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Editing wikipedia - The Ex-Communicator

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January 31st, 2011


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04:13 pm - Editing wikipedia
Fewer than 15% of contributors to Wikipedia are women (New York Times link). Wikipedia wish to increase this* - with a modest but possibly unachievable goal of 25%.
Wikipedia shares many characteristics with the hard-driving hacker crowd, says Joseph Reagle, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. This includes an ideology that resists any efforts to impose rules or even goals like diversity, as well as a culture that may discourage women.

“It is ironic,” he said, “because I like these things — freedom, openness, egalitarian ideas — but I think to some extent they are compounding and hiding problems you might find in the real world.”

Adopting openness means being “open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists,” he said, “so you have to have a huge argument about whether there is the problem.”
I have contributed a tiny little bit to Wikipedia, mainly tiny corrections as I go, but I always imagine whatever I add will be deleted anyway. That's what people tell me about wikipedia - that the articles are dominated by aggressive in-groups.

Perhaps I should just try to be more active, and see what happens.

ETA metafilter discussion on this topic

* I should rather say of course that 'some people central to wikipedia wish to increase this' - wikipedia doesn't have wishes

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:sheenaghpugh
Date:January 31st, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
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I'm too idle to learn the style rules, which seem unnecessarily complicated, so I get deleted. I think you need to be slightly over-precise in the way men more often are than women.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 31st, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
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I only make bitty corrections
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:January 31st, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
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The vast majority of contributors are *all* of: white, male, teens/early 20s, no children. There's also a huge US domination. One of the things that draws me back there time & again (currently in off phase) is the 'need' to do my bit towards altering the average demog -- not impossible given how few people actually contribute the bulk of the content. (When I was last active I was around 2500th in the contributions list.)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 31st, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
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Do you think people know you are a woman, and are they actively hostile about that?
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:January 31st, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
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I first outed myself as female when I applied for adminship, and had to correct my nominator's assumption that I was male. I've not experienced any hostility that I've noticed -- my experiences have been that people can be very hostile over specific content disputes, but don't often attack more generally. If anything, imo, people bend too far backwards to make the environment less 'laddish' -- eg there's a bit of a PC police thing where people get blocked for using swear words in discussion.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 31st, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
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I haven't seen it on wikipedia, though I notice it in other places. On metafilter a fiction agent posted to say she set up pages for two authors she represented and the female author was deleted. It's not proof of course.
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:January 31st, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
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I did wonder, based on a few examples, whether female academics were more likely to be deleted than male ones, but I came to the conclusion that it was largely my personal inclusion bias that was the problem. It might be that female authors/academics are less likely to achieve the type of honours to which Wikipedia inclusion guidelines pay attention.
[User Picture]
From:hawkeye7
Date:January 31st, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
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Did you get through the RFA gauntlet? It can be a bruising experience.
[User Picture]
From:hawkeye7
Date:January 31st, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
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Someone recently got turned down for adminship for being an atheist.
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:January 31st, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
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That's a sad development. There was a lot of angst a year or so back about someone being opposed based on their displaying a Flying Spaghetti Monster user box, but I think the opposer claimed to feel it was an indicator of a tendentious editing style.
[User Picture]
From:sheenaghpugh
Date:February 1st, 2011 11:59 am (UTC)
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How on earth can that happen? How can the question even be raised?
[User Picture]
From:hawkeye7
Date:February 1st, 2011 01:05 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:February 1st, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Not having investigated the candidate, but there seem to be some RfA regulars opposing on maturity grounds or policy knowledge. There again, there seem to be several who are mainly opposing him because of his religious views &/or sexual orientation. It seems a good example of why RfAs should be decided by bureaucrats rather than simple vote counting.
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:January 31st, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
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I squeaked through back in 2007, when it was much easier. Even if I were active there more consistently, I don't think I'd bother applying now.
[User Picture]
From:katlinel
Date:January 31st, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for linking to this - very interesting article. I am thinking thoughts about what this means for the future of information, too, and unless that changes, the DWEM/DWAM canon (in the broadest) will continue to dominate the knowledge paradigm.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 31st, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
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All I can think is that people will turn to other sources of info if the 'open' ones become dominated by one paradigm
[User Picture]
From:iainjcoleman
Date:January 31st, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
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Naah. People, by and large, use Wikipedia because it's convenient. They'll only turn to other sources if those become more convenient than Wikipedia.
[User Picture]
From:sheenaghpugh
Date:February 1st, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)
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Ah, but being a member of my local library I get to use the online Britannica, DNB and various other stuff for free, and that's not only as convenient but considerably more reliable on occasion!
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:February 1st, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
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It's not that I imagine people saying 'oh, I'm going to go to elsewhere for ideological reasons' but that people might turn to minority wikis because that's where they will find what they want.

wikipedia does suit me, because the things it does well tend to be of use to me
[User Picture]
From:tehomet
Date:February 2nd, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
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Wow, I had no idea that there was a 'company culture,' for want of a better term at wikipedia. My contributions have been small corrections and apart from when I was involved with the Save Tara campaign, I've never noticed them being edited.


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