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WikiWomen's History Month—meetups, blog posts, and "Inspire" grant-making campaign

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By Resident Mario and Gamaliel

WikiWomen's History Month

March is international Women's History Month and March 8 is International Women's Day. The community has arranged a number of commemorative initiatives focused on the gender gap, under the banner "WikiWomen's History Month". The first such effort was organized in 2012: in the Signpost, then-community fellow Sarah Stierch said: "while I believe every day should be women's history day, I also feel we should take advantage of the month of March to bring awareness to the lack of coverage about women's history on Wikipedia, and concerns about the gender gap in Wikipedia: only 9% of our active contributors are women." A number of sizable community events and editathons are scheduled in March in support of this year's effort (though more than half of them will be in the United States) under the banner. An even larger number of events are clustered around March 7 and 8 were organized by the ArtAndFeminism campaign, including 50 meetups in the US alone and a main event at the MoMA in New York City.

Concurrently, the Wikimedia Foundation has announced that this month's Foundation blog is focusing on gender diversity in the Wikimedia movement. The communications team is asking for community suggestions on "your favorite, high-quality Wikipedia articles about notable women ... we're looking for factual, well-written and insightful articles, from the wiki of your choice." The winning articles, selected by the communications team, will be written into a report to be posted in the Foundation blog sometime after March 15. The blog will also be publishing profiles, research overviews, program reports, and best practices during the month.

Most significantly, the WMF rolled out their "Inspire" grantmaking campaign on March 4, an open invitation to the community for thoughts and opinions on possible ways to address the gap. The best of the ideas, drawn from the IdeaLab and endorsed by community, will be matched to long-term advisors. When necessary, funding is also available, and is likely to be disseminated by a new committee of existing committee members from the two grantmaking volunteer bodies, the IEG and GAC. If the pilot project is successful (signs so far indicate a high level of activity) it is likely to be broken off entirely into a new, third grantmaking scheme, Inspire Grants. The two next major dates will be April 1–15, when the funding committee will make its final recommendations to the Wikimedia Foundation, and April 30, when winning grantees will be announced by WMF staff. The hope is for 20 new grant-supported gender gap-focused projects and an (ambitious) five- to ten-fold increase in IdeaLab traffic; as of writing the project has attracted some 200 participants and 40 IdeaLab submissions.

The maximum budget for the campaign is US$250,000, funded by withdrawals from the IEG and PEG programs, currently on hold for non-time-sensitive proposals for the three months from February to April. This, and the timing of the announcement, has been a source of controversy. In communications on the community mailing list, the director of community resources Siko Bouterse stated in January that the campaign is an experiment in proactive grantmaking, "to see if we can provide meaningful community support and significantly increase impact on Wikimedia projects in a single strategic area". If successful, she said, the campaign will serve as a pilot for other single-issue campaigns. Experimental thematic campaigns are a new organizational theme that was included in this year's annual plan (albeit see previous Signpost coverage) and planning for the Inspire campaign has been in progress since last December. The event is the first such experiment by the WMF. It is likely to be a part of the recent Foundation pivot towards a grantmaking focus on more and smaller projects than in the past. R

For more Signpost coverage on the gender gap see our Gender gap series.

Obvious hoax lasts nearly a decade on Wikipedia

An article was deleted on March 3 this week which is ostensibly the longest-lasting hoax article found on Wikipedia to date. The article, Jar'Edo Wens, was created on May 29, 2005 by an IP address originating in Australia. At its creation, the article, in its entirety, read "In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Jar'Edo Wens is a god of earthly knowledge and physical might, created by Altjira to oversee that the people did not get too big-headed, associated with victory and intelligence." It remained largely unchanged until its deletion; the same editor also added a link to Jar'Edo Wens to the article Australian Aboriginal mythology.

The link was removed from that higher-traffic page in 2007, though the original hoax article remained. In November 2014, an IP editor added a hoax template to the article, which automatically placed it in Category:Wikipedia suspected hoax articles. Snowager told the Signpost that he regularly patrols that category and found this article there. On March 1, Snowager submitted the article to Articles for Deletion. In the resulting discussion, Calamondin12 noted that Jar'Edo Wens was "perhaps derived from the actual English name Jared Owens". The article was speedy deleted by Newyorkbrad "as a blatant and indisputable hoax", making it, as of time of writing, the longest-lived discovered hoax on Wikipedia: nine years and nine months, a half month longer than the previous record-holder, Pikes on Cliffs, a fake historical structure in Spain.

Though this may now be the longest-lived hoax ever in the pages of Wikipedia, it is not the highest profile one, since the article was orphaned throughout much of its existence. G, R

For more Signpost coverage on hoaxes see our Hoaxes series.

