Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC/Symposium on Wikipedia and COVID-19

Symposium on Wikipedia and COVID-19
SARS-CoV-2 without background.png
When and Where
When:9 May 2020
Time6:00 PM Eastern Time (until approximately 8:00 PM)
Where:Online! Recordings available:
Link to watch on YouTube
Link to watch on Facebook

When the public hears about something on the news and wants to learn more, they turn to Wikipedia. That's as true during the COVID-19 pandemic as ever, with the site receiving record-breaking pageviews in April. But why does anyone consider it reliable? Who are the people volunteering their time to contribute to this content that so many people rely on? How do they organize themselves to coordinate improvement of the topic? There are thousands of articles about the pandemic in more than 150 languages. What kinds of topics do they cover? In what ways do Wikipedia and its sister sites, like Wikidata, collect and use data about the pandemic?

The Symposium on Wikipedia and COVID-19 aims to answer questions the public may have about Wikipedia's coverage of the pandemic. The event includes four speakers, all of whom are active contributors to the topic area on Wikipedia, but bring different perspectives, backgrounds, and interests. The event is free and open to the public, broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook, and questions taken from viewers on these platforms. No prior experience with Wikipedia is expected.

This event is organized by Wikimedia New York City, an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation. Everyone with an interest in the subject is invited to attend. All attendees are subject to Wikimedia NYC's Code of Conduct.

Details and documentationEdit

Symposium recording

The symposium took place on Saturday, May 9, at 6:00 PM Eastern Time (22:00 UTC).

The symposium was streamed live via YouTube and Facebook, and recordings are now available.


Speakers and presentationsEdit

Medical content related to COVID-19 on Wikimedia projectsEdit

Netha Hussain

Wikipedia is a good example for how people come together at times of crises to build up well-curated, frequently updated and fairly reliable content about various aspects of the crisis. During the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic, several Wikimedians, including experts, came together to create articles, media and structured data about the medical aspects of the pandemic. I will provide an overview of the medical articles present on English Wikipedia and how Wikimedians work to increase the reliability of these articles. I shall also talk about translation efforts of COVID-19 medical content to various languages, the progress of the work and the challenges faced during the process. I will touch upon the ways by which experts in medical specialities can contribute to Wikimedia projects.

Netha Hussain (User:Netha Hussain) is a physician and researcher. She is currently pursuing her PhD in clinical neuroscience at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She is an active contributor on Wikipedia, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons in English and Malayalam languages. She mostly contributes to topics related to medicine, healthcare, women's biographies on Wikipedia. She has organized outreach events for increasing the diversity of participation of the Wikimedia movement and created GLAM partnerships for content donation to Wikimedia. She is currently a member of the editorial board of WikiJournal of Medicine.

WikiProject COVID-19 and Wikipedia's non-medical coverage of the coronavirus pandemicEdit

Jason Moore at WikiConference North America, 2016

I will provide an overview of the creation, growth, and activities of WikiProject COVID-19 at English Wikipedia, which now has 150+ members collaborating on hundreds of Wikipedia articles and other pages. I'll focus on English Wikipedia but will mention similar efforts related to COVID-19 at other Wikipedias and Wikimedia projects.

I will then give an overview of Wikipedia's non-medical coverage of the pandemic, highlighting the different types of Wikipedia articles about economic repercussions, national responses, and other societal impacts. My goals here are to demonstrate the wide range of topics related to COVID-19, which speak to the pandemic's unprecedented impact across a variety of disciplines, and to remind listeners there are many opportunities to improve Wikipedia.

Jason Moore (User:Another Believer) is based in Portland, Oregon, and has been a daily Wikipedia editor for more than a decade. He ranks as one of the 100 most active English Wikipedia editors of all time and contributes to a wide variety of topics, ranging from local history and public art to current events, music, and politics. He founded WikiProject COVID-19 and actively supports other campaigns and affiliates within the Wikimedia movement, including Art+Feminism, Cascadia Wikimedians, and Wikimedia LGBT+.

Providing critical expertise to Wikipedia from a government agency: Obstacles and opportunitiesEdit

Thais Morata

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is one of the first US federal agencies, and the first within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to develop a multi-component strategy to contribute data, content, images, and videos on the latest health research into Wikimedia platforms. NIOSH staff has access to training and also the expertise of a Wikipedian-in-Residence for support. We are encouraged to contribute content to Wikipedia, organize external training and events, and our publications are in the public domain. Emergency situations -- whether natural disasters or pandemic diseases -- require updated and consistent messaging across our agencies; this triggers the need to seek internal approval before adding content to Wikipedia. The more expeditious approach is to switch the focus of our efforts from direct editing to alerting Wikipedia editors of our emergency response-related information as it is made public. This is accomplished through the Talk and Discussion tabs where cross-project coordination takes place, as well as other auxiliary efforts.

Thais Morata (User:TMorata) is a public health researcher based in Cincinnati. She has been editing Wikipedia on a variety of subjects mostly related to occupational health and hearing loss prevention in the workplace. She contributes as co-instructor to several University classes, with the help of the Wiki Education Foundation platform to improve coverage of public health, occupational safety and health, acoustics and audiology articles. She actively organizes or supports various campaigns within the Wikimedia movement.

COVID-19 seen through WikidataEdit

Lane Rasberry

Wikipedia is a text encyclopedia and Wikidata is the structured data collection which complements it. We will explore COVID-19 from the perspective of Wikidata and consider the role of data in public understanding of health. This talk will showcase COVID-19 Wikidata information including epidemiology statistics, citations to academic literature, maps, clinical trials, and logs of those who have died as a consequence of COVID-19. Although this talk focuses on COVID-19, all of this will be presented as an example of Wikipedia's general model for disaster response and crisis preparedness.

Lane Rasberry (User:Bluerasberry) is Wikimedian-in-residence at the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia. His interests include popular science, consumer protection, civic engagement, access to health information, clinical research, the Open Movement, data science, LGBT history, and Wikimedia projects.