Just For The Record is a program of edit-a-thons running over one year, addressing the gender gap on Wikipedia on three levels: who writes, what is written, and how things are written. Just For The Record started after an Art+Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon in Brussels in 2015, organized by one of its founders. Inspired by the Art+Feminism edit-a-thon, Just For The Record proposed a series of more than 4 events in 2016, addressing the gender gap on Wikipedia, with a specific focus (three levels: who+what+how) and a format enriched by conferences by guest speakers. The success of these events and the amount of work that the gender gap represents leads us to ask for funding for a new year.
What is the problem you're trying to solve?
- The inequalities of representation of gender on Wikipedia (also called gender gap)
- The lack of materials helping editors to write in a gender-neutral way.
- The lack of awareness of this problem among most of the users of Wikipedia (and beyond).
Despite the great promises of Wikipedia as a new tool to write and publish in a collaborative way that never happened before, and its predominant position as one of the most visited websites in the world, there is still a big lack of diversity, which was identified at the level of its contributors (a troubling small percentage of women, an average contributor of “31 years old, white, straight, single and has a degree in higher education”…) and at the level of the topics covered on the encyclopedia (as for instance seen in the Women In Red project).
We have identified a third problematic aspect in the diversity issue on Wikipedia, that is rarely addressed compared to “who writes” and “what is written” : “how we write”.
This is a big problem that goes beyond Wikipedia itself. A more concrete problem that we would like to tackle on Wikipedia is the lack of awareness of this bias among all the users of the encyclopedia.
To narrow down the proposal, we will focus on gender bias, but our project is related to wider issues of diversity and we will build on materials developed in other projects. We aim to make our material and methods re-usable in wider diversity gap and systemic bias projects on Wikipedia.
of the gender bias on Wikipedia
We have noticed that the existing projects on the gender gap often focus on specific target groups, to have more women contributing on Wikipedia for instance. They aim at touching a public interested in working specifically on the gender gap.
As we have witnessed in the events we have been organizing during the last year (Just For The Record), most people are unaware of the Gender Bias on Wikipedia, not only outside Wikipedia but also among Wikipedia’s experienced contributors.
In discussions on talk pages, we have experienced having to face contributors who seem unaware, or even reluctant to acknowledge the importance of the problem. This attitude can lead to biased deletions, long debates and even hateful comments. It can discourage experienced users into engaging in such discussions, and have first time users not want to come back. When a user faces this situation, s·he has to explain the issue from the beginning. We feel that it would be useful to have pages that users can link to, to save energy and show that this is crucial for the betterment of Wikipedia.
Even when people are aware of the problem and want to implement some changes don't necessarily know were to start, which articles to edit, and how to write in a gender neutral language. It seems that the problem of the Gender Bias on Wikipedia comes in part from lack of knowledge about the issues themselves and from a lack of support from the users forming the community, thus impeding necessary changes towards more equality on Wikipedia.
This PEG grant covers operational costs for one year.
What is your solution?
After the initial Wikipedia edit-a-thon and the following Just For The Record events in Brussels were met with enthusiasm, it seemed evident that there was a need for events supporting engagement with gender and feminism-related subjects, reflecting and taking actions on how history is re·written with the new tools that Wikipedia offers.
Learning from how our previous events developed, we propose to create a new series of events, in which guest lecturers or organizations are invited to do a presentation on a predefined gender-equality-related topic. With the guest lecturer, we prepare a selection of reference documents used to analyze the state of the Wikipedia page(s) linked to the topic. The lecture is followed by a collective discussion and an edit-a-thon of the concerned page(s) with all the participants.
The topics are chosen in discussion between Just for the Record’s team and the guest speakers, and will range from women artists and initiatives from the past to the present, but also universal questions related to (gender) equality from perspectives as diverse as the poetical, political, sociological and philosophical point of view.
The choice of a precise topic and the participation of guests speakers play a crucial role in these events:
- they will attract a wider public, not necessarily interested in editing on Wikipedia at the first place;
- they will introduce the participants to a subject, giving key elements to understand it, triggering their curiosity for it;
- they will guide the participants among the reference texts so that they can use it during the edit-a-thon;
- they will analyze Wikipedia pages related to the topic and point at parts that can be improved;
- the guest speakers will themselves be introduced to Wikipedia editing and to the interests of this type of events, and they might repeat it in other contexts!!
Our previous experiences with Just For The Record have allowed us to start creating a network in which expertise on these questions is created and shared. We think that the both the public and the Wikipedia community still needs to be more aware of the lack of gender and intersectional diversity on Wikipedia, so we would like to expand and enrich the network that we have started building, in Belgium, where we are based, and in neighboring countries, as we are an international team with contacts in different countries.
