As part of a process of internal evaluation at the end of 2016 we conducted a survey by mail to people and organizations with whom we have carried out a project in recent years. The responses from various sectors such as museums, universities, libraries and government agencies, confirm some of the core ideas of Amical model and they suggest what should be the priorities for the future.
Altogether thirty people answered the survey, including technical people and managers. This is a representative sample of the type of partnerships we are trying to build. This article summarizes some of the most significant answers.
Helping both ways
When asked how can Wikipedia help your institution, most answers point out that Wikipedia contributes to its openness and helps them in their mission to make knowledge generated by its experts available to public: “gives visibility”, “open minded ways of seeing the world”, “dissemination work”, “facilitates social return”. Some also add their views as users: “increasingly useful source”, “essential for the students.” Several people have emphasized the value for the Catalan language.
Our partners are aware of what they can do to help Wikipedia: “spread its content”, “contribute with reliable content”, “help improve its image among the public”, “make small contributions”.
Mental picture improvement
In our strategic plan we have a branch devoted to readers. The number of visitors remains very low, especially for social and technical reasons. For example, most of the browsers of Catalan readers are configured by default in Spanish language.
We want to increase visitors but mostly we want to improve the perception of the project. Quality can help increasing readers (later editors). Seeing how it works, people can better use our content and they can help us to expand it. Therefore, we asked whether the perception of Wikipedia had changed after doing a project with us and we also asked them advice in this regard.
About the mental picture, some claim that they had a prior good concept but the majority found that the perception has improved a lot since we started a joint collaboration. Aspects that stand out are the quality of articles (“rigor of content and flexibility to incorporate improvements”, “I thought it was just an amateur project”, “now for me it is more credible”, “it was a sort of intruder in my job and now it is an ally”), the knowledge of the community (“it is no longer something distant”, “people are eager to work”, “formerly it was a hidden motive to understand how it could have grown so much only with volunteers”) and internal operations (“I am more aware of its evolution”, “my respect has gone from big to huge”, “some clichés disappear knowing their philosophy and operating”).
They think that main obstacles for readers are obsolete or not visual design and lead section of articles which should be affordable for everyone and summarize the essential information. They believe that there is still much work to do to make the site gains in prestige and to achieve it they point to the need to include more references (accessible by readers) and further improve linguistic review.
They value the Visual Editor and edit-a-thons as essential elements to remove technical barriers and to increase users who need an introduction to understand and subsequent guidance. Close monitoring helps them “feel part of a whole” and “have more motivation to participate”. As unresolved issues in terms of editing they point to the interaction with others and, above all, uploading images still seen as too complex processes.
Aspects to keep, aspects to change
Last block is referred to the procedural evaluation: how do you assess the cooperation with us, which aspects we should keep or change.
We must say that we are delighted by the enthusiasm and positive responses because everyone, without exception, say they would recommend us to other institutions (and many actually do). In fact, rather than changes in the model, demands are increasing participation (“more edit-a-thons”, “more network dialogue”, “further joint collaborations”).
Among qualities they include “passion”, “availability and speed of response”, “a groundbreaking approach in today’s world” and “effort”. Undoubtedly, we will work to keep us live up to those expectations!
In short, we can learn from the survey which aspects are most valued by readers and related institutions to continue to improve our daily work with organizations because, as one respondent stated, “the dissemination of knowledge is essential to improve society”.
Original text in Catalan by User:Barcelona // Translated to English by User: Vriullop