I am now on digest mode with this mailing list. The traffic is often too
much for me and the voice of this list is frustrating for me
sometimes..so... remember that please :)
I have been asked to share my thoughts by many people this morning on the
internet, here they are:
I have been editing Wikipedia for ten years and i have no clue what has
been going on with the feminist/gamergate thing. As one of the more well
known female editors i have cut back heavily on my involvement after last
year. I don't know any of the editors, personally, who "went to court" but
I have seen this stuff happen to both sides in men's rights articles in the
After reviewing the Arbcom case, I don't even know who got the idea that
any of the contributing editors are feminist, per se. No one even mentions
the word, except once, when describing a subject that was "slandered" in
the gamer gate article(s).
I also don't think that the edits made to the article are overwhelmingly
feminist in nature. It appears to be just a bunch of people editing the
Wikipedia article to protect it from being a hot mess of 4chan junk.
Note: most of the "in trouble" editor's aren't that productive at
contributing feminist content to Wikipedia. I have interacted with only
four of them - Black Kite, Future Perfect at Sunrise, TarainDC and Bilby -
only one is a female in real life and I know her from GLAM editing
projects. She is the only one that I know who has actively edited feminist
topics prior to this. I actually consider Bilby an ally, but, I have never
heard him or any of the other editors blatantly identify themselves as
>From what I know, only one of the editors on the entire "trial list"
identifies out as a female.
So, it appears a bunch of editors trying to keep the article clean had to
run through the gauntlet. I don't think the end of the world has come to
any of their lives - they have plenty of other subjects of interest to keep
them busy on Wikipedia.
I also think people invest *too much* into Wikipedia to where it's what
they live for..per se. I see a lot of that in this case, and many others
that "go to court" on Wikipedia. I stopped participating on Wikipedia when
it screwed up my personal life so much, and I lost sleep over it. So...
that's my advice to anyone involved in that Arbcom case :) Go on vacation
and get another hobby and edit Wikipedia when you feel like it. It isn't
life. It's just an encyclopedia.
Big smile on my face... I love the idea of regular editathons. I've never
been to a knitting/quilting circle but I imagine a group of women editing
Wikipedia would have a similar look and feel. Piggy-backing on the WMDC
"salons" might be a way forward as facilitating an "editathon" requires
quite a bit of the facilitator, while a regularly scheduled editing-circle
or editing-salon wouldn't require a facilitator at all. I think that would
be easier to sustain and replicate.
These are all really good and complex questions because individual differences, areas of work within Wikipedia, and personal experiences can greatly affect why an editor of any gender chooses to stay or go. From my research thus far, I do, however, think the predominant culture and norms on EN Wikipedia tend to make it more challenging for editors who are more “feminine” (e.g., not more female or only women).
I have done and am continuing to do some work re: these questions. See https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IEG/Women_and_Wikipedia/Midpoint.
Part of the challenge is that interviews (e.g., scheduling, conducting, transcribing, member checking, coding, analysis) are time intensive, but the provide much richer and deeper information than surveys. Also, participants tend to self-select for both. I’ve spoken with only a few women who don’t like the term “gender gap” and who don’t see a lack of women participating as a problem in and of itself. Also, I’ve found it difficult to recruit men to participate. I would love to interview trolls too, but again—no takers yet.
I’ll be publishing my final IEG report on April 1. If my participants grant permission, I’ll share the anonymized, redacted transcripts as well as the survey results and 9 months of Gendergap mailing list data my students and I have coded and analyzed.
An excerpt from a note (currently in press) I’ve written with Ingrid Erickson (Rutgers) re: early findings:
Wikipedia, perhaps the most successful large-scale, online collaboration in the world, is a storied space of democratic values and meritocracy in action—as many within the CHI and CSCW communities have extensively detailed [e.g.,13,18,19,22,23,24]. Yet underneath its idealized veneer, Wikipedia in practice proves to have a notable gender gap. Unlike user distribution reports on social media platforms, which trend more toward representative parity or even a greater number of female users , surveys of Wikipedia users indicate the overwhelming majority of contributors are male . Both the popular media [e.g., 9,21,27] and scholars [e.g., 1,6,20] have begun to explore Wikipedia’s participation disparities, raising questions about editor recruitment and retention, content coverage and bias, and the tension between diversity and territoriality .
