Talk:Women and Wikimedia Survey 2011

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Word cloud[edit]

This is very interesting to read, thanks for your work on it and putting together this summary, especially with all the direct quotes. Only one complaint - is it reeeeeeeally necessary to make a word cloud of slurs used against women? I find it so incredibly unnecessary and I don't see what it adds at all. --pfctdayelise 06:17, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for your thank you, that means a lot. The word cloud is meant to make an impact, and so far it has. I know it's painful to view and not pleasant at all, but, I think the inclusion of it shows just how our system is broken in regards to civility.

SarahStierch 15:43, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I usually find wordclouds to be rather pointless and thus annoying, but found this one to be rather striking. I am curious though - I looked at the file page, and saw the earlier version. I notice that it included words not in the most current version. Why were some dropped? LadyofShalott 01:22, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
glad you were "struck" by the wordcloud! I generally think they are rather "eh" and had never used them, but, I really liked the impact they made for this. Anyway, I had to redo the name-calling wordcloud to display how many hits for each word - you submit a collection of words, and in my original version I did not keep that content (i.e. I didn't save a file or whatever of the words that I pulled from the survey) so when I had to redo it I had to literally redo it, which changed a bit of the format. A failure on my part I suppose. I have no clue if this makes any sense...? :) I hope it does.. SarahStierch 15:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you! I wrote a short article about the survey in the german Kurier (German Signpost). Kind regards, --Kellerkind 10:50, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks so much for including it! SarahStierch 15:43, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I got rid of the word cloud because it seemed pointless. Any number of users or groups could create a list of epithets that they've been called; it doesn't mean that the community supports or condones the use of those epithets. At least if someone gets called a "bitch" on Wikipedia, the community will enforce civility rules; but even Jimbo has been known to sometimes call users "trolls", a label that probably is more likely to be attached to dissidents who, having or even trying to inform people about fringe opinions that offend others, are likely to be blamed for riling people up. Leucosticte (talk) 19:36, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

I put the word cloud back. Sorry, as the person who did the research and wrote the report it has served as an impactful tool in showing people how uncivil the community can be. I suppose, if there is a consensus of its removal, so be it, but, again, as the person who wrote this, I'd like to keep it. SarahStierch (talk) 23:35, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Inside / outside perspective[edit]

This is just remarkable! I see great value regarding data on user satisfaction. It's in the nature of the subject (as you point out at the beginning) that information from those who are missing from the project cannot be obtained this way. So the fact that "only" 22% of female users from this survey cite work/family issues as reason for not contributing does not qualify for comparisons to potiential female contibutors' motivation. Hargh..., it's tricky. Congratulating... --Michael Jahn WMDE 09:27, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Nice work![edit]

This is really interesting! Thanks for doing this! :) — Jeblad 17:38, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

An interesting read! Thanks for your hard work! Awadewit 04:34, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

The great thing about Wikipedia is that allegations can be substantiated with diffs and so baseless ones are easy to point out and ignore[edit]

If anything Wikipedia has shown just how specious most claims of sexism really are. An amusing past time that I would recommend is finding claims of sexism and tracking them back to the incident and see how much of non-problems they are. For example, take this claim:

This is so true [that Wikipedia is sexist]. A Wikipedia shell about New York Radical Feminists I expanded as a long-time NYRF member from documented information from NYRF newsletters and other sources was destroyed by four Wikipedia guys after it was up as is for over a year. The article has the thread of my fight with them until I capitulated as I had no other women friends to be there with me in the fight.

Sounds concerning right? The sexist Wikipedia males systematically destroying feminist material! Oh noes!

Well, what actually happened? She had expanded the article with a lot of original research, which is ok, a mistake many good faith newbies make. However, when other editors tried to tell her about the policies she instead decided that they were conspiring against women's rights, started accusing everyone of harassment, edit warred incessantly against four different editors who were only trying to help her and finally stormed off saying "Any more work I do toward any attempts at gender equity here is a sinful waste of G-d's time". Highlights of the debacle include,

  • When an editor tagged a sentence cited to "from a 7/23/02 e-mail with its founder" with the inline OR template she reverted it with the statement "I the main author of this article feel totally harassed by the last editor,took out most of the harassing comments, accompanying info. There is no gender equity effort here w/such people on the loose."
  • When an editor added clean up and original research templates to the top of the article she edit warred with him making statements such as "I am not discussing anything w/you Shadowjams. You've no more authority for your harassment of people than anyone else here. You kill our spirits, wanting to contribute to Wikipedia." and "Shadowjam will remind readers now and forever that women have a long way to go "just to be" as people w/o harassment".

Just read this the talk page discussion for high levels of amusement.

Competence is required to edit Wikipedia but everyone externalizes their failings. So, some storm off to Wikipedia Review to complain about cabals when they don't get there way, others blame "sexism", when they should really just blame themselves. Extransit 02:22, 29 October 2011 (UTC)


What survey? I never saw it come 'round. If I missed it, so must others have, therefore there may be many more females unaccounted for. 21:10, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

I state in the survey my process for seeking out folks to participate. Perhaps I was unaware of your gender by the way that I determined who would participate. Since it isn't an official WMF survey, I was wary about promoting it too heavily in a manner that would make it appear so (no matter how hard to you try to say it's not some people don't get it :) ). I regret you were unable to participate, and you're welcome to contact me off wiki (or even on Wiki!) with any thoughts or contributions regarding it. Thanks for taking notice though and for your contributions to Wikimedia projects. SarahStierch 23:35, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
I missed it. Sctechlaw 23:20, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Being mistaken as a male[edit]

Silly question: is this really a tragedy? :-) I mean, is it a perceived problem in itself, or are you just checking what assumptions users do? Anyway, males can be mistaken for females as well, and it doesn't look like a tragedy to me. Nemo 10:12, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Excellent Work and Alec posits Three Factors underlying the gap[edit]

It's vitally important that we keep an eye on this. We can never be all that we need to be when half our population doesn't edit. Until the gender gap is closed, it's a reminder to us that we still need big reforms and there's still a lot of room to grow.

