The Association of Internet Researchers has an amazingly useful mailing list where scholars discuss topics and often compile wonderful lists of resources and papers on particular topics. The archives are online, and subscription is free. Currently there’s a discussion of resources for tracking the history of Wikipedia page edits, and there are many interesting options mentioned. I really like this visualization of the gender and location of editors, posted to the list by creator Paolo Massa.

You don’t have to disclose your gender on Wikipedia, in fact, according to Paolo Massa, only about 10% do (I just checked my account and realized I hadn’t disclosed my gender). The location is only for anonymous edits (which show an IP address) and the gender is only for edits by that 10% of registered users who have stated a gender. And this tracks the edits, not the group of individuals editing a page. So there are several levels of inaccuracy or at least incompleteness, but it’s still an interesting starting point for a discussion or further investigation.

For instance, the article on feminism is almost entirely edited by males, and has a high proportion of anonymous edits.

The article on sexual intercourse is interesting: at first it was heavily dominated by males, but then around 2008 women took over. Presumably women worked together to target that particular entry, probably in the WikiProject Feminism project. It would be interesting to analyze this further by looking at how this was organized, looking at the talk pages for the entries, and analyzing whether the tone and content of the entry changed with the gender shift.

Other studies have shown how dominated the Wikipedia is by young, single men, and questions of how that affects our collective idea of knowledge should definitely be studied more closely.

If you’re interested in research about the Wikipedia and wikis in general, WikiPapers is a pretty impressive database (well, or wiki, really) with over a thousand papers about the topic and links to datasets, events and more as well.

1 Comment

  1. Paolo

    Glad you liked Wikitrip! 😉

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