Recently, Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, admitted that the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has “completely failed”  to meet its goal of increasing the number of female participants to 25% by 2015. In February 2011 in response to an article published in The New York Times , then Executive Director of WMF, Sue Gardner, asked her Deputy Director Erik Möller to create the Gendergap mailing list, a publicly archived listserv “provided by the Wikimedia Foundation as a communication tool to collectively address the realities of the gender gap” . In September 2014, a male Wikipedian posted the following message to the list: “I think there should be a separate site for the gender gap effort […] where women and men interested in narrowing the gender gap and documenting the existing problems can exchange views in an atmosphere undisturbed by men pretending to be women, men opposed to narrowing the gender gap, men arguing that it's not really proven that the gender gap is a problem.” Even within a dedicated listserv, the topic of gender parity proves to be volatile. Lam et al. confirm this social complexity, noting a “culture that may be resistant to female participation” [20:9].
However, Wikipedia’s gender gap is typically framed as a “woman problem” . It has been attributed to women’s lack of discretionary time , sensitivity to conflict and criticism , desire to be more social , and hesitancy to learn technical skills such as the Wiki mark-up language . In August 2014, Wikimedia Deutschland published a diversity report indicating that, although the picture is complex, “lack of time, technical usability barriers (e.g. navigation, editability), and a variety of sociocultural and communication issues (style of communication, working atmosphere) can […] definitely be identified as reasons for low female participation in Wikipedia” .
Despite the perception of the gender gap as a “woman problem,” women do actively contribute to different language Wikipedias across the world. Women lead local chapters, sustain sister projects, and work for and chair the WMF. Women who have similar edit counts to men are more likely to become administrators  and make more sizeable revisions  than men do. This note reports early findings that suggest there is something to be learned about the possible cause(s) and consequences of Wikipedia’s gender gap by looking more closely at the experiences of women actively engaged in the community. What are their experiences like? What challenges do they face? How do they persevere? We posit that many women Wikipedians engage in a form of ‘emotion work’ , also known as emotional labor, that allows them to maintain their participation even as the circumstances in which they engage prove challenging, if not caustic.
I’m happy to share a link to the entire note once it’s available. I’m also happy to collaborate with others re: future research.
Amanda / Mssemantics
From: Andreas Kolbe <jayen466(a)gmail.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Reply-To: "'Addressing gender equity and exploring ways to increase the participation of women within Wikimedia projects.'" <gendergap(a)lists.wikimedia.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Date: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 5:14 AM
To: Wikimedia Mailing List <wikimedia-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>, "'Addressing gender equity and exploring ways to increase the participation of women within Wikimedia projects.'" <gendergap(a)lists.wikimedia.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Subject: Re: [Gendergap] [Wikimedia-l] surveys of active female editors?
Here are some more questions that I would be interested in having answers to:
-- What do women who are presently editing find most demotivating about contributing to Wikipedia?
-- Have they ever thought of throwing in the towel, and what were the reasons?
-- Based on past experience, what aspect of Wikimedia/Wikipedia culture would be most likely to cause them to stop editing at some point in the future?
-- What change, if any, would they welcome most to feel good about contributing?
You'd need a male control group for comparative work, to establish whether any of the answers are gender-specific.
Crossposted to gendergap list. (Maybe someone with access to the research mailing list might like to crosspost this thread there as well.)
On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 12:22 AM, LB <lightbreather2(a)gmail.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:
I want to push a "Like" button on this one. How. Why. I would love to know
the answer to these questions. Also, for those who aren't active - why?
On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 12:14 PM, James Salsman <jsalsman(a)gmail.com<mailto:email@example.com>> wrote:
> Are there any surveys of active female editors which have asked how
> they started editing?
