1014 Retold were delighted to hold Ireland’s first ever live Wikipedia edit-a-thon on Saturday 19th April.
The edit-a-thon focussed on improving the Battle of Clontarf Wikipedia page and related entries, in time to commemorate the 1000 year anniversary which takes place on 23rd April.
For those who are not familiar with Wikipedia, it is a free online encyclopedia. It is written collaboratively by volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, and the English version currently has over 32 million pages and counting.
Our overall aim with 1014 Retold is to retell a 1000 year old story using digital tools, so when Wikimedia UK approached the 1014 Retold team to see if we would facilitate an ‘editing event’ in Dublin focussing on the Battle of Clontarf entries, we immediately agreed and got to work on setting it up.
The Wikipedia entries on the Battle of Clontarf are most people’s first hit when they search for the subject. By facilitating a focussed collaboration between historians and Wikipedia editors, the quality of the pages could be lifted quite quickly, even in just one afternoon.
This was an opportunity to improve historical accuracy around the battle for the wider public audience online. Importantly, it was also an opportunity to redress the skewed representation of one of the main women from that time, Gormlaith, as well as improving the accuracy and visibility of other men and women involved in the battle.
With a great turnout (despite it being a sunny Easter Saturday in Dublin!) John Cummings from Wikimedia UK took the group through the principles of Wikipedia, followed by a practical session on how to make changes to a Wikipedia page, and then we all got busy with editing.
Historians had been asked to review pages of interest in advance of the session and brought along their suggested edits. With their newly acquired editing skills, and a little help from more experienced editors, they got stuck in to improving the quality of the Battle of Clontarf entries.
The session was also an opportunity for people with little or no experience of editing Wikipedia pages to learn what’s involved. This worked well, with several people who had never edited before teaming up with historians and experienced editors.
The Battle of Clontarf Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was successful in bringing together people from different disciplines: historians, programmers, editors, students, as well as those who had a keen interest in either the Battle or in Wikipedia.
Most importantly, the pages that were updated to varying degrees included:
- Battle of Clontarf
- Brian Boru
- Sigtrygg Silkbeard
- Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill
- Máel Mórda mac Murchada
- Gormflaith ingen Murchada
- Máel Muire ingen Amlaíb
New pages were created for
- Toirdelbach mac Murchada meic Briain (grandson of Brian Boru)
- Sláine ingen Brian Boru (Sláine, daughter of Brian Boru)
The Battle of Clontarf made it the “On This Day” section of Wikipedia’s main page, and on the anniversary date (23rd April) the Battle of Clontarf entry topped over 25,000 views.
(Statistics source: http://stats.grok.se/)
Making it happen
As well as the 1014 Retold team, the event could not have happened without the support of Wikimedia UK, a registered charity dedicated to collecting, developing, promoting and distributing Open Knowledge. Specific thanks must go to Jonathan Cardy, who provided logistical support, and John Cummings, who led the training session.
Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin kindly hosted the edit-a-thon, and the Open Knowledge Foundation Ireland were extremely supportive and enthusastic, with several Foundation members attending.
Thanks also goes to Peter Brown and Rebecca O’Neill for sharing their photos of the event.
An interesting output from the session was a discussion around progressing the set up of an Irish chapter of Wikimedia. To keep up to date with this, join the mailing list or add your Wiki username here.