I recently, with substantial support, hosted my very first art+feminism wikipedia edit-a-thon. In fact, it was the first time I’d hosted any wikipedia edit-a-thon. For those of you who are unfamiliar, art+feminism is a campaign in its fifth year dedicated to improving representation of women and genderqueer artists on Wikipedia, where biographies about women and feminized topics receive less than stellar attention.
The most previous experience I had with Wikipedia was teaching an activity wherein students added citations to a page of an important woman last year on “A Day Without a Woman”. I taught my credit bearing class that day, and I decided to go to work, wear red, and amplify women while teaching my students information literacy skills. This was a nice primer, but I was still basically starting from scratch in terms of skills and knowledge.
I just recently started in my position at UNLV University Libraries in October, so I didn’t really know what I was in for when I suggested we host an art+feminism edit-a-thon in our library. However, I was met with unbridled enthusiasm from my colleague Brittany Fiedler and unwavering support from Rosan Mitola, our Outreach Librarian. We collaborated to make a really cool thing – something way better than I could have done on my own. Our event focused on women of color artists and surpassed my expectations, so I thought I would share the resources we created in case others wanted to use them.
One of the things I’m most excited about that came from this project is this list of women of color artists that need citations, more information, or need an entire page created for them. We hope that it can be used in the future for other folks, because we found that having names available to students was really helpful. Instead of spending time looking
up women to see what state their pages were in, we had a list of women artists of color prepared that we knew needed one of three levels of help, which students could contribute to based on their level of experience.
Our library has an incredible Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coaches program, and so we are lucky to have a group of brilliant, hardworking students help us teach in the classroom and contribute to events like this. It would have been impossible to create this list without them. Through this process, thee Peer Coaches practiced critical thinking and research skills while gaining awareness of the important place Wikipedia holds in our information landscape. To create this list, Brittany and I went through the library collecting books that had information on WOC artists, and then the peer coaches went through the books and assessed the state of these women’s pages.
At the actual event, we created stations for attendees to work through as they progressed in their skills.
We had a sign in station, where students created name tags, picked up their raffle ticket, and grabbed an A+F button if they were interested. Then, everyone was asked to head to the Orientation Station.
The Orientation Station took them through creating an account, logging in through our dashboard, editing their sandbox to add new information, and citing that information while giving them an idea of the types of information you might have on an biographical entry on Wikipedia. We staffed this table with two facilitators, Brittany Fiedler and Patricia Baley (a collaborator from the department of Fine Arts) and they did an excellent job getting everyone on the same page and excited about the event.
The Citation Station was a place where attendees could use our library resources, either books in the room or online through our discovery layer, to add citations to existing information on the page. Attendees could stay here for a short time or for the entire event, whichever worked best for them. A peer coach was available to walk attendees through the process using the slides linked above.
The next stop was the Information Station. At this station folks could add new information and citations to make existing pages more robust. Again, we had pages picked out in advance, and books and online resources for everyone to use. A peer coach was available to walk folks through the process using the slides linked above.
Last but not least, the Creation Station was a space we set up where those who had a lot of Wikipedia experience could add completely new pages without a facilitator.
While folks were editing, we had an hourly raffle during which we gave away some UNLV swag (Thanks Rosan!) and some zines written by women of color that Brittany and I had purchased from Brown Recluse Zine Distro, a website recommended to us by Matthew Murray. I highly recommend you reach out to them for materials, though do make sure you give them ample time to get to you. It felt great to promote and financially support WOC artists through this event. We also had a playlist, created by peer coach by day/DJ by night David Ramos Candelas, that highlighted the work of WOC artists.
Glitches & notes for next time
We had account creator status, but somehow still ran out of accounts within the first 20 minutes of the event. I’m still not sure how this happened to be honest, but definitely make sure you look into this and test it out beforehand. Unfortunately it ended up messing with our stats. We know from our own tracking that we had 33 attendees, but only 19 attendees tracked through our dashboard and we aren’t really sure how much isn’t accounted for on the dashboard tracker.
The Orientation Station and Citation Station were really jammed up at a few moments. We didn’t know how many people to expect, and thought it would be reasonable to only expect a few, but we had a bit of a traffic jam from time to time. This could have been alleviated by having multiple Orientation Stations and Citation Stations, which are the most likely to have new folks working at them. It may help to get a sense of the expertise of your attendees and prepare accordingly, through we did have people RSVP and found RSVPs inconsistent with attendance.
Since this was our first go around, we were mostly focused on creating the content and seeing what happened. Now that we have a pretty good sense of how to run an event like this, we are going to work to develop a curricular tie. I will be talking about this during the Faculty Institutes on Creative Research Assignments that UNLV hosts, as well as reaching out to faculty in our Art and Interdisciplinary Studies departments to advocate for student attendance.
Overall, it was a great event. The peer coaches mentioned how meaningful it was to finally dig in and improve the Wikipedia pages, the attendees found it really interesting, and we had a lot of fun. As for me, this event is a beautiful intersection of two important aspects of my work: amplifying marginalized voices and democratizing the privileged information I have access to as a librarian in a research university.
Other materials used
Training for Peer Coaches– These are the slides and activities Brittany and I created to train the peer coaches how to use Wikipedia. They go over the basics of the culture of wikipedia, a bit of history on art+feminism, and an activity where they create content in their sandbox. This took about 45 minutes total.
List of WOC artists– Again, such a huge thank you to the peer coaches, Rosan Mitola, and Brittany Fiedler for all of their work making this list for everyone! The link offers edit access, so please do go in and change the status of the pages as you improve them.
Background slides– fun slides meant to highlight challenges and successes of Wikipedia and promote the work of some of the WOC artists whose pages we were working to improve. This played on screens that weren’t being used.
Survey-given out at the end. I hope to use the results of this to show faculty that students valued this as an experience and felt it was improving their research skills.
I hope you all find the materials useful! They are all (excluding our flyer) under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA license, so feel free to use/share/remix any of it!
One last thank you to the rest of the planning team: Patricia Baley, Brittany Fiedler, Rosan Mitola, Matthew Murray, and the Peer Coaches: Rebekah D’Amato, Priscilla Gutierrez, Kameron Joyner, Bibi Lopez, Eduardo Martinez, Jason Meza, and David Ramos Candelas.