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Feds Collaborate With Wikipedia Editors to Improve 'Wikipedia Entries Related to Government Publications'

7:42 AM, Jun 3, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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In May, the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), part of the National Archives, hosted an "editathon" to "focus on improving Wikipedia entries related to government publications." The event was promoted on the websites of both Wikipedia and the OFR. Two OFR officials attended the meeting (David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, and Charley Barth, director of the Federal Register) along with 10 members of the public who represented various "Wiki" entities such as Wikimedia, Wikisource, and Wikidata. The Washington, D.C. chapter of Wikimedia was a cohost of the event.

The OFR is responsible for several federal publications, such as the Federal Register, U.S. Statutes at Large, and the Public Papers of the Presidents, among others. The agency's collaboration is aimed at helping consumers of information about the business of government better "connect the dots" to "find what they are looking for." Rather than a one-time event, the editathon was intended to be part of an ongoing partnership with weekly Wikipedia staff meetings to include "Wikipedians." The National Archives already has a "Wikipedian in Residence," Dominic McDevitt-Parks.

This inaugural editathon lasted for seven hours, and the National Archives reported several accomplishments:

Some specific accomplishments from the event include a new article for the List of CFR Sections Affected, a new model for future articles about CFR parts..., and updating several more articles related to our work, including Title 35 of the CFR, Administrative Procedure Act, Executive order, and Electoral College. 

An "editathon" is actually a Wikipedia concept that is not unique to this OFR collaboration. Wikipedia is crowd-edited by design, so an "editathon" is often held by experienced editors to help provide training to new editors, as well as to accomplish the basic purpose, to "edit and improve a specific topic or type of content."

Although this is a first-of-its-kind event for the National Archives, it is not the first time the Wikipedia community has hooked up with federal employees.  In May last year when furloughs were hitting some government workers, the D.C. chapter of Wikimedia held a "Furloughed Feds Workshop", a "training seminar and edit-a-thon for federal employees interested in learning more on how to edit Wikipedia."

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