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Friday, October 11, 2013

Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon Aims to Improve Crowd-Sourced Local Arts Coverage

Posted by Alison Hallett on Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Search for "Imago Theater" on Wikipedia, and nothing comes up. CoHo Productions is a blank. Oni Press and Top Shelf Productions are well represented, but Future Tense and Perfect Day Publishing are not. Artists Rep's page has detailed information about past productions, while Oregon Children's Theatre is just a stub. When it comes to most local arts organizations, Wikipedia has less to say than it does on the subject of, oh, say, guinea pigs as food, or the voice actors who gave us Teddy Ruxpin.

An event this weekend aims to change that. On Sunday, the Portland Art Museum's Crumpacker Library will host a Wikipedia "edit-a-thon" that invites the public to dive into the Wikipedia editing process, using the resources of the library to help create and improve entries about notable arts organizations. Spearheaded by Jason Moore, a dedicated Wikipedian whose day job is with the Oregon Symphony, the event also marks the kickoff of the Oregon Arts Project, an ongoing Wiki-based initiative aimed at increasing statewide arts coverage by bringing together editors interested in the subject.

"Wikipedia Loves Libraries is a national campaign to engage Wikipedia contributors and other members of the public with their local libraries," explains Moore. "Last year I helped Multnomah County Library host an edit-a-thon to improve articles related to Multnomah County. This year, several libraries contacted me directly for assistance. One of those was the Portland Art Museum's Crumpacker Family Library. Since I work for an arts non-profit organization and have an interest in the local arts community, I thought this would be a great opportunity to engage a local library and the arts sector.

"For me, it's about encouraging local residents to learn about their own environment and share their findings with the rest of the world. Instead of sharing your thoughts on a personal blog, why not add your knowledge to this free-content encyclopedia? Let's show the world what Portland has to offer."

Moore described Wikipedia's coverage of the local arts community as "inadequate," though he himself has put in plenty of hours on the subject—check out the history of just about any existing entry related to the arts in Portland, and you're likely to see signs that he's contributed, under the username "Another Believer." He sees Wikipedia as both a resource for the public, and an often-overlooked marketing opportunity for organizations. "Arts organizations have every reason to invest in Wikipedia, an international, multi-lingual project that is consistently one of the top-ranking websites in the world," he says. "For local markets hoping to reach an international audience, there is no better return on investment... People are definitely overlooking this resource, one I assume they use everyday without realizing its potential."

On Sunday, attendees can come to the edit-a-thon with a topic in mind, or pick from a list of topics that Moore created with the help of the Portland Art Museum's librarian. Because Wikipedia is entirely volunteer-run, anyone can contribute to the site, whether by starting new articles, improving existing ones, or even uploading photos of local monuments. Moore will be available to answer how-to questions from Wiki newbies, and expects other experienced editors will also be on hand to offer assistance.

"Wikipedia meetups, in general, are very casual," Moore explains. "They attract a wide range of people, with different personalities, backgrounds and skills (related to Wikipedia or otherwise). I find that Wikipedians are almost always willing to assist new contributors by answering any questions they might have or guiding them to helpful resources on-wiki.

"When I'm not helping other attendees, I plan to write about 'Teddy Roosevelt, Rough Rider,' the sculpture right across from the Portland Art Museum in the South Park Blocks, or even 'Nepenthes,' the series of illuminated sculptures along NW Davis Street," says Moore. "Neither work has a Wikipedia article. This needs to change!"

Crumpacker Family Library at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park, Sun Oct 13, 1-4 pm, free and open to the public, bring your own laptop if possible (the library has two computer stations available.)

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