The Hamdan Lab celebrates World Oceans Day with the Waitt Institute, Smithsonian, and Wikipedia

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Hard at work on updating Wikipedia ocean pages (photo courtesy of Waitt Institute)

On June 8th, Hamdan Lab postdoc Jen Salerno, joined up with other ocean experts to participate in an Edit-A-Thon to update ocean-related Wikipedia pages in honor of World Oceans Day. The event was sponsored by the Waitt Institute, Smithsonian Ocean Portal, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia is often a starting point for students and professionals alike when beginning to research a subject. Participants in the Edit-A-Thon sought to fill in information gaps and missing links related to important ocean topics such as ocean zoning, environmental DNA, bacterioplankton, ocean acidification, coral reefs, aquaculture, and overfishing. They created new Wikipedia pages for these topics or updated existing ones with the latest peer-reviewed science, ensuring that those seeking information about the ocean can be directed to the primary literature and a diversity of other reliable sources.

Experts from Wikimedia DC were there to explain the ins and outs of Wikipedia including how to properly edit a page to make sure the edits were verifiable and free from conflicts of interest. Soon after, participants felt comfortable enough with the process to begin editing pages of interest on their own. Dr. Salerno added a policy-related entry to the aquaculture page and upon seeing the paltry amount of information on the bacterioplankton page, decided to take a crack at that too. After all, we’re a microbiology lab and we all have bacterioplankton to thank for the oxygen that we breathe! The page is a work in progress that she hopes to continue with as well as inspire others in her field to contribute to. In fact, there might just be a mini Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the next lab meeting…

A special thanks to the Waitt Institute, Smithsonian Ocean Portal, and the Wikimedia Foundation for hosting the event. If you would like to learn more about the Edit-A-Thon, please read Waitt Institute Executive Director, Dr. Ayana Johnson’s excellent article on the National Geographic blog. Editing Wikipedia is easy and fun! Try it!