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On January the 10th the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision organised the very first Europeana Sounds edit-a-thon. This event was organised in collaboration with Wikimedia Nederland and Xeno-canto, the online community for on collecting all existing bird sounds. The edit-a-thon aimed to allow participants to share ornithological knowledge and to upload bird sounds to relevant articles on Wikipedia.

Seven voluntary participants joined the five organisers to edit and expand bird related Wikipedia articles in both Dutch and English. The voluntary participants included a psychologist, a local politician, and a former archivist, all united by their same enthusiasm for birds. One participant is the author of several books about the sound of birds – some of which are accompanied by a CD, to help readers recognise the different bird song recordings.

A list of relevant and re-useable sources was provided during the edit-a-thon. The participants were invited to engage with the Sound and Vision’s wonderful audio and video collection, a huge sound collection provided by Xeno-canto, and vivid images from the National Library of the Netherlands. Thanks to these combined resources, the participants had access to more than 750 sounds, over 500 videos and 42 images in order to enrich relevant Wikipedia articles. This was in addition to using their knowledge to update and expand the written aspects of the articles. Throughout the day, participants were provided with a number of workshops in order to inspire them and to provide the proper tools for working on Wikipedia.

The day started with a short presentation by Maarten Brinkerink on Europeana Sounds, and Sound and Vision’s role in the project. Maarten illustrated why events like this are held and emphasised the value of sharing knowledge and cultural heritage on platforms such as Wikipedia. This was followed by a presentation from Sander Pieterse, one of the board members of Xeno-canto and who also works for the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. He told the participants more about online resources for biology and natural history, and how to use them as sources on Wikipedia. Sander presented a variety of online platforms that can be used as resources for refining articles Wikipedia, and enriching written information about birds and bird sounds with correct species names and classifications.

To kick-start the actual editing process, Sebastiaan ter Burg, gave a small workshop about writing on Wikipedia. Sebastiaan also provided instructions on how to reuse audio recordings within an article on Wikipedia (for illustrative purposes). Reusing audio recordings in this way (as part of a Wikipedia article about a specific bird species for instance), these recordings themselves are contextualised in a meaningful (and hence valuable) way, thus achieving one of the fundamental aims of the Europeana Sounds edit-a-thons.

CC-BY 2.0 Sebastiaan ter Burg

CC-BY-SA 2.0 Maarten Brinkerink

The day was not only fun and informative, but also very productive. The 12 participants made 133 edits to Wikipedia articles, uploaded 53 bird sounds were added to relevant articles and shared 20 additional sounds on Wikimedia Commons. Furthermore, there was an interesting discussion on using your own published material as a resource for updating Wikipedia.

Bird fanatics, and other people interested in birds, who use Wikipedia as a source for information can now listen to the sounds of the Common redpoll, Short-eared owl, Common crane, Eurasian skylark, Chilean flamingo and many other birds that are described in Dutch Wikipedia articles. Extra information and resources where added to several articles, like the Dutch article on the Brambling.


Excerpt from a Dutch Wikipedia article enriched with audio and video

The participants were enthusiastic about the edit-a-thon and appreciated the fact that they learned how to use Wikipedia so they can continue writing about birds and other subjects. After the edit-a-thon, four of the seven participants remained active on Wikipedia.

During Europeana Sounds’ plenary meeting in Paris on Wednesday the 11th of February (2pm) a workshop on organising a GLAM-wiki event will be given by Maarten Brinkerink (Sound and Vision and WP2 lead), with contributions from Petra Leinmark (Nordiska Museet) and Sebastiaan ter Burg (Wikimedia Nederland). All Europeana Sounds partners are welcome to join!


Presentation Maarten Brinkerink on Slideshare (in Dutch)
Presentation Sander Pieters on Slideshare (in Dutch)
Photos taken by Sebastiaan ter Burg
Photos taken by Maarten Brinkerink
Wikipedia project page for the edit-a-thon (in Dutch)
Category:Sounds of birds from the Netherlands
Category:Videos of birds of the Netherlands
Category:Bird images from the National Library of the Netherlands

by Harry van Biessum and Brigitte Jansen