Improving the visibility of women in Wikipedia for Ada Lovelace Day 2012
October 19, 2012 7:57 AM   Subscribe

An Ada Lovelace Day editathon is happening at the Royal Society in London This is part of a project to improve the representation of 'women in science' on Wikipedia and is hosted at the Royal Society of London after previous edit-a-thons at Harvard and Stockholm. It seems like most of the participants are women. If it sounds intriguing, it's not too late to register for a subsequent session in Oxford on the 26th (You might even be given cake).
posted by AFII (15 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Grace Hopper, y'all.
posted by deathpanels at 7:58 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm an advisor to the Wikimedia Foundation and this is one of a large number of different projects they've been doing both to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles generally (and on specific topics) as well as try to find ways to get more women to participate in Wikipedia. Thanks for the post.
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

That's interesting- I could've sworn Wikipedia frowned on people organizing outside of Wikipedia to influence content in a particular direction.
posted by Jpfed at 8:26 AM on October 19, 2012

No metion of her second career as a porn star?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2012

I could've sworn Wikipedia frowned on people organizing outside of Wikipedia to influence content in a particular direction.

This is a project sponsored by Wikimedia UK and the Royal Society. What they frown upon is someone representing Toxic Megacorp going in and "cleaning up" all the mentions of Toxic MegaCorp throughout Wikipedia. Making Wikipedia articles better is a different and more laudable goal than making Toxic MegaCorp's reputation better through manipulating their mentions on Wikipedia. There are actually a lot of education initiatives throughout Wikipedia to get schoolkids interested in becoming editors and learning how to research and cite in Wikipedia format. I think you may be confusing "influencing content" with "creating content."

There's a difference between information that is not on Wikipedia because it doesn't belong there and information that is not on Wikipedia because someone hasn't gotten around to adding it yet. It's always been a bit of a bummer that Wikipedia is so rich in, for example, Pokemon characters and so poor in many of the important and noteworthy people in history from the entire continent of Africa, for example which is what things like Project Africa are trying to combat. So they partner with organizations to do projects like this one. Sorry for threadsitting, just have more backgrounder than the average Wikipedia reader and wanted to share.
posted by jessamyn at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

And if you get really inspired and want to carry this over into Halloween....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on October 19, 2012

That's interesting- I could've sworn Wikipedia frowned on people organizing outside of Wikipedia to influence content in a particular direction.

The first link is a WikiProject on Wikipedia.
posted by dhartung at 9:00 AM on October 19, 2012

I heard about Ada Lovelace Day earlier in the week and so was pleasantly surprised on Wednesday to look up on my way from a meeting and see the blue plaque on her London residence. It's shown here on the waymarking site, with a biography and a map to the house.
posted by biffa at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2012

I was reading a compsci blog the other day and they mentioned Barbara Liskov and Christine Paulin-Mohring (sadly, no Wikipedia article on her, as of this point) as a couple of their favorite women in computer science.

I think it really is important, I mean, I can name a ton of the male dudes who worked in compsci, but before looking into it (and even now, I struggled to remember the names of these two women) I only really knew of Hopper and Lovelace, but clearly there are more involved historically, and of course, nowadays, even more women involved. Let alone the unsung heroes like the women who wound the rope-core memory of the early NASA space computers...

This is a great counterbalance to the "brogrammer" culture and the whole DHH/Rails attitude. We need more of this (well, it's not technically great enough IMO, but it's a start). In fact, I'm quite glad to see that the past couple years in science in general has seen more of a push for recognizing white/male privilege, and hopefully we continue to make progress...
posted by symbioid at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My cats are named Hopper and Ada.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Marie Curie Day
posted by homunculus at 2:26 PM on October 19, 2012

As worthwhile an initiative as this is - and I certainly don't want to criticise those taking part or imply that wikipedia has sufficient coverage of women in any area (It absolutely doesn't!) I do think it is important to question whether this will help at all address the long-term editing trends on wikipedia.

The Wikimedia foundation has been trying for over two years as a key priority to increase the regular number of female editors and stop the decline in editor numbers with no evidence of any meaningful success - In other areas that might be seen as evidence that more radical measures need to be taken than these kinds of small, "meetup" events that have never (to my knowledge) produced a single new editor who has gone on to be the major contributor to a "featured article" - the benchmark of quality on wikipedia.

I personally doubt they ever will, just because the reality of editing wikipedia in your personal time is very far removed from this kind of event. The foundation is unable or unwilling to seriously invest in actually changing the "on-site" culture and experience of editing. I guess long-term structural changes have a much less positive mood-affiliation though and so they continue to invest in "fun" events and programs which generate good publicity. (WMF UK, organiser of this event has a $1.3million budget and only 87 active volunteers - some might question whether those numbers make sense - though it explains why they can fund this kind of thing I guess!)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 3:08 PM on October 19, 2012

My cat is also named Ada!
posted by tickingclock at 11:08 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

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