Last week I helped organize an Art+Feminism edit-a-thon in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Art+Feminism is a “campaign improving coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia.” This year marks the fifth year of the Art+Feminism initiative and since 2014 edit-a-thons have taken place around the world, improving over 11,000 articles in the process.
The event organized in the Soo was focused on increasing content on Wikipedia related to Indigenous folks and Northern Ontario artists. We had a small but enthusiastic group who spent the day editing, laughing, and talking gender. I was inspired by the effort everyone put in to learning new skills and improving Wikipedia. Our work even garnered some media attention – local journalist David Helwig covered our work and the new articles created as part of our day.
I love the spirit of community that can be fostered during edit-a-thons. Many of the participants were folks who I had edited Wikipedia with before and it was great see their progress as editors. We also used this Art+Feminism event to celebrate the successes of our community – the majority of the edits and new pages created were about people we knew, had met, and admired. Two of the new pages were about Algoma University alumni and two new pages were about artists who had worked with the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.
This locally driven page creation reminded me of why I love Wikipedia – it has the power to shape narratives, uplift voices, and can be a collaborative/community work space. Editing Wikipedia also has the power to act as an education tool – teaching folks about collaboration, clear writing, citations, and narrative building. The more I engage in editing Wikipedia with students and community members the more I am encouraged by the results. Editing Wikipedia combines a huge range of skill sets and can change the way we think about the past and community success.