Month: October 2016

Conflict of Interest

Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy is there to obviously protect against the very real threat of people ‘white-washing’ pages or generally abusing one of the core pillars of Wikipedia; its neutral point of view. It is not however there to get in the way of people genuinely trying to improve Wikipedia’s content.

That being said, I am aware of institutions banned from editing Wikipedia until 2020 because staff were involved in editing the institution’s Wikipedia page.

So if you find you have looked at the Wikipedia page for yourself or the institution you work for and believe it could be improved then what should you do? The question would be who is best placed to do this given Wikipedia’s stance on conflict of interest in order to a) preserve Wikipedia’s intergrity as an objective tertiary source and b) avoid the editor being blocked on account of Conflict of Interest editing.

Ideally, the best person would be a third party; someone clearly independent of the institution/individual being written about so that objectivity can be better demonstrated.

This is not always possible however so in the National Library of Wales example they asked a volunteer to sit for an afternoon with the necessary material to update the NLW Wikipedia page. Thus, there was some degree of distance between the writer and the written about.

The main area of contention is paid editing – where someone has a financial interest in the page being written about but writing about a friend, family member or close work colleague is obviously not advisable either. Asking a volunteer to do the editing gets round this. (Although this can lead into a philosophical debate as to whether anyone can be truly objective… or altruistic for that matter).

Sometimes it is also not possible to find an objective 3rd party volunteer to help in which case it is permissible, though not strictly advisable, to edit the page yourself if, and only if, you fully disclose on your userpage the conflict of interest (e.g. Displaying that you are related to person X or work for company Y).

Full disclosure and transparency of purpose are the key.

 

Wikipedia:Plain and simple conflict of interest guide

I note with interest the following line from the Plain and Simple guide to COI page.

Practices not regarded as COI

Employees at cultural and academic institutions:

We want experts editing Wikipedia articles. Merely being employed by an institution is not a conflict of interest.”

 

The main thing is disclosure of your link to the institution hence why an edit to an existing page is probably best suggested on the article’s Talk page disclosing your own connection to the subject being written about and having a disclaimer on your user page.

In terms of the format of how to write this disclosure on your userpage there are a great number of examples linked to from Point 3 in the Advice section of the Plain & Simple Guide to COI.

Although you could just have something as simple as: I work at the University of ____________ and am chair of the __________________.

 

If you want to completely avoid any perception of COI then you can also request that someone else edit the page from the Wikipedia community using the {{request edit}} template in the Source code of the article’s Talk page although you’d have to wait to see if anyone picked up on the request.

 

While the advice is that you are strongly discouraged to edit affected articles and a more objective third party is much more agreeable to the community, as long as you disclose your connection and observe Wikipedia’s rules stringently to avoid any possible suggestion of bias so that even a competitor would be happy with the objectivity of the edits then there should not be an issue. Suggesting the edits on the Talk page in the first instance or in a relevant WikiProject may also go some way to assuage any community concerns.

So the advice when you perceive a conflict of interest is:

“You are strongly discouraged from editing affected articles.

You may propose changes by using the {{request edit}} template on talk pages.

The short version:

  1. Learn Wikipedia’s rules.
  2. Be up-front about your associations with the subject.
  3. Avoid creating new articles about yourself or your organization.
  4. Avoid making controversial edits to articles related to your associations.
  5. Don’t push people to change their minds about issues relating to your associations.
  6. Ask for help appropriately.

 

Edinburgh Gothic – Wikipedia editathon for Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2016

Edinburgh Gothic

Edinburgh Gothic poster. By Stuart Brett, University of Edinburgh Interactive Team. CC-BY-SA.
Edinburgh Gothic poster. By Stuart Brett, University of Edinburgh Interactive Team. CC-BY-SA.

You are cordially invited to come take a walk on the macabre side of Edinburgh this Autumn for a Wikipedia event for Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2016 on Saturday 12th November.

 

The event is run by the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services team in conjunction with the National Library of Scotland and the University of Sheffield’s Centre for the History of the Gothic.

 

The focus will be on improving the quality of articles about all things Gothic; be it creating a page for Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story ‘Thrawn Janet’; be it improving content on Angela Carter, Alasdair Gray, Louise Welsh or Ali Smith; or even improving the Wikipedia page on Ken Russell’s movie, ‘Gothic’.

 

Further event details and booking information can be found at the event page here.

 

Working together with liaison librarians, archivists & academic colleagues we will provide full training on how to edit and participate in an open knowledge community. Participants will be supported to develop articles covering areas which could stand to be improved.

 

This free event includes access to the Robert Louis Stevenson exhibition area; Gothic badge-making activities using original collage designs by Tessa Asquith-Lamb; ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde’ stickers and a talk by National Library of Scotland curator, Andrew Martin, on the illustrations in Robert Louis Stevenson’s works while the editathon itself will take place behind closed doors in the National Library of Scotland’s reading room after it has closed to the public.

