Wikipedia is a paradox and a miracle—a crowdsourced encyclopedia that has become the default destination for nonessential information. That it has survived almost 15 years and remained the top Google result for a vast number of searches is a testament to the impressive vision of founder Jimmy Wales and the devotion of its tens of thousands of volunteer editors.
Stephen Colbert once joked about how easily Wikipedia could be edited and how quickly those edits could become fact, said Elaine Zundl, dean at the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science and Engineering. But despite Wikipedia’s reputation, many issues are fought via the game of edits and articles, including that of feminism.
The biggest strength of Wikipedia is also its biggest weakness: What one person writes, another can change or delete. This issue is writ large in religion, as a recent article in the Religion News Service says.
"Religious topics are one of the top 100 most frequently vandalized on Wikipedia," says the article, which keeps up a brisk pace despite the 1,200+ words. It explains not only the why of religious edits, but the difficulties of how to keep things straight -- and, in a field as subjective as belief, what it means to keep things straight.
The story starts with Mormons, surely one of the more scrutinized faiths, especially since Mitt Romney's presidential bid in 2012. In three years, Anthony Willey, a Mormon and a Wikipedia administrator, has done more than 8,000 changes, mostly on his own faith.
No, the new Wikipedian-in-chief does not write or edit entries on the world’s biggest collaborative encyclopedia. (If she did she would probably fix the reference to her own birthdate, which has been flagged “better source needed.”)
Over the past several months, groups of students, artists, and activists have been participating in Wikipedia " write-ins " or " edit-a-thons " at schools and museums all over the globe, volunteering to create new Wikipedia pages for women artists that have been largely erased from the popular art historical canon. Like nearly all secondary historical sources, Wikipedia is disproportionately written by and about men. The "edit-a-thon" is an attempt to correct history, which, through continuous neglect, has been arguably the most powerful tool used to suppress women’s advancement. I spent last spring in Italy researching Renaissance and Baroque female artists whose work I had not been exposed to as an art student in the United States. When I returned to Baltimore, I learned that The Walters is actually home to some of these artists' paintings.
Twenty-five bombers, full of intent, descended upon the Shine Dome of the Australian Academy of Science on Thursday. And yet, in spite of their attentions, the dear old building is still standing unscathed. How can this be?
Wikipedia has come under scrutiny over a lack of female representation and participation on the website. To combat this trend, Adrianne Wadewitz was a dedicated "Wikipedian," who wrote and edited content on Wikipedia as one of the nearly 75,000 active volunteer editors. Continue reading →