Annual Report 2021/Story: Crowdsourcing names in WikiGap

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In this Story we are focusing on the crowdsourcing campaign organized as part of WikiGap in 2021. Several partners took part in attempts to get examples of women missing from Wikipedia. So far, a few thousand names have been proposed.

Building Wikipedia together.

WikiGap is organized each year, with the long term goal of closing the gender gap on Wikipedia. The WikiGap method, attempting to lower thresholds for writing new articles for Wikipedia, has proven very successful, with more than 50,000 new or improved articles.

But the further the campaign has come, the more we – as organizers – have realized the difficulty of knowing which women are actually missing. Writers need to know who they should write about, before they can contribute towards the closing of the gap. Wikimedians try to build a global encyclopedia covering all notable aspects, but in many areas – geographically and thematically – there is a lack of knowledge on women who would be relevant, but who still have no article.

Initiatives such as Women in Red have made tremendous progress on this issue, and have built large sources with missing women. Their lists of missing women is valuable material for anyone that wants to help close the gender gap. But the lists are of course incomplete.

For the WikiGap campaign in 2021, we – as WikiGap organizers – tried to contribute to a partial solution to this problem. We teamed up with global partners such as UNESCO and UNFPA, and used our and their social media channels to crowdsource names on missing women for Wikipedia from the general public.

The campaign started with a tweet from the Wikipedia account, developed by us, Wikimedia Foundation and in communication with partners. The tweet was retweeted by partners such as UNESCO. UNFPA and Global Citizen also partnered for the initiative, and opened up a platform for proposing names that ran throughout the year. More than 10,000 names were finally proposed. This will be a substantial source to build upon and use, when Wikipedians want examples of missing women to write about.

The crowdsourcing is the first part of the campaign. Many of the names might lack good references or notability, or might even already exist. That is one of the obstacles to overcome when it comes to crowdsourcing. Still, we think that we can turn this into an opportunity rather than a problem. We aim to solve the problem by organizing some kind of WikiGap & Wikidata challenge during 2022, to encourage new communities, specifically on Wikidata, to take part in and help out with the WikiGap campaign, to improve coverage of women on the Wikimedia platforms.

In this way, we are inviting both new Wikimedia communities, such as the Wikidata community, to the WikiGap campaign, and external audiences with little or no experience of contributing to Wikipedia. In this sense, we are widening the WikiGap campaign, and opening up for people to take part, no matter their capacity or previous level of experience.