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By Tom Morris and Skomorokh

Bristol hosts "Girl Geeks vs. Wikimeet"

The Girl Geeks had a Wikipedia globe-shaped cake...
...which was quickly consumed.

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

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!

In brief

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Girl Geeks vs. Wikimeet

One clear message that I got from this event was that many attendees found the editing interface cumbersome, with comments such as it should be "easier to edit", "more intuitive like Facebook or Word". I hadn't really thought about this before having been used to other wikis and early word processors since the 1980s. A WYSIWYG editing interface may help new editors break the ice. Congrats to the organisers of this event, which was positive and interesting. Jezhotwells (talk) 00:15, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

It's unclear above just what they found unintuitive, which is the take-home message for us: was it the templates (especially some of the clunkier reference templates that spread vertically)? Was it the image syntaxes? Tony (talk) 01:31, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Of course there is also the virtually incomprehensible formatting of tables (as opposed to a WYSIWYG interface in tablespace, as many other wikis have), the fifteen different ways in which footnotes and notes and references can be created; the unthreaded discussions on talk pages; the html mixed into fancy signatures on talk pages, and the "Show changes" button that generates diffs that often don't clearly identify what changed, to name some major offenders. But I think hitting someone with an infobox, right off the bat when they open an editing window, is among the best ways to show someone new to Wikipedia that they're going to need to invest significant time if they want to figure out this Wikipedia editing thing. And, of course, that's just the technical side of becoming an editor: there is also NOR and NPOV and RS and notability, and dozens more policies and a thousand and one guidelines, not to mention IAR, that one should really learn to be a first-class editor. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 01:48, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It is quite basic stuff really. Some of it so simple that it dosen't occur to experienced editors as being a problem.
  • Which of the many edit buttons on a page should be used?
  • If you click at the edit button at the top of many articles, the first thing you see in the edit box is an infobox template, which can look rather daunting.
  • I was repeatedly asked why one could not just right click at the point where one desired to enter / amend text. Just like you do in a word-processor such as Word.
  • This is long before we get into formatting references, policies, tables, etc. Just the first impressions were felt to be quite off-putting to many of the attendees who had not actually tried to edit before.
  • Jezhotwells (talk) 09:48, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
May reduce confusion if referred to as edit links rather than buttons - you're not going to find anything when scanning a page for buttons with the default skin. Which word processors require right clicking to edit documents? -- Jeandré, 2011-08-31t10:49z
I am just reporting what the users, new editors actually said. They said buttons! Jezhotwells (talk) 17:34, 5 September 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I wish the event had been my idea, but it was actually my Wikimedia UK colleague Steve Virgin, who wasn't able to attend on the day. Fiona herself devised the format of the evening. MartinPoulter (talk) 22:11, 25 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Image referendum

As discussed here, but never really answered, how do you vote no on the image referendum? I put 0's (and a 10 on one) for the questions it asked and fully expressed my disagreement with the image filter in the open comment section, but it would be much easier if there was just a specific question about whether you want the image filter or not.

Separately, I must comment that the Signpost saying "but criticised by a small number of others" is extremely inaccurate if you look at the discussions going on about the image filter, though I suppose everyone already knows that the Signpost is biased in its reporting. SilverserenC 03:47, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I suspect I also gave a 10 to the same question you did, Silver seren. And I would be very surprised if we were the only ones to do so. -- llywrch (talk) 05:22, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
"The Signpost is biased" is (to my knowledge) incorrect, although it almost certainly is biased insofar as it represents the attitudes of its writers. In any case, attributing anything to a deliberate attempt at bias almost certainly fails Occam's razor: The Signpost is written to tight deadlines, by a small number of people. It is always difficult to read every thread on the topic. A better rule would therefore be to accept Hanlon's razor and assume ignorance here.
As the contributor of that sentence, I can truthfully say that the balance presented was my honest apparisal of the ongoing foundation-l threads. I admit, however, that it may have been wrong of me to extrapolate from that sample without checking the many other possible for outrage to be presented.
As a gesture of good faith, I would invite you to (re-, I presume)write up your thoughts on the image filter and referendum in the form of an Op-Ed, and I will personally make every effort to have it published. - Jarry1250 [Weasel? Discuss.] 07:58, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I apologize if I offended you with my statement. I was referring more to my view that the Signpost is very pro-Foundation in the sense that, when there is a conflict between the Foundation and the community, the Signpost will often only cover the subject cursorily or will cover it with language that is subtly stating that the Foundation is correct. And the current situation seems to show that there is far more than just a little opposition to the image filter. I would personally say that the support and opposition to the filter is about 50-50, from looking over discussions myself.
If you are serious about the suggestion of an Op-Ed, I would prefer to defer it to someone with better writing chops than myself, but who also has the same mindset about the image filter, namely User:DGG. If that is possible, I would be glad to ask him whether he would be up to doing so. SilverserenC 09:29, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I am aware that The Signpost has been (is) generally quite pro-Foundation (although whether this is intentional or not I do not know, but I suspect not), and personally I would like to see more contrary, but such things are inevitably difficult to pull off without miring The Signpost in the sort of controversy that might signal teh death of it. (As I say, in this case, the discussions I read were 80-20 support.) And yes, my suggest of an Op-Ed was entirely serious. If DGG (or anyone else) could write something in the next 72 hours it stands a good chance of being published in the next issue. - Jarry1250 [Weasel? Discuss.] 09:53, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I will try; I expect to have the time tonight to do it. Despite my advocacy, I think I'm capable of an objective analysis of the discussion without bias. I consider the basic arguments in both directions correct, (though some of the subsidiary views presented in each direction seem otherwise), and it a question of balancing them. I have no doubt at all about where the balance lies, but it is a matter of opinion and priorities, and the same discussion can equally well convince others in the opposite direction. I could leave it at such an analysis, but since anyone following the issue knows my opinion, and might well not be as convinced as I am of my own objectivity, I will follow that section with an op-ed explaining how I reach my conclusion. I would expect this all to be fairly long, about 1000 words, but I can do it shorter. I do not see the initial or current discussion on the en Talkpage for the referendum as showing only a small opposition, but rather quite the opposite, so I think the brief comment above was indeed incorrect. (I do not intend to measure the number of participants on each side, or refer to them by name) As for the general balance between the foundation and the community, I have 3 wikifriends on the board, one a rather close wikifriend. I nonetheless am quite opposed to some of the major things that the present and past boards have done, as well as the overall trend towards increase of their general role. I think the general bias here is much less than Jarry thinks, but nonetheless present. DGG ( talk ) 17:35, 23 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I have decided to wait till after the referendum. The result should give me a better idea of what needs to be said. as my opinion. If , contrary to my expectations, mine turns out to be a small minority view, what I say will be rather different. DGG ( talk ) 06:09, 28 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

On the banner announcement about the image vote - I just posted this today at Wikimedia on the page for this project:

...opt-in personal image hiding feature..

Let me suggest that as soon as possible, we hyphenate image-hiding, so as to clarify meaning, especially in the Wikipedia banner announcement. When I first saw this a few minutes ago, I thought it had to do with a feature to hide your personal images. I think that ...opt-in personal image-hiding feature... does the trick.

KConWiki (talk) 01:36, 28 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Girly things

The attendees were very interested in editing topics they were interested in [sic], and agreed that general women's issues and interests should be covered more in depth and given more interest on the project.

It turns out that men are also more interested in editing topics they are interested in (no wonder!), why should we, therefore, edit their topics? If we do not start becoming more girly will Wikipedia never get rid of its systemic bias? Let them go f-ck themselves, I say. (talk) 07:38, 25 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
You do have a point insofar as that it is at best questionable to expect people to edit in areas they aren't interested in for no other reason than that others who are interested in those areas feel these are underpresented. At the same time, your inflammatory rhetoric is not helpful, and you do appear to miss that such trends can be self-perpetuating; systemic bias may well be caused by a lack of editors interested in certain topics, but it also cements the lack of editors that caused it in the first place. As such, initiatives that reach out to prospective editors and encourage them to contribute are valuable and worthwhile.
Of course, it should also go without saying that this must not be done at the expense of other editors. Every constructive contributor is appreciated, and everyone's good-faith contributions are valuable, no matter their age, nationality, sex, skin color, gender, area of expertise/interest etc. Balance can be achieved in many ways, but not all of them are beneficial in the long run, and we as a community should take care to not exclude anyone or feel anyone unwelcome, and this goes for men just as much as for women. -- (talk) 11:15, 25 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Well, Wikipedia is not obligatory, and WP:CSB isn't obligatory either. It's just a nice thing to do. How to handle systemic bias: realise it is there, point it out to new contributors, share the problem with the particular affected groups, and if they are interested give them the option of participating in WP:CSB. If they still want to go and write about Pokémon or baseball cards, again, Wikipedia is not obligatory! —Tom Morris (talk) 11:28, 26 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Children's Museum of Indianapolis editathon

I really admire these folks putting this editathon together, and if any of them are reading this, hats off to you! I went through and added a bunch of additional categories to the individual articles in Category:The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and also fixed some defaultsorts. I think that adding the categories to those pages will help bring readers to those articles who might not otherwise have made it there - For instance, by editing the Bucky (Tyrannosaurus rex) article to put it into Category:Tyrannosaurs, Category:Specific fossil specimens, and Category:Natural history of South Dakota, you might get readers who started out reading about Sue (dinosaur).

KConWiki (talk) 02:03, 28 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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