We would also like to conduct in-depth research based on our experiences in the field of Wikipedia, as we think a qualitative approach is needed, as a complement to existing more quantitative projects (like the Art+Feminism project) and reports. We had very interesting experiences and feedback during the events that we need to write down, process and analyze — which takes an extra amount of time. We could observe different situations (mechanisms in the writing, discussions, confrontations with other editors of Wikipedia on talk pages and forums), in which we can identify interesting arguments and patterns that would be a good base to develop informational tools (banners, guides) to raise awareness and support new users in the interactions with older users.
With this research we hope to gain a thinner understanding of the complex issues around the gender gap, and its less-visible mechanisms, that can help the actions developed in our project, as well as in other projects on Wikipedia: we would like to contribute to existing research on the topic, enriching it with the outputs of our approach.
- Bring together people around gender gap issues on Wikipedia.
- Find creative and inclusive ways of dealing with these issues.
- Encourage more diversity on Wikipedia by introducing and training collaborators.
- Document this process and publish articles on Wikipedia.
Expand your idea
Do you want to submit your idea for funding from the Wikimedia Foundation?
The project Just for the record will propose meetings on a series of precise themes around gender issues and the way knowledge is constructed and shared. The events will happen on a regular basis (at least 6 times over the year), mainly in Belgium and in surrounding countries. They will be held in different places, as a way to embody and highlight this network of organizations active in gender, feminist and media issues. Quite a few organisations already exist in Brussels, with very specific fields of action and publics. They offer a multiplicity of points of view, but it is not really easy to have a good overview of their activities. We would like to throw bridges between them and get them to share their knowledge on Wikipedia.
To do so, we will need a strong communication not only to invite people to the events (advertisement in local magazines, flyers, posters), but also to document the ideas developed through a specific Wikipedia event page (with meta info: organizational tools, recipes, cheat sheets, etc).
For each event, we will invite a person or an organization to give a lecture on a specific topic. This will include a presentation of reference texts and documentation related to the topic and will be the starting point to question its representation on Wikipedia. This will help the participants to identify articles that need to be created or modified, and introduce them to Wikipedia editing before starting the editing session!
Outline of the events:
- Introduction on the gender gap on Wikipedia
- Introduction of the guest(s) and the session’s topic
- Talk and presentation of the published reference materials brought on the topic
- Analysis of the topic's representation on Wikipedia page(s): What should be modified? What is missing?
Next to the events, we would also like to spend some more time in developing the local network (Belgium and abroad), developing our online network and raise awareness amongst a broader Wikipedia public (regular users of Wikipedia, admins, …) and further analyzing what we experience(d) during our events to build tools that can be re-used to work on gender gap issues.
A core group of four organizers will share the tasks of organizing this year-long program!
|Number of units
|Cost per unit
|Documentation and technical material
|Reference materials that cannot be found in the partner libraries but needed for the edit-a-thons, beamer rental, sound equipment, etc.
|Estimation of the needs, as it will also depend on what is available in different venues
|Fee for the space
|The events will be held in different places, often non-profit/very low budget organizations, but very important for such topics and Wikipedia-enthusiasts, so we think it is important to also show even a symbolic support for these places
|Food and beverages
|Snacks for a day
|We would like to encourage bio,vegan, women/gender-linked cooking initiatives. We expect an average of 25 people per event for a total of 6 events.
|Communication budget + Wikipedia-editing material (print) budget
|Print costs for Wikipedia material (cheat sheets and posters): photocopies and paper. Posters, flyers and eventual add in local magazine
|Estimation of the printing and paper costs. We believe it is still important to have a visual/physical communication to touch a wider public and make publicity for our events in agendas distributed in cultural organizations throughout Belgium and shared beyond.
|Travel expenses & accommodation
|Transport tickets & accommodation for the organization and meetings in Belgium and surrounding countries.
|Public transport, train, bus, and accommodation expenses.
|Project management time
|Compensation for management time
|Per half a day of work for one person
|Partnership development, additional and further research based on what happened during into ideas hopefully leading tools to be used on the project/in Wikipedia…
|Food and drinks for our weekly organization meetings
|Per meeting (once a week, 45 working weeks)
|We always encourage bio,vegan, women/gender-linked cooking initiatives in our expenses.
Over the past year, we got in contact with most of the institutions we had mentioned in our last PEG proposal and started many collaborations. We would now like to reinforce and deepen these connections.
