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Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong 
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Unread post Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
The recent discord around Gibraltarpedia has made me take a closer look at Monmouthpedia. Monmouthpedia seemed to start as the brainchild of John Cummings, inspired by what Roger Bamkin had done with QR codes elsewhere. On the surface, it seems like a nice idea - put up QR codes which people can scan with their smartphones to find out more about local landmarks. The connection with WP makes sense - it already exists, people know about it, and volunteers will maintain the articles. Local government doesn't have to set up a website, publicize it, or hire someone to write and maintain articles.

What seems to have happened, however, is that this simple idea got co-opted in two ways. WP became a focus instead of a tool, and people saw that they could advance their own goals through this project.

The first is amply demonstrated on Monmouthpedia's website (on the page Monmouthpedia – so what’s in it for local businesses?) with pictures of a bakery door with QR codes. What do those QR codes link to? Bread, cake, flour, and baker's yeast. That isn't about the history and culture of Monmouth or even about the bakery, that's about WP.

The second -- the one that leads to the future issues -- is evident in the efforts of PR consultant Steve Virgin, who until the recent election was a WMUK Trustee. Look at this post on his blog "Monmouthpedia – a small step for the PR industry on a longer road to deeper understanding of Wikipedia" (subtitled "How to turn a crisis into an opportunity for the PR industry"). The last paragraph is particularly telling.
Quote:
The Monmouthpedia initiative involved a number of PRCA member agencies who produced some fabulous communication support. With agencies such as Montpellier PR behind the Wikimedia UK communications team, the press campaign saw 277 news stories across 36 countries and created immense value to the town of Monmouth and to the technological innovation-driven notion of hyper-localism using multi-lingual Wikipedia pages.

Note how well this ties in to Roger Bamkin's statement on his LinkedIn page that he has "been involved with QRpedia and Monmouthpedia which have delivered > £2m paybeack on £50K investment". That "return" is the estimated value of the free PR. This is what Bamkin, Virgin, et al are selling. Of course, there is a limited amount of press interest in such stories (which has probably been filled by Monmouthpedia and Gibraltarpedia), but that won't stop other towns and cities from buying into the idea based on the successes of the earlier projects. The 5th "Wikipedia town" probably won't even be noticed outside of local press.

In early May 2012, WMUK posted draft "best practice guidelines for PR" on its website. It was authored by the "Chartered Institute of Public Relations social media advisory panel". Days later, there was a presentation by two PR professionals at the WMUK AGM. According to the announcement on the PRCA site, "Wikimedia UK are also working with PR member agency Montpelier PR, and their CEO Guy Woodcock -a PRCA Board Member -on the ‘Monmouthpedia’ Wikipedia project". The WMUK seems very chummy with the PR industry, but I suppose if one is selling press coverage to town councils, one has to be.


Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:33 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
This thread is a continuation of a discussion of paid-editing and conflicts of interest involving a trustee and other members of Wikimedia UK that began here.


Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:41 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
Whenever something sounds good and nice about Wikipedia (remember the legal fees assistance program?), it turns out that there are non-obvious, ulterior motives involved.


Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:18 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
Following on from Monmouthpedia, we have Gibraltarpedia, but also, more directly, Chepstowpedia. The South Wales Argus has a July 2012 article entitled Monmouthpedia could bring Wikipedia effect to Chepstow which states that:
Quote:
The council's chief officer for regeneration and culture Kellie Beirne, speaking at last week's cabinet meeting, said Chepstow and Raglan are likely to be the next places to benefit from the project.
...
Councillors were unanimous in their praise for the project, while chief executive Paul Matthews said the financial return was "exponential."

More than 252 articles were published in 36 countries about Monmouthpedia on the day in was launched in May, with advertising value in the region of £2.12 million.

The Chepstow Marketing group, which has local representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and town council on its committee, wants to bring Monmouthpedia to the town.