In brief

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Inspire Campaign

  • On the one hand "Inspire" is a laudable initiative both from an organizational and a topical perspective, on the other hand can the WMF not find $250,000 dollars in its 58 million dollar funding budget (or more) to not shut down everything else in the meantime? ResMar 21:20, 12 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I've never worked in such a large non-profit organization before so I'll defer to you on the topic of their expected level of organizational flexibility, but if they run more campaigns in the future (seems decently likely, this has gotten decent feedback so far) they're going to have to come up with some way of dealing with this shortage. ResMar 15:14, 13 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • How many thousands if not millions has the WMF spent so far on gender equality efforts - almost all of which seem to have failed/not have had a noticeable long term effect. Its a very good goal - but this does seem like WMF going "we have no idea" maybe if we throw money at a bunch of random projects one of them will get some traction. I would like to see WMF not throwing money at ideas before execution but offering bounties or prizes for schemes and ideas that actually show an effect. There needs to be more incentives for success not just good intentions. AlasdairEdits (talk) 09:37, 15 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    • Actually, there's some recent evidence that shows that the population of women editors is growing. Correlation not equating with causation, we can't say if it's a result of WMF's efforts, but we're at least going in the right direction. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 10:13, 15 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Yeah if anything the strong progress we're making in this direction has been greatly encouraging the Foundation to be more aggressive in their campaigns, as it's a measurable trend that's hard to pin down to anything besides community and Foundation efforts. As for bounties, I think you overestimate volunteers' capacity to develop large initiatives and further development plans on their own time without financial support. This campaign is active while what you are suggesting is essentially passive. ResMar 14:19, 15 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • +1 to the statement, "you overestimate volunteers' capacity to develop large initiatives and further development plans on their own time without financial support." That hits the nail on the head.
  • As a volunteer who regularly attends in-person editing events, let me explain some of the outcomes and needs. GLAM professionals in my city skew female, and don't want to be involved with people or organizations that refuse to treat them with respect. Professionals in major cultural institutions have legitimate questions and needs for explanation regarding how to create Wikipedia content and work within the site's existing policies. There is a friendly and dedicated base of experienced Wikipedians in Washington DC, but we are getting stretched thin as we receive more and more requests for our in-person expertise. Simply providing a meal and transportation costs makes a big difference. Also, in months with two, three, and more editing events, there are limits to how much time some of us can take away from our jobs. It makes a big difference having a few people available who are full-time Wikipedians, including our Wiki-buddies in New York and Philly.
  • Contests are fun, and generate content cheaply, so by all means let's keep having them! However, they are not the whole story. All that content you are seeing on the net that is freely reusable is the result of ongoing work by GLAM professionals and volunteers, and the efforts put into making that content available should not be underestimated. An event generating fewer articles may actually have more impact, if it lays the groundwork for improved access to free content, or ongoing collaboration. We need to understand that although Wikipedia provides a service to public sector and scientific organizations, it can require quite a bit of effort by paid professionals to align a Wikipedia-related project with these organizations' core missions.
  • There is a need for the scholars and experts who attend the events in DC on topics like art history, scientific research, and African-American history, and many of these experts are female. If we have to feed them, and sit with them one-on-one to turn their expertise into useable material on the encyclopedia, that may just be what it takes to have the opportunity to access their expertise.
  • The WMF efforts on gender equality do have a real-life impact that may not be obvious from the data-driven, software coder perspective. Essentially, many experts need a knowledgeable guide to help them deal with the difficult Wikipedia culture, which includes highly vocal members who explicitly reject the concept of implementing modern workplace anti-harassment standards. Many experts attending in-person events only edit if we're there with them, like a well-armed stagecoach driver taking them on their first trip to the Wild West. Only a very few develop the confidence to start driving the stagecoach themselves; most wait till we experienced folks come back before braving the trip again. --Djembayz (talk) 01:53, 16 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]


  • I once thought Jar'Edo Wens wasn't a hoax until I looked at its sources on Google. They mainly seem to be Wikipedia mirrors and/or forks. That was why I nominated for deletion for non-notability of a mythological deity, and then I agreed with others' comments that it was a hoax, in which one user said that "10 years of existence on the English Wikipedia is enough to confuse internet search engines." The Snowager-is sleeping 22:04, 12 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Eight years ago a reference to Yohrmum in the See-also list of Australian Aboriginal mythology was removed as being "suspected old vandalism". If the other edits of the anonymous vandal had been examined at the time, the Jared Owens hoax should have been evident.  --Lambiam 16:13, 13 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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