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The Derby Museum and Art Gallery in England was the first to work with Wikimedia to install QRpedia codes, allowing visitors a quick way to access Wikipedia articles related to museum exhibits. The use of these codes is amazingly inexpensive, as they only need to be created, printed, laminated and stuck on the case.
Visitors can then scan them with their smartphones and automatically be taken to the Wikipedia page related to the exhibit they are looking at. Originally, this was done in English but quickly was upgraded to a multilingual function, allowing one code to be used to direct visitors to the article in the language set on their phones, known as QRpedia. If an article did not exist in that language, a list of available languages would be presented.
The continuing challenge is to have the articles in as many languages as possible, but as word about the use of QR codes spreads, more articles are written and translated, through the Wright Challenge, a multilingual challenge which aims to get articles related to Derby Museums in as many languages as possible.
The Wright Challenge
The Wright Challenge was created to mirror the Feature Article Challenge which was run at the British Museum. The museum intended to inspire five feature articles by offering five 100 pound book vouchers. In order to remove any semblance of bias they said that the entries did not have to be in English. Actually only one of the prizes was awarded to an article in English (The English FA process is very rigourous). At Derby we intended to exploit this and actually request that entrants to our competition must write articles in at least two languages. We didn't aspire to have a few FA quality articles but to have the first museum that was covered entirely on Wikipedia. The Wright challenge gave editors a point for a very short article of 100 words. If they included an image, a reference and made the word count up to 500 then they received 5 points. This system was devised by Andrew Dalby who actually never visited the museum as he was based in France. We had agreed that articles need only link to Derby Museum and that two editors could club into a pair to allow monoglots to enter too.
The competition was launched on the day of the backstage pass on April 9th and we had no entries. On May 1st we relaunched the idea by asking people to write a few articles and more importantly Andrew Dalby left a message on 141 wikis asking for people to enter. Over the next four months we received over ten new articles on average per day. We gathered 1,250 articles with over 100 articles in Russian, French, Czech, Belorussian, Catalan and several others. In October one month after the competition ended we were still getting a new article every few days.
- Did You Know: DYK entries were made onto the English Wikipedia even before the backstage pass, but once the Wright Challenge was underway we saw Derby Museum articles appearing on the front page of the Esperanto, French and Russian pages. Surprisingly we were getting tens of thousands of hits in different cultures.
- Translation standard: We had one or two complaints about articles that were machine translated, but in 99% of cases the translations were fine. We found that the non English Wikipedias looked out for anyone who just used Google Translate and then never corrected the article. Amazingly we had articles extended in different languages. One Derby bridge builder's article in Japanese showed pictures of Japanese bridges he had designed and built. Some article were written in Indonesian or French first before they were translated into English. One "French" article eventually got translated into Russian where 53,000 people read it.
What happened next?
The Derby Museum experience has been drawn on by others. The first similar multi-lingual installation was in Barcelona where we documented the works of Joan Miro. Another early multilingual work was by Anastasia Lvova where she used QRpedia to curate a Wiki Loves Monuments photo exhibition in Russia. The Wright Challenge led to the Teylers Challenge in the Netherlands and the Charles Rolls Challenge in Wales.
QRpedia went on on to get its own Wikipedia article that is available in 40 languages.