Wikipedian in residence

The relationship between a Wikipedian in residence and the community. The diagram represents the stakeholders and what each stakeholder provides and receives in a typical Wikipedian in Residence project.

A Wikipedian in residence or Wikimedian in residence (WiR) is a Wikipedia editor, a Wikipedian (or Wikimedian), who accepts a placement with an institution, typically an art gallery, library, archive or museum (GLAM), or institute of higher education (such as a university) to facilitate Wikipedia entries related to that institution's mission, encourage and assist it to release material under open licences, and to develop the relationship between the institution and the Wikimedia community. A Wikipedian in residence generally helps to coordinate Wikipedia-related outreach events between the GLAM and the general public.

Institutions that have hosted a Wikipedian in residence include large institutions like the British Museum, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the British Library, the National Library of Norway, and the Federal Archives of Switzerland and smaller venues like the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and The New Art Gallery Walsall in the UK; the Palace of Versailles in France; the Museu Picasso in Spain; and in the US, the Smithsonian Institution, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, and the National Archives and Records Administration.


The first Wikipedian in residence, Liam Wyatt, volunteered at the British Museum for a period of five weeks in 2010.[1][2] He noted the need for Wikipedia to strengthen partnerships with museums to create the most up-to-date and accurate information,[3] saying "we are doing the same thing for the same reason, for the same people, in the same medium. Let's do it together." The Children's Museum of Indianapolis became involved with the program after Wikipedian Lori Phillips volunteered for a GLAM event in 2010,[3] becoming the second Wikipedian in residence. The third, Benoît Evellin, spent six months at the Palace of Versailles.[4] The Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain, and the Derby Museum and Art Gallery in the United Kingdom were also early adopters of the idea.[5][6]

In 2010, the Smithsonian Institution expressed interest in hiring a Wikipedian in residence, which led to the hiring of Sarah Stierch in July of that year.[7][8][9][10] The following year, the National Archives and Records Administration followed suit and hired Dominic McDevitt-Parks, a student from Simmons College, who was pursuing a master's degree in history and archives management, to work at its Archives II location.[11][12] McDevitt-Parks had been editing Wikipedia since 2004 and was hired for this position by David Ferriero.[12][13] In July 2011 Wikimedia UK engaged Andy Mabbett, an editor since 2003, as an "Outreach Ambassador" in-residence at the Bristol-based wildlife charity Wildscreen, working on the ARKive project.[14] Since then Mabbett has been a Wikipedian in residence at other organisations such as the New Art Gallery Walsall.[15]

In January 2013, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library became the first Presidential library to hire a Wikipedian in residence, when they hired Michael Barera, a master's student at the University of Michigan.[16]

In September 2013, the National Archives and Records Administration became the first organisation to employ a permanent full-time Wikipedian in residence when it hired Dominic McDevitt-Parks to join its Office of Innovation in that capacity.[17]

Dominic McDevitt-Parks speaking at WikiConference USA 2015 hosted at the National Archives Building

In March 2014, Harvard University posted a job listing seeking applicants to be their Wikipedian in residence at the Houghton Library.[18]

In October 2014, the University of Victoria Libraries announced that in collaboration with The Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) and the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences that Christian Vandendorpe had been named Honorary Resident Wikipedian-in-Residence for the 2014/2015 academic year.[19]

As of 1 May 2014, there were 31 known Wikipedians in residence,[18] most of whom are paid by either the institution where they work or a Wikimedia related organization.


Typical duties of such posts include outreach to other staff and members of the public, as well as making contributions to articles relevant to the institution's materials and mission.[20] Such outreach work may include the arranging of training events[21][22] and editathons.


While Wikipedia discourages direct paid compensation for article editing and prohibits undisclosed advocacy, Wikipedians in residence are permitted to be compensated for work on-wiki, either by offering credit, stipend or salary, through their sponsoring institutions so long as they adhere to strict guidelines against engaging in public relations or marketing for their institution.


One such advertised post has been reported positively by others as being a "unique opportunity to help enrich Wikipedia and its sister projects and share with the world the resources and knowledge."[20] Conversely, another advertised post was less favourably received by Andrew Orlowski who described it as "throwing taxpayers' money away on fashionable gimmicks", and proposing a stereotypical perceived person specification including having a "desire to argue the toss online for 23 hours a day."[21] A short-term full-time position advertised at the National Library of Scotland was noted as being "the first large-scale partnership" between a Scottish institution and Wikimedia UK.[22] This initiative was quickly followed by University of Edinburgh where a Wikimedian in residence was appointed in December 2015.[23]


  1. Cohen, Noam (5 June 2010). "Venerable British Museum Enlists in the Wikipedia Revolution". New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  2. Cohen, Noam (19 March 2014). "Warming Up to the Culture of Wikipedia". New York Times. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Museum Hires First Wikipedian-in-Residence". Indianapolis, Indiana: 19 August 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  4. GLAM Château de Versailles Project page
  5. GLAM Museu Picasso Project page
  6. GLAM Derby Project page
  7. Cohen, Noam (12 July 2010). "Success may be Wikipedia's biggest challenge". Gdansk, Poland: Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  8. Switzer, Cody (28 July 2011). "Wikipedian-in-residence helps share Smithsonian archives". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  9. Shen, Aviva (4 April 2012). "How many women does it take to change Wikipedia?". Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  10. Ms. Stierch was fired by Wikimedia in 2014 for conflict of interest violations.
  11. Julie Baughman (13 July 2011). "National Archives hires 'Wikipedian in residence'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  12. 1 2 Lisa Rein (2 June 2011). "National Archives hires first 'Wikipedian'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  13. "National Archives appoints a 'Wikipedian'". Tampa Bay Times. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  14. Zaba, Christina (16 September 2011). "Bristol 'Wikipedians' taught to edit online encylopaedia". Bristol24-7. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  15. Brown, Julie (17 June 2013). "The New Art Gallery Walsall". Museums Association. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  16. Kaczmarczyk, Jeffrey (17 January 2013). "President Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum appoints its first Wikipedian in residence". Grand Rapids, Michigan: Michigan Live LLC. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  17. "Breaking New Ground Again". National Archives and Records Administration. 19 September 2013.
  18. 1 2 "Wikipedian in Residence - Outreach Wiki". Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  20. 1 2 Woods, Steve (18 April 2013). "National Library of Scotland seeks Wikipedian in residence". Bristol Wireless. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  21. 1 2 Orlowski, Andrew (16 February 2012). "British Library seeks taxpayer-funded Wikipedia-fiddler". The Register. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  22. 1 2 "National Library of Scotland recruits 'Wikipedian'". BBC News. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  23. Ho, Amanda (13 October 2015). "University of Edinburgh to employ 'Wikimedian in Residence' web editor". The Student Newspaper. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
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