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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday November 19, 2012

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Wikipedia WW1 Articles Enhanced with Europeana Content

Geer Oskam, Senior Marketing Specialist at Europeana, tells us about an Editathon event at which Europeana content was used to update Wikipedia pages related to World War One.

Last week I attended the first Europeana-Wikimedia Editathon: our friends from the Swedish Wikimedia Chapter organised the event together with Stockholm University. An Editathon is a gathering where Wikimedians get together to upgrade existing Wikipedia pages, or to create new Wikipedia pages. Editathons are usually based around a particular topic. On 11 November it was WW1 Remembrance Day, so an appropriate time to update related articles with Europeana data.

For this Editathon, John Andersson from Wikimedia Sweden uploaded 60 images from the Europeana 1914-1918 collection to Wikimedia Commons. These images were the starting point for the Editathon. We gathered in Gulan Villan (Yellow House) at Stockholm University. There were 12 people present at the event, and another contributing online.

The Editathon in progress!

We worked from 4pm till 9pm. In this time, 10 new images from the Europeana database were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, 5 new Wikipedia articles were written and 17 existing articles were enriched with 11 of the 60 already uploaded Europeana images. The improvements to the articles were done in Swedish, Finnish, English, German and Dutch. In addition to the work done by those present at the Editathon, some ‘wiki magic’ happened over the next few days as ten other online volunteers helped to improve the texts.

Here are some examples of Wikipedia pages that were updated during the Editathon: a page on Adolf Hitler which now incorporates a postcard written by Hitler in 1916 from the Europeana 1914-1918 collection, and a page on the SS Berlin, now including a picture of the ship from Europeana.

How can we measure the success of an event like this? A number of page views will give us a starting point. To give you an idea - the articles these images illustrate were viewed 33,500 times in the 2 weeks before the Editathon. Over the next few weeks, we will monitor page visits and referral links from pages that have been enriched by data from the Europeana database.

Miniature playing cards and case belonging to a soldier on the Western Front. One of the images from Europeana 1914-1918 uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for the Editathon.

The fastest way to get a high amount of people viewing a donated picture is to upload high quality pictures that are suitable to use as illustrations in central Wikipedia articles. Carefully chosen pictures can easily be added to many articles and thus increase the amount of people seeing the material. This takes time and an expert view on subject matter is needed. In smaller language versions, such as the Swedish one, a lot of articles are still ‘missing’, meaning they exist in other languages but not Swedish. So if we want to use a photo on the Swedish pages, it needs to be put into context, which means writing or translating the article that goes with it from scratch.

Christmas in a military hospital. One of the images from Europeana 1914-1918 uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for the Editathon.

While editing my first Dutch Wikipedia page (about the SS Berlin), I was thinking about how being involved in an Editathon brings greater benefits than simply an increase in the number of page views. Building a partnership with Wikimedia and with Wikimedians - volunteers who understand the ways of the largest free knowledge network of our time - is invaluable. If your cultural organisation hosts a Wikimedia Editathon, you provide access to your data and begin an engagement with a powerful partner. Just to remind you: Wikipedia has 490 million unique visitors per month. That is more then any mainstream media, meaning that Wikipedia has become the ultimate mainstream medium. Also, remember the reach of Wikipedia: it has articles in 270 languages, I’m pretty sure that's more languages than you have in the multilingual menu on your website.

At Europeana, we are focussing on expanding our partnerships with Wikimedia. We are organising more events with the Swedish chapter throughout Europe in 2013. Europeana is also partnering with Wikimedia in the Wiki Loves Monuments contest. And if you are a cultural institution and you want to upload your data to Wikimedia, Europeana is also building a Europeana Wiki GLAM Toolset that will let you bulk upload your material.

Follow this blog and our Twitter account to hear more about our Wiki collaborations.