Wikipedia Needs More Art and Feminism, and These Edit-a-Thons are Here to Help

Wikipedia editors hard at work in the CCA Simpson Library.  (Photo by Ali Padgett, CC-BY-NC 4.0; California College of the Arts Libraries)

On average, Wikipedia users add 1,500 new articles to the online encyclopedia daily. Of course, some of these are bogus (please follow @DeletedWiki, one of my all-time favorite Twitter accounts, for hourly updates on articles removed from Wikipedia for a variety of sometimes very obvious reasons, e.g. “List of movie posters with lamps in them”). The rest are simply the ongoing catalog of all the world's happenings, past and present.

But it’s never that simple, is it? Unfortunately, the collectively generated and edited site, like most things in the world, has a gender problem. A 2018 survey by the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10 percent of the site’s contributors identify as women, leading to significant gaps in what the site actually contains, especially when it comes to the cultural contributions of cis and transgender women and non-binary folks.

Thankfully, Art + Feminism arrived on the scene in 2014, a campaign that helps people around the world organize in-person gatherings to teach others how to become Wikipedia editors. The groups, usually set up in libraries with access to plenty of books and other physical citations, contribute updates to Wikipedia entries related to art and feminism. For Bay Area Wiki-wannabes, there’s plethora of location options hosting edit-a-thons this Women’s History Month:

For Art + Feminism organizers, the in-person-ness of the edit-a-thons is key. As Standford’s 2018 organizer Vanessa Kam told KQED last year, “There’s nothing like the feeling of collaborating with people, you now, arm to arm, shoulder to shoulder, trying to make a difference.”

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