Welsh 'Wikipedia town' plastered with QR codes

Posted by Emma Woollacott

It's got nothing to do with the founder's surname, apparently, but the small Welsh town of Monmouth is set to become the world's first 'Wikipedia town'.

Anybody visiting Monmouth and wanting to know a lot more about it - and, apparently, plenty of people do - will be able to use their smartphone to scan QR codes around the place to access a plethora of Wikipedia articles - in their own language.

For six months, volunteers have been beavering away, creating and translating articles into everything from Esperanto to Czech. The town's installed a free Wifi network, and 200 businesses, several universities and nearly every school in the area has chipped in.

Articles have geotags, to allow a virtual tour of the town using Wikipedia's mobile apps or the Wikipedia layer on Google Streetview.

"Because of Monmouth’s efforts to provide free Wifi and implement QRpedia, the town is likely the only place where a visitor can tour in Hungarian, Hindi, Indonesian, Welsh or numerous other Wikipedia languages using QR codes," says Roger Bamkin, director of Wikimedia UK.

"Wikipedia volunteers have contributed nearly 500 new articles in over 25 languages, as well as videos on topics such as the historic Chartists movement."

More than 1,000 QR codes have been added to schools, shops and other buildings. Thus, the local bakery links to articles on bread-making, and pubs to their histories.

There are also articles of more general interest. Monmouth is famous as the birthplace of king Henry V, and for its 13th century bridge, the oldest of its kind in Britain, and was named as the seventh best town for archaeology in Britain by the Council for British Archaeology.

Jimmy Wales says he hopes to extend the project to cover many more places around the world. Next up Jamestown, Virginia, perhaps?