Using wikipedia to drive traffic to a library website

Carolyn Dunford and Ann Lally from the University of Washington outline their creative project in DLib this month. They registered as Wikipedia users and created content [links or articles] that supported or used the UW’s digital collections as source material. One of my favorite things about this idea is that, thanks to the way Wikipedia works, you can both read the article and see a list of every change they made to Wikipedia via their registered handle.

4 thoughts on “Using wikipedia to drive traffic to a library website

  1. There was a similar discussion on the Archives list a few months ago, vis-a-vis archivists adding links to finding aids to Wikipedia entries. If Digital Libraries folks are adding links to digital content, this gives Wikipeida the potential to be a really valuable tool for researchers. Because despite some huge efforts in the past few years from diglib and archives folks (OAI, Archive Grid), there really isn’t a comprehensive way to search for archives materials, much less their digital surrogates.

  2. I was interested in Carolyn Dunford and Ann Lally’s careful report on their ventures into Wikipedia, but I’d advise librarians to think twice about adding external links to articles as a way of driving traffic to their websites.

    Adding such links violates this guideline:
    “Due to the rising profile of Wikipedia and the amount of extra traffic it can bring a site, there is a great temptation to use Wikipedia to advertise or promote sites. This includes both commercial and non-commercial sites. You should avoid linking to a website that you own, maintain or represent, even if the guidelines otherwise imply that it should be linked.”

    Issues of conflict of interest are taken seriously in the Wikipedia community, as we’ve seen in some difficult, high-profile cases involving Jimmy Wales and Adam Curry, among others.

    Many people have violated these principles by editing articles, adding links, etc., based on their personal and professional affiliations — it’s often the first thing new members do. The more deeply involved people become, however, the more careful they tend to become about these issues. I know this was true in my case. When I look at my earliest contributions, I see that I did things then that I wouldn’t do now, or that I’d do differently.

    I do think there’s a difference between just adding links and adding interesting, relevant content to Wikipedia, as Dunford and Lally did by writing an article about Seattle journalist/historian James Willis Sayre.

    I also appreciate the fact that Dunford and Lally worked in an honest and open manner, with an University of Washington Digital Initiatives Program account, rather than avoid the conflict of interest issue with user names that hide the affiliation. This sort of honest participation is very much in the community spirit that defines both Wikipedia and librarianship!

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