Wikipedia Pleading for Female Contributors Without Success

by W.F. Price on January 31, 2011

The NY Times has just come out with an article bemoaning the fact that women comprise just 13% of it’s hundreds of thousands of contributors. That’s actually more than I’d expect, but if one counted all contributions rather than contributors, those made by women probably fall well under the 10% mark.

According to article author Noam Cohen, if one takes a close look at Wikipedia, a sinister bias emerges…

A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject.

Even the most famous fashion designers — Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo — get but a handful of paragraphs. And consider the disparity between two popular series on HBO: The entry on “Sex and the City” includes only a brief summary of every episode, sometimes two or three sentences; the one on “The Sopranos” includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode.

A Harvard academic, Joseph Reagle, says that the problem is that Wikipedia is too open — even going so far as to allow misogynists to contribute!

But because of its early contributors Wikipedia shares many characteristics with the hard-driving hacker crowd, says Joseph Reagle, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. This includes an ideology that resists any efforts to impose rules or even goals like diversity, as well as a culture that may discourage women.

“It is ironic,” he said, “because I like these things — freedom, openness, egalitarian ideas — but I think to some extent they are compounding and hiding problems you might find in the real world.”

Adopting openness means being “open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists,” he said, “so you have to have a huge argument about whether there is the problem.” Mr. Reagle is also the author of “Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia.”

So Mr. Reagle’s solution, I suppose, would be to establish a Harvard “diversity” board and filter submissions by sex, race, religion, what have you, while censoring non-PC entries. I’m sure this terrible idea may give him wet dreams, but it won’t work.

There’s a reason women don’t generally contribute to Wikipedia, and it has little to do with sexism, “culture,” or lack of rules. The reason is, simply, that they don’t care. That’s right, it may be amazing to some people, but the overwhelming majority of women simply couldn’t care less about an online encyclopedia. Add to that the fact that contributors don’t get paid, and why in the world would a Western woman want to waste her time editing articles on Wikipedia when she could be chatting with her friends about all the various boyfriends drifting in and out of their lives?

If you want to see what women are interested in, visit Jezebel and take a look at the articles. The overwhelming majority of articles are about celebrities and fashion. Fashion and fame are transient; they change with the seasons and are forgotten as quickly as they move on from one thing to the next. A Wikipedia for women would not be a fairly static collection of facts, but a flickering panoply of constantly changing images, never the same for more than a moment.

That feminists are going after something that comprises the altruistic efforts of many thousands of people, most of whom are never compensated by any means other than the pride of accomplishment, exposes them for the ungrateful wretches they are. When society’s elites disparage impressive, beneficial efforts such as Wikipedia (for all its faults, it is certainly impressive and helpful) simply because the people good enough to put it together make our diversicrats look bad, it says very clearly that the wrong people are in charge of this country and its institutions.

However, there may be some hope. Sue Gardner of the Wikimedia foundation, the NGO that runs Wikipedia, is taking a soft approach to encouraging women to contribute. In a reference to the many, many men who contribute and clearly know how the field is tilted against them in the greater society, she says: “Gender is a huge hot-button issue for lots of people who feel strongly about it. I am not interested in triggering those strong feelings.”

Yes, Ms. Gardner. Many of us feel strongly about the bully crew of feminists and their elitist enablers. Put them in charge and you’ll wreck Wikipedia as sure as day fades to night.

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