Editing Adventures in Art & Feminism

February 28, 2014 by

We’re kicking off March (Women’s History Month!) with a post about our recent adventures in girl power! Last month we participated in an international event that was really fueled by the spirit of feminism (plus lots of caffeine from Café East in Kingston).

On February 1st, 2014, far-flung organizations from Australia to the Yukon collectively joined forces in the first ever ArtAndFeminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and we were proud to represent the Hudson Valley in this digital initiative! The purpose of this event was to scour Wikipedia for omissions and inaccuracies regarding the achievements of historic and contemporary women artists and organizations. Nearly 600 people met up at 31 satellite locations and logged on to spend the afternoon adding citations, editing existing articles, and creating brand new articles. Together, contributors of all experience levels edited an estimated total of 101 new articles. Participating locations included The Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in NYC, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Brooklyn Museum.

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So why is this type of work important? Isn’t Wikipedia just a user-generated free for all, found at the top of the list of what not to cite in professional articles and academic essays? Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of checks and balances that Wikipedia has instituted to strive for accurate and factual articles. The website has incredibly strict editing and citation guidelines, and articles must include legitimate, secondary (and often scholarly) sources to even be posted. As a Wikipedia contributor, you need to make at least ten edits before you can build enough credibility to create a brand new article. And then there is the coding. As we discovered, the back end of a Wikipedia article is not akin to whipping up a Word Document! The Art and Feminism event was aimed at bringing women’s voices in to write about women’s artwork (fewer than 13% of Wikipedia Editors are female.)

Despite the fact that Wikipedia has become one of the most popular and well known collections of knowledge on the internet, and even though you can find almost anything on Wikipedia, articles about notable women are lacking.  The ArtAndFeminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was created in order to put a dent in Wikipedia’s gender gap in the arts, but edit-a-thons have appeared to address the issue in all kinds of fields.

Check out this cool video summarizing the event, put together by organizers in Chicago:


WSW’s local event drew a big crowd and packed the house at Café East

While participants could log-in from near and far and even edit from the couch at home, part of what made this event so exciting for us was the face-to-face aspect of our local meet-up at Café East in Kingston.

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The crowd that arrived at our meet-up industriously keyed away at their work but we also enjoyed a lot of discussion and group-based troubleshooting. The venu was lively and literally packed wall to wall with editors: laptops lined the bar counter at Café East and participants shared every table space available. With a bottomless coffee pot and a common goal, the vibe and spirit of the event was totally inspiring. More than one editor expressed to us an awesome sense of accomplishment found in learning the technical skills necessary to create a wiki post. We set out to add artists to Wikipedia but came away from Café East feeling like we had given women the tools necessary to magnify our voices in an often noisy digital world. One of our attendees stated, “I feel empowered to know how to make these changes.”

Keep the Edits Rolling!

Organizations across the U.S. are fired up and keeping the momentum gained during this successful event, there could be an upcoming edit-a-thon near you! Check out the list of events on this page: