Black WikiHistory Month Event Diversifies Knowledge and Editorship on Wikipedia
Who writes history? You do!
On Wednesday, February 24 the Oviatt Library held its very first Wikipedia edit-a-thon as part of a series of special events to celebrate and promote Black History Month. Approximately twenty attendees made much needed edits to Wikipedia articles such as adding citations, cleaning up formatting, and even beginning new articles from scratch for notable persons not yet represented on Wikipedia.
You may be thinking: a what-a-thon? Edit-a-thon! A Wikipedia edit-a-thon is a friendly gathering of folks at a specified place/time to edit Wikipedia, typically on a chosen theme or topic. For this event, CSUN students, staff and friends came together for an afternoon of editing Wikipedia’s scope and content related to Black History and the African Diaspora. The English Wikipedia site that many of us know so well may seem vast, but it’s known to have a systemic bias in favor of white, male, educated individuals between the ages of 15-49. (In fact, there’s even a Wikipedia page on it.) Encouraging others to become editors (or rather, “Wikipedians”) helps to expand and diversify the breadth of knowledge on the site.
Libraries prove to be great places to host edit-a-thons. For the Oviatt Library’s February 24 event, library staff pulled numerous books related to Black history, culture and life for attendees to browse and use for their editing. Many attendees used the books to add new content to Wikipedia articles along with a citation to the book. For example, citations were filled in on the Brice Taylor and the Watts, Los Angeles pages, and the page for poet Robin Coste Lewis was expanded to include additional biographical information. Attendees also used the library’s electronic resources to find various articles and news items to support their editing. An introduction to Wikipedia editing was given for new editors who attended.
Are you interested in editing Wikipedia? The site can use your help! Some new articles created on the February 24 event were nominated for deletion on Wikipedia due to not meeting notability guidelines, meaning that additional citations were quickly needed to establish that the given topic warranted its own article. This is where edit-a-thon events become especially valuable: it can be challenging to create an entire Wikipedia article from scratch, and so making it a team effort definitely helps! As you can imagine, Wikipedia pages are in a constant state of flux, and encouraging others to contribute to the site helps to strengthen its breadth and accuracy.
The Oviatt Library plans to host additional edit-a-thons on various topics and we hope you’ll join us. Additionally, many online resources and guides are available such as the Wikipedia Editing Tutorial and Wikipedia Cheatsheet if you’d like to get involved on your own. We encourage you to consider editing Wikipedia if you come across anything needing improvement. Contributing makes a meaningful impact on the site by diversifying both its content and its editorship. Anyone (including you!) can become a Wikipedian!