Category Archives: womens issues

Cargo Cult Editing: The Battle for Diversity in Wikipedia (Part I)

Change the Ratio: Wikipedia (by JESS3 + 1X57)

It was the wedding of the decade. Catherine (Kate) Middleton marrying Prince William, becoming one of the most watched couples in the world.

As is the case for any celebrity wedding, the biggest question being asked leading up to the big day became, What will the bride wear?

So it was only fitting that the dress receiving so much global speculation and attention would get a page of its own in Wikipedia, right? After all, it fit the criteria for notability, receiving significant coverage from gads of reliable sources, independent of the subject. And yet within minutes of the page being created, the page was marked for speedy deletion.

The discussion page makes the deletionists’ views clear:

  • This is frankly trivial, and surely isn’t notable enough to be on wikipedia. Request deletion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.7.177.63 (talk) 16:19, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
  • I strongly agree! The sheer presence of this article is one of the lowest points ever reached by Wikipedia! What amazes me is that there’s acculturatede people (since the article was well written) who has such interests, and free time to lose to devoted themselves for such totally irrelevant arguments. –”’Attilios”’ (talk) 16:59, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

And yet the above editors ignored the key guidelines of Wikipedia. So what gives?

For one, Wikipedia is suffering from a subject-object problem (in short, it’s tough for contributors not to impose their beliefs and biases on whatever topic they’re editing).

No matter how neutral Wikipedia strives to be, the Gestault sum of its articles is influenced by its contributors, which in Wikipedia’s case is a “geeky male in his late 20s” (see Wikipedia’s 2011 editors survey for full results).  And this is what results in a cargo-cult editing environment, where the rules and guidelines are often ignored in favor of a particular editor’s bias.

In the case of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress page in Wikipedia, the deletionists lacked editing integrity, instead relying upon their own inherent biases as argumentative evidence.

Jimmy Wales recently stated his brainchild is losing editors, and while it hasn’t reached crisis-level, it is a point concern. The fact is, the group that has built up the world’s #1 open knowledge resource is turning away and losing editors, of varyings ages, backgrounds, genders, and most importantly, viewpoints, at the cost of Wikipedia’s long-term growth and viability.

Wikipedia is working hard to address the problem, but a solution will only come about if more people understand why having a diverse group of editors is critical. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All history becomes subjective.” In Wikipedia’s case, “All of Wikipedia becomes subjective.” While I’m sure a lot of folks have little to no interest in the wedding gown of a powerless figurehead (myself included), you have to imagine what the content looks like of more controversial topics like birth control, religion, racial and ethnic history, etc, when only a small demographic is editing and policing them.

I’ll be exploring this point in my next post detailing my experience editing Wikipedia’s “Man” page and the edit war that broke out as a result.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Debbie Beacham a pioneer in womens surfing

Last week I attended the induction ceremony for the Surfing Walk of Fame where Debbie Beacham was honored. She seemed shy as she walked onto the stage making the comment that PT forced her to write a speech. What came out was fascinating.

I grabbed two minutes of it on my iPhone. The sound is great but the shot is too distant to get a good shot of Debbie.

Debbie is a true unsung hero of womens sports and womens surfing. After retiring from competition she plunged into the hard backroom world to make it a viable profession.

For several decades she repp’ed womens surfing by putting on events, organizing tours, getting sponsor money, producing movies for girls, and more. Now she is the Vice-President of the International Surfing Association (ISA), the official governing body of surfing.

I am a big fan of womens surfing and it’s great to see heroines like her in person.

Debbie in 1983 when she was world champion.

If you’re a fan of womens surfing check out this great online magazine – Jetty Girl.

BlogHer, Not My Thing

I wanted to like BlogHer. I did. A conference about blogging for women. I’m a woman. I’m a blogger.  Perfect.

But as a first-time conference goer, I found myself unable to tap into the enthusiasm many attendees seemed to genuinely possess.

