Wikipedia to recruit more women writers

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LONDON - Wikipedia is set to recruit more women contributors, after it was revealed that more that 85 percent of the articles are written by men.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that administers the free encyclopedia, has now set itself a target of 25 percent female contributors by 2015.

The initiative is not about gender equality but is an effort to improve the quality of Wikipedia, said the Foundation.

“This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” the Telegraph quoted Sue Gardner of the Wikimedia Foundation, as telling the New York Times.

“”Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table. If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb,” she said.

However, concerns about the bias built into Wikipedia by the fact its contributors are mostly young, computer-savvy men are not new.

In 2007, the satire website Something Awful created Wikigroaning, which humorously highlights Wikipedians’ proclivities by comparing how the online encyclopedia covers pairs of topics.

Although completely unscientific, Wikigroaning does often capture how female contributions might help balance the online encyclopaedia.

Despite setting a target, Gardner does not plan to actively recruit women, but will try to make Wikipedia more welcoming to those interested in contributing.

She said she fears divisive debate: Wikipedia’s politics are closely related to Silicon Valley libertarianism, which resists attempts to impose change from the top.

“Gender is a huge hot-button issue for lots of people who feel strongly about it. I am not interested in triggering those strong feelings,” added Gardner. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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