Original collage designs by Tessa Asquith-Lamb. CC-BY-SA.
Original collage designs by Tessa Asquith-Lamb. CC-BY-SA.

Come along to learn about how Wikipedia works and contribute a greater understanding & appreciation of Gothic!

Jekyll & Hyde poster from the US Library of Congress. CC-BY-SA
Jekyll & Hyde poster from the US Library of Congress.
CC-BY-SA

 

*Lunch is provided on the day and new editors are very welcome.  

 

Hope you can make it along.

Wikipedia editathon for Samhuinn: Gaelic Festival for the Dead 31st Oct-1st Nov.

Pumpkipedia - Wikipedia in carved pumpkin style.
Pumpkipedia – Wikipedia in carved pumpkin style.
Samhuinn: Festival of the dead editathon
Samhuinn: Festival of the dead editathon

Come join us as we set a place for the dead; through helping to create new biography articles and improving existing articles as part of a day of celebration.

Have you ever wondered why the information in Wikipedia is extensive for some topics and scarce for others? On Halloween, Monday 31st October 2016, the University’s Information Services team are running an edit-a-thon to celebrate the lives of those sadly passed on to mark Samhuinn: the Gaelic Festival for the Dead!

Each day will have different guest speakers discussing the traditions of Samhuinn, Celtic history & folklore and the importance of remembering the dead on this day.

Feel free to suggest notable lives & articles we’ve overlooked & should be creating too.

Bring your best spookily carved turnip along and win a prize. We will have tablet skulls to munch on and guest speakers telling us about Celtic customs, beliefs & folklore. Hopefully, we may even be visited by the Faerie Porters too…..

Samhuinn: Festival for the Dead
Samhuinn: Festival for the Dead (Source: Jason Mankey of DeepPaganThoughts.blogspot.co.uk)

 

Working together with liaison librarians, archivists & academic colleagues we will provide training on how to edit and participate in an open knowledge community. Participants will be supported to develop articles covering areas which could stand to be improved in order to improve Wikipedia’s representation of notable lives; be they connected to the university, to Edinburgh, to Scotland or further afield.

Between the worlds of the living and the dead
A Wikipedia editathon for Samhuinn: The Gaelic Festival for the Dead.

  • Monday 31st October 12pm to 4.30pm – Project Room, 50 George Square.
  • Tuesday 1st November 10am to 4.30pm – The Raeburn Room, Old College.

Book for one day or both!

 

If you are a student or staff member at the University of Edinburgh:
To book a place for the session on Monday 31st October in the Project Room (room 1.06) of 50 George Square then book through MyEd Event Booking here: Monday 31st October 2016 session.
To book a place for the session on Tuesday 1st November in the Raeburn Room of Old College, University of Edinburgh, then book through MyEd Event Booking here: Tuesday 1st November 2016 session.

If you are from outside the university
To book a place for the session on Monday 31st October in the Project Room (room 1.06) of 50 George Square then book through Eventbrite here: Monday 31st October 2016 session.

To book a place for the session on Tuesday 1st November in the Raeburn Room of Old College, University of Edinburgh, then book through Eventbrite here:  Tuesday 1st November 2016 session.

Samhuinn is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from the very beginning of one Celtic day to its end, or in the modern calendar, from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November.

Samhuinn was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’, could more easily come into our world. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality.

New editors very welcome. Full Wikipedia training given.

Bring a laptop (no desktop computers are available) but a few laptops are available if you need to borrow one. Message ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk if you need to borrow a laptop.

 

Programme – Monday* 31st October 2016 (Project Room, 50 George Square)

  • 12:00pm – 12:15pm: Housekeeping and Welcome.
  • 12:15pm – 12:30pm: Guest speakers
  • 12:30pm – 1:45pm: Wikipedia training
  • 1:45pm – 4:00pm: Research and editing.
  • 4:00pm – 4:30pm: Transferring drafted text to Wikipedia’s live space.

*Lunch is not provided on Monday 31st October but tea, coffee & tablet skulls will all be available and food can be eaten in the room.

Programme – Tuesday 1st November 2016 (The Raeburn Room, Old College)*

  • 10:00am – 10:15am: Housekeeping and Welcome
  • 10:15am – 10:45am: Guest speakers
  • 10:45am – 12:00pm: Wikipedia training.
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Beginning to research and edit.
  • 1:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch
  • 1:30pm – 4:00pm: EDIT!
  • 4:00pm – 4:30pm: Transferring drafted text to Wikipedia’s live space.

*Lunch will be provided on Tuesday 1st November along with plenty of tea, coffee & tablet skulls!