Less than 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors are female, an uncomfortable imbalance that skews the content that is found on the tremendously popular resource.
Last week nearly 600 volunteers around the planet stormed Wikipedia in a marathon effort to put a dent in this disparity by adding 100 new pages about women artists, and contributing new content to roughly 80 others.
The Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, which was largely coordinated by the fantastic folks at Eyebeam, trained hundreds of new contributors on Wikipedia guidelines and culture before setting them loose to beef up content related to contemporary art and feminism.
More than 150 people crowded into Eyebeam’s Chelsea headquarters during Saturday’s event, while satellite venues reported turnouts ranging from 6 to 60.
Volunteers versed in the process, protocol, and ethic of Wikipedia gave tutorials to the newcomers, who were mostly artists, activists, students, and scholars. They learned what constitutes a proper reference, how to create external links, and when and where to put footnotes. They learned that people can’t write about themselves, and what kind of sources are acceptable.
The new pages, devoted to figures ranging from Australian modernists Ethel Spowers and Dorrit Black to Catalan painter Josefa Texidor i Torres to contemporary artists including Mary Miss, Xaviera Simmons, Audrey Flack, and Monika Bravo, vary widely in scope, grammar, and quality of content. But the Wikipedia team expects that blips will vanish as the hive mind has its work on the entries.
Image by Michael Mandiberg.