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All hands

Calling all N.L. would-be Wikipedia editors on deck

By Janet Harron

While Newfoundlanders and Labradorians find themselves at home with an ever-dwindling Netflix queue, completed jigsaw puzzles and cabin fever setting in, the Newfoundland Quarterly (NQ) and Memorial University Libraries is launching a summer initiative to expand the province’s cultural and heritage presence online.

All Hands: A Wiki edit-a-thon invites Newfoundlanders and Labradorians of all ages (and friends of the province) to learn to create a Wikipedia account and how to edit, create and reference articles about Newfoundland and Labrador.

“There are so many famous and infamous Newfoundland and Labrador subjects that don’t have Wikipedia entries,” said Colleen Field, head of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies (CNS) in the Queen Elizabeth II Library and a committee member on the project.

“All Hands is an opportunity for young and old to create more online content about our province that can be delivered worldwide through Wikipedia.”

Triggers mitts are just one example of NL cultural heritage that do not have a Wikipedia entry.
Photo: Submitted (by permission)

Some surprising examples of N.L.-themed subjects that currently have no Wikipedia entries are the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, the White Fleet, former Memorial president Leslie Harris, the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival, musician Rufus Guinchard, Anna Templeton, trigger mitts, the Sound Symposium and artist/activist Agnes Ayre.

Other N.L.-themed subjects that do have Wikipedia entries but require additional citations include Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers, the SS Kyle, ugly sticks, toutons and the Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club.

Previous Wiki edit-a-thons improved the gender balance (500 Women Scientists) and increased representation of LGBTQ communities.

Mind the Gap

Last year Mind the Gap, held in association with the A.C. Hunter Library in St. John’s, was the Newfoundland Quarterly’s first foray into a Wiki edit-a-thon and served as the inspiration for this year’s all-digital version.

“While this province has a strong tradition of passing information from generation to generation, sharing these stories on Wikipedia makes them accessible to a wider range of people, including newcomers to this province and  young people who tend to seek information online,” said NQ’s Rebecca Cohoe. “And what better time than now?”

All Hands will feature a weekly theme and include suggested subjects under each topic for participants to explore and research.

     “What better time than now?” — Rebecca Cohoe

Guest editors

Guest editors who specialize in the chosen subjects will act as consultants to the All Hands committee. Confirmed guest editors to date include Jenny Higgins (women), Bert Riggs (World War 1), Dale Jarvis (folklore) Sandy Morris (music and musicians), Ruth Lawrence (theatre and film), and Todd Boland (flora and fauna). Further guest editors and themes will be released as they are confirmed.

“Last November I led an edit-a-thon about women’s suffrage,” explained Jenny Higgins, who was the CNS’s Wikipedian in Residence in the fall 2019 semester.

“It was so much fun watching people make their very first edits: their eyes just lit up. I’m looking forward to my stint as a guest editor and seeing even more content about Newfoundland and Labrador women appear on Wikipedia. This is the perfect time to do a virtual edit-a-thon because libraries and archives have been digitizing a lot of their content in recent years and that online accessibility makes it easier than ever before for people to put well-researched content onto Wikipedia.”

The committee is also in the process of hiring two Memorial students to act as tutors for those who want to participate but might need a little extra help.

A list of online resources has been compiled to assist with researching topics and both the Centre for Newfoundland Studies and the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries have reference services available by email.

As well, guest editors will be featured on CBC Radio’’s Weekend AM throughout the summer.

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