This weekend’s Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in Oakland was a big success!
Wiki Strategies hosted this event, along with the California League of Women Voters, at Tech Liminal, a coworking space that generously donated the use of its space to bring people interested in Wikipedia, as well as longtime wiki enthusiasts, together for an afternoon of learning and experimenting.
I’ve helped lead similar events in San Francisco and elsewhere. This time, we tried a new variation on the format: we invited Wikipedia beginners to come an hour early for a lesson and introduction, so they would be better prepared to jump into the kind of free-form editing that usually emerges at an edit-a-thon. This is an approach I’ve seen work well for dance events; I was pleased to see a similar dynamic, as experienced Wikipedians began to join us as the intro session was wrapping up. The beginners were starting to come up with more and more sophisticated questions, so having an increasing and diverse group to address their questions was a perfect fit.
In total we had about 20 participants, more than half of whom were first-time editors. We put together a short list of articles fitting the theme, “women and democracy,” and small groups formed to take on specific tasks. Our projects included starting articles on two recent California ballot propositions; expanding existing articles about feminist Dora Russell and about women in speculative fiction; and researching a new article about feminism in Germany. (more detail here)
Several founders of the newly established Sudoroom, an Oakland-based hacker space, joined us. Their presence catalyzed several discussions about what can be done to further foster wiki-oriented community in the East Bay; there have been several popular events in the last couple years, and there seems to be a strong desire to make it them happen more regularly.