Wikipedia Edit-a-thon of Art and Feminism

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon of Art and Feminism

The Art and Feminism organization held it’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Sunday for people to learn editing skills and help improve diversity in online knowledge of art.

According to Art and Feminism Ambassador Stacey Allen, studies have shown that less than 13 percent of editors identify as female, and 75% of editors are under the age of 30. The Wikipedia edit-a-thon, held in the Art + Technology Lab, is a workshop intended to incorporate more feminist voices of all ages in the history of art so that the data is less skewed. Allan said that LACMA’s edit-a-thon is one out of 125 events happening all around the world to encourage women’s participation in art and history.

“My hope is that people leave feeling empowered, having the skills that they need to write history online,” Allan said. During the event, people were able to work freely on their laptops and edit any Wikipedia articles of their choice. Both men and women attended the event, and most people focused on adding information to particular artists or historic time periods in which art was prevalent.

Women’s historian Penny Richards said it was her second year attending the event in Los Angeles and has been editing on Wikipedia for a long time. “It’s fun to be able to work with other people and teach each other things,” Richards said.

The purpose of the workshop was not only to encourage feminine voice in art, but also to learn how to edit and write properly for an audience, Allan said. She gave a presentation demonstrating how to utilize editing functions when logged into the group’s Wikipedia account.

“It’s important to remember that we should be communicating clearly, simply, and honestly,” Allen said. She instructed the group on ways to state facts without including personal opinion, and how to cite sources on Wikipedia. The only rules of the workshop were to only add information that can be traced back to other publications, write from a neutral point of view, avoid conflict of interest, and to make sure the subject has good notability, Allan said.

LACMA photographer Shawn Harris Ahmed said he has been working for the museum for two years and this was the first time he had seen an event in a workshop setting. “It’s really cool that this is a workshop to bring the segregated community that’s building this database of knowledge and having it be more diverse,” he said.

Wikipedia editor Julia Kim said it was her first time attending the event and she hoped to learn more about female artists’ voices. She wanted to help provide information about women’s art because most people are exposed to artists through the Internet. “A lot of these artists are male so we’re trying to get more of a presence from female artists,” she said.

After the presentation, Allan walked around the room and spoke with people at their tables if they needed help on a particular subject. She encouraged the editors to not worry about making mistakes. Everything is constantly being edited and nothing is ever really finished, she said.

“Any edit-a-thon can be a great way to train new editors and make the population of people who contribute to Wikipedia more diverse,” Allan said.