Edit-a-thon to increase women’s history on Wikipedia

· 3 min read

Edit-a-thon to increase women’s history on Wikipedia

A Women's History Month Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is planned for 1-4 p.m. March 28 at Love Library, room 221 or via Zoom.
A Women's History Month Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is planned for 1-4 p.m. March 28 at Love Library, Room 221 or via Zoom.

The University Libraries is collaborating with Katrina Jagodinsky, Susan J. Rosowski associate professor of history, and her History 110 students to host a Women’s History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. The event will focus on improving the representation of cis and trans women within Wikipedia entries.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is 1 to 4 p.m. March 28 in Love Library, Room 221 or via Zoom. Registration required.

The project aims to reduce gender bias on Wikipedia. Currently, biographies of women make up 18% of the content on the English language Wikipedia site.

Janel Simons, assistant professor of practice and one of the organizers of the event, said that no experience creating or editing a Wikipedia entry is necessary to attend.

“There will be opportunity to learn about editing and participants can engage at various levels, whether they would like to research a topic, write or edit copy, or provide citations for an existing entry,” Simons explained.

Faculty will help attendees sign up for a Wikipedia account and will supply them with the resources to get started. Students from History 110 attending the event, will serve as peer ambassadors. Jagodinsky will kick off the event with opening remarks shortly after 1 p.m.

“We’ve designed the event to be accessible to anyone who wants to participate whether they have ten minutes or an hour to spare," said Melissa Gomis, associate professor of practice and co-organizer. "Join us — we are confident that you can help us achieve our goal of improving representation of women’s history on Wikipedia.”

The idea for hosting an edit-a-thon started last year with the CDRH Community Engagement Committee, of which Jagodinksy is an active member. Jagodinsky saw an opportunity to connect this outreach event with her History 110 course, developing a research-based Wikipedia assignment focused on women who contributed to American history prior to 1877. This initiative supports ongoing efforts by the Wikimedia Foundation to address the gender gap in representation on Wikipedia, both in terms of content reflecting notable women and increasing editorial participation among female contributors.

"This is a great opportunity to participate first-hand in the generation and circulation of historical knowledge," Jagodinsky said. "Because millions of people worldwide get their historical information from Wikipedia before delving into more in-depth academic studies, UNL participants can have a tremendous impact on making historical content more accessible. This is a powerful way to celebrate women’s history month."

With research support from the Libraries, students in Jagodinsky’s class will create Wikipedia entries for notable women figures from United States history whose biographies are missing from the site. Entries created by students will be available for additional contributions at the public event, though edit-a-thon participants will have a variety of topics to choose from and ways to contribute to the event.

With extensive contributions from Traci Robison, assistant professor of practice and outreach archivist in the University Libraries, organizers have curated topics that relate to local women’s history. Topics include Lucy Correll, suffragist and journalist; Rosalind Morris, first woman on the university's agronomy and horticulture faculty; Sarah Muir, alumna, suffragist, legislator; and Carol Moseke Frost, alumna, 1968 Olympian and Husker women’s track coach. Edit-a-thon participants can also pick from a backlog of tasks to improve existing entries as well as topics selected by the organizers from Wikipedia-generated work lists.

Event sponsored by the University Libraries, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and the Department of History.

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