Maybe it was the fact that in almost every session I attended, someone in the audience asked what SEO is (I’m not saying this is bad, it just illustrates there were a lot of newcomers to the web and blogging in attendance). Or maybe it was every woman I met (who were all friendly and welcoming) happened to be a “mommy blogger.” Or it could have been the Expo Hall felt way too much like a 1950s cliché, dominated by packaged/prepared food, cleaning supplies and kitchenware vendors. Or it could have just been that unlike many of the women who were repeat attendees reuniting with friends, I was out of my geographic comfort zone without a posse to hold court with. Whatever the case, I didn’t fall in love the experience.

In BlogHer’s defense, I don’t typically go gaga for conferences (with the exception of my maiden voyage to SXSW), for the same reason I don’t like smorgasbords: a lot of broad, general content, without a lot of nuance and quality. While the speakers I heard from were knowledgeable, it felt like too often, they catered to the lowest common denominator. Not really the speaker’s fault, more a consequence of the format, but less than satisfying for me nonetheless. Perhaps if there were beginner, intermediate and advanced tracks, this would have been less of a problem. And perhaps if I had gone to any of the parties (I heard the parties are a big part of BlogHer’s appeal), I would have gotten more out of the networking aspect. But I didn’t. And I also didn’t go nuts for the swag. I heard a lot of women talking and tweeting about the swag. I’m not really a swag kind of gal.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention one obvious aspect of the conference…men (or lack thereof). I missed them (although there were a few in attendance). As someone whose been one of a handful of woman at similar-sized conferences comprised of mostly men, it feels unnatural to me to have just one gender talking about issues and content that are not gender specific. My motivation for going was to increase my knowledge of blogging. The fact that I’m a woman was secondary.

So while I understand the value of BlogHer, whose mission since 2005 has been “to create opportunities for women who blog to gain exposure, education, community and economic empowerment,” I’m more interested in focusing on the blog over the her.

To each her own.

Is the Allure of the “Older Man” Fading?

Sean Connery, still damn sexy

A statement in a recent Financial Times article about data mined and analyzed from Match.com took me a little by surprise:

Women are less likely to e-mail with men who live far away, men who are older than they are, and men who are short.”

Running counter to the “known fact” (as proclaimed by this Askmen.com author) that women are attracted to older men, more and more, we’re seeing the opposite: women going for younger men. Recent examples include:

    • Mariah Carey, 41, and Nick Cannon, 30
    • Demi Moore, 48, and Ashton Kutcher, 33

Even the great and powerful Hugh Hefner is not immune to this trend. The 83-year old mogul was stood up on his wedding day by his 25-year old fiancée, Chrystal Harris (for 25-year old Jordan McGraw).

As someone who went from dating the older, more financially established man to one who is younger but more of my peer and best friend, my reasons for being with the former versus the latter are a lot different. At the end of the day, I wanted someone I could talk to, as opposed to a “father figure” who could financially take care of me.

You’ve got to wonder what the dating and relationship landscape will look like once procreation isn’t the driving factor behind coupling and as women grow in their financial and social status. And in our “youth obsessed” culture, are older men immune?

*Interestingly enough, one of the fastest growing areas of plastic surgery in the United States is facelifts for men.

Is the Allure of the "Older Man" Fading?

Sean Connery, still damn sexy

A statement in a recent Financial Times article about data mined and analyzed from Match.com took me a little by surprise:

Women are less likely to e-mail with men who live far away, men who are older than they are, and men who are short.”

Running counter to the “known fact” (as proclaimed by this Askmen.com author) that women are attracted to older men, more and more, we’re seeing the opposite: women going for younger men. Recent examples include:

    • Mariah Carey, 41, and Nick Cannon, 30
    • Demi Moore, 48, and Ashton Kutcher, 33

Even the great and powerful Hugh Hefner is not immune to this trend. The 83-year old mogul was stood up on his wedding day by his 25-year old fiancée, Chrystal Harris (for 25-year old Jordan McGraw).

As someone who went from dating the older, more financially established man to one who is younger but more of my peer and best friend, my reasons for being with the former versus the latter are a lot different. At the end of the day, I wanted someone I could talk to, as opposed to a “father figure” who could financially take care of me.

You’ve got to wonder what the dating and relationship landscape will look like once procreation isn’t the driving factor behind coupling and as women grow in their financial and social status. And in our “youth obsessed” culture, are older men immune?

