Reporting Metrics on GLAM-Wiki Part 1

As I mentioned in a post earlier in the week, documenting and assessing the effects of a GLAM-Wiki partnership on a institutions digital presence is a critical step to GLAM-Wiki cooperations. There are a number of ways to take metrics related to Wikipedia. In this blog I am going to highlight a few and why they matter. If you would like to see a comprehensive list of tools that GLAM professionals can use to measure content on Wikipedia, check out this list of tools used by the GLAM-Wiki community.

Metrics are an important part of any project, because it allows whoever is coordinating that project to communicate to others exactly what happened. This is particularly important when working with academic or cultural institutions: their is always to much work in that space and not enough labor. Metrics allow academics and GLAM-participants to assess the ratio of effort to public impact. For this blog post, I will cover some of the most basic types of metrics used by GLAM-Wiki assessment: quality and number of articles and external links.

Blake task force and Article quality

One of the most common ways for Wikipedians to organize work and content is to create community projects where they can coordinate efforts. Projects for large swaths of material are called WikiProjects and for more specific subtopics, sometimes these WikiProjects will form task forces (check out this link for a list of WikiProjects on English Wikipedia). For this GLAM-Wiki cooperation, I created a William Blake Task force as part of WikiProject Poetry on English Wikipedia. One of the advantages of WikiProjects is that they allow users to know who is working on a content area and for participants to categorize. On Wikipedia, the community has developed an assessment system called the 1.0 assessment scheme to map out the importance and quality of articles on English Wikipedia.

When I first found out I would be doing an internship with the archive (as reported in an earlier post), I began tagging articles related to Blake within this schema. In doing so, I identified 150 pages related to Blake and his work (now 151 page because of the a new article). I assessed them according to the 1.0 criteria.  As you can see in the screenshot of the assessment graph below, many of these articles are lower in quality (starts and stubs are small starter articles on Wikipedia with little content or references while Featured articles are well referenced and thorough articles that undergo a review process) and many of the most importance articles related to Blake and his art (Blake’s biography and his main publications) could use focused improvement. By identifying these qualities, we can direct contributors that we enlist through the Education assignments, editathons and Wikipedia community content drives towards the articles that need the most work and are most important.  At the end of the internship, I will reassess how successful these activities are by documenting the changes in article quality and number.

URLs to the Institution

One of the easiest ways for an institution to report it’s reach and presence on Wikipedia, as well as the internet more generally, is to determine how many urls lead towards different parts of their website. For English Wikipedia, a contributor who works for the Library of Congress, Ed Summers, created a tool called LinkyPedia which maps out how often links get used on English Wikipedia. According to the tool, currently, the Blake Archive has 110 links to its pages across 56 Wikipedia pages (not all of them articles). This is a small number of URLs considering how important the Blake Archive is as the primary Academic source of Blake images and transcription on the web. Anyone who researches a Blake poem or publication will likely find their way to the English Wikipedia article on the topic, and, if links to the authoritative Archive records are not available, they may not realize that the archive exists or can provide them support. This is a problem for students, researchers and Blake scholarship more generally: the free authoritative materials from the Blake Archive can easily be ignored for someone unfamiliar with the project. Adding links that meaningfully help readers connect to this outside source, as long as its not simply link spam, fulfills both Wikipedia’s mission of helping individuals access free knowledge and the Blake Archive’s mission in increasing use of their reference resources produced through almost two decades of institutional funding and grants.

Links on other Wikimedia projects are also important. For the Blake Archive, the most important links will be from Wikimedia Commons. Because the high resolution scans from the Blake Archive have been available for free on the internet since 1996, Wikimedia contributors have been downloading the images and uploading them to Wikimedia Commons because of their public domain status. Many of these images have been accompanied with a URL that provides the source of these images, properly accrediting the Archive for making them available. Though the MediaWiki software allows searching for the use of URLs, the report it generates doesn’t account for multiple URLs on a page thus allowing you to count the number of pages. To create a data similar to Linkypedia’s I ran two different tools to create metrics for links on Wikimedia Commons: first, running the built in tool, I discovered that their are 710 links to the Blake Archive; next, using the tool AutoWikiBrowser, I ran another report which reported 644 distinct file pages using those urls. On Wikimedia Commons, their are 2287 images related to William Blake, thus the report suggests that the Blake Archive is the source of over 1/4 of Blake images already in use across Wikimedia Projects. Already, in my initial survey of those images, I have discovered other Blake Archive scans without proper metadata attributing their source; this suggests that a significantly larger portion of those images are from the Blake Archive.

