Calling on all activist scholars: Let’s edit Wikipedia
Wikipedia is one of the first sites to pop up for just about any Google search. We all know not to cite it as an academic source, but we still treat it as a pretty reliable source. Whenever I start a project for school or want to learn about something new, nine times out of 10, Wikipedia is the first place I go. The reason I use Wikipedia so much is that it’s a good way to get a basic level of information in a highly accessible format.
I could probably write a love letter detailing the usefulness of Wikipedia, which is why I was so disappointed to learn that less than 10 percent of Wikipedia editors identify as women. The lack of gender representation in editing has left a gap in coverage on Wikipedia for gender, women, the arts and feminism. Take the already problematic knowledge gap, compound it with frequent sexist language, misgendering and gender identity erasure on Wikipedia, and a huge problem develops.
Five years ago, people started recognizing this issue which allowed the Art+Feminism campaign to develop. The campaign encourages people of all gender identities and expressions how to edit Wikipedia. Every March, Art+Feminism organizes hundreds of “edit-a-thon” events across the globe to improve the online encyclopedia we all know and love.
I went to our campus’ own edit-a-thon in the art and architecture library. I’m going to be honest: It was hard. It was hard to sift through the thousands of articles that misinformed art and feminist movements, misrepresented the lives and careers of women in the arts and misgendered trans and gender non-binary individuals.
The hardest thing about the edit-a-thon was realizing how much work needed to be done. I’m a slow (meticulous) worker and only managed to edit four articles in two hours. But there are thousands of articles with problems and thousands more that even need to be created.
With all the work that needs to be done, I think it’s important to recognize that we can’t just think about this campaign once a year. The movement for equitable, reliable information is one that necessitates never slowing down. No prior experience is necessary! Just make an account, find a list of articles that need to be fixed (yes, someone already did that part for you) and get to editing.