Sunday 24 February 2019

WAR edit-a-thon
Image courtesy of Women's Art Register. 'Pru Mitchell, from Wikimedia Australia, instructing the group during Edit-A-Thon 2018'

To mark 2019 International Women’s Day, the Women's Art Register are hosting an Art+Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon. The Edit-a-thon, the third hosted by the Women’s Art Register, aims to increase coverage of knowledge about women, gender, feminism and the arts online.

For 4 hours on Saturday 9 March, the W.A.R committee will host this free event at Richmond Library, facilitated by Pru Mitchell, President of Wikimedia Australia and the W.A.R committee.

Wikipedia is the largest and most popular general reference work on the internet with more than 40 million articles in more than 250 different languages. ‘The fact is, when we don’t tell our stories or participate in the ways our history is preserved, our stories are erased’ says Art+Feminism.

Gaps in the coverage of knowledge about women, gender, feminism, and the arts - on one of the most visited websites in the world is a big problem and we aim to fix it. We spoke to Caroline Phillips of the Women’s Art Register about the upcoming event.
Could you tell us a bit more about what an Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is?
Less than 10% of the editors on Wikipedia are women, which then extends to a low representation of articles by and about women, in particular women artists.  In response to this low level of representation, Art+Feminism began in NYC in 2014.   Formed  by Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, Michael Mandiberg, and Laurel Ptak, this group of librarians, curators and writers got together to start collective, feminist 'actions' to increase the content by and about women in the arts, on Wikipedia. Since then the movement has evolved to include annual events all over the world called Edit-a-thons. 

At these events, groups come together in libraries, art galleries and public places, to collectively contribute new Wikipedia articles and to edit existing articles, to increase the representation of women on the site. The collective efforts from each Edit-a-thon around the world are tabled and collated, so progress can be measured.  This collective knowledge and agency then empowers women, amplifies their voices and dismantles patriarchal systems of knowledge production. As stated by Art+Feminism on their website: "Art+Feminism is about making Wikipedia better, as a tool for open access to reliable information, but it doesn’t end there. It’s about dismantling systems of thought that ignore the presence and input of women in the room and diminish or erase entirely their place in history."
How do you prioritise what information will be submitted into Wikipedia?
Anyone who attends an Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon can select an area of their own interest to write about, whether it be a particular artist whose work they love, or a woman they admire. If you are stuck for ideas, we can make suggestions of articles for you to work on. We do not prioritise any particular woman or artist, however there are specific guidelines as to how the information needs to be written, as all Wikipedia entries are moderated for approval before they are published. In general, the information included in an article needs to be verifiable (from another source), and contain notable achievements. This is why some research is needed before you can edit a page! At the Women's Art Register event, you will be sitting right next to our artist files, so you can access the material in our archive directly and easily write about the many notable achievements of Australian women artists.   
What happened at the last (or last two) Edit-a-thons?
Our first Edit-a-thon was held at the State Library of Victoria in 2015, as part of the Women's Art Register 40th anniversary celebrations. We had around 12 people and we received some training on the basics of editing Wikipedia. For our second event, we partnered with Wikimedia Australia and held the event at Trocadero Artspace, Footscray, as part of their IWD Guest Curator Program. We registered our event with Art+Feminism, so our work is now counted in their global tally. Pru Mitchell, the President of Wikimedia Australia facilitated this event, and we created one new article, edited 13 articles and completed 40 edits in total. This year we hope to beat that total and create many more articles and edits.
How can others get involved beyond the Edit-a-thon?
Once people sign up as an editor on Wikipedia, or attend an Edit-a-thon, they can continue to work on Wikipedia articles at any time. The more editing you do, the easier it becomes! You then become more well known to the moderators, and have more success with your editing. You can get involved in regular online discussions about editing, and become part of the Wikimedia Australia and/or the Art+Feminism community. And, of course, we always welcome new members and volunteers at the Women's Art Register, where  you can contribute to the ongoing work of our unique national archive.

To attend the IWD event on March 9, at Richmond Library, please sign up to be sent some important  information before the event, and don't forget to BYO laptop and power cord.




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