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Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia 579

Posted by timothy
from the busy-doing-real-stuff dept.
Andreas Kolbe writes Wikipedia is well known to have a very large gender imbalance, with survey-based estimates of women contributors ranging from 8.5% to around 16%. This is a more extreme gender imbalance than even that of Reddit, the most male-dominated major social media platform, and it has a palpable effect on Wikipedia content. Moreover, Wikipedia editor survey data indicate that only 1 in 50 respondents is a mother – a good proportion of female contributors are in fact minors, with women in their twenties less likely to contribute to Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation efforts to address this "gender gap" have so far remained fruitless. Wikipedia's demographic pattern stands in marked contrast to female-dominated social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, where women aged 18 to 34 are particularly strongly represented. It indicates that it isn't lack of time or family commitments that keep women from contributing to Wikipedia – women simply find other sites more attractive. Wikipedia's user interface and its culture of anonymity may be among the factors leading women to spend their online time elsewhere.
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Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

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  • by mc6809e (214243) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:35AM (#47781749)

    Men in general seem to have less tolerance for what they perceive as error and a greater willingness to fight to correct error.

    That's not the say that men are more often correct than are women. They just seem more eager to do battle, even if it is from behind a keyboard.

    Anyone that's been involved in an edit war of wikipedia knows that the winner is often isn't the one with the best grasp of the facts, but it's the one least willing to give up the fight.

     

  • Little Boxes (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:41AM (#47781775)

    Perhaps because men are very aligned to compartmentalizing everything in little boxes and wikipedia suits this well. We like a little box for everything, it's in the male nature to do this. Wikipedia is great for looking at specific topic nuggets. I have read that women tend not to do this and flow between topics more easily rather than get hung up on single areas of interest.

  • Userbox war (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbolden (176878) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:46AM (#47781791) Homepage

    It is pretty easy to date the why. In 2006 there was a thing called the Userbox wars. There isn't a good page on wikipedia about this. Prior to 2006 Wikipedia user pages were sort of like myspace pages for wikipedia editors. They had lots of personal information and people chatted. Jimmy Wales wanted userspace to be about the encyclopedia. At the same time he didn't want mass deletions. There were mass deletions and the this wasn't easily reversed. The tone changed. This was one of the big steps towards the deletionists winning control of Wikipedia entirely. But if you want to know when the gender's changed this was a crucial moment.

    Of course the deletionists winning even more battles probably didn't help

    Links:
    A few statements on Userboxes but not enough to understand what happened: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    What "deletionists" are and what Wikipedia was like before them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:15AM (#47781899)

    Have you edited Wikipedia lately? It's a fucking nightmare of committee-watched articles and instantaneous reversions.

    There we go, the real reason.

    I mean, face it, men are just more willing to be the trolls and make life miserable for each other. Women see that and avoid the whole issue altogether.

    We saw it with that article on games vs. women article. They simply see what happens as basically a bunch of horny teenagers with ragers going on, and simply steer clear to avoid the trouble. Wikipedia is the same - it's no better in the end.

    Now, whether or not having women think all people who enjoy videogames or use wikipedia are immature teenagers is a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know. It just makes the entire population no better than construction workers who catcall women as they pass on the street. So much for intelligence, I guess?

  • It's quite simple (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:28AM (#47781939)

    Women seem to have less tolerance for online bullshit than men do. It's extremely rare to find online flame wars between women for example. That's not to say women don't dwell in pointless shit and arguments, they just seem to prefer to do it in the flesh and not on a computer. Dealing with the Wikipedia hierarchy is mostly an exercise in futility and women have the uncanny ability to realize this early on whereas men are more prepared to do battle, pointlessly.

  • Women crave Feedback (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nullchar (446050) on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:44AM (#47781993)

    There are no "likes" for Wikipedia edits, unlike Pinterest or Facebook posts.

    Women are social creatures and require a feedback loop to keep contributing. Perhaps if we applied gamification [wikipedia.org] to Wikipedia we might get a more balanced participation as the participants would receive some feedback (positive acknowledgements, achievements, whatever) to keep them motivated to contribute.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday August 29, 2014 @02:24AM (#47782111)
    Tautology U has taught you well. Prove women don't participate for reasons other than bias.

    If the reason women don't participate is because women are more likely to have their edits reverted when people see they are done by a feminine name, then the choosing to not participate is based in bias. Asserting your preferred answer doesn't change reality, no matter how much you want it to.
  • by abies (607076) on Friday August 29, 2014 @02:45AM (#47782187)

    How the percentages look like for normal, old-school encyclopedias? I know that for example in case of school textbooks gender ratio might be even skewed towards woman (at least in my country) - which is probably a side effect of majority of teachers being woman (83%). But encyclopedias? I cannot find any data on data - but looking at chief editors of Brittanica, all of them were man...

    I think that problem lies somewhere before age of 25. At some point during early education, there is some kind of bias/peer pressure/whatever which makes woman being interested in other things. Putting Hello Kitty pictures in background of wikipedia is not going to help afterwards ;)

  • Re:Userbox war (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:28AM (#47782317)

    That's all interesting but can you show that the gender balance was fine *before* the Userbox wars? Otherwise this seems that you took an opportunity to inject a personal grievance into an irrelevant discussion.

  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:43AM (#47782385)

    > pedantic bullshit all day.

    Agreed. Wikipedia's policy is that in order to not have an article maliciously deleted that it must have two citations. The last nine articles I added had between six and fifteen citations, but they were still deleted by the jerk-off deletionists. After that experience, I will never contribute to that anti-information site again. Never.

    Of course men will accept that sort of BS as a challenge and keep contributing, but anyone logical would give-up on that site forever.

  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ultranova (717540) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:56AM (#47783271)

    Absolute truth. Women as a group tend to be more emotionally mature, and apt to avoid senseless conflict. Men are perfectly free to act like 14-year-old testosterone-mad Peter Pans, but women are just as free to reject their infantile behavior.

    So does this mean that any woman engaging in sexual relations with a man should be looked down and possibly arrested because, after all, she is taking advantage of a 14-year old hormonally imbalanced orphan? Or did you mean "absolutely truth" as in "look how cool I am"?

  • by Nite_Hawk (1304) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:36AM (#47784345) Homepage

    Interesting read! After reading through all of the comments here, my take on this has been that relative to something like facebook, neither men nor women in general like editing wikipedia. I'm pulling statistics from different years, but I think this is roughly in the right ballpark:

    World Population (2010):
    Female: ~3.42 Billion
    Male: ~3.48 Billion
    Total: ~6.9 Billion

    Active facebook users (2009,2014):
    Female/Male ratio: ~1:1.35
    Total: ~1.28 Billion
    Female: ~0.74 Billion
    Male: ~0.54 Billion
    % of all females actively using facebook: ~22%
    % of all males actively using facebook: ~16%

    Active wikipedia users (2014):
    Female/Male ratio: ~12:100 (rough center of survey according to article)
    Total: 0.000131 Billion
    Female: 0.0000157 Billion
    Male: 0.00011528 Billion
    % of all females actively editing wikipedia: 0.0004%
    % of all males actively editing wikipedia: 0.0033%

    So when you get down to it, there just happens to be a very slightly larger fraction of the male population that is willing to invest their time in Wikipedia. When by and large, people in general don't do it, I think it's hard to make any kind of generalization about whether or not there are specific barriers for either men or women. The bigger trend imho is that there are barriers for everyone.

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