PSU hosts a Wikipedia ‘Edit-A-Thon’

This weekend, portland State students and members of the community were invited to increase the presence of female figures on Wikipedia.

The Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon took place in Neuburger Hall on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In particular, this event focused on art and feminism, bringing light to important female figures in society, as well as female artists. This was done by creating articles about them and editing existing articles to add more information. Attendees were allowed to create and edit any Wikipedia page they wanted at the event.

“I hope that a more accurate picture of the world is portrayed on Wikipedia because of this event and others like it—one that includes the contributions of women to society,” said Julie Perini, a professor in PSU’s art and design program.

Perini was one of three tech-savvy women who hosted this event, along with Krystal South, a PSU graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Lisa Radon, a Portland artist and writer.

This event was held not only to inspire women to share their knowledge, but to change the male-dominated cyber culture that often leaves women out of the picture in Wikipedia articles.

In a survey done by Wikipedia in 2010, it was reported that less than 13 percent of the Wikipedia editing community were female.

Dorthy Howard, Wikipedian- in-Residence at the Metropolitan New York Library Council, said these Edit-A-Thon events first took place three years ago in London at the British Museum.

Since then, the movement to get more women involved in Wikipedia has spread throughout the U.S., from New York City to Portland, with the help of Eyebeam, a nonprofit arts and technology center.

Many of the events have taken place in museums and other schools like PSU. As it turns out, hosting an event can be done by almost anybody.

“Eyebeam tipped me off on it on Facebook and within a couple of hours me, Krystal and Lisa had set up [our event] on Facebook. It was that fast,” Perini said. “This was a big Facebook promotional event, but we blasted it out to students and are welcoming the entire Portland community.”

Howard explained that their events have been prominent in social media and that other organizations are fighting for the same cause.

“We have a lot of people signing up online through different social media. There’s also other groups that have formed for this cause, including the Wikimedia Cascade Group in Portland who have had over ten smaller scale events and the Global Women’s Wikipedia Write-In,” Howard said.

One female PSU student, who asked the Vanguard not to print her name, explained her motivation for attending the event and bringing more female editors into Wikipedia.

“Our professor told us in class that most of the editors of Wikipedia are male, and I thought that was interesting,” the student said. “So after I heard that, I went and edited Wikipedia—I took the time to add in a little citation that was needed.

“I think there should be more women editing Wikipedia and representing the knowledge that we have, because it’s our collective knowledge we’re putting out for future generations,” she added.

South said she felt it was important to make people comfortable with technology and that no matter how little experience attendees had, they were still invited to learn.

“I just want people to not be afraid of technology and to have the skills to do this,” South said. “I am beginning as well, but I’m really excited about technology and don’t want that to be the barrier that stops people from
doing this.”

South works in technology and has noticed an increase in the number of women in technology fields.

“[Technology] is a man’s industry, but that’s changing really rapidly. Half of the people at my company are women, and it is much more acceptable for women to be in technology now even from 10 years ago. I think it will continue going this way”, and I think anyone can feel comfortable learning how to do this,” she said.