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>?subject=unsubscribe>
One of the issues that faces anyone who tries to create Wikipedia articles
about women is that there is less details about their accomplishments in
reliable sources. This piece highlights the problem.
For this reason, it is great for us to form initiatives with outside
organizations who generate content so we can reinforce the importance of
creating material that covers women's accomplishments in a greater level of
Our initiatives are a two way street. Working inside of GLAMs (Galleries,
libraries, archives, museums), universities, government agencies, not for
profit organizations of all types gives us an opportunity to talk about the
best way that an organizations can create material suitable for Wikipedia.
And we gain a better understanding of how their content can be shared with
the wikimedia movement.
Wikipedian in Residence is one way for people to create initiatives with
outside organizations. Having women in these positions helps to decrease
biases. Some women are doing an awesome job in these positions now and in
My experience working at Cochrane Collaboration as Wikipedian in Residence
is positive and I encourage women to apply for these position when they are
Also, we can approach organizations that would be good partners for
creating content about women and organize initiatives with them.
If there is a strong interest, maybe we could have a google hangout call to
talk about this in more detail.
Wikipedian in Residence
at Cochrane Collaboration
Interesting... The U.S. does have similar laws, but it's unclear how well
they're enforced. And of course, each state has different statutes.
On Sat, Jan 31, 2015 at 7:00 AM, <gendergap-request(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:46:29 +0000
> From: Marie Earley <eiryel(a)hotmail.com>
> To: Gender Gap <gendergap(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
> Subject: Re: [Gendergap] press coverage of Gamergate arbcom case
> Message-ID: <DUB131-W426C592B733B46FFB4240FC1310(a)phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> There is something I thought I should mention as a UK member of this list.
> Hate speech (including online) is illegal in the UK.
> When the Bank of England announced that Elizabeth Fry would be dropped
> from the new £5 notes and replaced with Winston Churchill, it meant that
> there would be no women on sterling bank notes (apart from the Queen).
> Caroline Criado-Perez successfully campaigned for Jane Austin to be added
> to £10 notes and received threats of rape and death.
> That instigated an online campaign which resulted in Twitter adding its
> 'report' button.
> Isabella Sorley, 23, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, tweets included: "die you
> worthless piece of crap", "go kill yourself" and, "I've only just got out
> of prison and would happily do more time to see you berried!!"
> John Nimmo, 25, of South Shields, made references to rape and added: "I
> will find you (smiley face)".
> Sorley was sentenced to 12 weeks
> in prison, and Nimmo was jailed for 8
> weeks. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25886026
> The law they broke was Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003
> If UK-based Wikipedian 'X' breaches s.127 of the Comms. Act due to
> something they said on Wikipedia about UK-based Wikipedian 'Y' then they
> face criminal prosecution and possibly jail.
> The litmus test is whether what they have said is not only 'offensive'
> but, 'grossly offensive'. Wikipedia's internal systems and thresholds would
> make no difference to the authorities in the UK. It would be interesting to
> see what the public fall-out would be if Wikipedia decided that no action
> should be taken against X whilst the UK jailed him / her.
I'm one of the new editor-in-chiefs of The Signpost, the community-written
newspaper covering the English Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
While it is hosted on the English Wikipedia it is independent of the WMF.
In March, we would like to include some content focusing on women's
contributions to Wikipedia and the gender gap. Some of this may be in
conjunction with the WMF blog, but the details have yet to be worked out.
We need ideas, but mostly we need people willing to create such content.
We have a very small staff and most of them are dedicated to producing our
March aside, new content and suggestions are of course always welcome at
any time and on any issue. In particular, I've used this list to find
media stories that I've missed in the usual places I look when composing
the "In the media" section of the Signpost, and I wanted to say thanks for
that and if there's any media story or anything else that you think should
be featured in the Signpost, please let me know.
Obviously another statement to the press.
