A "normal user" might not notice that Wikipedia is "too male" or
female". If that is so and Wikipedia has bias, then doesn't it follow that
the "normal user" will uncritically absorb that bias? If the normal user is
reading about tennis (say) and reads many long article about male tennis
players and a few short articles about female tennis players, isn't the
normal user forming the impression that men are the important players of
Isn't this why we worry about bias in the first place because we risk
I agree it is difficult in Wikipedia to:
* measure bias in number, size, quality of articles
* correlate bias in articles to skewed demographics of editors contributing
to those articles (probably adjusted by frequency, size, or nature of edits)
* determine if editors creating observable bias in the articles are doing so
deliberately or unconsciously
* postulate ways to address the bias
But since we are here to discuss research, then let's discuss what would be
a set of experiments that would help to answer these questions?
Having said all of that, I would be very interested to have a "bias
dashboard" set up for certain topics that shows simple (preferably visually)
stats like number, length, quality of "gendered" articles (the first of my
bullet points above). Often just making bias visible creates change.
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Federico
Sent: Tuesday, 18 February 2014 6:44 AM
To: Research into Wikimedia content and communities
Subject: Re: [Wiki-research-l] The role of English Wikipedia's top content
creators in perpetuating gender bias
Given that the discussion is all happening here anyway, I'll copy the
comment I left on the blog. :)
Nemo February 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Interesting trivia to munch, but little nutritional value IMHO. Everyone
in every field always complains that there are too many articles about
pokémon and French municipalities, too few about X very important
topic/aspect. All such considerations are worthless because they dont
consider the actual relative *impact* of those articles, e.g. how many
other people edited or discussed them after creation and how many page
views they had.
One could even argue that the perception problems related to Wikipedia
being male and cliquey is made worse by posts like this, ;) but that
would be trolling. I dont see how the mere number of articles on one
topic or another is going to make Wikipedia feel too male or
anti-female to a normal user who certainly doesnt notice such things.
If you have to dig for it, it doesnt contribute to public perception;
at most it can be a possible symptom of something else that may be
contributing to public perception.
Even disregarding the impact, to assess the bias of the contributors
themselves a more precise research, comparative in nature, would be
needed. For instance, if one writes articles on parliament members in
country X, and 70 % of articles are about males, thats only biased if
the actual percentage of male MP is less than 70 %. The same should be
done with all the sources for each topic.
And its nothing compared to the systemic bias towards the western and
anglo-saxon point of view which writing in English and using (mostly
online) English sources encourages, let alone languages less global in
Wiki-research-l mailing list