What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia was first launched on January 15th, 2001. Since then, it has expanded into a multi-lingual online encyclopedia, prompting several sibling projects. In 2019, Wikipedia was the tenth most visited site in the world, with English Wikipedia now hosting over six million articles.
Looks like a lot of people are already editing. Why should I edit Wikipedia, too?
While anyone with an internet connection, reliable sources and time can edit Wikipedia, the encyclopedia’s volunteer community isn’t the diverse pool of editors you might hope it is. For example, according to the Wikipedia Gender Gap Revisited study, 84% of editors on English Wikipedia are male. Of the top ten countries of editors, India is the only country which is not present in Europe or North America. There is also a language bias as most editors (76%) edit English Wikipedia, yet only 49% of users read English Wikipedia.
Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia has a gender and racial bias. As Jess Wade and Maryam Zaringhalam state in their Nature Career Column piece, “who edits Wikipedia — and the biases they carry with them — matters.”
Today, only 18.27% of English Wikipedia’s biographies are about women. This is a reflection of the biases within Wikipedia’s editing community, and of structural inequalities in the world, because Wikipedia can only cite sources that are available.
What can I do?
Fortunately, this is where scientists and science enthusiasts can step in. Editing Wikipedia is our opportunity to make science accessible, and to highlight the efforts of scientists — especially those who are traditionally under-represented, including women, non-binary individuals and people of color.
In this guide, we share some resources which you can use to edit Wikipedia, host Edit-A-Thons and learn more about the massive encyclopedia.
How to edit Wikipedia & host Edit-A-Thons:
- Start with a basic Wikipedia tutorial.
- Consider completing a Wikipedia training module, which includes to editing basics, translating articles, and planning an Edit-A-Thon.
- Here is a Beginner’s Guide to Wikipedia Editing & Edit-A-Thons published on Sister STEM.
- Massive Science helped hosted a virtual Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 7th, 2020. Here are our slides.
- Read these ten simple rules for creating a biography, courtesy of the Women In Red Wikiproject.
- Aquí hay un tutorial de edición de Wikipedia, con una perspectiva de género, en español.
What can you edit?
Everything! But if you’re looking for specific suggestions, check out:
- Wikipedia’s Community Portal, where you can quickly find articles that need improvement, such as fixing spelling, adding wikilinks, and expanding short articles.
- The Women In Red Wikiproject Redlist index, which is a list of potential women who may qualify for an article, categorized by occupation, geography, and other criteria.
- 500 Women Scientists has assembled a list of articles to create and edit.
Want to read some more?
This academic publication (2016) assesses potential gender inequalities in Wikipedia articles along different dimensions, including notability, topical focus, and linguistic bias.
In this Nature Career column, Jess Wade and Maryam Zaringhalam share why they’re editing women scientists onto Wikipedia.
The Atlantic’s Michael Mandiberg mapped where the millions of volunteer editors who build and maintain English Wikipedia’s 5 million pages are — and where they aren’t.
This guide was compiled by Farah Qaiser and Gabi Serrato Marks. It is being continuously updated, let us know if we've missed something or you have a question about it!