On Saturday May 10, over 100 people across seven cities spent their day adding Asian American and Pacific Islander-related content to Wikipedia. As part of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s schedule of events for APA Heritage Month, #wikiAPA brought together students, scholars, activists and seasoned Wikipedians to enrich one of the most widely-used resources for general information with APA history and culture.
Idea to Reality
#wikiAPA began as an idea a couple months ago: it’s pretty difficult to find quality information on APA-related topics online, and adding to Wikipedia is a simple activity that shouldn’t be exclusive . A multi-city edit-a-thon for APA content had not been tried before, and May (APA Heritage Month) seemed like a great time to try it. Thanks to Adriel Luis, Curator of Digital and Emerging Media at the Smithsonian APA Center, #wikiAPA got a national platform and we began planning with multiple cities in mind.
Ready, Set, Edit
With help from the local Wikipedia communities and publicity support from NYU’s Asian/Pacific
/American Institute, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 18 Million Rising, Asian Cinevision, CUNY’s Asian/Asian American Research Institute, and the Asian American Arts Alliance, folks showed up across the country and remotely, ready to learn and edit Wikipedia. Besides the New York edit-a-thon, there were meetups in DC, LA, San Diego, Providence (Brown University), Austin, and East Lansing (Michigan State). An edit-a-thon is a natural fit for schools, libraries and community organizations, so we’re grateful to see these groups step up.
In New York, the edit-a-thon included guest speakers Nancy Bulalacao (Principal of the new Filipino American Museum , Jordan Alam (who read her fiction and poetry for us), and Patricia Lee (Eastern Director of FWD.US , who all touched upon the importance of documenting and sharing the diverse experiences of immigrants in this country. Our guest speakers added context and entertainment to the edit-a-thon — definitely something we’d like to keep in the future!
Results and Next Steps
#wikiAPA editors edited and created pages on topics ranging from Cambodian deportees to 1970s radical Marxist collective I Wor Kuen to the history of Asian American studies . In New York, when we got word of ABC greenlighting Fresh Off the Boat that afternoon, we quickly added that news to Wikipedia as well. One of the pages we edited was even featured on the front page of Wikipedia this week!
In the coming weeks, we will be working with the organizers and volunteers at all seven #wikiAPA meetups to track the pages that were edited/created, gather feedback, and come up with best practices for future #wikiAPA edit-a-thons. This is the first of many #wikiAPA events to come. If you’re interested in following the progress, please join the Smithsonian APA Center’s mailing list here.