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Open Government WikiHack

Wikimedia District of Columbia

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM - Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM (EDT)

Open Government WikiHack

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Participant Ended Free  
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We appreciate any contribution. Those who contribute at least $25 will be credited as sponsors on this page and during the event. Donations will go toward Wikimedia DC's general operating costs.
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Event Details

Wikimedia DC and the Sunlight Foundation are proud to present the:

Open Government WikiHack

Saturday, April 5, 2014: 10 AM to 5 PM
Sunday, April 6, 2014: 10 AM to 5 PM

(Thank you to our sponsors Jake Orlowitz, Vijay Goswami, Chris Maloney, and Joshua Westgard!)

What's going on?

The Open Government WikiHack is a one-of-a-kind hackathon. The Sunlight Foundation and Wikimedia DC, an official affiliate of Wikipedia, are teaming up to come up with solutions that help integrate government data into Wikipedia. After all, if we have government data available at our disposal, why not use it to help improve the world's largest encyclopedia?

One of the resources at our disposal will be the various APIs made available by the Sunlight Foundation, but you are welcome to use any reliable data source at your disposal (so long as the data is not subject to copyright restrictions).

Free lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be provided courtesy of Wikimedia DC.

How will this work?

After introductions and a brief presentation on the Sunlight datasets, everyone will present their various ideas on how datasets can be used to improve Wikipedia or any of the Wikimedia projects (including Wikidata—an especially interesting opportunity). Attendees will be divided into teams, mixing together coders, experienced Wikipedians, and other enthusiastic volunteers, and then the weekend of hacking begins!

On Saturday evening we will be hosting a mixer at a local bar; we'll keep you updated on this. We encourage you to attend on both days so that you get the most out of your project.

I'm not good at coding / I've never edited Wikipedia before. Can I still participate?

Yes! Everyone is welcome to participate, even if you are not an experienced programmer or Wikipedia editor. In fact, we are happy to help get your Wikipedia account set up—just ask!

What are the ground rules?

Wikipedia is a project with a worldwide base of volunteers and a set of editorial policies, and we must work within these policies or risk having our work go to waste. Knowledgeable Wikipedians will be in attendance, however, so there is nothing to worry about.

First of all, the data used must have limited copyright restrictions. If the data comes from the federal government it will be in the public domain and thus not subject to any restrictions. Anything that restricts the data's re-usability, including for commercial purposes, cannot be used. If you are not sure, feel free to ask an organizer. The Sunlight Foundation has confirmed that most of its data sets can be used for any purpose.

Once you have your data, you need to be able to incorporate it in a way that is appropriate for a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia articles must be written from a "neutral point of view" and cite all their sources. Of particular relevance, Wikipedia articles are supposed to be predominantly written prose, meaning that articles that are just data dumps and nothing more will not be accepted. Additionally, you cannot use the data to draw novel conclusions not already published somewhere else; this is called "original research" and is not allowed.

Article subjects must also be notable; typically, this involves being the subject of mutiple third-party sources. State legislators and city councilmembers of large cities are considered to be threshold of notability for politicians. If you are unsure if a subject is notable, feel free to ask an organizer.

Wikidata, as a structured data repository, is not as strict with editorial requirements but generally requires that you cite your sources. Additionally, items on Wikidata must have corresponding articles on Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, or Wikimedia Commons.

What are examples of projects?

Potential uses of data sources include using them as sources within articles, including using the data to create "pre-fab" articles. Additionally, you could create a bot to update infoboxes seen on the side of articles. (Note that bots are subject to approval before they can be used to update live articles—someone on site will be able to help with that.)

Wikidata, which is a relatively new project, could also benefit from your help. Wikidata is organized by items (see this example) which are then attributed with certain properties. Open-government data could be inserted directly into Wikidata, using a bot (again, subject to approval) to automatically update the data at certain intervals.

Of course, if you have your own ideas, you are more than welcome to bring them up! We look forward to seeing creative proposals.

I still have questions.

Feel free to send an email to james.hare@wikimediadc.org.

Have questions about Open Government WikiHack? Contact Wikimedia District of Columbia
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When & Where


Sunlight Foundation
1818 N St NW
Washington, DC 20036

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM - Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM (EDT)


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