2015 Changemakers: Wiki edit-a-thons

Art+Feminism WIkipedia Edit-a-thon at St. Catherine University on May 9, 2015. Photo courtesy of St. Catherine University

“The edit-a-thons are a grassroots effort to change … with more women training to be editors and writing and editing articles on women.”
– Amy Hamlin

Women in the arts are glaringly absent from the world’s most popular online research tool, according to a 2011 survey by the Wikimedia Foundation. It reported that fewer than 10 percent of its contributors identified as female.

Janet Koplos had lived in New York City for 20 years. Most of that time, she worked as an editor at Art in America magazine. She left New York to move back to Minnesota in the late fall of 2013. Several months later she received an email from a friend in Philadelphia, in which she referred to herself as “Rip van Judith.” She’d just found out about the Wikipedia edit-a-thon on Art + Feminism (A+F) that was to occur in multiple locations the following Saturday.

Koplos had met Kerry Morgan, gallery director at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), at a gathering several months earlier. She wrote to her, asking if she could suggest local people who might be interested in this kind of initiative.

Morgan emailed her a list of women, setting off a chain reaction. The result: a small gathering of women at the Regis Center for Art at the University of Minnesota on February 1, 2014.

Since that first gathering, the Twin Cities chapter has organized and hosted over ten meet-ups to correct Wikipedia’s lack of women-identified contributors and articles about women artists.

“Notable women are written about on Wikipedia, but often by male editors,” says Amy Hamlin, associate professor of art history at St. Catherine University. “The edit-a-thons are a grassroots effort to change that, with more women training to be editors and writing and editing articles on women.”

Hamlin also spoke to the collaborative nature of the initiative. “The edit-a-thons are a way of looking at how knowledge gets produced and circulated. They’re a way, too, to participate in socially engaged art history with a civic or community component, and a way of raising awareness.”

Hamlin has integrated her learning into classroom opportunities, recruiting younger women and using the editing process as a way to apply critical thinking that, in turn, everyone can benefit from.

The local meet-ups are open to the public. Editors of all genders, ages, and abilities are welcome. Attendees should bring their own laptops and power cords.
Find dates for upcoming Art + Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thons on Facebook: tinyurl.com/MWP-Wiki-edit-a-thons