A Liberal Wikipedia event


One of the enduring appeals about Wikipedia for me has always been not just its laudable status as a free-at-the-point of access and advert free educational resource, but the still exciting fact that it’s a community-written and maintained site. Yes, that can have drawbacks in the form of heated editing wars over punctuation or articles being targeted by online wags or trolls, much like the LDV comments section at times! Generally however its success is demonstrated by just how relied upon and ubiquitous it’s become – I’m pretty confident most reading this will have read a Wikipedia article recently too.

The irony is however that although very many people read Wikipedia’s content (half a billion people a month or thereabouts) very few actually engage in creating it. In the UK there are perhaps only around 15,000 editors, and of these the majority only occasionally chip in to correct a typo or add a link. Despite its breadth and reach (more than 5 million English language articles, articles in more than 120 languages, multiple linked projects to cover not just encyclopedic content but images, quotes, data sets, educational resources and news articles) it is still very much in its infancy with vast swathes of history, science, philosophy and art untouched or poorly covered.

This is the challenge that a little-known charity, and my other volunteering love beside the Lib Dems, is trying to meet. Wikimedia UK works with institutions and groups across the UK, trying to get people editing and contributing specialist knowledge. It’s probably at about this point in the article you might legitimately be questioning why this is of interest to Lib Dem Voice readers.

Well, the answer is to be found at the National Liberal Club next Wednesday, when anyone with an interest in Liberal philosophy and history is offered the rare opportunity to attend a free ‘edit-a-thon’ event in partnership with the Club’s library.

Former Liberal MP for Leeds East, Michael Meadowcroft is the National Liberal Club’s Honorary archivist and, in partnership with fellow National Liberal Club committee and party member Seth Thévoz, they have kindly agreed to open up their collection of books, leaflets and pamphlets to non members in an effort to give better coverage to liberal philosophies, histories and key figures in the party’s history. The event page link with full information can be found here and you can sign up on Eventbrite so the organisers know how many to cater for.

For those who can’t make it down there on the day, fear not, for such are the joys of an online encyclopedia that you can participate remotely. I’ll be doing my best on the day from my front room in Leeds to expand some of the article content for our female peers as my little contribution to ensuring their much greater ones are more properly recognised. Indeed, editing Wikipedia can be a powerful way to make sure the diverse contributions of all members of our party and philosophy are properly recognised and shared with the world.

This is far from the only event that the charity runs year round; their website has details of year-round events including workshops to introduce those who haven’t edited before to the process. So, do check out the page, sign up to the event if you can or contribute remotely by editing or finding online sources you think should be included in existing Wikipedia articles. Feel free to make suggestions for subjects for expansion or inclusion in the comment here too!

* Katherine Bavage is regional secretary for Yorkshire and the Humber and Wikipedia user Leela0808

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  • Excellent article. Can I just suggest a minor edit to the article for factual correction. In the 5th para, Michael Meadowcroft was MP for Leeds West (not Leeds East).

  • An excellent and welcome initiative, even if a slightly peculiar venue.

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