Mike Dickison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mike Dickison
Portrait photograph of a bearded man wearing a brown corduroy sport jacket, blue shirt, and brown tie with red, yellow, and blue stripes. The photo is framed from the upper chest to just before the edge of either shoulder with blurred files in the background, creating a pleasing boke effect.
Dickison in the Auckland Museum in 2018
Born1968/1969 (age 53–54)[1]
Christchurch, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Occupation(s)Museum curator, zoologist, Wikipedian at Large
Alma materDuke University
Scientific career
ThesisThe allometry of giant flightless birds (2007)
Doctoral advisorLouise Roth

Michael R. Dickison[2] (born 1968/1969) is a New Zealand museum curator, zoologist and Wikipedia editor. He was New Zealand's first Wikipedian at Large, in 2018–19, receiving a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Early life[edit]

Dickison grew up in Christchurch. His father was an apprentice boilermaker, and his mother was a homemaker.[1] His father encouraged his interest in curating and collecting.[1]

Dickison gained a PhD in zoology from Duke University in 2007. His dissertation subject was the allometry of giant flightless birds.[2][3][4]


Dickison was curator of natural history at the Whanganui Regional Museum from 2013 to 2018.[5][6] In 2015, he led an effort to mount the museum's collection of more than 2000 bones and 10 articulated moa skeletons.[7]

He became interested in Wikipedia in 2009.[5] In 2012, he created a community group "Whanganui Wiki Wednesday" which met once a month to edit local pages on Wikipedia. He then began to run Wikipedia workshops around New Zealand.[3]

He has advocated for museums to engage with Wikipedia to get their collections accessible to the public.[8] He argues that Wikipedia can also be a powerful tool for governments to share information and doing public outreach, citing the example of kauri dieback.[8]

In 2019, Dickison was a judge for the Voyager Media Awards.[9]

Wikipedian at Large 2018[edit]

Dickison (front, left) leading a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at Auckland Museum, July 2018.

In 2018, Dickison received a $61,000 grant from the Wikimedia Foundation to become New Zealand's first Wikipedian-at-Large.[3] The grant paid his salary, travel costs, and conference registration fees.[6] The aim of the project was to address the gaps in New Zealand-related content on Wikipedia, such as the lack of articles on Māori and women.[5] He also hoped to attract more women editors to Wikipedia to address the gender bias of article topics.[4] During 2018, he travelled around New Zealand in his 4WD, which acted as a mobile office and entomology field station.[3]

In July 2018, his first stop was Auckland Museum.[5] He went on to extended working stops, presentations and events at multiple institutions, in 16 different towns and cities across New Zealand, working with staff and the public. He recorded Māori language pronunciations to add to Wikipedia articles,[4] and called for locals to share their stories.[10]

Critter of the Week[edit]

Dickison presented about the Critter of the Week radio programme in Bali, Indonesia at ESEAP 2018.[11] An updated presentation was given at the Wikimedia Australia Melbourne meetup in November 2018. Critter of the Week was discussed as an example of a museum outreach at the 2018 SPNHC conference in Dunedin.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Graham-McLay, Charlotte (16 November 2018). "From Encyclopedic Collector to 'Wikipedian-at-Large'". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Dickison, Michael R. (2007). "The Allometry of Giant Flightless Birds". Duke Dissertations. Duke University. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Easther, Elizabeth (18 September 2018). "Mr Wiki: Mike Dickison is NZ's first Wikipedian at large". North & South. Noted. Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Macdonald, Nikki (20 October 2018). "National Portrait: Mike Dickison, conservationist and Wikipedian". Stuff. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Wikipedian in Residence: Mike Dickison". Auckland Museum. 25 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b Wilson, Zaryd (22 May 2018). "Mike Dickison gets grant to become travelling Wikipedian". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  7. ^ Frances, Helen (January 2015). "The Bone People". North & South. No. January 2015. Australian Consolidated Press. p. 28.
  8. ^ a b Hancock, Farah (16 February 2018). "New Zealand's own Wikipedian-at-large". Newsroom. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Judges 2019". Voyager Media Awards. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Wikipedia wants to hear your Northland stories". The New Zealand Herald. 2 October 2018. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Wikipedia in Science". ESEAP Conference 2018. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  12. ^ Dickison, Mike (15 June 2018). ""Critter of the Week": Wikipedia as a Museum Outreach Tool". Biodiversity Information Science and Standards. 2: e25798. doi:10.3897/biss.2.25798.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]