Today’s post comes from Ben Jordi, Technical Writer/Editor in the Office of the Federal Register.
The National Archives’ Office of Innovation and Office of the Federal Register teamed up with Wikimedia D.C. to host OFR’s first Wikipedia Editathon on Friday, May 23, 2014 in our Innovation Hub. As part of our mission to inform the American public, OFR worked with NARA’s Wikipedian in Residence, Dominic McDevitt-Parks, to begin collaborating with the Wikipedia community. Like NARA, our goal is to go where our customers are, rather than building our technology and social media footprint around our business structure and hoping our customers can find us through the noise.
At OFR we are responsible for several publications, including the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Government Manual, List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA), and the Public Papers of the Presidents, to name a few. Each of these publications is aimed at informing the public about the business of their government and how to best find the information they seek. In our work with Wikipedia, we hope to better connect the dots for our customers and how they find what they are looking for. Two years ago we made a big step in that direction with our launch of www.federalregister.gov. We sought to display the contents of the Federal Register in such a way that would make it more readable, pertinent, and understandable to our audience.
We hope our efforts with Wikipedia will teach us how the public expects to consume OFR content and hopefully, in the process, the public gets a better understanding of what we do. Some specific accomplishments from the event include a new article for the List of CFR Sections Affected, a new model for future articles about CFR parts (e.g. Title 49 CFR Part 600 – 699), and updating several more articles related to our work, including Title 35 of the CFR, Administrative Procedure Act, Executive order, and Electoral College. For this event, our goal was to make connections to the Wikipedia community and to build on those connections moving forward. Introductions by David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and Charley Barth, Director of the Federal Register, demonstrated NARA leadership’s commitment to improving the quality of information about the Federal Register on Wikipedia. Of the ten members of the public who attended, there were representatives from Wikimedia, Wikisource, Wikidata, as well as members of NARA’s research community. They were all very engaged and each brought a unique and fresh approach to presenting OFR content to our customers. Our efforts moving forward will be to include Wikipedians in our weekly Wikipedia staff meetings and hopefully to determine other ways to engage the public.