Text by Katri Rostedt.
On the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, the Centres of Excellence ANEE and CSTT co-organized a Wikipedia edit-a-thon with the theme “Women and the Ancient Near East”. The aim was to improve both the Wikipedia pages on female scholars of the ancient Near East and on women in the ancient sources. The event took place in a casual but inspiring atmosphere, and the Wikimedia volunteers provided some editing training for the ones not so familiar with Wikipedia content creating. The event gathered 15 participants, who created in total 4 new Wikipedia articles, edited 9 existing ones, and added 2540 words to Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is a web-based encyclopedia that is based on the openly editable content. The Wikipedia project is supported by Wikimedia Foundation that owns the Wikipedia.org –domain, and e.g. exercises outreach and controls the servers. The Foundation does not edit the Wikipedia content, though, but the volunteers (that is, anyone with internet access and a Wikipedia username) are taking care of producing and editing texts. Updating and correcting the information on Wikipedia is an easy and effective way to spread rightful knowledge; Wikipedia is a heavily trusted tool among the greater public, pupils, reporters and students.
This is the second time the Wikipedia edit-a-thon event relating to especially women and ancient near east has been organized in Finland, and a similar event was also held at the AAR/SBL annual meeting in Boston in 2017. One of the active persons behind these previous events is ANEE Team 3 vice-leader and CSTT member, Rick Bonnie, who finds these events very effective endeavors for advancing the knowledge both on Wikipedia and the gender gap: “Research has shown that ca. 90 percent of Wikipedia editors are male. This has a profound impact upon what content is being created and updated on Wikipedia. Hence, it is important that we as researchers try to make sure that the content of Wikipedia is not gender biased.”
The event was made successful with the editing training help of Wikimedia Finland volunteers, Heikki Kastemaa and Tia Kangaspunta. Heikki Kastemaa, Chair of Wikimedia Finland, hopes to narrow the gap between reading Wikipedia and actually editing its content:”Editing Wikipedia is easy, you just need a profile in order to do that. You can edit while you read.”
Text originally published at the ANEE website.