User:Phoebe - Wikipedia
Joined 13 August 2003
User page Talk
me in the WMF offices, June 2010. Credit Sage Ross.
Hello! And welcome. My name is Phoebe Ayers. I am an academic engineering librarian, currently based in Cambridge, Massachusetts where I work for MIT Libraries. I've been writing about, editing and using Wikipedia on and off since August 2003. There is always something else I want to do.
I work on Wikipedia, but I also talk and write about it a lot in various contexts, and as a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation was involved in our project-wide governance. I have also been involved in a variety of other projects, including lots of in-person outreach and event work, detailed below.
For why I work on Wikipedia -- why I started and why I continue -- see my essay Why work on Wikipedia?
You start talking about the long term — about being one of the first large information sources on the web that is truly free. You start talking about what will happen if this works; that because it's free, it's going to be the default resource for a whole lot of people, and you start to get a little bit awed by the responsibility to build it properly, and keep it open, and keep it sane, and most of all, to get the facts right, because this work is going to be a base on which many unforeseeable future projects will be built. -- user:CatherineMunro

Other userpages: on meta ~~ on other projects

Things I do around here
Board of Trustees
me at Wikimania 2012, on how to make Wikipedia better (also, by the looks of it, on how to survive sleep deprivation)
In July 2010 I was selected for a two-year term on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees through the chapters seat selection process. During 2011-2012 I served as the Executive Secretary. In July 2012 my term ended, as I was not re-elected by the chapters. With the resignation of Arne Klempert (who held the other chapter-appointed seat), we were replaced by Alice Weigand and Patricio Lorente.
I ran for the board again in Spring 2013 and was reelected by the community for a two-year term, serving until 2015.
The 10-member volunteer Board of Trustees governs the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the infrastructure for Wikipedia and her sister projects, as well as development and maintenance of the MediaWiki software. The work of the Foundation includes legal, press, financial, technical and administrative support, as well as community-focused activities; the Board is responsible for fiduciary and legal oversight as well as charting the strategic direction of the WMF, including thinking about the future of the Wikimedia projects and movement as a whole. That means that the Board approves the annual plan (budget) for the WMF, but also think about longer-term strategy and "big picture" issues. You can find more about the Board here.
Note: unless explicitly stated otherwise, please assume that any edits or statements I make here (or on any other projects) I am making as a community member and not in any official capacity whatsoever.
Book: How Wikipedia Works
With Charles Matthews and Ben Yates, I am the author of How Wikipedia Works, a book about using and editing Wikipedia. It was published in September 2008 by No Starch Press. Find more information here, or find the full text of the book at Wikibooks: How Wikipedia Works. The book is licensed under the GFDL, relicensed under CC-BY-SA, and covers all aspects of Wikipedia from a community perspective. The book's official website is​.
If you are interested in leaving comments or questions, please add them to the Wikibooks site or feel free to email me. The old page about the book, with suggestions, can be found here; user:phoebe/book; Feel free to email me if you would like to be notified of announcements and news about the book. Cheers!
Article (and other) editor

This user has been editing Wikipedia for more than fifteen years (17 years, 10 months, and 9 days)

Editor on en:wp since August 2003 | 10K+ edits as of 2011 sometime | 15K edits as of Jan 2015 (I am slow but thorough)
I also contribute to: Spanish Wikipedia | meta | Commons | Wikidata (6K edits by hand!) | Wikibooks | Wikivoyage | Outreachwiki | WMFwiki | and have dabbled in other multilingual work, such as helping out on Yoruba Wikipedia
Conferences and meetups
10 years, baby!
I am a big believer in the benefit of getting together face-to-face to build community, socialize, and get work done. I feel extremely privileged that I have gotten to meet Wikimedians and go to Wikimedia events on five continents, over many years. I have organized or helped with the organization of dozens of events, large and small, in the Wikimedia world. Here's an incomplete list:

