Submissions:2021/Cvillepedia: a case study in making a local wiki a more equitable, inclusive, and accessible archive of information

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Revision as of 23:21, 3 October 2021 by Econterms (talk | contribs) (Accepted)
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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2021.


Cvillepedia: a case study in making a local wiki a more equitable, inclusive, and accessible archive of information


Global & Local, Inclusion & Diversity

Type of session:



Since the deadly and traumatizing Unite the Right Rally in 2017, “Charlottesville” has become an oft-used catchword in partisan debates about racism and political violence. As a result, many people, who never had before, began seeking information about Charlottesville and its connections to larger issues. There is a vital need for broad access to diverse and inclusive stories about our complex past. Every person in the community has a story to add to their local history and the world has an interest in learning them. As a wiki, Cvillepedia offers a powerful opportunity to equitably engage the local community in telling their own story. The wiki is open to all, which means that the only information that is on there is what is deemed relevant. The editing community is small, which lowers the likelihood that articles would be thoroughly fact-checked. By growing the editing community and improving accessibility on the site, it has the potential to become a powerful, accurate, and wide-ranging source of local history.

Amid the pandemic, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (ACHS) began exploring ways to expand and improve the information on the site, to engage local organizations and volunteers to address high-need areas, and to strategize a way forward for making Cvillepedia the go-to resource for inclusive and reliable information about the greater Charlottesville area. To see what needed expansion and improvement, they called in three students from the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy to perform an audit of the site and return feedback about what we could achieve and work through.

I was brought onto the Cvillepedia and ACHS teams for the summer of 2021 to act on that feedback and make the site a more useful and equitable space for public history. Over the course of ten weeks, I wrote over fifty articles for Cvillepedia expanding the local historical narrative. I specifically focused on Black and women’s history after the Civil War. With the resources of the Historical Society, I was able to incorporate more primary sources and oral history than the average editor might have ready access to. As someone hired to be an editor, I had the unique learning experience to understand what is needed to support and sustain our little big wiki in Charlottesville.

This presentation will cover the origins of Cvillepedia, the involvement of the ACHS and the Batten School audit in expanding the user community and content of the site, the current state of the project, and our goals for the future.

My own cvillepedia user page: The Batten/FCG Consulting Audit: A panel discussion about portions of this topic:

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Ineke La Fleur, Tom Chapman, Sterling Howell

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:


Affiliated organization(s):

Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, Cvillepedia

Estimated time:

10-12 minutes

Special requests:

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:

Yes-- I was on a panel hosted by the Historical Society on July 29 (on Zoom) to discuss my work on cvillepedia this summer. I did not cover everything I would cover in this presentation, and I did not use slides..

If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)

Yes! I would be open to a lightning talk.