I am pleased to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation received a generous grant from the Stanton Foundation for a 17-month pilot program that will help inform how to best engage new contributors in the improvement of subject-specific articles on Wikipedia. The Stanton Foundation also supports the Wikipedia Usability Initiative and other Wikimedia activities; we are very grateful for this ongoing support and interest. A public announcement of this grant will follow later this week.
Subject-matter experts have always been valued Wikipedia contributors, and a key goal of this initiative is to facilitate their collaboration with and among the Wikipedia editing community. We will experiment with different methods of using Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool in universities, and ways to provide incentives and support participation by students, teachers, and volunteers. The overarching goal of this project, called the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative, is to effectively increase the quality of public policy articles on Wikipedia, and to support Wikimedia Chapters with a model for working with universities to enhance other topic areas.
We have chosen the particular subject area of public policy because this topic area is interdisciplinary, and requires collaboration among many fields (including history, economics, law, and various social and hard sciences). We also believe this subject area is underdeveloped on Wikipedia and therefore offers a big opportunity for improvement. Furthermore we recognize that public policy articles may pose special problems -- they may center on issues and debates that are more controversial and less settled than other articles in the sciences or in the humanities. We feel that if we can succeed with public policy articles, other topic areas can be improved based on this model.
This is a completely new and exciting model for outreach with subject matter experts on Wikipedia. It's also a first for the Wikimedia Foundation, and something we hope will lead us towards new best practices and a solid foundation to better collaborate with our volunteers and with academic and institutional partners.
During the 17-month time frame of the project timeline, the Initiative will be led by a project team at the Wikimedia Foundation working with two keys groups of volunteer Wikipedia editors: "Campus Ambassadors" doing in-classroom training and face-to-face evangelizing, and "Online Ambassadors" providing online support, coaching and mentoring. The Wikipedia volunteers will support university classes, students and professors as they engage in quality improvement of public policy articles on Wikipedia.
The execution of the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative will take a phased approach. This will include the recruitment of an advisory Steering Committee of public policy experts, establishment of quality measures, baseline assessment of the current quality of public policy articles, and development of educational and training materials specific to this project. We will then pilot quality improvement activities with 3-5 schools during the fall and winter of 2010, learn from the experiences of the pilot schools, and scale up to run work with an additional 7-12 schools during the spring of 2011. The project will culminate in a conference at which best practices will be shared and prizes awarded.
We believe that the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative will both improve public policy content during the duration of the project, and also produce information and infrastructure that could inform the design and development of a long term sustainable model.
The Foundation will more publicly announce this new initiative later this week with a press release, but we wanted to give everyone advance notice and share these job openings.
The Public Policy Initiative will be led by Rod Dunican, our Education Programs Manager. Pete Forsyth and I will remain closely engaged as the project unfolds, and we will build a project team specifically around the initiative. We invite you to have a look at the current job openings:
For more information, click the links below to review:
If you have further questions about the Initiative or the current job openings, please contact rdunican[at]wikimedia[dot]org
Thanks for your interest,
Frank Schulenburg, Public Outreach