We would like to invite people from existing Brussels-based organizations specifically working with collecting documentation on gender equality issues and research such as: RoSaDoc (Documentation Centre and Archives on Feminism, Equal Opportunities and Women's Studies), the European Women's Lobby, CREW (Centre for Research on European Women), Amazone (Archive Center for Women's History), Bibliothèque Leonie La Fontaine and professors teaching gender studies the University of Leuven.
Outside of our self-organized events, we have been invited to participate to many events including the Brussels LadyFest festival, a public presentation at MuntPunt for the International Women's Day and at the Girl Tech Fest.
We have already received many invitations for the coming months, for example we have been invited to participate to a Hack-a-thon organized by Amazone and to do workshops at beursschouwburg and at RoSaDoc.
To make this project a tool that can be re-used by others (in education, etc), and shared, we will focus on multi-format publications (Wikipedia web, audio, paper…) and the project as a whole is publicly available online. We are keeping track of our project through our website and wikipedia meetup page and sharing our experience, highlighting key moves and pitfalls.
We are already in contact with Wikimedia Belgium since the art+feminism edit-a-thon in March 2015 and the Just For The Record series of events, since then Loraine Furter has become part of the board of Wikimedia Belgium, so we are very enthusiasts to collaborate with them on this project!
We are now strong of one year of organizing events, our weekly meetings and many events have made us grow closer as a group and work more efficiently. In a relatively short time, we have carved ourselves a respectable place in the network of Brussels based collectives and institutions. As we have mentioned, we would like to maintain these collaboration and foster new ones.
We have managed to each work on this project every week at least one day and often more, but are conscious that it would be impossible to maintain a project of this size without any financial support. Having a budget to rent different spaces, pay for small expenses and to prepare food during the events has allowed us to create a welcoming atmosphere where the participants feel good to stay the whole day and often times come back to more than one event and spread the word.
We are highly motivated to continue the work we have started and hope to have the chance to use all the insights we have gained over the past year to host highly interesting edit-a-thon for the public, but also to create new tools and writing guides to improve the wikipedia community. We really hope that what are doing will be re-appropriated and multiplied by other people!
Measures of success
- 6 events, at least, in the year taking place in different locations to open up to new publics.
- attendance (at least 25 participants per event)
- number of pages edited
- New tools (banners, guidelines, bots) to help users write in a more balanced way:
- use of the banners on Wikipedia pages
- page views of the guidelines
- activity of the bot(s)
- New Wikipedia users, aware of the gender gap and the methods to write in a balanced way.
- Make “old” Wikipedia users more aware of the gender gap and the methods to write in a balanced way.
- We estimate 6 events per year. We think this number ensures quality and avoids over saturating our target audience at the same time as it gives continuity to the program.
We can roughly estimate that if we have 25 participants on each event, we hope that a third of them will stay active after the event, and a third will spread the word to others. We believe that this can be very valuable for Wikipedia, and our experience is that some of the participants are even interested in organizing edit-a-thons themselves!
- Léonie Butler - Canadian artist based in Brussels, organizer of many Wikipedia edit-a-thons and presentations as part of the project Just For The Record.
- Lfurter - Swiss graphic designer, organised the Brussels node of the international Art+Feminism edit-a-thon on the 7-8th of March 2015 and worked during one year as the coordinator of a book-related event in Brussels (Prix Fernand Baudin Prijs), has skills in collaborative publishing (bookprints, participative editing and experimental approaches), in graphic design (initial background and education) and tools development, organizer of many Wikipedia edit-a-thons and presentations as part of the project Just For The Record.
- MMelvaer - Norwegian artist based in Brussels, organizer of many Wikipedia edit-a-thons and presentations as part of the project Just For The Record.
- Sarah magnan - French graphic designer working with the Brussels based collective OSP (Open Source Publishing), organised several workshops and events around Free and Open Source software, organizer of many Wikipedia edit-a-thons and presentations as part of the project Just For The Record.
- See our list of endorsements here, on our joined IEG project page.
- WMBE endorses this project DerekvG (talk) 20:38, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
- Just For The Record
- WikiProject Countering systemic bias/Gender gap task force
- WikiProject Feminism
- Women in Red
- WikiProject Women artists
- WikiProject Women's History
- Wikimedia LGBT
- Wikimedia Belgium
- WikiProject Countering systemic bias, https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diversity, Wikimedia Diversity Conference, Diversity Campaign
- The Gender gap task force, the Art+Feminism project, Ateliers Femmes et Féminisme, …