Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-04-29/In the media

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Categorisation of women novelists[edit]

  • Interesting article on the NY Times stories (which seems to have lifted the lid on something of a train wreck of well-intentioned-but-badly handled editing and some outright awfulness, all of which is ultimately attributable to the relatively small number of people who work on articles on literary topics). Calling the situation a "crisis" seems incredibly strong though, as it wasn't. Nick-D (talk) 07:18, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • What unfeeling monster added a {{refimprove}} tag to the Amanda Filipacchi article? Uh, it was me—with this edit on April 25. But a quick look at the edit history shows that the only sources at that time were a dead link, a WordPress blog, and a bare url pointing to Google Books. And contrary to the unchecked assertions above, this had been the case since that bare url was added on October 20, 2010. No deletions, no removals, and no "revenge editing", just a completely justified tag on an article that later got a lot of attention. - Dravecky (talk) 07:22, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The real story that nobody covered is that category diffusion efforts have always been controversial and disputed. Diffusion does not make a category easy to navigate for information, it actually makes it more difficult to find what you are looking for as the reader has to navigate multiple levels, never knowing where they are or if they will ever reach their target. On the other hand, keeping articles in large, sorted categories allows the reader to find the information quite quickly. I've argued for years that category diffusion has made navigation impossible and these efforts at "refining" category membership have made them unusable. Filipacchi's criticism couldn't have come at a better time. We need to redesign the categories for our readers, not for our editors. Viriditas (talk) 09:15, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I'm happy to see some of Wikipedia's welcome-to-the-19th-century atmospheres exposed to well-earned critical commentary. As for the guys who have been treating categories as too overly technical for our poor brains to understand, Viriditas' observations above might clarify their own thinking. – Athaenara 10:44, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Disputes on categorization, however ≠ desire to marginalize women. The op-eds are a series of sensationalist pieces rather than any attempts at research or journalism, and that reflects poorly on everyone involved. There is also the unfortunate tendency that Wikipedia editors' discussions and processes get highly disrupted by sudden media attention. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 13:56, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
      • Please don't shoot the messenger. Wikipedia has a long history of sexism with regard to female BLPs. I can't even create a redirect for author Melanie Joy because she was deemed to be unimportant by teenage boys with acne. Women's rights activists like Sandra Fluke were notoriously denied their own article and defined by their male critics because a few boys on Wikipedia had never seen a real woman before. The list is endless. I've worked on female BLPs for years while my co-editors are busy working on the latest video game. That's our demographic and we've come to live with it, but ignoring the problem isn't a solution. Historically, media attention forces Wikipedia to do the right thing even when its community of little men refuse. Viriditas (talk) 21:03, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
        • I have not heard of Melanie Joy before, but this is not how Wikipedia judges who gets an article. In Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Melanie Joy there was talk of the lack of references which makes this author not "notable" – are you saying that even though you can provide proper refs you are not allowed to create this article? Ottawahitech (talk) 14:14, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
          • Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. The article is protected from creation. My preference, however, is to redirect the protected BLP title to her book, which can best handle the content at this time. Viriditas (talk) 06:50, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I honestly think that most readers of Wikipedia have never noticed that a category system exists, let alone used it. Categories seem to inhabit a "grey area" which is mostly accessed by editors rather than readers. If the category system was more prominently in the public eye, and thus was used by our readership more often, I think it would have been more carefully scrutinized and completely re-designed a long time ago. It is the design of the system we are using that tends to support or even suggest some of these rather unfortunate decisions. Invertzoo (talk) 14:21, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • categories do need a rethink. we should incorporate practices of the librarians, such as Library of Congress [2]; instead we reinvent the wheel, and thrash under the klieg lights. outsiders are left to wonder what could motivate someone to make lots of category changes? communication of internal processes is abysmal. are we now in a permanent scandal mode of communicating from readers? (instead of article feedback?) Slowking4Farmbrough's revenge†@1₭ 15:03, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I've been writing on "categorygate" here and here. I've been very disappointed in the level of the journalism, which has mostly replicated the original piece and done little investigative work to check it out or figure out how Wikipedia works. It would be nice if we could use this incident, however, as a way to recruit more editors. Fix problems you see, is what I always say! Wadewitz (talk) 16:01, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Hi Wadewitz, I was about to mention you then I had an edit clash with you. See below. Yaris678 (talk) 16:07, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I notice that Signpost does not mention this excellent blog post by Adrianne Wadewitz. In fact, it pretty much repeats the error highlighted by the Wadewitz. i.e. Like most media coverage, there is not much on what female Wikipedians think of the whole thing, still less on female Wikipedians with an interest in literature. This could arguably be excused by saying that this is an "in the media" article but one way around that would be to report on what Wadewitz said. Yaris678 (talk) 16:07, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • As with many commenters here, I think we need to have a think about how categories work. We often split categories unnecesarily. For example, it would be better to treat American women authors as the intersection of Americans, women and authors, rather than as a sub-category of all three. Apparently that's how the German Wikipedia does it. Yaris678 (talk) 16:07, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
