April 9, 2015  |  Learning and Engagement
Collaborating for a Shared Purpose: Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

2015 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon  at MoMA. All Photos by Sara Bodinson

2015 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at MoMA. Photo: Sara Bodinson

On Saturday, March 7, 2015, the second Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon took place at MoMA. This year over 75 satellite locations around the world participated in an effort to add and improve entries for women in the arts, and to provide training on how to edit Wikipedia articles. Art + Feminism has been instrumental in organizing events and trainings such as this for many years, and the event at MoMA drew over 200 participants and many volunteers from POWarts.

caption TK

A participant receiving Wikipedia-editing training. Photo: Sara Bodinson

Following the event, a follow-up survey was sent to participants to find out more about their motivations for attending and their overall experience at the event. A total of 59 participants completed the survey, citing many different motivations for attending, from an interest in feminism to desiring a sense of community, but the most frequently cited reason was the opportunity it presented to learn how to create or edit articles on Wikipedia. 73% of survey respondents said they had never edited a Wikipedia article before, and 76% attended one of the training sessions offered at MoMA during the event. One participant explained that they wanted “to gain the knowledge to add more content to Wikipedia / self-empowerment.” Closely connected to the interest in learning, was a commitment to correcting the gender imbalance on Wikipedia. Significantly, less than 10% of Wikipedia editors are women. Reflecting on her own profession, one participant reflected “that the gender gap is really astounding. And once I did some digging, it seemed to me that fiber artists (my area) inhabit a particular black hole of women’s work on Wikipedia.”

What people enjoyed most about the event aligned with what attracted them to the event in the first place. 39% mentioned how they appreciated the opportunity to learn something, while 35% expressed how much it meant for them to participate in a communal event dedicated to making a difference. One attendee remarked that they “appreciated coming out with a new skill! So often I feel like I mostly ingest content on the internet, and I left feeling like I could contribute directly to a resource I used multiple times a day.” Another expressed: “I loved the energy, and the way everyone was really committed to learning and to making quality contributions. People were so focused on completing their work.”

Volunteers at work. Photo: Sara Bodinson

Editors at work. Photo: Sara Bodinson

Participants were eager to connect with others, and the majority of participants welcomed more opportunities to socialize at the event. One attendee reflected that they appreciated “the communal aspect—feeling like you’re part of a crowd of people doing something concrete—to fight the patriarchy; the nice combination of interests and opportunity to deepen knowledge about art while doing something for the world at large.” 52% of survey respondents stayed for several hours, and 100% said they would be interested in participating in future edit-a-thons.

64% of those who attended were in their 20s and 30s, and 59% attended on their own. The majority of attendees came from Brooklyn (46%) and Manhattan (26%) respectively.

It was such an exciting and inspiring event to be a part of, and the feedback from participants is encouraging. It’s wonderful to know there are so many people dedicated to making a difference and supporting one another.