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This project page is meant as a guide for new contributors to Wikipedia who volunteer or work for museums. It groups some of the likely issues that these contributors might face, and guidelines for recruiting such contributors. It is meant to be similar to Wikipedia:Student assignments.
There are thousands of museums across the world, many of them small museums run not-for-profit, with valuable information to share with the world. Wikipedia and these museums can benefit mutually from a relationship with one another: for the museums, Wikipedia offers an easy format, ready technical expertise, and an army of volunteer collaborators to help these museums get on the Internet to share their information with the world. By writing about or photographing their collections, the museums may further the mission of spreading knowledge about the subject area covered by their museum, and even pique interest and drive traffic to their own web site or even to their physical museum. In turn, Wikipedia can get good articles in areas where there may not be any previous online information, definitely a weak spot for Wikipedia. In addition to the digital resources, we can gain volunteers who we know are committed to the preservation and sharing of knowledge.
Please, if you are going to participate in this project, create an account. For now, as we are starting this effort, we'll do that right here. Once we have a dozen or so entries, we'll spin that off to a separate page.
People from museums
Please give your Wikipedia account name and the date (you can enter both of these just by typing ~~~~), say what museum you are connected with, where it's located, and (if it isn't obvious from the name of the museum) what subject matter that museum deals with.
This is a signup place for experienced Wikipedians who are willing to help facilitate this type of work.
Wikipedia is not a place for original research such as "new" theories. Wikipedia is not a primary source. Please do cite your sources, and please, when possible, cite the most widely available sources. Still, if you are writing about the history of a small town and the only available source for some fact is a local newspaper from 1937, that is a valid source. Cite it carefully. It will help a lot if you've introduced yourself, so we know that you are a person writing about a particular place and not a vandal making it up, and if you have an account so that people can leave you a note to discuss any doubts they may have.
Museums together often have way more primary source information than Wikipedia can handle; many things which are notable for a small town might merit considerably less coverage in Wikipedia than the museum can actually contribute. We don't want to lead museum volunteers into contributing information, then reject it as less-than-notable.
What topics are notable enough for a Wikipedia article? There are few hard-and-fast guidelines, but a good guideline is "would someone who has no direct connection to this be likely to say this was worth an article in an encyclopedia?"
- Cities, counties, towns, villages, etc. are "inherently notable". If we don't have an article on your town, that's an oversight to be remedied. Start one. If we do, but it's nothing but census data, please feel free to expand that article with historical information. In larger cities, individual neighborhoods or even some streets are likely to be "notable enough": see, for example Brick Lane (in London) or Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington.
- Genuinely historic buildings are notable. Local designation as a "landmark" may not be enough (in some places that means little more than "nice old house"). Examples of buildings that are "notable enough" are Manuc's Inn in Bucharest, The Dakota apartment building in New York City, or Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania.
- Broad subject matter areas are almost always notable. Logging, agriculture, coffeehouses, zines: each of these is an appropriate topic for an article. However, that does not mean that every logging company, every pioneer farmer, every coffeehouse, or every zine merits an article. Most don't. Use your judgment. If it really is notable enough for an article, your lead paragraph should give a clear indication why this particular lumbermill / farm / coffeehouse / zine is important. The oldest operating mill in Alaska? Notable. A zine that came out regularly for 12 years and whose editor is now a well-known poet? Notable, though it may just belong in the article on the poet. But if the mill's only claim to fame is that it is the main business in a small town, then it probably just merits a mention in the article about that town, and if the zine's main importance is that it is read by the people at one coffeehouse, then it probably doesn't merit mention at all.
- Your museum itself may or may not be notable. If it's a small historical museum in a small town, it probably does not deserve an article of its own, but it almost certainly merits a mention in the article about the town. If you have a web site, this might just be a mention in the "external links" section, but probably a paragraph about almost any museum would be welcome. Be especially careful here, though, and keep in mind that Wikipedia is not a soapbox. As Sergeant Friday would say, "Just the facts, ma'am."
Collaborations with local wikis?
Local wikis, like the Seattle Wiki might desire some of that content. If we can cooperate with operators of local wikis, the museum, the local wiki, and Wikipedia can all benefit by choosing which content fits us best.
Neutral point of view
If you work at a museum, you are probably a partisan of the subject matter that museum covers. Keep in mind that when writing in Wikipedia, you are writing an encyclopedia article from a neutral point of view (or, as we say around here NPOV). Please no gushy adjectives; please no boosterism!
Try to cite appropriate authorities for any claims that are matters of opinion. For example, a Wikipedia article generally should try to avoid an unqualified assertion in the narrative voice of the article on Hadrian's Wall that the wall "...is the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain". It's only a little better to say, "VisitCumbria.com claims that Hadrian's Wall is the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain ". There is a source, but it is not authoritative, and has its own obvious stake in the matter.
On the other hand, "English Heritage describes Hadrian's Wall, a World Heritage Site, as "the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain " is entirely appropriate. It indicates two undoubted authorities, neither of whom has any stake in one particular Roman monument in Britain being the most important.