    • It's not at all apparent that the German Wikipedia makes the intersection of categories available to readers (which would require a software feature not built into MediaWiki software). Here's what the page you linked to says about the German categorization system: "Categories are singular and are not differentiated for gender. Categories are usually introduced only for a minimum of ten entries and are not always subdivided even for larger numbers of items, so that current categories often describe only one property (e.g., nationality). Other categories are subdivided, but differently than in the English Wikipedia. For example, 'chemists' are subdivided by century, not by nationality." I do agree that an easy way for a reader to combine categories would be a far superior alternative to the current system (though it would require adding the categories "Men" and "Women", and would raise issues such as how to handle categories such as "Child actors"). -- John Broughton (♫♫) 17:07, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Along this line, see here: "Could we instead have tags (instead of categories and taxonomy) which are queryable (e.g., 'show me all novelists who are also female')? This is the "Web 2.0" way of things, and can be done, but its not how Wikipedia is presently built." -- John Broughton (♫♫) 17:15, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
      • Agree that tags simply make more sense from a workload and searching standpoint. Hopefully wikidata is a path forward to deprecating cats. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 17:31, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Don’t know if this is the same on the German wiki, but the German people categories on the en-wiki contain VERY few women entries. Check for example Category:German women novelists with only 5 entries compared to 327 in Category:German novelists. Ottawahitech (talk) 13:51, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Mediawiki categorization is a pathetic way to organise anything. I've had conversations about this at previous meetups, so I know my feelings aren't unique. Our categories are full of redundancies and overlaps, it's probably even worse on Commons, it's one of the reasons I never do any real category work - the whole system needs to be replaced. I hope that Wikidata will eventually supersede our categories altogether. Amanda Filipacchi - (Gender:F, Nationality:American, Occupation:Novelist), users should just be able to query the individual fields to come up with the "category" of their choice. - hahnchen 18:22, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't think anyone intended to make the novelists category male-only by creating Category:Women novelists (I don't know why the category was created but maybe they wanted to make the women more visible). But that's what our category system does. I don't think there's anything invalid about doing intersections like this, but it's stupid that it has the effect of segregating "marked" groups from the main category. (talk) 05:01, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The initial story is interesting and provoked thoughts about how we categorize. Then the s**t hit the fan. No one would argue with efforts to improve the referencing and NPOV language in Amanda Filipacchi. But the language on the talk pages of that article, Jimbo's talk page, involved editor's talk pages, the talk page about the article about Filipacchi's mother, and father, and the company that her father was involved with went bonkers. Some really insulting, scatalogical, offensive, defensive, and off-topic comments were flung about with wild abandon, not by newbies but by experienced editors. The vitriol directed against the New York Times was astounding. And then Salon quoted some of it, word for word. How mean Salon is to us! Editors here need to learn to act like thoughtful, calm adults, instead of petulant and yes, sexist adolescents.Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:16, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Here's how I see this situation, as a woman in Wikipedia. This isn't a case of sexism at all. Rather, it appears to be a giant misunderstanding, both on the part of some of our editors and on the part of Filipacchi and the media. The editors who removed Category:American novelists from various articles and replaced it with Category:American women novelists either didn't read Wikipedia:Categorization/Ethnicity, gender, religion and sexuality#Gender or misinterpreted it. A quote from that section: "[A] female heads of government category is valid, ... though it does not need to be balanced directly against a "Male heads of government" category, as historically the vast majority of political leaders have been male. Both male and female heads of government should continue to be filed in the appropriate gender-neutral role category" [emphasis added]. Wikipedia's guidelines and policies are clearly not based in sexism, as some of the media have claimed. It boils down to a few editors who, likely in all good faith, did something they shouldn't have done without obtaining consensus and possibly a change to guidelines. But hey, that's how Wikipedia works, and we seem to be doing a good job of discussing this situation.
I understand that it's not the easiest for non-editors to figure out how to climb over into the "behind-the-scenes" area on here to discuss things they find inappropriate and to raise concerns. However, Ms. Filipacchi has demonstrated cluefulness in that she figured out how to find out if articles have been removed from categories. I don't see any attempt from her to contact anyone on here, via the article's talk page or any other page (including the talk pages of the two categories in question). I understand that Ms. Filipachhi feels like an outsider, but it really would have been more appropriate (and less dramatic for all of us) is she had attempted to engage with the community first. Likely someone would have hopped on over to WP:GENDERCAT and gone "Oh hey, removing those people from that category was against guidelines!" Maybe consensus would have gone the way of re-adding the category to the pages, or maybe we would have had an RfC that changed our guidelines.
Now to address Ms. Filipacchi's accusation of "revenge editing". Here's the diff between the article before Ms. Filipacchi wrote her op-ed and how it stands as I write this comment. It's gone from 7,007 bytes to 10,903 bytes. It now has good formatting, the prose is more encyclopedic and it has good references and the inappropriate external links are gone. It's a given that her article would receive attention after what's been going on. Prose has been removed and rewritten, but none of it has been to get revenge on Ms. Filipachhi. I see edits that have been to improve the quality and tone of an article that has had a sudden uptick in attention. It would be really nice if we could just all sit down and talk it out without the angry emotions getting in the way.
