Wanganui's online profile needs a facelift and Mike Dickison is calling for volunteers.

The curator of natural history at the Whanganui Regional Museum has set up the Whanganui Wiki Wednesdays group. His intention is to gather a group of keen people to help edit and create Wanganui-related Wikipedia pages.

"They are all a bit sad really. There's big gaps," Mr Dickison said.

Wikipedia is an online free encyclopedia written and edited by the public and Mr Dickison said its importance was often underestimated, given that it is likely the first port of call for tourists or anyone interested in finding out about the area.


"It's the first Google result for just about everything and will continue to be. It's a super-important thing and people have kind of ignored that fact."

Mr Dickison said many of the Wanganui-related pages needed updating, while several important people and places didn't have an entry at all.

"It's actually up to us here in Wanganui to fix it."

One of his goals is to propel the Wanganui entry to "feature status", which means the page is chosen by Wikipedia to be on the website's home page worldwide for a day.

"Once that happens, it's seen by millions of people throughout the world. I think that would be achievable."

Mr Dickison said that, in some ways, Wikipedia was a better resource than an encyclopaedia, which was one person's work on a subject.

"We've essentially got a bunch of amateur editors arriving at a consensus."

He said the do-it-yourself nature of Wikipedia often led people to see it as unreliable.

"It sounds like anarchy, but it's not. It actually works really well," he said.

"It doesn't work in theory but it works in practice."

"There's a lot of teachers and academics that say don't use Wikipedia at all, but I think that's just silly. Wikipedia should be always where you start, but it should never be where you finish."

The next Whanganui Wiki Wednesday will be held on September 3 at the Davis Library at 6.30pm.

Mr Dickison hopes to attract at least a dozen people. He said there were many ways people could contribute, including with ideas, proofreading, research and photography.

"There's lots of different levels people can contribute on."