature for active Wikipedia contributors. This second one is about interactions of the Wikimedia and Open Access communities, most notably via WikiProject Open Access, which places particular emphasis on reusing materials from suitably licensed scholarly publications in the context of Wikimedia projects.

The Open Access movement and the Wikimedia community have interacted for more than ten years, particularly via the English Wikipedia. For instance, the article about arXiv was started on February 11, 2002, the entry on preprint followed ten months later. In November 2003, the entry open access publishing was started, which was renamed into open access two months later.

Still in 2004, the first Wikimedia chapter — Wikimedia Germany was founded, which went on to become the first Wikimedia entity to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in 2006, followed by Wikimedia Poland and the Wikimedia Foundation a year later. Since that time, suggestions for large-scale import of materials from Open Access sources into Wikimedia platforms have kept coming up.

In early 2007, the first images from Open Access sources were promoted to featured status on Wikimedia Commons, with one of them reaching the final of that year’s Picture of the Year contest (the 2013 contest is scheduled to start on Friday, again with an Open Access image).

With the beginning of 2009, the journal RNA Biology (which was and still is not Open Access) started to require manuscripts about new RNA families to be accompanied by drafts for corresponding Wikipedia articles, and a few months later, WikiSpecies started a collaboration with the Open-Access journal ZooKeys that was expanded to its sister journal PhytoKeys in the following year.

While more and more images from Open Access sources were uploaded and the number of references from Wikipedia to Open Access articles continued to grow, research about Wikipedia was still mainly published in closed-access journals. This prompted the newly established Research Committee to draft, in 2010, an Open Access policy for research projects receiving significant support from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Since July 2011, the Research:Newsletter has marked references as to whether they were free to read or not. Later that year, Wikimedia Germany had approved funding for the Open Access Media Importer, an automated tool to harvest audio and video materials from suitably licensed scholarly articles and to upload them to Wikimedia Commons. Still in late 2011, the Open Access File of the Day initiative was started, and the Research Committee submitted a response to a EU consultation about Open Access, followed by a response to a similar consultation by the White House in January 2012, at a day when a tiny frog’s image from PLOS ONE was on the front page of more than a dozen Wikipedias. Two days before that, WikiProject Open Access had been launched.

Since January 2012, an Open Access report has been published as part of the monthly GLAM newsletter. In March, PLOS Computational Biology started its Topic Pages — a manuscript track for review articles destined to become updatable as Wikipedia entries — with the article about Circular permutation in proteins. In May, Jimmy Wales became an advisor to the UK government on matters of Open Access, and the Wikimedia Foundation endorsed the Access2Research petition to the White House.