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Wikipedia a "sausage fest", Chicago Wikipedians ("the people you've probably plagiarized"), and other silly season stories

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By Jorgenev and Jarry1250

Continuing coverage of the gender gap

Building up steam after last week and boosted by the release of a research paper on the topic (see Signpost article), many new outlets have covered the Wikipedian gender-gap issue. Discover Magazine reported with tongue in cheek that "Wikipedia’s a sausage fest, study says", while the Hindustan Times reported that "Wiki is an all male reality", but did not expand greatly on previous coverage. This week, "Men call the shots on Wikipedia, say researchers" in TG Daily had probably the most detailed coverage of any news outlet, including research figures and quotes from several researchers to add to its coverage. By contrast, KSTP-TV included only the bare bones article "Researchers say Wikipedia has gender bias", focussing solely on research conducted by the University of Minnesota (which put female participation at 16% of editors).

Chicago Wikipedians analyzed

The A.V. Club Chicago, the Chicago-specific branch of the American entertainment website The A.V. Club, has published a humorous analysis of the 226 English Wikipedians who identify as coming from the city. "Chicago's Wikipedians: a look at the people you've probably plagiarized" goes through the user pages of these Wikipedians ("it’s crazy to think that random human volunteers [could build] Wikipedia into the hulking hive of not-citable knowledge it is today") to build up a picture of the average editor from Chicago. It did acknowledge that it was relying on how users described themselves to be accurate, and that registered users were a representative sample of the body of editors that work out of Chicago, since it could not easily determine which anonymous editors it could reasonably include.

Starting off with the discovery that among these 226 editors are "a filmmaker, a cartographer, a financial engineer, a handful of Russians, a schizophrenic, and a gay pastor in the United Church Of Christ", the article continues by confirming many of the biases in editor composition that have hit headlines over the years. Of the editors sampled, 96% of those who stated a gender identified as male, whilst of those who gave a statement of their religious views, Christianity was by far the most common. Despite being a humorous take on editor composition, the article still reserved praise for the editorship. "Thirty percent of those who list their education are still in school... But before people freak out about using a high schooler’s handiwork on college research papers... [these are] exceptionally bright kids, many of whom make very specific contributions to topics they truly seem to get." On a more humorous note, the article concluded that editing Wikipedia is "a learning experience! And what kind of Britannica-spooning encyclo-scrooge could deprive youngsters of that?"


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It is a source of encouragement to see 16% compared with previous figures of 9% (and also 22% female attendance at Wikimania). It would be better still to see an analysis of the holistic impact on content of the somewhat self-selecting editing community, which is described by turns as welcoming or hostile. And this brings into focus that a very significant part of the content creation is by editors who are not part of the community (and more power to them I say). Rich Farmbrough, 17:25, 16 August 2011 (UTC).[reply]

The WikiSym study mentioned here discusses impact on content and shows that there is a very strong effect from the gender gap on article content. Kaldari (talk) 22:17, 16 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I love the geekosystems editor's sincerity: "I don’t look at the sources or anything, I just assume blue, superscript numbers are markers of truth."[42].


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