Projekt:Europeana Awareness 2012/WWI Edit-a-thon (2012)/Lessons learned

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Thoughts Regarding the Use of Pictures From the GLAMs

As any GLAM want a large number of hits on the media files they donate and also want people to continue to visit the GLAM's material and website it is worth while thinking how this can be achieved.

The experience from the editathon tells us that the fastest way to get a very high amount of people viewing the donated pictures are to upload high quality pictures that are suitable to use as main illustrations in central Wikipedia articles. Carefully chosen pictures can rather quickly be added to many articles and hence increasing the amount of people seeing the material substantially. This work however take time and it is rather hard to predict which ones that will be chosen as illustrations for the articles. This is something that experts really can bring to the table.

Some of the more obscure pictures will most likely also be used, but the amount of people viewing them will be rather limited. However, as those pictures are harder to come by they could arguably be said to add more value to free knowledge. We therefor hope that the institutions continue to upload a wide variety of pictures to Wikimedia Commons but focus on picking out the ones that they would like to be used in the editathon afterwards. It is a give and take and it is important that the volunteers doesn't feel exploited.

In smaller language versions, such as the Swedish one, a lot of articles are still missing which is a problem when you want to contextualize the media files. Simply put, there is a limited amount of articles where the pictures naturally belongs! Hence the articles have to be created from scratch. This mean that a smaller number of pictures will be used directly and that it might take months or even years before a suitable article has been created on the language version. So when a GLAM then decide to use pictures that they would like to see used in a particular language version they should strive to organize an editathon in connection to the batch upload. That way they can at least speed up the process a bit. Even a few more articles could lead to thousands of new people finding their way to the GLAM's website.

Also, the pictures have inspired people to learn about new topics and research them. Perhaps this is even more important and beneficial for the museums in order to increase the people visiting and viewing their collections?

Lessons Learned Regarding Participation

It turned out to be very hard to get students to participate. This time we tried with doing it on a place close to them, offering free fika and a price that we would raffle out, but still we had a very limited success in getting students to show up and actually participate. This indicate that a close proximity to the event is not necessarily a central factor for success. To have something to eat is however crucial to keep production up during the event and make it as pleasant and enjoying as possible. We believe the topic could be the central factors to gain participants. We also think that to increase participation it would be valuable to try to do it in connection to some activity with a GLAM or simply repeat it over and over to create a group of interested followers that plan for it and are aware of the event even without seeing the advertisement about it. This has worked with another type of events in Sweden where participation was very low initially but after some time with nearly no participation became a success.

Even though we had a limited success in gaining students as writers, four students helped out preparing for the event by preparing the facilities and working on getting information out on the campus. However, they did not stay to participate in the editathon themselves as they stated that they did not have time to stay during the evening as they were busy or that they were not interested in the actual topic for the night. Two other new users (most likely students) had signed up online, but did not show up in the end. Most of the participants where hence experienced Wikipedians.

It is important to find incentives for the participants to write about topics that could be illustrated with the pictures, but still one has to allow them freedom to write about other things they find interesting within the topic of the night. A few of the participants brought books with them and had already an idea what they would write about. However, by presenting a list as we did, everybody that haven't got a plan already are likely to use the list as the departure point.

As participants arrive a little know and then (even with a schedule) it was not suitable to have a presentation and it was better to introduce them to Wikipedia one by one as it made it more personal. For this to work one has to be sure that there are a few other experienced Wikip/medians present. However, preparation for a best case scenario with a lot of new inexperienced volunteers should of course be done by having a presentation ready!

The weekly Wikipedia contest

We also organized an online contest that focused on helping new editors to find their way around on Wikipedia, and hence increase the chances of them getting hooked and continue to write on Wikipedia, the idea being that if the new users from the start know about Europeana's material they are likely to consider using it also in the future and therefore we need them to stay also after the event is over. Six Wikipedians participated in the contest. This type of contest is not the best way to quickly gain nice numbers (which a contest focusing on adding pictures in articles would have, see below), but a way to build up a good and strong user base long term which arguably is in everybody's interest. Limited contests such as that has however had a rather limited success rate on the Swedish language version before. According to our experience, the contests on Wikipedia have to be rather wide in scope to attract volunteers to participate (presumably because that create a sense of freedom and prevent it from feeling like a job). Hence, it was important not to limit the scope for the contest but to focus on all newbies as that made the volunteers start competing about this from the start of the week. This is considered to be a very successful weekly contest and it would have been a very valuable addition if there would have been more new and inexperienced users showing up for the event. Therefore we would recommend to consider using the same contest in connection to events like this also for other chapters.

Another potential type of contest would be to focus more on having as many pictures added during the course of the editathon with some type of a point system. If this is successful really great numbers can be showed to interested GLAMs making it likelier that they would like to continue working with us in the future.


The rather low participation was despite our substantial efforts to promote the event. Five days before the event over 40 posters where put up at the university,. It was advertised on the Facebook pages of both the Stockholm University and on Humanistiska föreningen, and also on Twitter and on the blog of Humanistiska föreningen. We also handed out around 80 fliers while telling students at the campus about the event. The event was also presented on Wikimedia Sweden's email lists, newsletter, Facebook page, Twitter page, and on the projects Twitter page, @wikieuropeana. We also told the military projects on Wikipedia about it, on the Swedish village pump, by writing personal post to a few of them, and on the meet-up page. Externally, the event was also mentioned on the Army Museum's Facebook page on the 7 November, I am also happy to tell you that the event was mentioned in a magazine in Sweden called Militär Historia, A lot of people therefore knew about the event taking place and have heard about Europeana's involvement and seen Europeana's logo which is considered a successful result considering the size and resources put into the event.

This was the first time Humanistiska föreningen and Wikimedia Sweden has organized something together and Humanistiska föreningen has stated that they would like to continue to organize events regularly (like once a month) with us which is great and would make it easier to add another editathon to our project here in Sweden if we have time.

Practical Lessons


  • You need big and colourful posters for them to be visible at the university as so many other information posters are everywhere. Ideally put up between 50-100 A3 posters on the Campus area.
  • When handing out fliers before the event, be sure to bring a roll-up with the Wikipedia Logo as that make people interested and make them stop. If you try without, people think that you try to sell them something or feel intimidated, even if you are wearing a Wikipedia t-shirt.
  • Be sure to send out press releases to papers that write about whatever the theme is as they might pick it up. We sent out press releases to 8 papers and one of the niched one picked it up. When writing the press release, connect it to something with more news value (current events, memorial days etc.) and describe the context. Journalists does not want to spend a lot of time researching what Wikimedia is and who you are. Be sure to have your title there.


  • People arrive when they can and feel like it if they are not forced to be there. This make it hard to have a presentation, but easier to show them hands-on what they should do. That is also more personal and good for that reason. This is possible if you only need to help 2-3 people per experienced Wikimedian.
  • We had books there, but most people did not use them as it is such a limited time. Most people simply translated texts. The ones that did use the books did not focus on the articles that we had suggested and did not use the pictures that we wanted them to use. Would be good to add a few possible sources (just looking in the index of all the books that was there and add book and page number within a <ref></ref>) to each picture/article that you suggest that they use/write about.
  • Having fika was central! Everybody ate a lot during the time there and no one got low blood sugar and got cranky.