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the Art & Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, in Chicago on February 1, 2014

We have had a number of inquiries from the press, potential organizers, and subjects of the articles we created. In order to answer collaboratively, not duplicate work, and to document the process, please add questions and answers below.


What prompted the event?[edit]

The event was the result of two simultaneous conversations. Sian Evans was discussing her involvement with the Art Libraries Society of North America’s Women and Art Special Interest Group with Jacqueline Mabey. Evans mentioned that she was interested in organizing a women and art themed Wikipedia edit sprint. Mabey later mentioned this up to Michael Mandiberg, knowing his use of Wikipedia in teaching. Mandiberg mentioned that he had recently spoken with Laurel Ptak, encouraging her to do an edit sprint as a part of her Eyebeam Art and Technology Center Fellowship. Regarding the rationale: we see it both as a feminist intervention - to address the gendered participation disparity and content gaps - but also an intervention as artists, art workers, historians, librarians, academics, art lovers, etc. A contribution of our specific knowledge to the Commons.

What is the context of this event?[edit]

Wikipedia’s gender trouble is well documented. In a 2010 survey, Wikimedia found that less than 13% of its contributors are female. The reasons for the gender gap are up for debate: suggestions include leisure inequality, how gender socialization shapes public comportment, and the contentious nature of Wikipedia’s talk pages. However, the practical effect of this disparity is not: content is skewed by the lack of female participation, resulting in systemic absences in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge.

This project also comes on the heels of the "American women novelists" debate. After several notable op-eds and much discussion on social media platforms, we wanted to help give people the training to shape the conversation directly on Wikipedia.

How did we get organizations and people involved?[edit]

With a confirmed NYC event, we made a Wikipedia meetup page and created a shared email address, and sent out a call for participation to our networks and communities. Sian Evans sent it out to the Art Libraries Society of North America listserv and the Visual Resources Association listserv; Jacqueline Mabey sent emails out to Canadian art and academic institutions. In all cases, those people forwarded it to other people. By the time we made a Facebook event we had about 8 confirmed satellite events. Michael Mandiberg wrote to US, UK, European, and Australian faculty, connected interested librarians to faculty members at schools in order to ensure that students would be there, and proactively catalyzed events in several cities. Evans brought in Dorothy Howard. Mandiberg brought Richard Knipel in who lead the effort to find experienced ambassadors to help at each location.

The response was heartening, certainly beyond what we expected. The process was viral - people and organizations were reaching out that we had no direct relationship with. We kept an eye on the Facebook event pages, the meet up page and our communal email address; whenever anyone posted about wanting to start their own event, we immediately reached out with assistance. The event at Portland State University literally came together on Facebook in a matter of minutes.

We offered a spectrum of support to each event. For some locations we organized all of the key elements (location, faculty/librarians, Wikipedians), while some of the venues approached us with all elements assembled; most of the events were somewhere in between.

The satellite sprints were intended to be fairly autonomous, organized around the interests/holdings of the various organizations. The interface of Wikipedia can be intimidating to the uninitiated; meeting in groups, in a welcoming environment, is a more realistic way to encourage the participation of women and women-identified new editors on Wikipedia. The Eyebeam event was co-sponsored by the Wikimedia NYC chapter; this allowed us to pair their extensive knowledge of the technical and social aspects of Wikipedia with our extensive knowledge of the subject matter. This can only be done in person.

What do I do if I am an artist whose article was created during this event, and I would like to offer support or corrections to the article?[edit]

Thanks for your interest in improving Wikipedia's articles. Anyone wishing to edit any part of Wikipedia is welcomed and encouraged to do so. Expect some challenges while learning here, because despite everyone's best efforts Wikipedia still has a significant learning curve. If you do something against Wikipedia policy then someone will tell you.

Wikipedia strongly discourages the practice of editing articles about themselves, because of our inherent biases about ourselves. What you can do is click "talk" at the top of your article, and write down your suggestions for improving the page. You are welcome to identify yourself as the subject of the page there. See Wikipedia:Training/Newcomers/Talk_pages for a tutorial on talk pages. See Wikipedia:Autobiography for guidelines on anyone contributing to an article about themselves.

If you are willing to try an easier and more reliable way to meet your goals, another option is to write what you wish to achieve in 2-3 sentences and post your intention to the WP:TEAHOUSE. This is a community forum in which new users can ask anything. You should create a Wikipedia account before you do this so that the hosts there can reply to you. The advantage of going to the Teahouse is that it is a quick way to get advice on any topic from a human with experience working with people who are new to Wikipedia. No one is required to do this, but it puts new users in contact with people who will present them with relevant tutorials for whatever they need.

You are encouraged to donate a photograph of yourself or an artwork, as long as you created the artwork yourself or the photograph was a "work for hire" (you paid for it and own the copyright), and you license the work CC-BY.