The Archives ofAmerican Arton Wikipedia &  WikimediaSociety of American Archivists Annual   Meeting 2012    Sara Snyder
Archives of American Art, SmithsonianInstitution• www.aaa.si.edu (screenshot)
Experimental Wikipedia Editing, 2007-10
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/SI
The Archives’ Goals in Hosting aWikipedian in Residence1.To get training and mentoring for our  staff in Wiki norms and cu...
Activities of the Wikipedian inResidenceTraining  One-on-one mentoring and training  Brown bag info sessions for all Smith...
EDIT-A-THON VIDEO: How theSmithsonian Is Helping Wikipedia, fromthe Chronicle of Philanthropyhttp://philanthropy.com/blogs...
Outcomes of GLAM/AAAPartnershipen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/AAA36 new English articles were created  utilizing Arc...
256 high resolution public domain photographsdonated to Wikimedia Commons
BackstagePass &Edit-a-thonArchives ofAmericanArt, 2011
Benefits to the Archives Press coverage List of articles we continue to work from Increased exposure of collections New re...
Referrals from Wikimedia sites2009 - 4.72% of site visits2010 - 5.95% of site visits2011- 6.57% of site visits            ...
Five new and exciting things I learnedfrom this project! 1. Wikipedians exist in “real life”!!! 2. There are already many ...
WikiWomen’s Lunch, Wikimania Conference 2012  Conclusion
Looking to the futureAt the Archives of American Art Wikipedia in the strategic plan Building editing into staff workflows...
Wikipedia:GLAM/SI – Smithsonian ProjectWikipedia:GLAM/AAA – Archives of American Art ProjectUser:Sarasays - Wikipedia user...
The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012
The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012
The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012
The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012
The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012
The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012
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The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012

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SESSION 406 - 80,000 Volunteers Can't Be Wrong: The Case for Greater Collaboration with Wikipedia

Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting 2012
Aug 10, 2012, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Sara Snyder, MLS , MA
Webmaster
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art

Wikipedia is the fifth most popular Web property in the world and is continually expanded by 80,000 editors from around the globe. How can archives harness this incredible level of participation for their benefit? Join colleagues and Wikipedia volunteers from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art to learn about the Wikipedian in Residence Program and other initiatives that will result in greater knowledge and exposure of your collections.

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  • The Archives of American Art is an archival repository dedicated to documenting the history of the visual arts in the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1954 as a microfilm repository for loaned primary source material from around the country, but soon began collecting and preserving original documents in its own right.   In 1970, the Archives became part of the Smithsonian Institution and soon moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C.  It is not specifically affiliated with any of the museums, but is an independent research center. The Archives’ holdings include 16 million items in 5,000 collections spanning more than 200 years of American art history, from the 18th-century to the present. The collections consist of letters, diaries and scrapbooks of artists, dealers and collectors; manuscripts of critics and scholars; business and financial records of museums, galleries, schools, associations and clubs; photographs of art-world figures and events; sketches and sketchbooks; rare published journals and periodicals; exhibition catalogs; motion-picture film; and audio and video recordings. http://www.aaa.si.edu
  • In addition, the Archives of American Art has a very active oral history program; our collections include around 2,000 interviews. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections
  • Thanks to two major grants from the Terra Foundation for American Art, since 2005 the Archives has been digitizing entire collections at an incredible rate. To date, we have 112 of our most important collections digitized and posted online in their entirety. They are described at the folder level—which is very key—and total approximately 1.5 million images. In addition, we have more than 12,000 documents digitized and described at the item level. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections
  • The Archives of American Art is just one tiny corner of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex. It includes 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoo, as well as 9 separate Research Centers. Though the Smithsonian is probably most famous for its museums, it is worth noting that it has over a dozen archival repositories, and 20 branch libraries. The entire Smithsonian has around 6,000 employees who work all over the world, while Archives of American Art has around 45 employees. http://si.edu/ResearchCenters/Archives-American-Art
  • When I joined the Archives of American Art as Webmaster, in 2007, there was already some experimental Wikipedia editing going on amongst the staff. This was thanks to the enterprising spirit of Karen Weiss, the head of our information resources team, who encouraged our catalogers and interns to add links on an artist’s Wikipedia page to the relevant record or finding aid for his or her collection on our website. Our thought was that by editing Wikipedia, we were sharing really helpful and authoritative resources with the world. But not everyone in the community saw it that way. This slide shows a 2008 exchange between an Archives’ staff member and another Wikipedia editor. The editor accused her of being a spammer because she has added so many links back to a single domain, and so she had her edits reverted. However, you can see that another editor jumped in, and apparently, after discussion with the first editor, says “Your hard work has been restored. Hang in there!” Still, I would say our editors on staff continued to feel tentative, experimental, and frankly a little bit unwelcome. Once you are accused of being a spammer, it sort of dents your confidence.
