Wikipedia has a problem with systemic bias.
A 2011 survey suggests that on English Wikipedia around 90% of editors are male, and are typically formally educated, in white-collar jobs (or students) and living in the Global North.
if there is a typical Wikipedia editor, he has a college degree, is 30- years-old, is computer savvy but not necessarily a programmer, doesn’t actually spend much time playing games, and lives in US or Europe.
This means that the articles within Wikipedia typically reflect this bias. For example only 18% of biographies in English Wikipedia are of women. Many articles reflect the perspective of English speakers in the northern hemisphere, and many of the topics covered reflect the interests of this relatively small group of editors. Wikipedia needs a diverse community of editors to bring diverse perspectives and interests.
Wikipedia is also a community that operates with certain expectations and social norms in mind. Sometimes new editors can have a less than positive experience when they aren’t fully aware of this.
We need to increase the diversity and number of Wikipedia editors. One way to do that is to run edit-a-thons and other facilitated activities that introduce some of these norms and expectations at the same time learning how to technically edit Wikipedia.
“It is very fun but challenging at the same time. I feel like I am doing something very meaningful. it not only helps me with my translation skills, but also makes me feel that I am contributing to Wikipedia, to people, to the society.” – Student feedback.
“It’s great that I now know more about how Wikipedia works and I actually contributed to it finally.” – Student feedback.
“This was a very enjoyable experience and I feel we learned skills that will be useful in the future.” – Student feedback.
- The 5 Pillars of Wikipedia
- Where are all the women Wikipedia (Guardian, 2016)
- Editors are trying to fix Wikipedia’s gender and racial bias problem (Huffington Post, 2015)
The Sum of What? On Gender, Visibility, and Wikipedia (Undark, 2020)