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Sucess for Saltwiki

Specialized Wiki on "Salt-based Damage" reaches over 10,000 hits per month

More and more specialized wikis are appearing on the internet, similar to Wikipedia, and using the same open source software, but devoted to a single subject. But rarely does a wiki reach such a large audience as SalzWiki (http://www.salzwiki.de) operated by the Hornemann Institute of the HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hildesheim (Germany).

SalzWiki focuses on the topic of "salt-based damage". The strong audience response was initially due to the subject: salt not only damages historical buildings, stone sculptures, and murals, for example, but also many new buildings. Moreover, SalzWiki has the advantage of having its content created by a network of renowned research experts from Germany and abroad, and is therefore extremely unlikely to contain the kind of flaws often associated with Wikipedia. The financial sponsor is the renowned Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

The SalzWiki information platform was started in 2009, initially in German, and now consists of 3 areas: The first 2 areas are public wikis on the same subject, one in German http://www.salzwiki.de and the other in English, which will go online at the end of 2011 under http://www.saltwiki.net. Their contents have been developed separately and will enrich one another. They contain helpful information, for example for all internet users to understand expert opinions, as well as for helping specialists with the planning of specific measures.

All registered users can contribute to discussions on "salts and salt damage" and make improvements. The "News" section contains information on events, projects and recently published articles on SalzWiki.

Meanwhile, cooperation with publishers and authors enables the Hornemann Institute to provide 55 literature titles on SalzWiki as free-to-download full text articles. For example, the publishers Springer and E. Schweizerbart allow authors immediate publication of edited manuscripts on SalzWiki. Articles from the magazines "Bauinstandsetzen and architectural conservation" (publisher Aedificatio), and "Restauro" (Callwey) are available as PDF files.

The third area is a limited access multilingual repository which is connected to both wikis and serves the scientists as a virtual research environment with a memory for published reviews, images or data. This is where the authors of SalzWiki can find, for example, analytical data, chemical-physical constants, graphics, photos, short videos, literature and unpublished reports. This is a significant improvement given that up till now only approximately 20% of the existing data has been available in publications.

History In recent decades a variety of information and knowledge on the subject of salts and salt-based damage have been developed but which is only partly reflected by the literature. Owing to the poor transfer of knowledge nationally and internationally, the idea of developing a specialized wiki arose at a workshop of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) in February, 2008, attended by experts in the conservation sciences from Denmark, UK, Switzerland and Germany.

The scientists decided to create a modern platform for knowledge management on the Internet, allowing easy and fast access to information from different disciplines so as to preserve cultural heritage endangered by salt.

SalzWiki is based on the scientific expertise of a research network of scientists from universities, research institutions, monuments offices and companies. The research network asked the Hornemann Institute to manage the development of the wiki because of the Hildesheim University Institute's remit towards conservation.

What next? "The huge number of users give us an incentive to create a long-term solution for the expansion and maintenance of Salzwiki," says the head of the Hornemann Institute, Dr Angela Weyer.

However, as the project coordinator, mineralogist Dr. Hans-Jürgen Schwarz adds, "We still have gaps in the content. Interested researchers and practitioners are invited to participate in the English written SaltWiki".

During the recent conference on "Environment-induced, harmful salts: sources, resulting damage and appropriate countermeasures", at the DBU in Osnabrück, featured the inaugural meeting of the association Salze im Kulturgut: Forschung - Praxis - Wissenstransfer" ("salts in heritage: research - practice - knowledge transfer"). 17 participants spontaneously declared to become members and support the work of the association. The first priority will be to take care of the content of SalzWiki.

Anyone interested in SalzWiki or SaltWiki can contact the operator.

The next specialist public presentation of SaltWiki will be at the colloquium "SalzWiki.de - research - practice - knowledge transfer" on 9 December 2011 in Stuttgart. All interested persons are invited.

For further information see http://www.hornemann-institut.de/english/dfg_project_salt_based_damages.php

idw :: 25.11.2011

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