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3 March 2016
Katherine Bavage tells us why she spends her time volunteering by writing articles on Wikipedia…
This weekend for the first time in Leeds you have the chance to meet volunteers like me - Wikipedia editors! The people behind the world's largest encyclopedia are running a workshop at Leeds Art Gallery aimed at teaching anyone how they can get involved.
With over 5 million articles on English Wikipedia, which celebrated it’s 15th birthday this year, it often comes as a surprise to people that a well known website is entirely the result of volunteer contributions. The site and sister projects that support it are run from a charitable foundation in America that works to ‘keep the lights on’ - but all the articles are the result of ordinary people around the world giving up a bit of their time.
Yet if Wikipedia is going to live up to its founder's vision for ‘every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge’ then there is still a lot to do. You may have used it to look something up once, only to be disappointed that an article was short, or didn’t link to further reading, didn’t include a picture, or worst of all, didn’t even exist in the first place.
The ‘Art+Feminism’ edit-a-thon on Saturday 5th March at Leeds Central Library (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/UK/ArtAndFeminism_2016/Leeds_Central_Library) is aimed at anyone who wants to learn more about editing Wikipedia. It is part of a series of themed events around the world that are focusing on getting people to edit, especially women (who historically have volunteered less as editors) and focusing on improving the articles about women's contribution to the arts. However, anyone is welcome at any point!
If you’re curious, make time to pop in to Room 700 in Leeds Central Library between 11:00am - 5:00pm to say hi. Even better, if you can spare a couple of hours sign up for free (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/edit-wikipedia-art-feminism-2016-tickets-22113139997) and bring a laptop - a Wikimedia volunteer will help pass on the knowledge and before you go you’ll have published your contributions to the worlds largest encyclopedia.
Learning to edit is important because volunteer editors create and share knowledge that benefits people worldwide, or because you or your organisation might have specialist knowledge that is still missing from the world’s largest encyclopedia. How would it help the causes you care about if they were properly represented and explained on a website read by half a billion people every month?
If you can’t make it, don’t worry, the event is only one of the latest supported by the UK Charity Wikimedia UK (https://wikimedia.org.uk/). You can look out for future in-person events in the region on their site or contact them if you would like to set something up in Leeds for you or your organisation.