Ladies I have some bad news. Wikipedia wants you…to start editing their pages.
It seems that this publicly edited information database is a bit heavy on the testosterone…and coverage of baseball, football, hockey, and the Simpsons.
In fact, 87% of Wikipedia editors are male.
Of course with such a dramatic gap between the sexes in Wikipedia contributions, one can’t help but ask, “Why?” and more importantly, “Why do we care?”
If women don’t want to volunteer their time to fill in the blanks on Wikipedia, does it really matter? Apparently, yes.
Of course, drawing any legitimate conclusions from the large gap in editorship leads to uncertain waters. In other words, no one wants to be accused of sexism.
So instead they decided to imply that fact seeking is an inherently male quality, along with Internet searches and general tech savvy.
Way to dodge that sexist bullet guys, because saying that the friendship bracelet and “Sex and the City” pages need some help would just be insulting.
Executive director of Wikimedia, Sue Gardner, offers no real answers, only that they hope to increase that sad 13% to 25% by 2015.
I think to figure this thing out we’ll have to go the source…I present a Wikipedia search (by me, a female) soliloquy:
Me: Gee, I wish I knew more about [search term]. Let’s see what the Internet has to say about [search term].
Oh look, Wikipedia has the first thirty links on [search term]. Let’s see what sources they used.
Wow! there’s a legitimate link to a reputable source down at the bottom of this page regarding [search term].
It seems I have arrived at an analytical crossroads with [search term]. Should I abandon this lovely stepping stone of a reference and use the legitimate source on [search term] instead or should I spend the next several hours contributing to this incomplete page instead of working on my original project concerning [search term]?
“Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List “: New York Times
“Dude-centric Wikipedia Needs More Women”: MSNBC
A free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 17 million articles (over 3.5 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site.
That’s how Wikipedia describes itself, although it has been called many other things:
- A breeding ground for incorrect information on an infinite number of topics.
- The savior of the African Elephant population.
- The place where useless facts go to die.
- The online encyclopedia that no one seems to trust, but everyone uses.
Today Wikipedia turns 10 years old.
It’s hard to imagine what the world was like before Wikipedia.
Remember when finding facts use to require referring to experts or finding a reliable source?
Now we can just type in a term on our search engine of choice, and odds are good that one of your first hits will be a Wikipedia page.
Who needs reliable sources when you have experts like “random guy” from “who knows where.” The only qualifications he needs are a laptop and internet access.
And that is what makes Wikipedia great, you never know what you’re going to get.
Happy 10th anniversary Wikipedia!
More on the Story: Wikipedia turns 10
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