I'm male, but I'm not an especially masculine male-- I'm an old geek who used to teach women's studies in a former life.

Factor I-- Conflict seeking -vs- Conflict Avoidance[edit]

Looking at all the excellent responses, I'm amazed at how many boil down to "conflict". I see:

  • A desire to avoid conflict in editing: "edit wars", "edit conflicts", "rule conflicts", "confusing rules", etc.
  • A desire to avoid conflict in communication: "incivil, rude, racist, sexist, or homophobic culture"
  • A desire to avoid being devalued: "Deleted contributions, feeling your presence and time is unwanted or even unwelcome".

Factor II -- Being the Other[edit]

  • Wikimedia was primarily created by affluent, educated, geeky males. Like _evey_ society, we must grow to be more inclusive while still preserving the 'best' of the past AND obtaining the 'best' of the future.
  • Any demographics that are 'other' are going to be under-served, especially at first.
  • Users without sufficient technological proficiency are effectively excluded from WMF participation.
  • Users who are subjected to hateful language-- especially from are admins, are going feel particularly alienated if they already belong to a underrepresented class. Racist, Sexsist, Homophobic, or even just plain incivility is going to affect some classes of people more than others.

Factor III -- Western academic bias coloring our Foundation's Mission[edit]

  • Historically-male spheres of knowledge been legitimized while historically-female spheres of knowledge have been de-legitimized.
  • Even at the academic level, this continues. Traditionally-male departments get lots of funding, traditionally-female departments get a token level of funding.
  • "Western highbrow academic & cultural bias" remains a problem for us. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that values science, war, politics, and history-- but we neglect collaborative Art, Culture, oral histories, life stories, first-person original content, novels, emotional content, creativity, and editorial or artistic freedom.
  • These sorts of biases have always been here, but now they're becoming a major problem in editor retention and editor demographics. Our narrow scope may even be a source of the gender gap. People want to do things "beyond just NPOV encyclopedia articles"-- it's time to listen to underrepresented voices and see how we can accomodate their needs and gain from their insights. -- ESPECIALLY when their needs are things that would benefit everyone.

Thinking forward[edit]

  • We need a "conflict-free" information sharing project. This requires bold action by either WMF or 'leaders of the Wikimedia Movement under a new banner'. I like WMF's leadership, I hope they do it first.
  • Wikimedia needs to grow. New people means we need to grow to welcome them into our ranks. We need to try new things to close the gender gap (and other such gaps, like the technoliteracy gap).
  • We need to re-evaluate whether successfully including larger populations requires greater flexibility about innovation and scope. Historically, women's information sharing has been dismissed as "irrational", "hysterical", "overly sentimental" or just plain "emotional". I feel strongly this content is valid and instructional, and when need to evolve to place where 'emotional original content" is welcomed, not ostracized. If Sylvia Plath came to today's Wikipedia, her works would be deleted as non-notable and harhly told to go elsewhere. I want the NEXT Slyvia Plath to be welcomed here on her first visit, I want us to evolve to the point that we realize poetry can be just as informative as a math equation.

Future Study[edit]

There are some pretty accepted measure from conflict aversion - if you get a high enough N, I bet you could empirically demonstrate a link between a measure of conflict aversion and various measures of dissatisfaction with Wikipedia. This seems such a large effect size that I be you could get a significant relationship very easily if you found the participants. (I don't know if that level of scientific rigor is truly called for or not, but it's there).

Maybe ask survey participants to rate their priorities in some coherent way. My sense is that they, like me, want to to see a more inclusive Wikipedia first-- and a visual editor would be only a distance second benefit (to our existing editors). But that me be me projecting, and I be interesting to know what the people most aware of the problems feel are our 'priorities' as we try to improve things.

The big question for a Researcher right now[edit]

Suppose WMF created a brand new site, totally unlike Wikipedia except in its values and its leadership. "Wikimedia Me", you can host your own content, so long as it's moral, legal, and within a reasonable resource use 'quota'. Other users can't delete your content-- other users can still reuse your content, but they cannot edit war against your own content directly. Your authorial voice would always be preserved and intact.

Would women (and other under-represented people) be more inclined to participate a "judgement-free" accepting environment like that, where everyone is given then autonomy and freedom to collaborate as much or as a little as they would like?

I know I would. Am I alone? Would lots of people, especially women, participate in such a project? Would people be willing to fund such a project? My instincts are that people want this and they will pay for t. Indeed, I think such a project could crack the gender gap wide open. But I just have instincts-- you have access to date.

As some of the repondents to your poll said-- this isn't directly about sexism, it's more about incivility and hate-speech and unwelcoming cliquishness. Women are NOT anti-tech anymore, that was a long time ago. I think the problem is conflict, and I think we can fix it.

But all I have is a hunch. It's up to you, and people like you, to see if my proposed suggestion would actually be popular with the people who are underserved by the current WMF offerings.

Good work[edit]

Most of all, good work. This is vitally important to be keeping track of, it's vitally important to fix, and the fixes will improve WM far beyond just fixing one gap like the gender gap-- the global users, the older users, the tech-non-saavy users, and the conflict-averse editors. The problems you are identifying are not 'women problems'-- they're Wikimedia problems that are being particularly alienating to those of us who are women-- but incivility, rudeness, deletions, and academic bias harm us all. I'm happy to see you are on top of the situation. Good work--AlecMeta 13:10, 24 December 2011 (UTC)