Today I spent a few hours at MoMA as part of the Art+Feminism Edit-a-Thon to upgrade Wikipedia’s quantity and quality of entries on women generally and women artists specifically. The Wikipedia world is arcane and complicated Beneath its veneer of populism, Wikipedia, founded in 2011, is run largely, 84%-92%, by men, and its entries largely reflect these men's interests and range of knowledge.
We were given a half-hour training, in which we were introduced to the structure of a Wikipedia page, the purpose of the various tabs, how to create our user profile (and how to use Wiki markup, a simplified html), how to make an edit, how to add a citation or new text, how to communicate with other Wikipedians. Then we were allowed to start working, either by finding some women artists’ entries to add citations or new information to or, if we had more time, to try to create a new article entirely. Most important, we were told about the Wikipedia guidelines: (1) be objective (and avoid conflict of interest); (2) articles must be verifiable through reliable, published sources; and (3) entries had to be notable, notability being shown by having at least three different references from major publications in the field.
I tried to create a new article, and immediately ran into the problem of finding enough outside sources online to meet “notability” guidelines. Next, I found the director of an organization I helped start, but her entry was in Polish. I learned how I could translate it into English using Google Translate, edit it into idiomatic English, and reformat the footnotes. But the conflict of interest question arose, and I will need to do more research.
While I didn’t make any changes to Wikipedia, I did meet some very interesting women: Debra Harris, who runs hip-hop tours for tourists to New York; Lady K, a hip-hop artist; a journalist who’s had to turn to corporate work as it’s harder than ever to make a living in journalism; and the various Wikipedia editors both female and male who were so helpful. It was a fun and exciting afternoon, and I hope to keep trying to get more women and better citations, and writing, into Wikipedia.