As one of the largest user-generated information sites on the Internet, Wikipedia is a powerful machine. The information shared on Wikipedia can be added and edited by anyone, yet just a fraction of its contributors are women. This Saturday, as part of its Feminism & Co. series, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver will team up with local music-and-art collective Titwrench to stage one of many Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons happening across the country.
Edit-a-thons are locally organized gatherings inviting people to be part of a group effort to add and correct information on Wikipedia; anyone who's interested is asked to register in advance to be an editor with Wikipedia (a requirement for anyone wanting to edit the site, anyway) and then show up at the museum with a computer. The idea behind the multi-city event is to get large portions of Wikipedia edited and new entries on underrepresented artists, movements and moments in history added in one fell swoop.
According to co-organizer Sarah Slater, this edition's theme of Art + Feminism is one of many. "There are Black history edit-a-thons, skepticism edit-a-thons and many others happening," she says. "I believe that the Art + Feminism edit-a-thon started just last year in New York by a group of artists, educators, coders and everyday people; In the first year, there were over seventy Art + Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thons all over the world and over 140 artists were added to Wikipedia as a result of this collective effort."
Slater's motivation to host an edit-a-thon came from her own experience coming across gaping holes in Wikipedia's database. "I think the light bulb went off when I looked up one of my favorite singers, Yolanda del Rio — who has had a long and influential career in Ranchera music — and found that her Wikipedia entry very brief, sans photo," says Slater. "It motivated me to figure out how Wikipedia operates and who it is that is doing the editing and writing. I learned that, surprise! there is a huge lack of diversity represented by the editors overall and that less than 13 percent of entries are by folks who identify as women. This means that the content can be biased or skewed and missing critical information."
The Denver Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at MCA Denver. Those interested in participating need to register as a Wikipedia editor in advance, as well as RSVP to Slater via firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.
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