Join us in the free knowledge ecosystem

A guest post from APO
, Brigid van Wanrooy.

This guest post was originally published on APO's website, and was republished with permission.

Many of us rely on Wikipedia as a ‘go-to’ source of reliable information. However, this free encyclopaedia wouldn’t exist without the thousands of volunteers who have added content, regularly update it, and monitor it for accuracy. Director, Brigid van Wanrooy, explains how APO is filling a gap in Wikipedia and how you can help.

Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

What would we do without Wikipedia?

You’re having dinner with your family. Someone – possibly your conspiracy-theorist cousin or your absent-minded parent – says something in a very convincing way that you instinctively know is not correct. What do you do?

Me? I take out my phone and I do a search on the internet – a list of sources appear. I immediately look for the answer from Wikipedia. Often, it is conveniently the first result displayed in a box, so you don’t even need to click through to the Wikipedia site.

Wikipedia has become the ‘go-to’ encyclopaedia for anyone with internet access. It has made knowledge free and accessible – just like what we do at APO. We make policy and research published by organisations discoverable and openly accessible. We are both part of the free knowledge ecosystem.

Many hands make light work

Wikipedia is the largest and most-read reference work in history but it wouldn’t exist without thousands of volunteers from around the world creating and updating its pages. This army of ‘Wikipedians’ are ensuring that you and I can rely on it as a wealthy source of information.

Anyone can become a Wikipedian. All you need is a desire to create information for the greater good.

A dedicated and relatively small community of volunteers has been responsible for the bulk of Wikipedia content. And so, some knowledge content gaps have emerged such as gender, geography, sexual orientation and cultural background.

Public policy Wikipedia

At APO, we’ve also noticed another gap – and that’s in the information on Wikipedia about public policy and using policy reports as sources. The most common sources referenced on Wikipedia are news media or commercially published literature, contributing to persistent gaps.

Mainstream media and publications don’t always have diverse cultural perspectives. Smaller organisations such as those that are First Nations-led, from the Pacific Islands, and other underrepresented communities are more likely to publish their own material rather than through commercial means.

APO provides open access to policy and research reports published by organisations on a wide range of issues including First Nations policy and practice, gender inequality, and the Pacific Islands. And we are addressing this gap through our Wikimedia-funded project, The missing link: Incorporating policy reports into the free knowledge ecosystem.

APO is uploading over 2,800 reports into Wikidata – a source of open data that is used by Wikimedians – so they can be easily sourced in Wikipedia pages. You can explore these reports in our Missing Link Repository. We have focussed on notable and prolific Australian and New Zealand government and research organisations, with a particular focus on First Nations-led organisations.

You can help us

There are now thousands of reports ready to be sources in the creation and updating of Wikipedia content. How can you help make useful public policy information accessible and free?

You can get started by:

We are also hosting two workshops to help you get started – participants will be guided in how to start editing and creating content in Wikipedia, with a focus on First Nations public policy issues.

Workshop 1: 10-11.30am Wednesday, 21 June 2023, online or at Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Victoria

Workshop 2: 10-11.30am Wednesday, 28 June 2023, online or at Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Victoria

Please get in touch to RSVP

We’re looking forward to meeting you in the free knowledge ecosystem!

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