These metrics about link data have allowed me prioritize a particular activity that should improve my internship’s public impact: adding appropriate links and metadata to English Wikipedia and Commons. By adding links to the William Blake Archive and the institutional webpages of those institutions that hold the physical Blake objects, images will be accredited to their producers and readers will be affiliated with direct channels to free academic sources.

Coming soon

In my next blog post (or two), I will talk about the tools available for tracking page views, use of images on the family of Wikimedia projects, and how the Archive’s website metrics can be compared to Wikimedia projects to help improve public access to the materials.

Meanwhile, I would like to encourage everyone interested in William Blake or GLAM-Wiki to help improve content related to Blake on English Wikipedia. For things to do, check out the list of potential projects at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Blake#To_do . If you need help learning how to edit, check out http://editathon.org/ .

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A Beginning for the Semester

This semester I will be doing GLAM-Wiki activities with the William Blake Archive (http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/ ) as part of an internship. If you aren’t aware, GLAM-Wiki is an effort to bring the knowledge from those who manage Galleries, Libraries Archives and Museums (GLAMs) onto the open access Wikimedia sites like Wikipedia in order to further public access to our global cultural heritage (for more information check out http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/GLAM , there will be more information about GLAM-Wiki in future posts). I will be running this blog (my first) in order to document and reflect on the various elements of the internship. I am documenting the project because the academic humanities have been largely ignored by the Wikimedia community – the GLAM-Wiki community has been good at reaching out towards traditional museums and other cultural institutions (partnerships have included the British Museum, British Library, Smithsonian, Versailles, etc) and recent efforts with scientific organizations have been very successful in sharing these cultural institution resources with an interested public. I believe that Wikipedia and digital humanities (DH) clearly have aligned functions within the internet ecosystem (both profile knowledge and knowledge resources), and that, like GLAMs, if DH projects want to be relevant to researchers and the public, they must engage with Wikipedia, which is core to internet infrastructure and access as a top ten website. The William Blake Archive, one of the early trend setters of digital humanities projects, seems like an excellent DH project to explore the potential of DH/Wikipedia collaboration, and these blog posts this semester, hopefully, will explore most of the theory and logistics that go into practicing DH GLAM-Wiki. Before we get there though, I thought I might share a little bit about me.

I am a masters student of English Literature and Culture Studies at Kansas State University.Within my research, I focus on the place of history and the historical in public discourse, masculinities and subculture, and environmental rhetoric about food in contemporary literature. I am also a budding Digital Humanities practitioner. My involvement in DH started when I started contributing to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects as User:Sadads early in my undergraduate career. Since, I have begun exploring the place of academic activity in Wikipedia and it’s role as the center of free internet knowledge, through projects like GLAM-Wiki and the Wikipedia Education Program (https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Education_Program). In digital humanities, I am particularly interested in what the private sector has called “Knowledge Management”, that is managing information and knowledge and it’s sharing on social platforms, like wikis and blogs, so that the people who need it can get access to it, improving quality and efficiency in any organization’s activities. Since joining Wikipedia, I have always thought of the project as the ultimate academic knowledge management (KM) platform: it provides the ultimate bridge between academic resources, information and researchers through it’s citations and links. The GLAM-Wiki community seems to be at the forefront of fulfilling this academic KM connection, actively lobbying members of the GLAM community (academics) to build information and connect resources through Wikimedia platforms. In a future blog post, I will elaborate more on the connection between KM, DH, and GLAM-Wiki.

I hope the semester goes well and I look forward to sharing my experiences with DH and Wikipedia. If you questions or thoughts on what I should share about my experience, please leaves questions and comments below, it always helps to know what an audience is thinking!