Coming Up This Month: Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon
By Nisan Iğdem
Art+Feminism, a campaign aiming to tell stories that history tends to forget, is coming together for the sixth time in March to combat the gender inequality in one of the largest free sources of information, Wikipedia.
The project, which was started in 2014, was founded by Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, Michael Mandiberg, and Laurel Ptak to improve “coverage of cis and transgender women, non-binary folks, feminism and the arts on Wikipedia.” It also aims to have more women on the editorial side, as currently only 10% of Wikipedia’s editors are women.
The process is fairly simple. People get together with their computers in various places of the world, and try to fill in the gaps of knowledge in some Wikipedia articles, or if there is enough information, create a new one. “It only takes 10 minutes,” says Ximena Gallardo C., a gender and film scholar, who also volunteered for the event in New York’s art and technology centre Eyebeam in 2014. The campaign’s increasing success also cannot be ignored. It had thirty events in the year it was founded, increasing to 140 events only two years later, extending to “every inhabited continent” in the world.
In 2014 alone, 101 woman-artists received a Wikipedia page through the Edit-a-Thon. One of these artists is Clare Rojas, who is “known for creating powerful folk-art-inspired tableaus that tackle traditional gender roles” in media such as painting, book illustrations, or video. She is also a musician, performing under the name Penny Honeywell. Despite the wide range of her artistic talents and her growing success, she did not exist in Wikipedia until 2014. Similarly, the page of Mary Bowser, a former slave and Union spy, was updated during the 2018 campaign, which focused on African-American history and “Woman Warriors”.
Art+Feminism collaborates with museums, libraries, universities each year to continue the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons. The organisation has decided that the focus of the 2019 campaign will be on “non-binary topics.” Volunteers can visit their website to learn more about how to organise an event, find an event in their area, or register to be a part of an existing event. According to the Art+Feminism website,there are six events in the UK, one of which is held by St Andrews on 6 March 2019:
Annie Armstrong, ‘Art + Feminism to Host Sixth Annual Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in March’ in ArtNews, 21 Feb 2019. (http://www.artnews.com/2019/02/21/art-feminism-host-sixth-annual-wikipedia-edit-thon-march/)
Art+Feminism, 2019. (http://www.artandfeminism.org)
Hannah Ghorashi, ‘Art+Feminism’s 2015 Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Adds 334 Articles on Female Artists’ in ArtNews, 10 March 2015. (http://www.artnews.com/2015/03/10/artfeminisms-2015-wikipedia-edit-a-thon-adds-334-articles-on-female-artists/)
Robin Cembalest, ‘101 Women Artists Who Got Wikipedia Pages This Week’ in ArtNews, 6 Feb 2014. (http://www.artnews.com/2014/02/06/art-and-feminism-wikipedia-editathon-creates-pages-for-women-artists/)
Talia Lavin, ‘A Feminist Edit-a-Thon Seeks to Reshape Wikipedia’ in The New Yorker, 11 March 2016. (https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/a-feminist-edit-a-thon-seeks-to-reshape-wikipedia)