New Zealand Cartoonist and Comics Artist Wikipedia edit-a-thon

On Saturday 26 January, the Lilburn Room on the first floor of the Library was buzzing with activity. People were hard at work on their laptops, cartoonists were having their portraits taken, and the tables were strewn with books and comics. The Library was hosting its first Wikipedia edit-a-thon; this one was devoted to New Zealand comics and cartoons.

Comics and cartoons on a table.
A collection of New Zealand comics. Mike Dickison CC BY-SA 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons.

What's an edit-a-thon?

What's an edit-a-thon? All Wikipedia content is created by volunteer editors, and an edit-a-thon is a community get-together where these editors all work on a single topic.

Newcomers are welcome, and experienced Wikipedians can help them get started. At the end of the day we tally up the edits made, articles created and improved, and photos added, and there are usually some brand-new editors keen to help improve Wikipedia.

New Zealand Cartoonist and Comics Artist Wikipedia edit-a-thon

On Saturday we were lucky to have Hannah Benbow the Research Librarian, Cartoons at the Alexander Turnbull with us. Hannah started planning this event with me over a year ago. Hannah had a cart full of books and magazines, all useful references for New Zealand comics where most of the sources are not available online.

Library photographer Mark Beatty had set up a photo booth, so as cartoonists arrived they could have a mugshot taken to illustrate their Wikipedia and Wikidata entries.

We were concentrating on New Zealand cartoonists, particularly women because Wikipedia editors tend to be male and from the USA, and their biases get reflected in the encyclopaedia.

Wikipedia:Meetup/Wellington/NZ Comics and Cartoons - Wikipedia

What we did

In the end, a dozen people took part, including some first-time editors. One of the newcomers created an article about Toby Morris; another drafted one on Sam Orchard.

Three cartoonists had their pictures taken, Sarah Laing donated a self-portrait, and Dylan Horrocks received a new photo on his article in French Wikipedia. Six new articles went live, 22 were improved, and we created or added to a dozen items in Wikidata.

In the days following, the editors kept working, and we have new articles for the cartoonists Guy Body, Giselle Clarkson, and Trace Hodgson.

There's still plenty to do.

L to R: Sarah Laing CC BY-SA 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons, Dylan Horrocks by Mike Dickison CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons.

But wait there's more...

Hannah and I are already planning a sequel.

During the event, we relied heavily on Three Words (Beatnik, 2016), an anthology of NZ women's comics. We think that book would be an excellent starting point for another edit-a-thon, where we'd make sure every woman featured in the book had an entry in Wikidata, and as many as possible got Wikipedia pages.

The National Library is the ideal place to host events like this, with its database and physical collections, and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Nz Comics And Cartoons Banner
Source: Dylan Horrocks derivative work. Mike Dickison CC0, from Wikimedia Commons.

By Mike Dickison

Dr Mike Dickison is the NZ Wikipedian at Large, on a one-year contract with the Wikimedia Foundation to work with New Zealand institutions and communities and help them better engage with Wikipedia. He is being hosted by the National Library until the end of February.

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