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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday September 10, 2013

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Case study: Wikipedia edit-a-thons

In 2012 and 2013, Europeana collaborated with Wikimedia Sweden to organise a series of edit-a-thons. We have now presented our experiences in a case study. Read the Wikipedia edit-a-thon case study.

An edit-a-thon is an outreach event that brings Wikipedians together with professionals from GLAM institutions (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) to generate and/or improve Wikipedia content using and linking back to institutional holdings. Edit-a-thons are usually based on one particular topic.

First World War edit-a-thon in progress.

As Wikipedia receives 500 million unique visitors per month, accurate representation of institutions and their content on the site is important. But how do you get your content on Wikipedia? When you have never written or edited a Wikipedia article before, it can be a frightening undertaking. An edit-a-thon helps - by bringing together volunteers from the Wikipedia world and a crowd of people who are knowledgeable about a certain topic, you can build your representation online and get in touch with your local community of Wikipedia editors.

Fashion-themed edit-a-thon in progress. Picture by Erwin Verbruggen, CC BY SA.

Our experience organising edit-a-thons has taught us that they are win-win for everyone involved: the Wikipedia community gains much-needed helping hands; the world at large receives expanded knowledge; and GLAM institutions get valuable exposure with free contextualised content.

An edit-a-thon on the First World War saw 20 images from Europeana added to 62 Wikipedia articles. These articles were then viewed nearly 2 million times over the next six months.

Example of a Wikipedia page that was updated during an edit-a-thon: a page on Adolf Hitler now incorporates a postcard written by Hitler himself in 1916. It was brought to a Europeana 1914-1918 family history roadshow by a member of the public.

Another event looked at the theme of fashion, a topic that is under-represented on Wikipedia. 72 articles in eight different languages were enhanced during the event and viewed 600,000 times in the following four months.

The final event looked at how to run an edit-a-thon in conjunction with another event, in this case a Europeana 1989 collection day. Items brought to the collection day by the public were digitised and immediately used in Wikipedia articles.

The case study looks at each event in detail and provides plenty of tips and advice for dealing with Wikimedia and for setting up your own edit-a-thons.

Read the Wikipedia edit-a-thon case study