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Edit-a-thon fills in the blanks of women’s history

Participants in the Edit-a-thon contributed content related to women’s history. Photo by Calvin Rong.

The Equality Archive Women’s History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon took place at Baruch College on Thursday, March 9, during club hours. This was an all-day event dedicated to improving Wikipedia entries on topics linked to the people, history and issues surrounding women’s history in the United States.

The objective of the Equality Archive Women’s History Edit-a-thon was to assist participants in expanding the ability to edit and revise articles on Wikipedia, to cultivate the skill to report facts accurately and to expand the clarity of people, history and struggles involving women in history. Professor Shelly Eversley, founder of equalityarchive.com, stressed that editing articles on Wikipedia is a vital practice that educators appreciate: creating awareness that is defended by reliable sources.

Eversley opened the event by revealing that women are absent from history on Wikipedia: less than 10 percent of its contributors were female and only 16 percent of the biographies on Wikipedia involved women in 2015.

“I hope there is a feminist intervention to stop gender inequality in the U.S.,” Eversley stated.

She additionally revealed that the idea for this event originated after Equality Archive was invited to present at Wikimedia NYC. They collaborated to create this Edit-a-thon.

“There is a disparity of events regarding activism from women of color and non-English speakers on this largest online reference source. During the 1960 Miss America pageant, there was a Miss Black America pageant and protests happening nearby. But this is not mentioned in the Wikipedia article. We believe that we can transform the world. This is a good time to try something new because this has never been done at Baruch,” Eversley expressed.

To get started, participants checked in and signed up for a Wikipedia account. Instructions on how to edit Wikipedia were offered at every hour on the hour. Participants were encouraged to look over a training guide created by Art + Feminism for further clarification. Students were urged to get involved in a training session if they had an hour, add citations to an article in their region of proficiency if they had 90 minutes, add a well-cited paragraph to an article if they had two hours and create a new article if they had two to three hours.

Participants were then guided on how to navigate their account. If they wanted to cite Equality Archive, they were instructed to find the portion they wished to cite and copy the Uniform Resource Locator. After posting it, they needed to save their changes and write a summary to briefly describe their changes. They were further given the opportunity to use hashtag options such as #EA201703. If they clicked view history, it would show their changes, the date and time they added it and their profile name.

The articles to revise on Wikipedia included the Asian-American movement, the Black Power movement, Fire Island, Kathleen Collins, Georgia Gilmore, Martha Gonzalez, Kimberle Williams, Miss America, Our Bodies, Ourselves, Shirley Clarke, Stonewall, Third-person pronoun and Women of All Red Nations. Students were taught that they could improve these articles using the corresponding Equality Archive entry. Eversley demonstrated this by directing students to the Wikipedia entry on Fire Island on one tab and then opening a new tab on the Equality Archive titled Fire Island. She was then able to add a citation on the Wikipedia Fire Island page using the parallel Equality Archive entry. She focused on a subtext of that particular article, the hamlet of Fire Island pines and added an additional sentence on this page—“Fire Island Pines along with the adjoining Cherry Grove are the areas most strongly associated with the gay community on Fire Island.” She made a citation to finish, all courtesy of the Equality Archive entry. To further highlight the goals of the Edit-a-thon, she added a citation from the Equality Archive entry #NotYourSidekick to the Asian-American movement Wikipedia page.

Students followed her example and used her work as an outline and inspiration when they began to work on articles independently. There were volunteers on hand to answer their questions about Wikipedia or analysis.

“It is empowering to see what you leave. Knowledge is a collective practice and it is important to have the power to create it,” Eversley said.

March 18, 2017

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