*Interestingly enough, one of the fastest growing areas of plastic surgery in the United States is facelifts for men.

Why You Should Watch the Women's World Cup

Hope Solo Makes the Save

In a world where sports is synonymous with ego, contracts, money, and scandal – the FIFA Women’s World Cup (now 20 years old) is a return to all that is good, right and beautiful in the world. No strikes, no steroids, no rapes, no murders. Just sport and play for the love of the game, in the name of one’s country, for all the world’s viewing pleasure.

Yesterday’s match between the United States and Brazil was the stuff dreams are made of - a gripping testimony to FIFAWWC‘s rightful place in the global sports arena.

There was no reason the U.S. women should have won. Not when their first goal of the game went in off a Brazilian defender. And not when they were given a controversial red card and Brazil was awarded a penalty kick which was to be denied by the captivatingly formidable Hope Solo only then to have the save denied with another controversial call by the ref which allowed Marta to nail the recovery penalty kick in and consequently leave the United States to play a woman down for the remaining 25 minutes in the second half with the scoreboard at 1-1.

And certainly not when the lightning speed and talent of said Marta made for a dire situation when her shot on goal reached the far post, out of Solo’s reach, and into the net to give Brazil a 2-1 lead in overtime.

But somehow, someway – the United Statues made magic happen when Megan Rapinoe sent a beautiful cross that connected with Abby Wambach who headed it in:

With only one minute left on the clock, the U.S. was able to even the score.

Despite all the fakery and theatrics of Brazil’s bombastic cast (watch how Brazil player #13 just pops off the stretcher), they were unable to beat the heart, soul and spirit of the United States in the final minutes of play.

You didn’t have to be a soccer fan, or sports fans, or even a fan of the United States to appreciate the moment. You only needed to be human to understand the sheer determination and collective will that took to make the tying goal and the ultimate victory happen.

In the final overtime penalty kick shootout, it was solid refereeing that recalled a block by an overzealous Brazilian goalkeeper, a tremendous and fair block by Hope Solo, and the unanimous execution of the United States team to deliver one of the finest matches in soccer history.

Fortitude, resilience, tenacity, mental toughness, calm under pressure, execution – these are the hallmarks of greatness. And no single player for the United States team could claim them individually. Ever single player on the field stepped up, dug deep and produced them as one unstoppable unit. You can watch all the highlights from the game at FIFA.com.

Now, heading into the semifinals, the U.S. faces similar opponents in Japan (an underdog who knocked out perennial powerhouse Germany and has never made it to the semifinals), France (who dismantled soccer royalty, England) and Sweden (who beat the United States in the group stage) - teams that drew upon their own unique strengths and depths to make it to the final four.

This final week will be soccer at it’s best, a sport that is embraced by world, played by both men and women, and is a pointed reminder that women (who in parts of the world are still struggling for their right to vote, to get an education, and to simply show their faces) can not only rock out as athletes, but can do it damn well.

Why You Should Watch the Women’s World Cup

Hope Solo Makes the Save

In a world where sports is synonymous with ego, contracts, money, and scandal – the FIFA Women’s World Cup (now 20 years old) is a return to all that is good, right and beautiful in the world. No strikes, no steroids, no rapes, no murders. Just sport and play for the love of the game, in the name of one’s country, for all the world’s viewing pleasure.

Yesterday’s match between the United States and Brazil was the stuff dreams are made of - a gripping testimony to FIFAWWC‘s rightful place in the global sports arena.

There was no reason the U.S. women should have won. Not when their first goal of the game went in off a Brazilian defender. And not when they were given a controversial red card and Brazil was awarded a penalty kick which was to be denied by the captivatingly formidable Hope Solo only then to have the save denied with another controversial call by the ref which allowed Marta to nail the recovery penalty kick in and consequently leave the United States to play a woman down for the remaining 25 minutes in the second half with the scoreboard at 1-1.

And certainly not when the lightning speed and talent of said Marta made for a dire situation when her shot on goal reached the far post, out of Solo’s reach, and into the net to give Brazil a 2-1 lead in overtime.

But somehow, someway – the United Statues made magic happen when Megan Rapinoe sent a beautiful cross that connected with Abby Wambach who headed it in:

With only one minute left on the clock, the U.S. was able to even the score.

