Gender gap event helped to shape the Image Suggestions tool for editors on Wikipedia in Portuguese

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Poster with the details for the event (FDoria-WMF, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Este post também está disponível em português.

Did you know that the gender gap on Wikimedia projects is not only seen in the text, but also in the images used to illustrate the articles and on Wikimedia Commons itself? That’s why, on February 11, 2023, Wikimedia Portugal and Wiki Editoras Lx got together to organize the online edit-a-thon Mulheres na Cultura (Women in Culture, in English). The aim of the event was twofold: create and improve articles about cis and trans women within the scope of Portuguese-speaking arts and culture and create awareness among experienced editors about the need to illustrate articles through the introduction of the Image Suggestions tool.

Image Suggestions is a tool that makes it easier for users to find potential images for unillustrated articles. It’s aimed at more experienced users, who receive notifications with suggested images for articles in their watchlists. The tool uses Structured Data to provide suggestions and it’s built upon the work of the “add an image” structured task project – see a blog post about a set of events related to this project here

The tool works by looking at the Wikidata item for the article. If it has an image (property P18), it will suggest that image, and if it has a Commons category (property P373), it will suggest an image from the category. It will also look at articles about the same topic in other languages and search MediaSearch on Commons for the title of the article, combining traditional text-based search with structured data from Commons and Wikidata. If an image ranks high enough in the results, the tool suggests that image.

For the event, the organization had the support of the Structured Data Across Wikimedia (SDAW) and Culture and Heritage teams. The SDAW team was the developer of the Image Suggestion tool, as part of their efforts to make structured data better adopted and used across projects. The Culture and Heritage team was involved in the initiative not only because of its subject (arts and culture), but also because the team has been involved in supporting structured data and image reuse on the projects.

The event had the participation of 19 editors, all women, both from Portugal and Brazil. It took place between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., in Portugal, and 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in Brazil, via Zoom. Those who participated were able to edit, according to the Outreach Dashboard event tracker, 466 articles and create 62, accomplishing a total of 874 edits.

The gender goal of the event, which was to improve articles about women in the fields of arts and culture on Wikipedia in Portuguese, was realized through both the enhancement of text content and the addition of images of women already available on Wikimedia Commons. On the other hand, the technical goal of the event was not only to create awareness among experienced editors about the need to illustrate articles, but also to the role of the Image Suggestions, especially because the SDAW team had received less feedback on this tool from the Lusophone community.

In order to participate and receive the notifications, participants had to register in advance via the Outreach Dashboard link. That was a very important step as the SDAW team would turn on special notifications for event participants, who received customized and more image suggestion notifications than the usual amount sent by the Image Suggestion tool. 

The participants who were at the event and had not registered earlier had the chance to test the tool a few days later, after they also registered to the Dashboard. This is the reason why the tracking of the event went until February 25 and also because, in the following week, all the users registered would receive one more batch of notifications with suggestions.

For this event only, the SDAW team included suggestions for images related to people (Q5, on Wikidata). The tool traditionally did not make these suggestions to avoid the risk of suggesting offensive images or images with inappropriate biases. However, as this event worked with articles related to women and, as it was organized by groups that function to combat gender bias on Wikipedia, we chose to include the option for Q5 and articles for biographies.

As the theme of the event was Women in Culture, the SDAW team had to select articles on Wikipedia in Portuguese that would encompass both women and culture and also had no images, but had images that could be used to illustrate those articles. For that, a list with 10 initial categories was selected and all the articles within those and their subcategories would be considered. The list of categories is available here. For those who had not registered, WELx and WMPT prepared a list of articles to be enhanced, available here.

The agenda for the event was to, first, present all the groups and teams involved in the organization, followed by an introduction and demonstration of the Image Suggestions tool, and finally the division of activities and the editing. The event followed the Friendly Space Policies from Art+Feminism and was inserted in the annual A+F campaign via its Outreach Dashboard as well.

At the end of the edit-a-thon, participants were asked to provide feedback about the event and the tool via a Google Form, where they could also share their details to receive some Wikipedia swag. According to the feedback shared on the form, 83.3% of the respondents said that the tool suggested good images for them, 16.7% said that the tool’s suggestions could improve, and no participants said that the suggestions were bad. One participant commented: “I adopted 24 of the 35 image suggestions, just a few didn’t make sense.”

Some participants reflected that the tool prompted them not only to insert images, but to make other improvements to the articles and file pages on Commons. One participant suggested that “it would be interesting to be able to ‘train’ the algorithm, saying why a certain suggested image was not useful.”

After the event, the SDAW and Culture and Heritage teams presented about the event and other topics at a session during Wikimania 2023. Sofia Matias, member of the Wiki Editoras Lx and Projects Coordinator at Wikimedia Portugal, joined the session and gave a report on the participation of the two groups and the experience of organizing the event and using the Image Suggestions tool. To watch her description (in Portuguese with subtitles in English), check the video below at 36:40.

We would like to thank Sofia Matias, Flávia Dória, Rute Correia, and all who helped on Wikimedia Portugal and Wiki Editoras Lx.

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