Crowdsourcing/In practice/Motivation: documenting a town

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How to create a Wikipedia Town. The story of MonmouthpediA.pdf

In an ambitious but successful project, a small group of Wikipedians worked with local people, public bodies and businesses to thoroughly document the Welsh town of Monmouth. They wrote articles and shared digital media relating to its history, buildings, notable people, and even individual objects in local museums. This spawned hundreds of articles and over 1000 uploaded images, resulting in about 400,000 hits on Monmouth-created content in one year. The booklet "How to create a Wikipedia Town" summarises their methods and lessons learned.

The motivation for the wiki contributors took many forms. There were competitions to encourage articles and translations, with on-wiki badges and prizes such as t-shirts. While not financially very valuable, the prizes were a tangible sign of appreciation for the volunteers, many of whom were in countries far away. Wikipedia project pages had leaderboards to highlight users who had created or translated particularly large numbers of articles, and examples of the best images submitted.

So the opportunities for recognition and competition were there if contributors wanted the elements of a game, but visibility was not the only motivation. The project’s publicity focused on the historical and political significance of Monmouth, its density of museums and other cultural and educational institutions. It also emphasised the value of free knowledge, of developing skills, and of working online with people from different languages and cultures. The project also showed that everyone in the community could contribute, from the local authority who released digital media under a Wikipedia-compatible licence to individual enthusiasts with computers or cameras.

Monmouth also illustrates the value of open and free content in the sustainability of a project. People are presently encouraged to access the local articles through multilingual QR codes that can be read with a mobile phone, but technology will move on. The main achievement of the project is a great amount of freely-available content in a form that can be endlessly remixed and repurposed. When new location-related technologies arrive, Monmouth will be ready for them because so many of its features are described in Wikipedia articles with embedded geographical data.

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