Building a more inclusive movement at WikiConference North America 2016

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Photo by Geraldshields11, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Photo by Geraldshields11, CC BY-SA 4.0.

West Virginia University’s undefeated men’s football team ranks #12 in the nation. Their Wikipedia article reflects this with a good article rating and over 150 cited references.
Arguably, WVU’s (also undefeated) women’s soccer team is even more impressive; they’re ranked #1 in the nation, and two of their players qualified for the Olympics earlier this year.
But you won’t find that fact in their currently unrated Wikipedia article, which only cites 24 references.
Kelly Doyle held this up as an example of what she tries to address as Wikipedian-in-Residence for Gender Equity at WVU when she spoke at WikiConference North America earlier this month.
In just under a year, Doyle has managed to train 30 WVU librarians and over 250 students to edit Wikipedia. Starting from scratch with no editing experience, she now hosts an editathon roughly once a month on campus.
Photo by Jami (Wiki Ed), CC BY-SA 4.0.
Photo by Jami (Wiki Ed), CC BY-SA 4.0.

“Being able to talk to academics is what made it successful,” Doyle said. By introducing Wikipedia to students, professors, and library staff, Doyle was able to integrate academia with the editing process, encouraging new editors to think critically about their references and citations. And by focusing especially on sororities, the students’ work took significant strides in improving representation for women on Wikipedia.
She says she aims to “eliminate the gender gap in all spaces, not just on Wikipedia,” a goal that resonated clearly throughout the conference. You can learn more about her upcoming projects at her grant page, or follow the WVU Wikipedian-in-Residence pages on Twitter and Facebook.
Like Doyle, WikiConference North America took a proactive approach to inclusivity, featuring dozens of talks on how Wikipedians can improve and uplift the movement as well as the community.
Snapchat screenshotHere’s a roundup of more highlights from this year’s WikiConference North America:

  • On Friday before the conference, Balboa Park allowed WikiCon attendees to visit over a dozen museums, free of charge.
  • Executive Director Katherine Maher invited Wikimedians to attend a facilitated strategy discussion, where they talked about where we as a movement want to go in the future.
  • Stanley Rodriguez, an advocate for the native American Kumeyaay community, spoke Saturday on the buried history of San Diego.
  • In honor of Wikipedian Kevin Gorman, who died in July, an edit-a-thon was held to create and improve articles on women philosophers. Kevin’s editing career spanned over a decade and contributed heavily to reducing systemic biases on English Wikipedia.
  • Pax Ahimsa Gethen gave a presentation on Wikipedia’s transgender and nonbinary representation gap. (You can find the slides here on Wikimedia Commons.)
  • Merrilee Proffitt of OCLC Research gave a keynote speech on the potential marriage of digital library resources and Wikipedia, noting how Wikipedia has evolved from a perceived threat to libraries into a tool for free knowledge.
  • Dr. Lourdes Epstein also spoke on the importance of libraries at her keynote, saying: “Libraries solve life-threatening issues for many people. They must be open.”
  • The Wikimedia Foundation’s communications team piloted Snapchat geo-filter stickers (example at right)  during the conference’s main events.

Aubrie Johnson, Social Media Associate
Wikimedia Foundation

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Thanks for the shout-out! Great conference.

When discussing inclusivity, let’s not forget the participation of the creators of the American Sign Language Wikipedia!

And of course the WikiConference covers North America, and included presentations about Mexico, Haiti and Cuba!

This is a cost of 1000 USD per trainee? Impressive. How many are still contributing?