Interning with the Smithsonian: Update 5

After a refreshing winter break and start to the spring semester, I am back with a new update on the progress of my internship with the Smithsonian Institute!

To provide a brief recap: My main project is working on setting up a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon centered around expanding the biographies and information of Native American women in history. So far I have established the event page for the edit-a-thon in where the details of the event are displayed. The main graphic is a digital postcard I developed that we are using when reaching out to organizations for participants and the event page hosts all the training materials necessary to review how to get into editing Wikipedia and the target profiles of doing such.

It is specifically the profiles section of the event page that I have been expanding. Part of my research for this project has been learning about the ins and outs of working with Wikipedia to begin with and the selection of source material has been a big time consumer in this regard. In order to submit articles to Wikipedia, they must conform to the general guidelines for editing, namely: Is the material notable? Are there reliable sources available? And does the author hold any conflicts of interest? As such, the profiles I have been building need to be able to answer these questions and the source material must be credible. This requires me to do more than a cursory Google search for sources so they will meet the standards Wikipedia has put forth. And since we will be relying on new editors who likely have very little experience with editing Wikipedia, I want to cut out as much of the heavy lifting for them as possible, which means vetting these sources beforehand for relevant information.

Beyond this, Dr. Montiel and myself are working on connecting with other departments at NMAI/SI who have shown interest in collaborating with our efforts for the edit-a-thon. Some staffers now plan to join and we are going to begin talks with the American Women’s History Initiative (the organization that is actually partially sponsoring the edit-a-thon to begin with) to help with promoting the event and securing Wikipedians to help facilitate training for participants.

We also just developed the agenda for the day of the event and how rooms will be set up. In coming to understand the process of contributing to Wikipedia, we have modeled our event in a way to allow for the development of skills around article creation, updating existing pages, and simple edits involving the adding of external source material. This will accommodate the preferences of our guests by allowing a multi-faceted approach to exploring and engaging with Wikipedia and its public utility.

As for our communications, these have actually slowed a bit more than I was initially hoping. After the previous trouble of clearing the project with other departments, we are experiencing technical delays with getting the appropriate measures set up for executing the event. Specifically, we are having to use a double registration feature to keep track of participants. The first is on the event page itself that will log users for future reference. The second, and the more important one, is the registration through a third party system that has been used in previous events. We are using the platform “EventBrite” to log registrants and to securely send the associated Zoom link for the event, but we need to find out how to do this properly through Smithsonian channels and then establish the Zoom room as well. Without this, it is difficult to start advertising the event because doing so before we have these systems in place would require reaching back out to participants at a future time to get them to register again and this could be burdensome for guests, resulting in a lack of participation. This is the current hurdle we are dealing with at this time!

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Kyle

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