TL;DR: Nobody gets off scot-free here (but nobody gets huge amounts of the blame either); I have two X chromosomes and a vested interest in gender equality and I don't view this as sexism; and as a very wise and very funny woman once wrote, "I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy." Cheers, — Preceding signed comment added by Cymru.lass (talkcontribs) 14:18, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree with Ms. Filipacchi that women authors (or scientists or politicians) should not be segregated. But her ire should probably be directed, not at Wikipedia, but to those persons responsible for creating "Women's Studies" departments without creating "Mens Studies" departments. HuskyHuskie (talk) 18:49, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
    • I don't think people who have degrees in "Men's Studies" would be very apt to recognize that women novelists are/were being made invisible on Wikipedia. So, no, I don't think her ire should probably be directed towards those people. In fact, it was partly the work of people in women's studies departments that allowed for society to recognize that making women invisible was a problem, so we at Wikipedia should probably be thinking them instead of blaming them for our mistakes. Dkreisst (talk) 07:36, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Dkreisst, I apologize for forgetting that irony is poorly conveyed in this medium. I didn't actually mean to give the impression that I would want to have "Men's Studies" departments in universities. I do indeed recognize that women were not given their due prior to the 1960s (or 70s or 80s, depending on the region and school). My point would be that, rather than creating women's studies as a separate entity in the university, that this problem would have been better addressed by forcing inclusion within the canon of women's literature and historical and scientific (and other) contributions. Essentially, the creation of Women's Studies sends the message that separate is equal, i.e, it creates a modern-day gender based Plessy v. Ferguson situation. Had women been given the right to sit anywhere on the bus, they would not today find themselves relegated to the back, in silly matters such as these categories. If equality is desired, then segregation is probably not the best idea. HuskyHuskie (talk) 07:31, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
Hi HuskyHuskie, Thank you for the response. I would be better persuaded argument if the segregation that you mention were enforced and if women had not, themselves, worked so hard to create women's studies departments. Since the creation of women's studies does not mean that non-women's studies departments are forced to omit women's literature and history and other contributions from their curriculum, I see little separation and little correlation to Plessy v. Ferguson. Also, it seems that there has been little resistance to, and perhaps quite a bit of work done on, "forcing inclusion" of women's contributions into non-women's studies departments from those that created women's studies departments. If that had worked as well as they hoped it would, perhaps they wouldn't have felt they needed their own department. Clearly, though, that was not the case. Finally, I think I agree with your statement that, had women been "allowed to sit anywhere" in the past, that they would be today also be "allowed to sit anywhere". The question is, since they were not allowed to sit anywhere they wanted to in the past, what is the best way to ensure they will be able to someday in the future? Dkreisst (talk) 01:09, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, your last point is the most important question to answer. I strongly believe that the path taken in the past, in creating segregated disciplines, while appearing expedient, have yielded a poor outcome, a ghettoized area of study. But it is here to stay, because you can hardly change it without being accused of "taking away from women" something peceived as important. So what should we do? Damned if I know. I think we're just cementing more and more divisions among people. Academia, which is where the greatest integration should exist, is becoming the most Balkanized part of American life. HuskyHuskie (talk) 04:54, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
    • HuskyHuskie, men's studies would have been the default curriculum (in other words, you didn't learn anything about women in school) prior to the 1960s and the 1970s. In fact, women who attended college prior to the 1960s did so because they were expected to find husbands in college, and they were discouraged to use their education in a professional capacity or work outside the home after marriage. Those that did before the advent of feminism had very tough lives. Please try to learn a little bit about history before commenting. You may want to start with Makers: Women Who Make America, a three-hour introductory documentary about the struggle for women's rights in the U.S. that is available free to watch online. Viriditas (talk) 08:05, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
I recognize, Viriditas, that you had no way to know that you were not addressing a twelve-year old, so I suppose your patronizing comments should be chalked up to a good faith effort to enlighten a child. Suffice it to say that I walked the halls of academia before Women's Studies existed (at least at my university), so I'm well-versed in the rationale and development of women's studies. And while I respect the motives of those who created such courses and departments, you can see my comments above to User: Dkreisst to see why I feel such well-intended persons were nonetheless misguided. HuskyHuskie (talk) 07:31, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The entire category system should be scrapped and replaced by a meta-data search system. I should be able to find "all american women writers born between 1900 and 1950". Praemonitus (talk) 15:21, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
    • And what if you are looking for‎ a candidate in a British Columbia election whose name starts with D, institutions involved in housing in Alberta (Canada), an Australian corporate director ‎ who was born in Lebanon, information about the use of temporary workers (outsourcing, etc), someone who works at MBNA, a list of Canadian women engineers, list of people who died with Alzheimer disease, info on elections in Sarawak, someone who graduated from the University of the Balearic Islands, the list goes on… xOttawahitech (talk) 14:50, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Commons App[edit]

  • The mention of the Commons app doesn't make clear the app's name: "Wikimedia Commons". Stevage 12:12, 2 May 2013 (UTC)