*”Among on things says: “The Committee’s preliminary findings have been
represented in some media stories as targeting feminist editors and
attempting to prevent their contributions to gender-related topics. This
is inaccurate. The findings of the Arbitration Committee deal
exclusively with the documented conduct of editors on the English
Wikipedia. They do not consider editor opinion, identity, affiliation,
or beliefs, nor do they take into consideration an editor’s actions or
affiliations outside of their participation on English Wikipedia, unless
those actions are directly related to facilitating disruption on the
encyclopedia. The Arbitration Committee does not and cannot take a
stance on the content of articles, nor on broader issues such as the
Gamergate controversy itself.”
(Comment: ArbCom doesn’t in the least share the prejudices of the vocal
tiny minority of editors who voted them in? - a large portion of whom
are mysoginists opposed to civility?)
“ a reminder for administrators on appropriate actions pertaining to
biographies of living persons.”
(Comment: Like that ever sticks for anyone “the community” doesn’t like
or isn’t willing to stick their necks out about.)
*Discussion page about Committees statement. Again, sometimes hard to
figure out what the posters' povs are. I'll read it later and save
comments til see if people are interested...
First, FYI, Foundation comment from Phillipe Beaudette; the comments
section is interesting because gamergates don't seem to find it as
necessary to point out what their perspective is as those who take an
opposite view or push neutrality.
Some interesting comments including:
* Mark Bernstein link to Sarah's comment on GGTF.
(Comment: His article is a good outline of what happened.
And let me say here that I am one individual who wants to see
non-governmental/nonviolent education and voluntary social sanctions
used to diminish the playing of violent games - and the making of
gratuitously violent movies - to zilch. The violent reactions of those
gamers who /merely believed/ other women wanted to do so shows how sick
the gaming industry is and many gamers have become.)
* "Wikipedia will never have more female editors, because they are all
at RationalWiki. " (Comment: I doubt it, though their article on
gamergate has lots of interesting dirt on the gamers.)
* "You don’t care about off site harassment. You don’t care about on
site harassment. The best part is, you’re going to continue wondering
why your volunteers are overwhelmingly male." (Comment: Good one!)
* "And now it’s time for Wikipedia and the ArbCom members to get a taste
of what GamerGate supporters have experienced over the last half year,
as the biased press, so-called “social justice” warriors, and radical
third-wave feminists sling false accusations and slander depicting
Wikimedia as anti-Feminist misogynistic avatars of “The Patriarchy” who
are problematically silencing the pure and true words of underprivileged
minority and feminist editors who are simply fighting against bullying
and harassment propagated by those “nasty MRA GG terrorists” (by
engaging in bullying, doxxing, and harassment themselves, but it’s all
good because that’s “punching up”)." (Comment: Paranoid?)
* "What a load of horse puckey. The Wikipedia only cares about civility
when it is convenient; when it has to do with, say, an editor who writes
hundreds of articles for them, then civility policy is set aside. The
English Wiki Arb Committee sanctioned veteran editors who were keeping
the Gamergate topic area free of the rape & death threat style
harassment and innuendo that Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and others were
subjected to." Part of one of Tarc's comments.
* Carol decided to weigh in too:
I thought ArbCom was practicing institutionalized harassment when it
just let a few trollish editors totally new to me trash me on the GGTF
arbitration before it banned me. (Note, I only used phrase gangbangers
for harassers AFTER it was clear ArbCom was going to ban me. And I stand
by the phrase.)
It is unbelievable that with the Gamergate Arbitration they have removed
editors working to make an article neutral from a flood of off-Wikipedia
trolls who evidently also flooded the Arbitration.
It's time for the Foundation to decide if it's on the side of
civilization or psychotic chaos. I mean will it really lose that much
money - and respect in the tech industry - if it chooses civilization?
And will it really lose more trollish editors than the decent ones it
will bring back or attract?
Once the tech issues are solved, how about putting a few million bucks
into promotion and education to bring such editors in and keep them? How
many hundreds of Techies will WMF continue to need??