Wikimedia and universities: contributing to the global commons in the Age of Disinformation

Abstract:  In its first 30 years the world wide web has revolutionized the information environment. However, its impact has been negative as well as positive, through corporate misuse of personal data and due to its potential for enabling the spread of disinformation. As a large-scale collaborative platform funded through charitable donations, with a mission to provide universal free access to knowledge as a public good, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world. This paper explores the role of Wikipedia in the information ecosystem where it occupies a unique role as a bridge between informal discussion and scholarly publication. We explore how it relates to the broader Wikimedia ecosystem, through structured data on Wikidata for instance, and openly licensed media on Wikimedia Commons. We consider the potential benefits for universities in the areas of information literacy and research impact, and investigate the extent to which universities in the UK and their libraries are engaging strategically with Wikimedia, if at all.