On Thursday, Bristol Girl Geek Dinners hosted a joint event at the University of Bristol with Wikimedia UK to try to encourage and help women edit Wikipedia. The session was led by Fiona Apps (User:Panyd, an administrator on English Wikipedia) and was supported by Martin Poulter (User:MartinPoulter). As with all Girl Geek Dinner events, the primary audience was women and men could attend if they accompanied a female attendee. Wikimedia UK provided food and drink including a cake decorated to look like the Wikipedia globe.
At the event, after a talk about how to edit and how to avoid the pitfalls, the audience pulled laptops out and started editing. A second presentation soon followed with discussion on some of the problems new editors (both male and female) face including unexplained reversion of their changes and the "excessive zeal" of some experienced Wikipedians in reverting, warning and deleting new content and tagging articles with cleanup tags. Fiona responded by explaining to new contributors about how to resolve disputes on the discussion page.
According to a writeup on the Bristol Wireless blog, "the Bristol Girl Geeks were almost unanimous in their criticism of the Wikipedia editing interface". The event was also written up at thefreshoutlook.com.
The Signpost spoke to Fiona about the event:
Whose idea was having a Wikipedia-related Girl Geek Dinner?
Wikimedia UK, I think it was Martin Poulter who approached the Girl Geek Dinners organisers.
In discussions of gender gap (and systemic bias) issues on Wikipedia, the overall issue often gets obscured by the examples: baseball cards vs. fashion designers, Mexican feminist writers vs. video games. These examples are always inevitably followed by someone pointing out that it is sexist to presume that women are interested in fashion designers rather than baseball cards. Was topic choice something that women attending had any strong opinions on?
The attendees were very interested in editing topics they were interested in, and agreed that general women's issues and interests should be covered more in depth and given more interest on the project. However, they were also averse to being pigeon holed. Generalisations about women and what they were interested in, and an overall sense of patronisation, were very prevalent themes of the night.
There were newbies editing at the event: how did they get on? Any new pages get created? Anyone have any particularly good experiences?
These were complete newbies. So we actually found that rather than editing during the night, we were having to familiarise them with the interface, which a lot of feedback was also focused on. However, some external links were added and a few people found WikiProjects they were interested in, so the overall impression was good. 43% of those attending said they were interested in further editing
Have you got any thoughts on how the community or the Foundation might help meet the rather modest goal Sue Gardner has set of increasing participation by women? And do you think the participation gap might extend to other groups like ethnic minorities, religious groups, LGBT people etc.?
I think it's a certainty that there are other minorities on Wikipedia, and I think we not only have to reach out to these people but also take note of our own privileges in doing so. One of the best things about this event was that we didn't tell women why they didn't edit, we asked, and more minorities need to have the opportunity to speak out on their own behalf about what keeps them from editing and any issues they face.
From the feedback we received, the online ambassadors program and more welcoming parties need to be introduced to help with the initial editing experience - many women wanted help and someone to personally assist them in their Wikipedia journey, and cited not having this as a main reason for not editing that includes helping with layout issues, learning markup and working with new editors when their edits are reverted
Do you know if there are any plans to have future Wikimedia events in the UK on women editing Wikipedia, either through the Girl Geek Dinners or independently?
We are hoping to collaborate with Girl Geek Dinners again in the future, and we are also hoping to set up editing days for those who express interest at the Girl Geek Dinners. So yes! I'd also like to thank Wikimedia UK and Bristol Girl Geek dinners for putting on such a wonderful event!
Steward candidates wanted: On Meta-Wiki, preparations are underway for this year's second steward elections. Candidate submissions are open until 7 September 2011, 23:59 (UTC). Candidates must be 18 or older, have three months of experience as administrators, and must be willing to identify themselves to the Foundation. Stewards are empowered to intercede on local projects in need of technical and administrative assistance, such as combating crosswiki vandalism. As a result of the departure of former Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass, the election is being organised by a committee of stewards in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation's Head of Reader Relations, Philippe Beaudette. In a departure from elections past, Board of Trustees have announced their intention to abstain from confirming the outcome. The elections follow discussions on the steward mailing list and a recent request for comment from the steward ranks asking How to make your Wikimedian life easier?, centering on tenure and granting of permissions of responsibility.
New Chapters 'Planet': A new blog aggregation service ('planet'), http://www.chaptersplanet.org/, has been launched, focussing on the blogs of Wikimedia chapters. Unlike the official http://planet.wikimedia.org subdomains, it is not language specific, but includes posts by chapters in any language (or multiple languages). As of time of writing, some 19 chapters have their blogposts pooled by the service.
Wikimedia USA?: As the public debate over a letter published by the Wikimedia board of trustees calling for more rigorous controls on chapter funding cooled, commentators have turned to related subjects. Gerard Meijssen picked up on the often-aired sentiment that a Wikimedia USA should be created despite concerns that it would need to cover too large an area, whilst French Wikimedian Teofilo strayed into outright criticism of chapters' practices, including hiring staff, though such opinions are yet to find great support among the wider community.
New Wikizine: The latest edition of Wikizine, "an independent internal news bulletin for the members of the Wikimedia community" has been published. Most active in 2006, it is the first issue of the bulletin to be published since January, and covers the ongoing image referendum as well as linking to other major reports published recently.
WikiHistories – Turkish 'Vikipedi': Ayhan Aytes, one of the Foundation's WikiHistories summer fellows, reported on his investigations within the Turkish Wikimedian community, which recently lost its Wikimania 2012 bid and is facing possible government censorship.
More content on Twitter?: There was a discussion this week on the foundation-l mailing list about the possibility of providing an English Wikipedia feed. The thread also included a list of currently available micro-blogging feeds.
Referendum ongoing: The image filter referendum, devised by the WMF Board of Trustees, is underway. The actions of the board in creating the referendum were praised by some (Alec Conroy described those overseeing the filter project as "acting very thoughtfully and going in a direction carefully chosen to be consistent with our values"), but criticised by a small number of others (for example, Coren accused the referendum writers of begging the question by not including an option to signal dislike of the whole idea of a filter).
GLAM conference in Switzerland: On Saturday the Swiss chapter Wikimedia CH organised a French-speaking conference at the Prangins Castle, heritage site of national significance. The topic was the state and future of GLAM projects in Switzerland, and feedback from the French chapter Wikimédia France. The speakers were Adrienne Alix, director of programs, and Benoît Evellin, former Wikimedia-in-Residence at the Palace of Versailles. After the talks, Wikimedia CH president Mourad Ben Abdallah opened a discussion between the public, attending Wikimedians and GLAM representatives.