Despite all the fakery and theatrics of Brazil’s bombastic cast (watch how Brazil player #13 just pops off the stretcher), they were unable to beat the heart, soul and spirit of the United States in the final minutes of play.

You didn’t have to be a soccer fan, or sports fans, or even a fan of the United States to appreciate the moment. You only needed to be human to understand the sheer determination and collective will that took to make the tying goal and the ultimate victory happen.

In the final overtime penalty kick shootout, it was solid refereeing that recalled a block by an overzealous Brazilian goalkeeper, a tremendous and fair block by Hope Solo, and the unanimous execution of the United States team to deliver one of the finest matches in soccer history.

Fortitude, resilience, tenacity, mental toughness, calm under pressure, execution – these are the hallmarks of greatness. And no single player for the United States team could claim them individually. Ever single player on the field stepped up, dug deep and produced them as one unstoppable unit. You can watch all the highlights from the game at FIFA.com.

Now, heading into the semifinals, the U.S. faces similar opponents in Japan (an underdog who knocked out perennial powerhouse Germany and has never made it to the semifinals), France (who dismantled soccer royalty, England) and Sweden (who beat the United States in the group stage) - teams that drew upon their own unique strengths and depths to make it to the final four.

This final week will be soccer at it’s best, a sport that is embraced by world, played by both men and women, and is a pointed reminder that women (who in parts of the world are still struggling for their right to vote, to get an education, and to simply show their faces) can not only rock out as athletes, but can do it damn well.

Getting Starting with Wikipedia: Seven Essential Steps

This weekend, something special happened. And I’m not referring to the fact that Steve and I got up before 9AM on a weekend.

A group of women (and a couple men) came together voluntarily on their own time to teach and learn how to edit Wikipedia. For 4 hours, 20 of us sat in the kitchen area of JESS3 headquarters and talked and learned and had a genuinely fun time. As I’ve written previously, it’s critical to have a diverse body of people contributing to Wikipedia since it’s key to making it reliable as a neutral knowledge resource.

If you’re interested in contributing to Wikipedia but aren’t sure where or how to start, here is list of key steps to get you going:

1. Do your homework. If you’ve don’t have any experience with programming or HTML, wiki-markup (the syntax used to create and edit Wikipedia articles) might intimidate you. So might the environment. Don’t let it. Learn the lingo and guidelines for engagement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Contents/Getting_started

2. Begin on home turf. Start by creating you own User page and play around with formatting there. Most Wikipedians respect individual User pages and won’t touch them.

3. Be bold. No one owns Wikipedia. Your contributions count just as much as everyone else’s. You can’t break Wikipedia. Nothing is ever lost if you change or remove something.

4. Use logic and tenacity. Sometimes edits you make will get deleted (or reverted). It happens. If you believe in your edits, use logic and tenacity to make them stick.

5. Talk it out. If you encounter a conflict or don’t understand why an edit you made is reverted, leave a message on the person’s Talk page to elaborate. You can see who reverts an edit page by the View History tab.

6. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes edits get reverted. It happens. Sometimes people are in pissy moods and take it out in Wikipedia. It happens. Don’t let this deter you from contributing. Learn and grow from it.

7. Find a buddy. Ask friends if they know how to edit Wikipedia. Or check out your local area for Wikipedia:Meetups and go and make some friends. Most Wikipedians are generous with their time and knowledge and will happily help out a beginner. You can also get “adopted” to be mentored via the Adopt-a-user program.

The full agenda and details of the workshop can be found in Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/DC_WWW1

Funny business, a woman’s career

Funny business, a woman’s career – the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you’ll need them again when you get back to being a woman. That’s one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we’ve got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we’ve had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing’s any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you’re not a woman. You’re something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you’re not a woman. Slow curtain, the end.

Margo Channing

from the movie All About Eve

Funny business, a woman's career

Funny business, a woman’s career – the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you’ll need them again when you get back to being a woman. That’s one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we’ve got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we’ve had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing’s any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you’re not a woman. You’re something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you’re not a woman. Slow curtain, the end.

Margo Channing

from the movie All About Eve