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Mind the Gap(s)

Wiki edit-a-thon to boost N.L. arts and culture on Wikipedia

By Janet Harron

Something “wikid” this way comes.

Newfoundland Quarterly and the A.C. Hunter Public Library are collaborating to host Mind the Gap(s), a Wikipedia edit-a-thon designed to expand the online record of Newfoundland’s arts and culture.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, from 4-7 p.m., participants will meet library staff, Colleen Quigley and Dr. Bonnie Morgan will present on the topic of archives and various collections, and Jenny Higgins will lead everyone in learning how to create a Wikipedia account in the online encyclopedia and edit articles.

Learn to wiki

“An edit-a-thon is such a fun way to contribute to Wikipedia,” said Ms. Higgins, who is the new Wikipedian-in-residence at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies.

“Participants can make a range of contributions — some might want to add citations or a new paragraph to an existing article, while others might want to be really bold and create an entirely new article. At the end of the day, we can all feel good about improving Newfoundland and Labrador content on Wikipedia.”

Organizers promise that participants will be able to walk away from the event with the tools to edit Wikipeda on their own.

Joan Sullivan, editor of the Newfoundland Quarterly, was inspired to create the event after participating in a wiki edit-a-thon at an event hosted by the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador last year.

“It was so easy to do and it felt so useful . . . I spent two hours working on Helen Porter’s page,” she said. “The easiest way to start is to go into an existing page and build it up.”

Missing key institutions

Newfoundland and Labrador’s arts sector on Wikipedia is in need of work, say the event organizers.

The current Wikipedia page for the Tuckamore Festival as an example of a page that requires editing.

Among the key cultural institutions that have no Wikipedia pages at all are NIFCO, Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards, NONIA and the Shallaway Youth Choir.

A list of missing pages and existing articles that require improvement will be available at the event.

One of the main rules for editing in Wikipedia is that editors can’t write about someone they are related to, or about themselves.

Previous wiki edit-a-thons have been used to improve gender balance (500 Women Scientists) and increasing representation of LGBTQ communities. Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus held its own event in March of this year to add female and non-binary artists to the website.

Research and information-sharing

The A.C. Hunter Public Library is the perfect location for this event, according to Dr. Morgan.

“Our Newfoundland and Labrador collection is an incredible resource for those wanting to know more about our province and its history,” she said.

“These research materials include documents, books, newspapers and photographs dating back hundreds of years. It’s wonderful that our collection can used to support this new community-based approach to research and information sharing.”

The event will be held on the third floor of the A.C. Hunter Library. Refreshments will be served; free parking is available. If possible, participants are asked to bring their own laptops. Space is limited and registration is required by contacting the library at 709-737-3950.

Mind the Gap(s) is supported by Memorial University’s Office of Public Engagement’s Quick Start Fund.

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