In February 2012, Roger Bamkin and John Cummings met with the town council.
Quote:
Monmouthpedia: RB, Chair of Wikimedia UK, and JC gave an informative presentation about Monmouthpedia and how it was set up. RB explained that Wikimedia.uk exists to help collect, develop and distribute freely licensed knowledge (and other educational, cultural and historic material). They do this by bringing the Wikimedia community in the UK together, and by building links with UK-based cultural institutions, universities, charities and other bodies. Wikimedia UK is a registered charity and all information put on the site was done by volunteers. QR codes were used in addition to labels enabling multi lingual access. This allowed for visitors to access information via mobile devices.
JC was at present training volunteers in Monmouth to put information on Monmouthpedia and GH was also editing information. £10,000 financing for the project had been provided equally from MCC and Media UK. However RB explained that hundreds of volunteer hours had also been used.
GR asked what Chepstow should be doing now to take a similar project forward in Chepstow. RB informed the group that MCC would like to spread this project to other towns but the town would need someone like JC to carry the idea forward in Chepstow. Several community organisation would need to be involved and also Chepstow Museum and Chepstow Castle. SB wondered whether the Town Council might consider part funding the project for Chepstowpedia. GH offered his support to the project.
GR thanked RB and JC for the information they provided and would like RB to carry a positive message back for creating a Chepstowpedia.

So, the town council, expecting millions of pounds worth of free press coverage decides to devote some money to the project. Perhaps they are unaware that the first "Wikipedia town" is far more newsworthy than the second, and that Monmouthpedia had some PR ringers to help get the stories placed.

This comes up at the July 26 2012 WMUK board meeting in WMUK Chief Executive Jon Davies' report:
Quote:
Chepstowpedia
RB explained that there are several small towns looking to do this themselves, but his recommendation is that we need to do Chepstow to push this forward.

DECISION:: Contingent on the Monmouthshire County Council MOU being agreed by the board, and the QRPedia agreement being signed, the board have agreed the £14k proposal for Chepstowpedia.

According to this report by Davies, Chepstow has committed £40,000 and he recommends that WMUK allocate £15,000 to the project, £10,000 of which is for a "Wikipedian-in-residence". I assume that "Appoint: Roger and community member(s)" means that Bamkin is involved in the selection process.

I do not know if Bamkin or Cummings are involved in this outside of their roles as WP volunteers or if they stand to benefit financially from this project. Given the reaction to Gibraltarpedia, I think perhaps some clarification might be called for. It does seem odd that WMUK would be spending charity money promoting a town's effort to increase tourism, but perhaps I don't understand the WMUK mandate. The project seems to be well-received by the PR industry, though.
Quote:
Glenn Hall Glenn Hall ‏@skirrid
@AdoreSocialM heard tonight that Wikimedia &MCC have agreed to do ChepstowPedia. I want in, U? @creatingmedia @HelReynolds
1:27 PM - 17 Aug 12 ·

17 Aug Helen Reynolds Helen Reynolds ‏@HelReynolds
@skirrid great to hear we have a chepstowpedia gang! :-) @AdoreSocialM @creatingmedia

17 Aug Helen Child Villiers Helen Child Villiers ‏@AdoreSocialM
@skirrid @creatingmedia @helreynolds am totally in! C


Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:20 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
Nice work here Moonage. Basically, it's a scheme to leverage advertising spending.

"Why buy expensive air time on TV or radio, or waste money developing your own website that few will visit, when you can reach far more people for next-to-nothing on Wikipedia! Sound too good to be true? Believe it. Anything our crack team places there will, thanks to Wikipedia's warm and fuzzy reputation and the Google search algorithm, be one of the top 2 or 3 search results for the topic within days. Sound good? Of course!

But wait, there's more!