The Real-Life Barnstar
For your dedication to Wikipedia meetups, and that Kat had given you the RL version -- User:WikiLeon
UC Davis WikiProject
In 2013-2014, I worked on the UC Davis WikiProject, a GLAM project based in the UC Davis libraries to train students, faculty and librarians in how to edit, produce evaluation and analysis materials, share UC libraries materials on Wikipedia, build community and work with other UC libraries. A page about the project is here. This was (I think) the first long-term Wikipedia project based specifically out of a university library (as opposed to a national library, a museum, or another type of department).
The project, and my work, was focused on running training workshops (edit-a-thons and teaching workshops) for the UC Davis and surrounding community throughout the academic year; assessing the level of interest in Wikipedia on campus; and building some tools for evaluating articles and assessing contributions that will be of interest to academics contributing to Wikipedia.
Note: this disclaimer isn't really needed anymore since I no longer work for UCD or am working on the project, but I'll keep it for historical interest. Disclaimer: While my focus is on training others to edit and making sure faculty teaching with Wikipedia and librarians interested in adding materials have the information they need, rather than editing specific articles myself, you may see me categorizing or tagging UC-related articles and articles relating to subjects studied at UCD (especially our specialties in science and agriculture). Additionally, while this project is part of my job, it is unrelated to my work as a Wikimedia trustee and also unrelated to the editing I continue to do as a volunteer. I do not believe this project poses a conflict of interest (but rather is an opportunity to spend *even more* of my time on Wikipedia work), and have checked with the WMF legal team about any conflicts with my other Wikimedia duties. If you have concerns about any of my work, (as always) please feel free to revert any of my changes and leave a note with any concerns on my talk page.
Boston and MIT meetups
Beginning in 2015, I've been helping my amazing colleagues at the MIT Libraries run edit-a-thons on site. Here's a few; a complete list is at the Boston meetup page. All our events are open to the whole community.
And I've been doing occasional stuff with the New England Meetup group, like organizing our 2016 Wiknic! I'm the 2019-20 chair of the group.
Other projects
research into Wikipedia
I'm interested in and participate in the Wikipedia and wiki research community. I presented a short paper at m:Wikimania 2005; completed a literature review of ongoing research that was presented at ASIS&T'06; and helped with a successful research BoF at Wikimania '06. As per above, I was also involved with WikiSym (an academic conference about wikis), chairing it in 2010. Check out the new Research index on meta!
scratchpad: User:Phoebe/Research
Signpost community newsletter
For several years, I have contributed occasional stories for the Signpost; in 2009, I was the lead reporter for the "news and notes" section, writing almost every week, stopping when I joined the Board of Trustees out of fears of conflicts of interest.
Besides the News and Notes column, other stories include: license update | books extension | Wikimania 2008 wrapup | report on Maker Faire and Recent Changes Camp in SF | Wikimania 2007 plans | and a whole series of articles in Summer 2006, with sj, about Wikimania 2006.
I give general presentations about wikis and Wikipedia to various groups, particularly librarians. In recent years I have presented at:
A handout I developed for librarians may be found here. I am happy to share slides, notes, and thoughts on what works & what doesn't. More notes are here. Someday I will get around to making a full listing of my talks, with slides! But that day is not today. You can, however, find my recent stock Wikipedia presentations on Slideshare.
I sometimes give interviews, as a Wikipedian or on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation. I have been interviewed for both radio and print stories, and on a few occasions for TV. I am a member of the Communications Committee (comcom) list and help out where I can.
Things I do in other places
In the rest of my life, I am a librarian at the amazing MIT, specializing in electrical engineering and computer science. I have academic training in literature and history, as well as library science, and have worked as an engineering librarian at UC Davis and the University of Washington as well as MIT. Professionally, I am interested in open access and scholarly communications issues, scientific information and data management, collection management, how people find and learn to find information, the effective use of collaborative tools (such as wikis) within communities, and how trustworthy information and knowledge is created both on- and off-line. I have a personal website here.
Things I care about
This user knows that
Black Lives Matter

Friends and usernames
This user can contribute with a professional level of English.
Este usuario puede contribuir con un nivel básico de español.
Search user languages

This user has 2 centijimbos.

I have been fortunate to meet many Wikipedians in person.
on usernames
I use the name [[user:phoebe]] on all the Wikimedia wikis; I do not have a second or official account. I will always note when I am explicitly making an "official" edit (such as when uploading board minutes); everything else I say and do on my own behalf, and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the WMF, MIT, or any other organization.
There are a few User:Phoebe accounts on a few smaller wikis that date to pre-SUL that aren't me. I think none of those folks are active, though.
I used to edit content under the name brassratgirl. I generally teach and present using my given name. That username is longstanding and has nothing whatsoever to do with MIT, or this. It is also not symbolic of anything in particular. If you're curious, ask and I'll send you the explanation. (I am also not user:BrassRat, or related to any other variation). wikihiero

