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Notes from Our Wikipedia Project

Author: Mackenzie Grace Paton, Editor, Friends of The Dowse Newsletter

Mackenzie talks about the latest on The Dowse's summer Wikipedia project.

Our Wikipedia project aims to create articles about 100 New Zealand craft artists and related exhibitions and organisations.

Our Wikipedia project aims to create articles about 100 New Zealand craft artists and related exhibitions and organisations.

Kobi Bosshard, Description of a Greenstone Pebble.Rotasa Foundation, San Francisco.

Kobi Bosshard, Description of a Greenstone Pebble.Rotasa Foundation, San Francisco.

Bridget, Courtney and I are quickly getting used to the trickier, fiddly bits of creating and writing a Wikipedia entry. With twenty-two entries online and operational, this project is gaining a little bit of momentum. We’re all learning as we go, mostly by trial and error—and a whole lot of teaching each other what we’ve picked up. Helpful Wikipedians often patrol our pages and make small edits, giving us useful bits of advice. We’re getting incredible help from Mike Dickinson of Whanganui Regional Museum and Stuart Yeates of NZETC, both very knowledgeable Wikipedians.

Apparently, if you’re an experienced editor and you do something particularly silly, you can get slapped by a ‘wet trout.’ It’s a little image of a fish that pops up on your ‘talk’ page. It may be a tongue-in-cheek way to let others know they’re doing something a little brainless, but as newbies to the world of Wikipedia, I think we’re quite glad that hasn’t happened to us! Really, everything appears to be going swimmingly.

Equipped with a list of artists and a library’s worth of books, we’ve launched right into creating a series of ‘stubs,’ which are short, well referenced articles that include key details about the subject’s life. Firstly, we do a bit of research, pulling together both internet and published book sources. Then we hop on to the Wikipedia ‘Article Wizard’ and go through a series of steps before we can actually get to writing and uploading the article. We have to select which category our article belongs to (Person), then declare that the article is about someone notable and thus has good sources, and is not copy-pasted from anywhere else. After carefully writing and referencing the new article, we can choose to preview the page before it goes live, which lets us see if we’ve made any glaring mistakes.

There’s a little star at the top of every page when we log in. It’s a ‘Watchlist’, where you can keep an eye on every little change that anyone makes on any of artist pages. It’s fun to watch Bridget, Courtney and I flit between the pages we have created and add and tweak little bits here and there. We’re quickly becoming much more Wiki-savvy.

As we get deeper into this project, we have realized how many other avenues of New Zealand art have yet to be explored and uploaded to Wikipedia. Every day our wish list of New Zealand artists, exhibitions and institutions is growing. The more research we do, the more we realize that this ‘100 New Zealand Craft Artists’ goal is simply the tip of the iceberg. There’s a great deal of room for growth and to get others excited and engaged about this wonderful, fact-rich project.

If you'd like to see some of the stubs and articles we've created, check out Kobi Bosshard, Zena Abbott, and the 1988 exhibition, Bone Stone Shelland watch this space!

Three words to sum up the past week on the project? Progress, fun, knowledge.

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