  • Things really began to improve in 2010 when Wikipedia editors from what would become the DC local Wikimedia chapter made contact with some Smithsonian staff members and organized the Smithsonian Institution WikiProject. These editors held an official training session for around 30 Smithsonian staff members, who were instructed on how to set up an account and a user page, and addressed concerns such as conflict of interest. Though I had actually had an account and been editing on and off for years, this was the first time I realized that there was a real life community and culture behind the online encyclopedia, and that maybe, just maybe, they were open to participation by members of cultural institutions after all. That day was also the first time I met the wonderful Katie Filbert, who has been such a powerful and important force in the DC chapter & in GLAM project. She later visited the Archives of American Art and met with Karen and me in person. I can’t tell you how powerful a face to face meeting can be in helping to legitimize and make concrete the idea of Wiki collaboration, and I give Katie a lot of credit for being so willing to reach out to us.
  • In April of 2011 Katie Filbert and another Wikipedian named Sarah Stierch gave a five minute lightning talk at an event called “Ignite Smithsonian” really pitching the GLAM-wiki project. After the event I talked with Sarah, who was a grad student in museum studies at that time, about coming to intern at the Archives of American Art in order to help us get more involved. And that is how we suddenly found ourselves with a Wikipedian in Residence.
  • This was the first time a summer intern arrived at the Archives and said, “I’m glad to be here; now we need to write a press release.” But she was totally right! We did write one, and we got some very good press--an unanticipated but welcome outcome of her residency. It also helped that Dominic McDevitt-Parks was starting his work at the U.S. National Archives that very same summer, so Wikipedian collaboration with archives was in the air.
  • Our goals were pretty modest. We wanted some training/mentoring—to help staff and interns set up with accounts, teach us how to edit correctly while respecting the norms of the community. We wanted to see more of our stuff on Wikipedia But I think the big goal was honestly just to try something new and see what happened. We were not really sure what to expect, but were open to new ideas, and luckily Sarah had many.
  • Training One-on-one mentoring and training Brown bag info sessions for all Smithsonian staff Technical tools Script to analyze creator names in our collections, link to corresponding Wikipedia articles Wikimedia Commons content contribution Outreach Backstage Pass & Edit-a-thon - to prepare we identified collections, pulled together finding aids, took our journals and library books, had all of the resources needed.
  • If you are wondering what a Backstage Pass and edit-a-thon are, it is when Wikipedians are invited to your repository for a peek behind the curtain. In return, they spend hours of their day working on articles related to your content. I wanted to show a short video produced by a reporter from the Chronicle of Philanthropy who attended our edit-a-thon.
  • 36 new English articles were created utilizing Archives resources 14 English articles translated into Spanish 2 articles translated into French 2 articles translated into Catalan 12 English articles were expanded 2 articles was expanded in Spanish 5 articles were "Do You Knows...?”
  • In addition, 256 high resolution photographs were donated by the Archives of American Art for free use on Wikimedia Commons. Like many archives, we face a myriad of rights issues in our collections, but we had a collection of Works Progress Administration photographs already digitized and item cataloged in our collections database. Since these works were federal government created, they were clearly in the public domain, so for us it was “low-hanging fruit.” 166 of this images are now being used to illustrate numerous articles on Wikipedia sites in 25 different languages, from biography pages to articles on life drawing and art education, to history articles about the Federal Works project. Many of them are used in more than 1 article. In addition, as an experiment, we posted 4 documents WikiSource where they were transcribed. We would definitely like to continue experimenting with WikiSource in the future, as the platform has great potential for archival materials.
  • We had 10 Wikipedians visit us in person, while a total of 39 E-Volunteers participated in the project. Here you can see two Archives of American Art staff members giving a talk about their jobs to an incredibly interested and inquisitive crowd who attended our Backstage Pass tour & edit-a-thon. Three Archives staff members and one additional intern ended up becoming active Wikipedians as part of the project. I would note that the intern, who made her first edits during our edit-a-thon in the video you just saw, returned to her university and organized several edit-a-thons for students and library staff there, and continues to be a active Wikipedia editor and advocate.
  • Benefits to the Archives: Press coverage List of articles relating to our collections that we continue to work from Increased exposure of our collections New relationships, both with Wikipedians and our colleagues in the GLAM communities New confidence in our expertise and the fact that we are welcome contributors!