Our experienced team, which has good relationships with Wikimedia (the parent foundation of Wikipedia) and long-standing social capital with Wikipedia's powerful administrators and super-editors, will be able to place many of these articles on Wikipedia's front page, which averages 8 million visits a day. Ready to commit? Don't rush. There's even more! Most readers won't know that this is promotional content, making it a much more powerful way to shape your message and image than advertising. What does it cost you? Mere pennies on the dollar compared to traditional advertising. Roll up, roll up!"

video: show


Last edited by DanMurphy on Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:38 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
Moonage Daydream wrote:
The first is amply demonstrated on Monmouthpedia's website (on the page Monmouthpedia – so what’s in it for local businesses?) with pictures of a bakery door with QR codes. What do those QR codes link to? Bread, cake, flour, and baker's yeast. That isn't about the history and culture of Monmouth or even about the bakery, that's about WP.


So what happens when such a business links to, say, the Wikipedia Crisco page, right when Benjiboy decides to sock again and restore the fisting paragraph? Or uploads an image of such? That smartphone-toting visitor to the local bakery is going to be in for something quite unexpected.

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Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:39 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
Great stuff. This is filling in some context to Steve Virgin's presence (posting as Steve Boisset, but with the same image he uses elsewhere) in the CREWE Facebook group (Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement), and goes some way to explaining why the Draft best practice guidelines for PR professionals wishing to edit Wikipedia were created on the Wikimedia UK website, rather than in Wikipedia itself.

From Steve Virgin's website, mediafocusuk.com:

http://mediafocusuk.com/pr-successful-l ... FikPrJlTm4

Quote:
The Monmouthpedia project creates multilingual versions of Wikipedia pages, about every notable place, person, artefact, flora, fauna in the town of Monmouth and makes them instantly accessible to smartphone users in the town through the installation of QRpedia codes in key locations. The clever part is these QRpedia codes display the content in the user’s own language. So, if someone from France whose device is set to work in French scans a code, the Wikipedia content will display in French. The same applies to any language that has related content on Wikipedia.

My role in the team was one of helping to inspire its setting up by my talk (with colleague Roger Bamkin) at Tedx Bristol. Then, being present to encourage local people at the set-up meeting. Then from March, being invited in to manage the press and public relations for this project for Wikimedia UK. This included getting Pro-Bono PR support from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and Public Relation Consultancy Association for this event.


That blog post quoted above, "Monmouthpedia - a small step for the PR industry on a longer road to deeper understanding of Wikipedia", is also on Virgin's business website and on the website of the PRCA, the professional body that represents UK PR consultancies, in-house communications teams, PR freelancers and individuals:

http://mediafocusuk.com/getting-pr-indu ... FimXbJlTm4
http://www.prca.org.uk/Monmouthpediaasm ... fWikipedia

as well as a few other places.

Quote:
Monmouthpedia – a small step for the PR industry on a longer road to deeper understanding of Wikipedia

How to turn a crisis into an opportunity for the PR industry -a guest blog post by Steve Virgin, Board Member & Trustee of Wikimedia UK (2009-2012)

It was Winston Churchill who said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” For Wikimedia UK, the press coverage surrounding the issue of unethical editing of Wikipedia pages by Bell Pottinger was the moment for an optimist to step forward. For the public relations industry, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) made a statement that it intended to develop CIPR Social Media Guidelines that could help it work with PR industry professionals to clarify the position specifically in relation to Wikipedia.

As a Wikimedia UK Board Trustee I met with the CIPR in early February to confirm our willingness to support this CIPR initiative. I then met with the Public Relations Consultancy Association in March, to ask for its support and collaboration in this too.

[...]

A second goal was set. That was to get the two PR industry bodies to approach their membership and ask them to get involved in the launch of Monmouthpedia the World’s First Wikipedia Town on May 19th, one week after the AGM. The idea behind this was to get PR professionals working alongside Wikipedians on a project of common benefit. It was also to show the value of the work that Wikipedians do in a fresh light to public relations professionals, thereby, starting the process of deepening the level of understanding of each others’ ways of working on both sides.



