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wotr - write on the record

Minnesota Historical Society
In-house team

Wotr comment on a photo of a lumberjack campAs part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s commitment to help people discover a connection to the past, have correct collections metadata, and to engage the public, we created wotr. Wotr (for write on the record), pronounced like water, is a free tool visitors use to add comments to content on several types of online collection databases. When wotr is sprinkled on an online collection, after a search is conducted, the records in results list are displayed with the wotr graphic (a water drop) and an “add comment” link. The number inside the parentheses indicates how many comments have been added to the record.

Wotr enables people to add 'color' to the museum’s collections via their personal stories and histories as well as their perspectives about the object. It enables alternative search terms and enhances collections metadata. It enables the museum to correct errors in the collection metadata, and provides feedback to the requestor. As a social media tool, it enables communities of interest to connect with each other, such as people interested in researching the history of a particular person or topic. Contributors can self-select if they want to be contacted by others. People can subscribe to comments on a record so they’ll be notified if someone else left information. The following examples show how wotr is used. I realize there are several, but I think you’ll be interested in viewing each to get an idea about how broad is wotr’s usage.Content enrichment and storytelling: In these examples, click on the wotr link under the image, in the right corner: , , and Some contributors leave family histories: and memorials: Data correction – our curators chose to receive a copy of each comment added to the collection records. If a correction is requested, they determine if the online collection has an error. If it does, they correct the online collection. In any case, they notify the contributor about their findings. Here is an example of a correction request and staff response: EX2 r1 . Click on the link at the top of the wotr comment window and you’ll be linked to the photo whose metadata was corrected. Associating collections - visitors and staff use wotr to cross reference collections. In these two examples, click on the wotr link under the image, in the right corner to view the comment. : and Connecting Communities of Interest: These examples show people researching family history looking for others doing the same. Click on the contributor’s name and the visitor can send them an email message


Since September, 2008, more than 1,000 unique visitors have added nearly 2,500 comments to wotr. There are subscriptions to more than 2,200 records. People are loving this tool!

Wotr comment on a photo of a lumberjack camp

wotr is written with open source tools and is easily added to any online database regardless of its backend database implementation. Like a cloud hovers over land and sprinkles water drops on it, wotr is a single application that sprinkles comments over content in multiple, heterogeneous collections in distinct databases with different structures, regardless of the backend database management system. wotr is currently sprinkled on five online collections: As more collections come on-line, wotr will be sprinkled on them as well.

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