  • Another benefit we have seen is an increase in the importance of Wikipedia as a driver of traffic back to our website. This data has Smithsonian network traffic filtered out, so staff or intern work is not included. Overall, since 2010 Wikipedia has referred 2x as many pageviews on our website as all of the other major social media sites combined. This is not to dismiss the importance of social media in any way—it is a unique place where conversations can take place and quality relationships with our users can be formed and cultivated—but in terms of sheer quantity of visitors, Wikipedia has tremendous value as our #1 referrer. This chart from Google Analytics shows visits referred from Wikipedia and Wikimedia vs. from Facebook & Twitter. Again, quantitative metrics are not everything, because social media interaction can be very high quality engagement. I guess I would just say that when your organization is choosing where to put staff energy, much depends on your goal. If you want to cultivate relationships, use social media. To increase exposure of your collection materials to people who are searching for an answer to a question, Wikipedia strikes me as the best bet.
  • 1. Wikipedians exist in “real life.” Behind the screen names is an incredibly dedicated network of flesh and blood people: I now have a much better of understanding of the Wikimedia Foundation, the network of local chapters, and the amazingly dedicated human beings people who do the work. They have helped us understand what is possible. I knew that there were humans writing Wikipedia, but I had no idea that they organized hack-a-thons, they have their own international conferences, and they have meet-ups and picnics...er, wiknics. 2. There are already active WikiProjects organized around numerous themes and locales. Seek out your local chapter or like-minded groups by checking an articles “Talk” tab. 3. Wikipedians include not just content experts, but talented web developers & database experts. They have all kinds of cool tools, made by volunteer programmers, for statistics and querying their database. For example, we had someone run a query against a CSV export of artists’ names against the Wikipedia database. We identified articles to be created and expanded and the quality ranking of each. 4. Wikipedia articles are constantly being patrolled, ranked, & evaluated by the community in a very orderly and systematic. 5. Editing is addictive, so watch out! I discovered that there was a real Wikipedian hiding inside of me. I first registered for my account in the summer of 2006, but my confidence never really blossomed until I was able to ask Sarah questions in person, or have her watch over my shoulder, and listen to my complaints about the interface (sorry!).
  • The case for collaboration: SHARED VALUES: Affirmation of shared values between archivists and editors--sharing information, resources, free/open source & open culture movements, all with the common goal of empowering researchers and creative people, giving them what they need. They tend to be educated, they tend to be passionate about their subject area...sound familiar? WIKIPEDIANS ALREADY COMPRISE AN ACTIVE COMMUNITY OF SKILLED RESEARCHERS: They generally respect doing things the “right” way, and are not afraid to ask questions. They are advocates for free sharing, but with a strong commitment to also honoring copyright law when it is truly and clearly in place. But when media is clearly out of copyright, or you have the option to use creative-commons licensing, they expect you to do the right thing in turn, and give it away without restrictions! Also, they are serious about citation--the hallmark of a quality article is in footnotes. YOU WILL INCREASE VISIBILITY OF YOUR COLLECTIONS AND WEB TRAFFIC BACK TO YOUR SITE. First of all, lets talk Google and other search engines. Their bots are crawling Wikipedia all the time. As someone who manages a website, I am so envious! The second you make a new article or put some new information, it just tends to show up in search results—usually in the top 10! Instantly! Regardless of the fact that it might be a stub! Even a mediocre Wikipedia article is a powerful (and familiar) starting place for people who are doing research, and Google privileges it accordingly. So, if cultural institutions do what we can to ensure that the articles related to our collections are of good quality, with footnotes, citations, and outbound links to authoritative sources--including our own collection descriptions, finding aids, and oral history interviews--we are doing the researchers a service, and we are doing ourselves a service at the same time. Even high school students now know that their teachers tend not to like it when they cite Wikipedia, but they can certainly cite the resource that Wikipedia cites. And that should be us. INCREASE VISIBILITY OF YOUR COLLECTIONS: We have seen new outreach, connections, and relationships with the Wiki community and also from the GLAM communities. I’ve connected with even more new information professionals as a result of this project than I have with Wikipedians. NEUTRAL PLATFORM FOR COLLABORATION WITH OTHER GLAM PROFESSIONALS: Wikimedia provides spaces where we can collaborate with each other without stepping on one another's toes. It truly isn’t “owned” by one group or another, it belongs to everybody. In the world of editors there is very little hierarchy, so we should all feel confident and “be bold.”  
