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May 2020 (Volume 29, Number 5)
By Leah Poffenberger
Despite millions of pageviews and millions of articles, Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia, has a problem: women and underrepresented minorities are often missing from its pages. When she became the third woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in Physics, Donna Strickland didn’t have a Wikipedia page, and many other deserving women don’t either, with only 18 percent of biographies on Wikipedia belonging to women (see "Fixing Wikipedia's Diversity Problem," APS News, April 2019).
To help bridge this gap and recognize women and minorities in physics for their achievements, APS partnered with Wiki Education to train APS members on how to contribute articles and edits to Wikipedia. Over a 12-week course that started on February 10, a group of 14 APS members edited 43 pages, adding 127 references to articles that wracked-up 148,000 pageviews.
“The Wiki Education course taught the ins and outs of being wiki-editors, and how to create and maintain biographies that satisfy Wikipedia’s notability requirements,” says James Roche, Public Engagement Programs Manager. “Wikipedia has come a long way and instituted a lot of policies to discourage poor editing practices—there’s a lot that goes into these articles.”
Wiki Education, a non-profit spun off from the Wikipedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia, was created in 2013 with the vision of creating “a broader and more diverse Wikipedia that welcomes public and academic participation, in which students, scholars, and institutions of higher learning are actively engaged in investigating and representing knowledge.” To meet the goal of a more diverse Wikipedia, Wiki Education has been partnering with institutions to involve students, academics, and scholars in the process of contributing to and improving Wikipedia’s catalogue of articles.
Through the APS and Wiki Education Wiki Scientist course, APS members were given an opportunity to receive training from Wikipedia experts through weekly hour-long Zoom sessions. Participants also spent two hours a week outside of class sessions applying their new-found Wikipedia skills to improving entries about women and minority physicists.
“The course specifically focused on adding more biographies on women and minorities in physics because, for a variety of reasons, Wikipedia has some catching up to do in these areas,” says Roche. “This course was a pilot program, but we’re hoping to do more in the future with Wiki Education to get more APS members involved.”
For more information about Wiki Education visit wikiedu.org.
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik