The Signpost

In the media

Chelsea Manning, Box-office predictors, and 'Storming Wikipedia'

Contribute  —  
Share this
By Emily Temple-Wood, Andrewman327, and NickPenguin

Chelsea Manning

Wikipedia's gender identity MOS section and its effect on Chelsea Manning was both praised and emulated in the media this week. The controversy over moving the article from her former name, Bradley Manning, came in the wake of the soldier's announcement of her gender identity after her trial had concluded. The acrimonious debate and move request at Talk:Chelsea Manning was covered. Slate praised Wikipedia's quick shift from the outdated male pronouns and name to her current pronouns and name. The story was also covered by El Comercio, the New Statesman, and TruthDig.

Wikipedia as box-office bellwether

On 21 August 2013, the open access journal PLoS One published the article "Early Prediction of Movie Box Office Success Based on Wikipedia Activity Big Data". The authors analyzed data about 312 movies that were released in the United States in 2010. They limited their sample to movies listed in Category:2009 films and Category:2010 films and used Box Office Mojo for information on the box office success of the films. They concluded that, even one month before a movie is released domestically, Wikipedia editing activity could accurately predict its success. The paper was covered in myriad news outlets, including The Australian, The Descrier, Gizmodo, The International Business Times, Livescience, Motherboard, the Oxford Mail, Discover Magazine's D-brief, and LifeHacker Australia. Similar research had been published in 2012, and was covered when Forbes expressed concern that the findings could encourage filmmakers to engage in astroturfing and edit articles for their movies in hopes of raising expectations.

Storming Wikipedia

Coverage of the distributed open collaborative course called "Storming Wikipedia" continued this week. Influenced by Jimmy Wales' speech at Wikimania 2013, where he showed that 87 percent of contributors to Wikipedia are men, the effort aims to increase women's participation and coverage on Wikipedia by engaging a network of feminist philosophy and women's studies classes. It is run by FemTechNet, which describes itself on its FAQ page as "an activated network of scholars, artists, and students who work on, with, and at the borders of technology".

Researchers have found that Wikipedia's coverage of feminism and issues faced by women is abysmal and that there is a gender gap in both biographies and contributors. The course, run by FemTechNet, will run at 15 institutions and is designed to bridge the gender gap in several ways, including recruiting women to contribute, writing articles about women, and correcting systemic bias by writing about feminist viewpoints and scholarship. The story broke into major news outlets this week, receiving favorable attention for its goals. It was covered by the CBC, Bustle, the Huffington Post, Truthdig, Jezebel, MediaBistro, and Mother Jones.

Following from FemTechNet's idea, OCAD University introduced a new course for this fall called Dialogues on Feminism and Technology, as reported by the CBC. Described as "a first-of-its-kind collaborative digital course for credit in 16 universities all over the world", students will "collaboratively write feminist thinking" into Wikipedia, according to organizers.

In brief

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.
 Fixed -- John of Reading (talk) 14:17, 31 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • A potential problem with this new feminist editing effort is that a significant amount of significant contemporary feminist discourse is carried out online, in sources that, at least at first blush, would not count as reliable sources for Wikipedia's purposes, such as blogs. Sure, one could write about feminist blogs as an object of study on Wikipedia to a certain extent, in their own articles, but that would in many cases relegate the views expressed in them to a more obscure part of Wikipedia. For example, if one wanted to write about discussion on feminist blogs about the famous Miley Cyrus twerking thing, it would be much less likely to be read if mentioned in an article about feminism or feminist blogs than if it was mentioned in an article about Miley Cyrus or an article about the VMA event at which this took place - but Wikipedia policies on reliable sources might work against the latter two options. I am sympathetic to this problem, as I myself want to write in unorthodox views on economics and politics into Wikipedia, and a lot of that these days is found online ages before it makes its way into print, and may be far more accessible online - although of course, as with feminism, there is also a wide body of printed literature. I'd like to open up a discussion about this general problem. Any suggestions gratefully appreciated. --greenrd (talk) 16:54, 31 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    • Most contemporary feminist scholarship takes places in peer-reviewed journals, just like any other discipline. There is definitely a visible public, larger element of feminism that comes through in blogs like Jezebel, but there is lots of high-quality feminist scholarship published in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. There are entire journals dedicated to the topic, such as these. Wadewitz (talk) 19:09, 3 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • The first of the two cited Toronto Star articles contains this technically correct, but still misleading sentence: "The Wikipedia article has since been edited and is different now than it was three years ago, but the archived page can be viewed through a website called the Wayback Machine." -- John Broughton (♫♫) 17:03, 31 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • The first piece in this Signpost is about Wikipedia being praised for using 'Chelsea Manning'; however English Wikipedia had reverted back to the page name 'Bradley Manning' ~24 hrs ago. Im guessing that the change happened before publication of this issue of the Signpost. :/ John Vandenberg (chat) 05:29, 1 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0