Dr Sara Thomas, Scotland programme co-ordinator at Wikimedia UK

I saw a job ad for a Wikimedian in residence at Museums Galleries Scotland and was intrigued because it sounded interesting. I was appointed to that role in 2015 and then as Wikimedian in residence at the Scottish Libraries and Information Council from last summer until April this year.

People never believe it is a real job. As a Wikimedian in residence you spend a lot of time explaining that you're not a comedian in residence because it often gets misheard. The role is about facilitating people from all walks of life to write and edit content for Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia.

I'm now the Scotland programme co-ordinator at Wikimedia UK. The Wikimedia Foundation is the worldwide charity that looks after Wikipedia as well as Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, Wikisource and Wikibooks. All these projects are volunteer-run. There isn't a bunch of staff writers who are writing Wikipedia or taking photographs for Wikimedia Commons. Wiki projects are communities and it works by consensus.

Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. But that doesn't mean that there aren't rules, polices and guidelines. This idea that anyone can edit an encyclopaedia feels like it shouldn't work but it does. The key is in the references. We have guidelines around reliable sources such as using university-level academic textbooks or peer review journals, as well as quality newspapers.

There are those who try to deliberately vandalise Wikipedia pages by adding mistakes or trying to slip in a swear word. Most of that stuff gets picked up within 30 seconds. We have bots that catch it.

Wikipedia is a lot more accurate than people tend to think. There was a study by the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2010 that showed that for articles relating to cancer, Wikipedia has a similar accuracy to Physician Data Query which is a professionally maintained database.

One of our strategic goals is to address areas of under-represented content. Wiki has a longstanding gender problem. Only 17.69 per cent of biographies on English-language Wikipedia are about women. A large percentage of contributors are men and only around one per cent are trans.

There is a group called WikiProject Women in Red who solely write articles about women's biographies. These stories can be pulled to the fore and told in a way they haven't been before.

We did an edit-a-thon with a group of volunteers in Inverclyde and one of the Wikipedia articles created was about Marie Lamont who was burned at the stake in 1662. It is such a sad story, a 16-year-old girl put to death by one of the head honchos in Inverkip to make a name for himself. 

The University of Edinburgh did some editing around the "Edinburgh Seven" – the first seven women to matriculate at a British university and who began studying medicine in 1869 – alongside the Surgeons' Hall riot of 1870. I would love to see more articles on stories like that.

There was another brilliant story I came across about Lady Catherine Bruce of Clackmannan. She was a Jacobite and claimed to be descended from Robert the Bruce. Lady Catherine used the family sword to unofficially knight people at parties. One of those guests was poet Robert Burns.

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