by Amani Newton
The dominance of Wikipedia can no longer be denied. A local expression of a national initiative to address some of the online encyclopedia's biases takes place this week.
Once upon a time (not that long ago, actually), students were warned against even reading Wikipedia. The issue is that Wikipedia was open-source and editable, by anyone, anonymously. Information can be purposefully edited to be misleading, or missing something, or biased in some way.
One well-documented bias is gender. The flood of young men in the computer sciences means that the large body of information on Wikipedia skews toward the interests of that demographic.
Wikipedia is huge, with more than five million articles in English. It’s also free. Warning people against using it really isn't an option anymore. So in an attempt to offset the bias, many museums, universities and science organizations all over the globe have organized edit-a-thons, events bringing together experts and interested people to edit and improve specific entries.
Art+Feminism is a national organization that began organizing Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon’s in 2014 to address the bias created by the lack of women editors. (Fewer than 10% of contributors to Wikipedia identify as female, according to the organization.)
The Carnegie Museum of Art hosts one such edit-a-thon this Saturday (just in time for Women’s History Month). No prior Wikipedia editing knowledge is necessary. The museum will offer tutorials for beginner Wikipedians at 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., as well as reference materials and expert support. Bring your own laptop if you can, as the museum’s supply is limited.