Part 2: Making Wikipedia "GLAM-friendly"

Coming after part 1 this post is about what’s been happening in the Wikimedia world that will make us more “GLAM friendly”.

We already know that newbie editors have difficulty in the first place due to being bitten by older editors – as has been described and demonstrated. But, at least as far as editors to Wikipedia coming from the gallery, library, archive and museum sector (GLAM) goes, things are getting a little bit friendlier.

1. Advice for the Cultural Sector a.k.a. [[WP:GLAM]]

With the help of some dedicated editors (special thanks to johnbod, johnuniq and uncledougie) I’ve put together a “one stop shop” advice page for professionals from the GLAM sector coming to Wikipedia wanting to edit.


I do not consider it to be complete or finished but I do think it is now ready enough for a more prime-time audience. Not really an essay, wikiproject, or policy page, it’s more of a place for people to seek advice written in terms that they can (hopefully) relate to.  So, whilst the advice written there isn’t unique or qualitatively different from the advice on other pages across Wikipedia, it brings together all of the information relevant to people from the GLAM sector, gives relevant examples, and provides a forum for asking questions to people who are interested in improving GLAM-WIKI relations.

In the future this page may grow. It might gain a “GLAM noticeboard” for actions needing attention or perhaps it might become a place where GLAM representatives can meet Wikimedians who are wiling to be wiki-mentors. We’ll see where it takes us. One good suggestion (by Pharos) was the creation of a GLAM userbox that could be used by professionals as a shorthand to indicate that they understand the rules about declaring a CoI.

Something quite interesting happened when I tweeted that this page was now published with the words:

Gallery, Library, Archive & Museum folks, please check out My attempt to make #Wikipedia a #GLAM-friendly place.”

This was re-tweeted by a series of museum sector people (which is awesome) but the phrasing was changed to this:


“Wikipedia now encouraging…” implies that we weren’t before, which gives me some insight into how unwelcome GLAM professionals felt. I never wrote the words “now encouraging” but I’m pleased that that is how the GLAM sector sees it. On the other hand it worries me that they felt discouraged or not allowed to participate before.

2. Conflict of Interest guidelines update

Similarly, the Conflict of Interest guideline has been updated to include a new section that specifically states:

“Museum curators, librarians, archivists, art historians, heritage interpreters, conservators, documentation managers, subject specialists, and managers of an academic special collection (or similar profession) are encouraged to use their knowledge to help improve Wikipedia.” [This is repeated in the aforementioned advice page]

For the last few weeks there has been a section in the “non controversial edits” heading that referred to “archives, special collections or libraries” being allowed to add links back to their collection in certain circumstance. This has now been removed and replaced with the broader statement that people in aforementioned kinds of professions are specifically encouraged to edit Wikipedia. I had received feedback from the first wording that because the word “museum” was not included that museum professionals thought they had been intentionally excluded. This was not the case and the new wording makes this clear – professionals across the cultural/collections sector are encouraged to edit.

There remains significant concern that this policy will bring forth a flood of linkspam from cultural institutions linking out to everything in their collection. So PLEASE, GLAM-folks, focus on writing content in the articles themselves rather than “go crazy” by merely placing lots of links to your institution’s website. Of course, you can reference your website’s collection as part of your work but if someone looking up your edit history (yes, everyone’s edit history is available for view e.g. Jimmy Wales’) and finds that the only thing a GLAM professional’s account has ever done is link back to the same organisation’s website, that might result in a push for more restrictive wording on the CoI guidelines.

Worse still, there is a worry that pseudo-museums will point to this policy and use wikilawyering to add external links to items of dubious notability:

3. Multimedia usability meeting

Later this week there will be a three-day meeting in Paris to hothouse the issues surrounding the use of multimedia in Wikimedia projects. The specific context is the grant given by the Ford Foundation regarding multimedia usability. The team for this grant is now coming into shape and this meeting will kickstart their efforts. First and foremost the multimedia usability team will be working out better and more efficient ways to upload (and mass-upload) images to Wikimedia commons. But, beyond that there are many other things that they might be able to tackle which are of specific relevance to GLAM organisations. If Flickr Commons has major cultural institutions queuing up to upload their own photographs under a free license then surely Wikimedia can get some of that love too. Unlike Flickr (owned by Yahoo! inc.) Wikimedia has the huge advantages, from the GLAMs point of view, that we have no advertising, are non-profit and can provide excellent contextualisation of their cultural works within Wikipedia.

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5 Responses to Part 2: Making Wikipedia "GLAM-friendly"

  1. Pingback: Part 1: Making Wikipedia “GLAM-friendly” | Witty’s Blog

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  3. Seb Chan says:


    On point #3 – Flickr offers more than a repository, importantly, it offers a set of communities and the structures to encourage and foster certain use behaviours. This is key to understanding what Flickr Commons offers that isn’t elsewhere.

    I’d be pushing in Paris to look beyond a repository.

  4. Cath Styles says:

    Hey, Liam, good work on the Advice page! It’s also great to hear of the usability project for the Commons, since that was evidently one of the stumbling blocks for the GLAM sector.

    Other issues will not be so straightforward to address – I’m thinking of the authority issue. On that, Ann Lally’s May post about University of Washington’s engagement with Wikipedia includes lots of sensible advice, such as:

    ‘rather than “shun” sites such as Wikipedia due to uneven quality (perceived or otherwise), we should use these sites to direct researchers to a place where authoritative resources are available’.

    (notwithstanding issue of being potentially perceived as a spammer!) And on that, she also points to this useful page by Beetstra.

    So… cheering you on! Know that I’ll have Wikipedia somewhere in mind during my six-month stint at the National Museum. (And next time I log in to Wikipedia, I will put into practice what I’ve learned in my GLAM-Wiki travels – eg, I will use the Talk pages!)

  5. Pingback: Why Flickr Commons? (and why Wikimedia Commons is very different)

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