  • Conclusion: There are still some people--including probably in this room--who don’t think Wikipedia is accurate enough, serious enough, or academic enough to be worthy of your attention or energy. Those people are entitled to their opinions. My opinion is this: if Wikipedia is good enough for millions of visitors who use it every day, and for over 90,000 active, educated, dedicated volunteers around the entire globe, people who maintain the infrastructure and content without receiving one dime of compensation, if Wikipedia is the 5 th most popular website in the entire world, then frankly, it is good enough for me. But it doesn’t matter what I think, because people—your users—are going to keep on using Wikipedia, whether you love it or despise it. Wikipedia is going to be pre-loaded on phones shipped to developing countries so that people can access content offline if they don’t have reliable data access. Direct queries of the Wikipedia database are already a feature in hundreds of search products, most famously Google Knowledge graph, and will continue to be. The place where millions of people start their research process is the place where I believe all archives need to be.
  • For the Archives of American Art moving forward: we did get Wikipedia added to strategic plan, and are seeking greater leadership support both at the Archives and at the Smithsonian. We continue finding ways to build Wikipedia editing it into staff workflow, including some new guidelines for our cataloger to add links to collections and finding aids when they exist. We want to encouraging ongoing staff edit-a-thons and intern projects; when the time is right we would love to have another WIR. At the larger Smithsonian Institution, we are seeing increased interest among staff at the other research units, libraries, and museums. The first edit-a-thon to be hosted by the American Art Museum is actually happening at this very moment, back in Washington, D.C.
  • I hope that you will contact me or one of my fellow panelists if you are interested in learning more, or check out our project descriptions on Wikipedia.
  • The Archives of American Art on Wikipedia and Wikimedia SAA2012

    1. 1. The Archives ofAmerican Arton Wikipedia & WikimediaSociety of American Archivists Annual Meeting 2012 Sara Snyder
    2. 2. Archives of American Art, SmithsonianInstitution• www.aaa.si.edu (screenshot)
    3. 3. Experimental Wikipedia Editing, 2007-10
    4. 4. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/SI
    5. 5. The Archives’ Goals in Hosting aWikipedian in Residence1.To get training and mentoring for our staff in Wiki norms and culture2.To get more of the Archives’ content in Wikipedia articles3.To run an experimental project and see what happened!
    6. 6. Activities of the Wikipedian inResidenceTraining One-on-one mentoring and training Brown bag info sessions for all Smithsonian staffTools Script to analyze creator names in our collections, link to corresponding Wikipedia articles Wikimedia Commons content contributionOutreach Editor recruitment Backstage Pass & Edit-a-thon
    7. 7. EDIT-A-THON VIDEO: How theSmithsonian Is Helping Wikipedia, fromthe Chronicle of Philanthropyhttp://philanthropy.com/blogs/social- philanthropy/how-the-smithsonian-is-helping- wikipedia/29095
    8. 8. Outcomes of GLAM/AAAPartnershipen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/AAA36 new English articles were created utilizing Archives resources 14 English articles translated into Spanish 2 articles translated into French 2 articles translated into Catalan12 English articles were expanded2 articles was expanded in Spanish5 articles were "Do You Knows...?”
    9. 9. 256 high resolution public domain photographsdonated to Wikimedia Commons
    10. 10. BackstagePass &Edit-a-thonArchives ofAmericanArt, 2011
    11. 11. Benefits to the Archives Press coverage List of articles we continue to work from Increased exposure of collections New relationships Confidence in our expertise and the fact that we are welcome contributors!
    12. 12. Referrals from Wikimedia sites2009 - 4.72% of site visits2010 - 5.95% of site visits2011- 6.57% of site visits 2012 Visits: Wikipedia v. Facebook v. Twitter
    13. 13. Five new and exciting things I learnedfrom this project! 1. Wikipedians exist in “real life”!!! 2. There are already many active WikiProjects out there waiting for us to join them 3. There are talented Wiki developers & engineers constantly making cool new tools 4. Wikipedia articles are patrolled, ranked, & evaluated by the community in a very orderly and systematic way 5. Editing is addictive, so watch out!
    14. 14. WikiWomen’s Lunch, Wikimania Conference 2012 Conclusion
    15. 15. Looking to the futureAt the Archives of American Art Wikipedia in the strategic plan Building editing into staff workflowsAt the larger Smithsonian GLAM/SI project getting renewed attention Edit-a-thon at Smithsonian American Art Museum (happening now! @americanart)
    16. 16. Wikipedia:GLAM/SI – Smithsonian ProjectWikipedia:GLAM/AAA – Archives of American Art ProjectUser:Sarasays - Wikipedia user pageSnyderS@si.edu@sosarasays@ArchivesAmerArt#glamwiki

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