Wikimedians are gathering all around the world this month in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. At meet-ups, workshops and edit-a-thons, in-person and online, new editors are joining with seasoned Wikipedians to improve coverage related to women’s history and encourage more women to contribute to Wikimedia projects. Supporting social editing events like this is one way we hope to narrow the Wikipedia gender gap and double women’s participation on Wikimedia projects by 2015.
This past Saturday, the Wikimedia Foundation and partners at the Ada Initiative and OCLC hosted the San Francisco WikiWomen’s History Edit-a-thon at the WMF office in San Francisco. Many of the 40 attendees were women, and many had never edited Wikipedia before. We sat around tables with laptops and reference books, sandwiches and coffee in hand, adding and improving content in the world’s largest repository of knowledge. We laughed and talked while a few kids with barnstar buttons played nearby. And in four hours, we created 12 new accounts, started 10 articles, and improved over 20 more. Overall, it was an incredibly fun and successful event!
In pairs and small groups, experienced Wikipedians partnered with attendees who had never before used wiki markup, nor heard of a talk page. In no time, they were confidently improving Wikipedia articles on topics like Sexism, Peggy Yu, and the Women’s Library and Information Centre Foundation. One group waded into the world of copy-editing, fixing spelling errors and punctuation problems in articles on everything from the JFK assassination conspiracy theories to Buddhist descriptions of Brahmans from early texts. Others edited entries in Wiktionary and Commons.
A psychology student created an article for Margaret Naumberg, a founder of art therapy in America whose work has influenced her life and thinking. Pete Forsyth wrote about a notable woman in Oregon’s history named Beatrice Morrow Cannady. She was a renowned early 20th century civil rights advocate, one of the first black women to graduate from law school in the United States, and editor of the Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper. Lisa Gruwell and her 7-year-old daughter Aidann improved the article on Esther Mahlangu from South Africa, to accurately reflect the internationally acclaimed artist’s gender and include an image.
There is no question that the Foundation will be hosting more events like this one, given the interest and excitement in the room that afternoon. We loved meeting so many new and experienced editors, making connections, and sharing our passions and interests. Above all, we were inspired by the improvements the group made to Wikipedia’s coverage.
We look forward to welcoming more aspiring writers, editors, educators, and contributors to global human knowledge, and helping host more meetups and edit-a-thons over the coming year. Check out the global meet-up page to find or start an event in your area.
Many thanks to our co-hosts at the OCLC and Ada Initiative, as well as all of the Wikimedia Foundation staff and volunteers who helped organize, outreach, setup, and share their editing experience with others in order to make this event so much fun!
Siko Bouterse, Head of Community Fellowships Program
Gayle Karen Young, Chief Talent and Culture Officer
(To see more photos of the event, please visit this gallery on Commons)