by Alex Madva
On October 8th, 2016 from 1:30 p.m. PST, in the San Diego Central Public Library, Wikipedia will host an edit-a-thon to improve the site’s coverage of underrepresented philosophers and philosophy. The event is in honor of Kevin Gorman, who, before his recent death at the age of 24, had been “responsible for posting and editing dozens of Wikipedia pages about women philosophers.” (See also here.) The edit-a-thon will be part of this year’s WikiConference North America. I, Alex Madva, will be coordinating the edit-a-thon with seasoned editor, Julie Farman.
This is a call for crowd-sourcing in advance of the editathon. What the Wikipedians most need from philosophers is: guidance about which pages are still missing, and content and references to fill those missing pages. Kevin began compiling a list of missing notable women philosophers, and a current list-in-progress is here. This is part of the “Women in Red” project (so-called because links to nowhere in Wikipedia are in red font. You can also see a list of the many pages on women philosophers that Kevin had already created toward the bottom of this link.)
For starters, you can post suggestions for pages to add on Wikipedia, about underrepresented philosophers and philosophy in the comments below. Also please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with comments, questions, suggestions, etc. We will also eventually need help with content and references. In particular, to pass Wikipedia’s “notability” guidelines, we will need reliable, verifiable references to back up what we post.
The gaps on Wikipedia remain vast, and they will not be hard to find, but here are my preliminary thoughts about concrete strategies to identify gaps:
- Compile a list of existing or planned pages on, e.g., the SEP and the IEP, related to, e.g., feminist philosophy, and then check to see if corresponding pages exist on Wikipedia.
- For every page that is already up on notable woman philosophers, see if the Wikipedia page on the subject she works on has a link to her and/or reference to her work. There’s surely a lot of room for better cross-referencing within Wikipedia. (The established Wikipedia editors will be especially well-poised to contribute here.)
- Check the existing pages on underrepresented topics and people to see if they are accurate, substantive, etc.
- More generally, people should just look up the topics they themselves work on (or are currently interested in or are simply curious to learn more about!) and see what’s missing, where there’s room for improvement, etc.
For those who can attend the edit-a-thon in person, you can join us for lunch at 12PM PST if you register for $10 that day, or you can come at 1:30pm with free registration.
Alex Madva is an assistant professor at Cal Poly Pomona. He works primarily on philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and on philosophy of race and feminism, with an emphasis on issues of prejudice and discrimination.