personal principles
From the past: or the use common sense department, or why it's good to remember not to make a big deal out of things.
On RFAs and project history
A question from the very first batch of archived RFAs, in 2003 (around the time I joined the project):
Wow. I don't know. What are the responsibilities of being a sysop?
As far as I know, there aren't really any responsibilities, just a list of obvious things not to do.
I'd encourage anyone new to the project who is thinking about being an adminstrator, or who is getting heavily involved, to read up on your history; many of these friendly people are still around today, though many others sadly aren't.
the wikipedia oracle
On policy
If Wikipedia achieves its potential there will be thousands of people writing and editing articles. There is no system in place that would allow all of this activity to be monitored by some central authority to insure compliance with various editorial policies. With this in mind, we should not try now to lay down policies as if the project is easily controlled. We should assume that policies will emerge from use and experience. We should not try to anticipate what the lessons of experience will be. from Tim Shell, from here
If all policy discussion was conducted in verse, the world would be so much better.
On sourcing
I wrote a mini-essay about why sourcing is important, and posted it on Foundation-L. You can join those (unfortunate?) readers here.
this is a lovely essay on sourcing and how writing for Wikipedia can change how you see the world.
On arguments
(nb: I wrote the following paragraph soon after joining wp, but it holds true today; though after a couple of years I don't mind holding my own in a debate, I still don't participate in many arguments.) Things I like doing on Wikipedia: browsing, wikifying, adding citations, verifying things like bibliographies and expanding articles about common yet complicated things, and having the sense of working on an encyclopedia in the grand tradition of same, albeit in a completely new fashion. I also like reading articles. Things I don't like at all: debates about controversial subjects, flame or edit wars.
On pet peeves:
My biggest pet peeve: cite your sources, people! If you need help finding sources, there's the Reference Desk, the new Newspaper and magazine article request service, the fact and reference check people, or I will individually work with anyone who needs help finding or verifying sources. Just ask.
When in doubt, be nice and see Wikipedia:Simplified_Ruleset​. It's not so hard.
things to keep:
A few of the unpopular things I have fought to keep over the years:
On mergers
Oppose. Bananas do not have nearly the nutirition and great flavor of plantains when cooked right. It would be an insult to plantains to combine the two. from Talk:Banana.
On splits
People seem to think that Gauge Theory is difficult. Bah! What's really confusing is the history of this article ;) From Talk:Gauge theory
On trivia
from user:rothorpe
On trivia
Editing resources
A referencing challenge
There are many useful and scholarly online sources of further reading and information that I feel should be systematically cited in appropriate articles. For example:
for those with access to printed or expensive resources:
see here for a project to collect history of science biographical resources
more to come
editing and teaching resources
be afraid
Random things:
These are handouts for learning and teaching Wikipedia. Feel free to print them, distribute them, use them for presentations, change them, claim them, whatever you need to do.
Also see: Wikipedia:Instructional material
Wikipedia's alphabetical index of articles
Sometimes it is useful to look up a topic in the same way you would look it up in a paper book‍—‌using an index. Perhaps you are unsure of the precise name of what you are looking for, or maybe you are interested in a word root which has many applications, such as "self-". Or maybe you would just like to browse the index.
Wikipedia has an index of all of its articles. Here are 3 ways of accessing it:
  1. A–Z index
  2. Special:AllPages
  3. Special:Prefixindex
You can place these links on your user page or talk page (or both) for convenient access.
Read more:
To add this auto-randomizing template to your user page, use {{totd-random}}
This article does not cite its references or sources.
You can help Wikipedia by not citing "My Friend Carl" as a source.[3]
shamelessly stolen from user:Ravedave
Reference: unreferenced/unsourced template should be used extremely liberally | as should Template:Not verified | Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check | Wikipedia:Newspapers and magazines request service | journals cited by Wikipedia
Librariana: Wikipedia:WikiProject Librarians | Library-stub articles | Wikipedia:Reference Desk
Research: Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikidemia | (see also: meta)
Fix it: Wikipedia:Cleanup resources | cleanup templates | articles to be merged (perhaps my favorite cleanup task | Wikipedia:Typo | the professor test | Engineering x fact-check articles | Electrical Eng x fact-check | Unreferenced BLPs | db reports | broken ref names | no sources | citation needed (8,111 from Feb '07 | 309,558 total - on Feb. 12, 2013 |328,455 total on Nov. 12, 2013) | ref cleanup | a satisfying task
Make it great: Wikipedia 1.0 | Wikipedia:List of articles all languages should have | Template:Grading_scheme and Category:Wikipedia editorial validation (meta-discussion) | core biographies!
Meet: Wikipedia:Meetup (I'm still a Seattleite at heart) | Wikimania
Tools: catscan, the greatest thing ever | stats are good for you
This is a Wikipedia user page.
This is not an encyclopedia article or the talk page for an encyclopedia article. If you find this page on any site other than Wikipedia, you are viewing a mirror site. Be aware that the page may be outdated and that the user whom this page is about may have no personal affiliation with any site other than Wikipedia. The original page is located at​​ki/User:Phoebe​.
Last edited on 16 June 2021, at 14:09
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted.
Privacy policy
Terms of Use
HomeRandomNearbyLog inSettingsDonateAbout WikipediaDisclaimers
WatchHistoryContributionsEdit Languages User groups Logs Page information Permanent link What links here