Tag Archives: Twitter:user=pezholio

Dan Slee, me, HyperLocal Govcamp West Midlands, BrewCamp, and cake

Dan Slee is not only as good an example you’ll find of a local government officer embracing and exploiting social media, but also a fine friend. It’s always a pleasure to work (or socialise) with him, like when we jointly led a GovCamp session on using Flickr and Wikipedia in the public sector:

(photo shows, left-to-right, Neil Franklin, Dan, Ben Proctor (standing), Ken Eastwood, me, a bit of Peter Olding)

He has just blogged about the work he and I have done together, on HyperLocal Govcamp West Midlands and BrewCamp, along with Stuart Harrison, Mike Rawlins and Simon Whitehouse.

And lots of cake.

My Open Data Challenge to UK Local Government: a Wikipedia Page for Every Council

At yesterday’s excellent West Midlands “Open Data: Challenges & Opportunities” event, hosted by the West Midlands Regional Observatory, Chris Taggart (), who runs the very useful Openly Local website, aggregating data about councils and their elected members, mentioned the problems he has extracting linked data about councils from Wikipedia, via DBPedia, because Wikipedia tends to conflate places with their local authorities.

See, for example, the Wikipedia article on the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley; or those on , which (at the time of writing) has only a small section on its town council and Lichfield district (so a challenge there for Stuart Harrison, , and his colleagues!); and compare them with the separate articles about and ; or , the , and . The former, all-on-one-page, pattern is far more common. (Disclosure: I created some, and have edited all, of those articles.)

I suggested at the event that this problem could be solved if staff from each UK council simply started a Wikipedia article about their council, where none already exists.

As each UK council is, inherently, (to use the Wikipedia jargon) notable, there should be no issue with this, provided that they are mindful of Wikipedia’s policy on conflicts of interest (which explicitly allows for such editing), and the requirement that articles maintain a neutral point-of-view, and be referenced. Short “stub” articles can be created in the first instance.

(If council staff are hesitant to do so themselves, then I can help to pair them up with volunteer Wikipedia editors who will assist them, or create articles directly.)

Update: Added Dudley & Lichfield district examples.