News Column

Male-dominated Wikipedia Community Encouraged to Reach Out to Women

July 17, 2012

Wikipedia supporters meeting Thursday in Washington heard appeals for the online encyclopedia community to seek greater diversity and especially to try to expand their disproportionately small female ranks.

Bringing together editors and contributors from the hundreds of different language-based Wikipedia sites around the world, the Wikimania 2012 convention was tackling issues in the open-source community including diversity, copyright law and innovative technologies.

Keynote speaker Mary Gardiner, co-founder of the non-profit ADA initiative, which promotes women's involvement in open technology, addressed an overwhelmingly male audience: "In order to incorporate the sum of human knowledge, you need to incorporate the sum of humans in some way."

The convention was organized with the theme of "Explore, Engage and Empower," with the volunteers who contribute to and effectively run Wikipedia seeking to expand the encyclopedia's reach across borders and gender barriers.

"There are many misconceptions about Wikipedia and Wikipedians," Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said as he projected a string of "memes" depicting pony-tailed nerds hunched over computers and grim reapers bent on destroying the publishing industry.

He said that Wikipedia participants are united by the goal of creating "a world where every person on earth is given access to the sum of human knowledge."

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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