Ladies, Let’s Make an Impact on the World by Editing Wikipedia

Wikipedia is one of the top 10 most visited sites of the world.  We all use it.  Kids use it to do their homework, many doctors use it for medical research, I use it for trivia and as an aid for my swiss cheese memory of most of what I have learned over my lifetime.  Whether you like it or not, Wikipedia is a major source of information that we are all using either directly or indirectly, and it is shaping the world.  Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but Wikipedia editors consist of almost entirely men with an estimate of only around  13% being women.  This is the first time in all of human history that women have a chance to make an impact on how people understand the world, so why are we being so irresponsible with this feminist goldmine and not editing Wikipedia?

Sue Gardner, executive direction of the Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit that runs Wikipedia and several other free knowledge sites), wrote a blog post discussing 9 reasons why women don’t edit Wikipedia:

    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because the editing interface isn’t sufficiently user-friendly.
    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they are too busy.
    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they aren’t sufficiently self-confident, and editing Wikipedia requires a lot of self-confidence.
    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they are conflict-averse and don’t like Wikipedia’s sometimes-fighty culture.
    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because the information they bring to Wikipedia is too likely to be reverted or deleted.
    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they find its overall atmosphere misogynist.
    • Some women find Wikipedia culture to be sexual in ways they find off-putting.
    • Some women whose primary language has grammatical gender find being addressed by Wikipedia as male off-putting.
    • Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because social relationships and a welcoming tone are important to them, and Wikipedia offers fewer opportunities for that than other sites.

These are all totally valid reasons to not edit Wikipedia.  We’re busy and we don’t want to volunteer our time only to feel frustrated that our edits keep getting reverted by some dude who has too much time on his hands.  I get it.  However, I still edit Wikipedia because it’s extremely important to me that information that is going to the world is unbiased and is not just told from the male point of view.  Also, it’s fun to contribute to world knowledge.  We have got to understand that people are using Wikipedia.  The next generation is learning from Wikipedia, and we, as women, absolutely need to contribute to that knowledge because that way we can change the world.  I believe it.

Let me show you an example of the problem with having a male dominated editor base.  When I was searching for an image to use for this post on Wikimedia Commons (the site that hosts freely licensed images for several Wikipedia articles), I did a search for a woman working at a computer.  This is one of the top images that popped up.  Gross, right?  This is coming from a site that hosts many pictures for one of the top websites in the world, and the fact that we can add images of say, I don’t know, a woman with her clothes on working at a computer to Wikimedia Commons is a huge step to leveling out the playing field for women on Wikipedia.  The more positive articles and images of women we add, the more we drown out the not-so positive images.

Are you totally psyched to edit Wikipedia now?  Great!  Before you dive in head first, a great place to start your learning process of how to become a successful Wikipedia editor is Wikipedia Teahouse.  It’s a place for new editors to interact with each other and experienced editors, ask questions, and learn how to be successful at editing Wikipedia.  It’s also a very welcoming environment where you can become accustom to the Wikipedia community and learn how to collaborate with other editors in a way that is beneficial to everyone.

So, come on ladies, let’s help change the world by contributing our input and expertise to Wikpedia!

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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