If I were cynical, I'd say they attracted the "pro bono" PR support for Monmouthpedia by promising the PR people that "If you help us for free, we'll get you a place at the table in Wikipedia." Manus manum lavat. (I believe there is a legitimate place for PR people in Wikipedia, given the amount of anonymous vilification that goes on there, but that is another matter.)


Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:58 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
The UK mailing list is presently discussing "Supplementing WMUK with a social enterprise"

http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 09224.html

Quote:
Several months ago I raised with Jon Davies the idea of setting up a trading arm on a co-operative model, primarily with a view to allowing Wikimedians to provide training on a paid basis. This could include Mediawiki coding in general above and beyond immediate Wikimedia sites. This issues - and I suspect there will be more - reinforces my view that some sort of trading arm would be useful.

Certainly amongst the first wave Wikimedians, Wikipedia had not become a household name and the prospects of applying skills gained through editing was unlikely to be a significant concern. That situation has changed. [...]

Perhaps the Board could consider:

1) Organising an effective discussion of what role Board members should play amongst the whole membership.
2) Linked to this could be the establishment of a social enterprise through which Wikimedians could gain paid work in an open and moderated way - including revenue generation for WMUK.
3) Development of a framework to take matters forward, which, in my view, should include balloting the membership about any limitations above and beyond the legal minimum which they might consider appropriate for board members.

I realise this is quite a daunting amount of work, but I see it as an inevitable consequence of the success of Wikipedia. This I see as one of the key social challenges which the Wikimedia movement faces as we move into the second decade.


Reply by Doug Taylor, the current WMUK vice-chair: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 09231.html

Quote:
Wearing another hat, I'm Chair of Trustees of a local charity that owns a community interest company (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_interest_company ), and that works well because the CIC can bid for and take on work that the charity can't. We reinvest any surplus from the CIC back into the charity.

I'm retired now, so I'm lucky that I don't have to make money to live, but I do feel it is important that we don't prevent those who have to earn their livings from making use of their abilities. It seems to me that it's becoming increasingly difficult for WMUK to involve itself in activities that it quite properly ought to be supporting. How much longer before somebody complains that a Wikipedian In Residence is earning money from "paid editing"?

--
Doug


Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:51 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
Hah. I just posted the same thing more or less on the other thread. Mods: Do as you see fit.


Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:52 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
DanMurphy wrote:
Hah. I just posted the same thing more or less on the other thread. Mods: Do as you see fit.

It kind of fits in both threads, doesn't it? :D


Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:54 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
HRIP7 wrote:
DanMurphy wrote:
Hah. I just posted the same thing more or less on the other thread. Mods: Do as you see fit.

It kind of fits in both threads, doesn't it? :D

It's part of the inevitable evolution. A mind-set has been emerging for some time that is the next step beyond "Experts? We don't need no stinking experts!" to "We, Wikimedians, are the experts. And now we want to be paid like experts."

It would remind me of Joe Durso, but at least he was really good at handball (link is to an amusing piece by an acquaintance of mine that just came to mind). What actual expertise do "Wikimedians" have on offer? A skill at navigating their byzantine world. Nothing more.


Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:08 pm
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Unread post Re: Monmouthpedia, where it all started to go wrong
HRIP7 wrote:
DanMurphy wrote:
Hah. I just posted the same thing more or less on the other thread. Mods: Do as you see fit.

It kind of fits in both threads, doesn't it? :D


Why was it split? It's the same subject.

This is where WR-WPD has always toed the same dumb line as Wikipedia, and thus completely misses one of the major areas of WP criticism. Monmouthpedia was never a good idea, and the explanations why will always be 'LAME' to Wikipedians of some colour of the spectrum or other. Wikipedia as it stands (and arguably ever) cannot properly handle anything but the most benign and non-controversial fully-written scientific subjects, which they would need to monitor anyway, like everything else.

And DYK's are just ridiculous - they should be called FYI's.


Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:32 am
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