Advocates for Women Architects Battle Wikipedia Trolls 3

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Thursday, April 9th, 2015
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A campaign to raise the profile of women architects has met with considerable resistance from members of Wikipedia’s vast team of volunteer editors.

Wikipedia editors have responded to an organized campaign to raise the profile of female architects by deleting pages on the website that had been specifically created to better acknowledge their contribution.

ArchiteXX, an independent organization that claims to represent women in architecture, launched a campaign earlier this year to create a swathe of Wikipedia profiles about esteemed female members of the architecture profession on International Women’s Day this year, which falls on March 8th.

The #wikiD campaign, which bore the slogan of “Women. Wikipedia. Design.” was a global event with the explicit goal of arranging for participants to “write into Wikipedia women designers, architects and all those involved in the creation of our environment.”

The campaign asked writers to organize their own “wiki writing [parties],” with the Architexx site providing a sign up list used to coordinate the creation of posts and avoid overlaps, as well as relevant information on Wikipedia page creation procedures.

According to event organizer Lori A. Brown, one of the event organizers and an associate professor of the Syracuse University School of Architecture, the project was a timely response to online trolls in the Wikipedia community who would seek to diminish the contribution of women to the architecture profession.

“We realized it is time to take action,” said Brown, pointing to “a friend’s experience this summer linguistically wrestling with Wikipedia editing trolls who were doing their utmost to un-write women out of a certain section of activism.”

 Another keynote inspiration for the campaign was the essay “Unforgetting Women Architects, From the Pritzker to Wikipedia,” by architectural historian Despina Stratigakos from the University of Buffalo.

The essay, which was published in June 2013 by Places Journal, served as a call to arms for ensuring that the contribution of female architects received its proper due.

Leading representatives of the architecture profession in Australia backed the Architexx campaign, including the NSW Architects Registration Board, Melbourne-based architecture and design firm Sibling, as well as Parlour, a group that seeks to “[expand] the spaces for women in Australian architecture.”

Parlour gave its strong support to the initiative, encouraging its supporter to “help add entries on Australian women in architecture and design.”

The campaign may have triggered a backlash, however, from the very trolls amongst Wikipedia’s volunteer editing personnel that it sought to overcome.

Architecture practitioners whose pages were either deleted or disputed include Jennifer Taylor from the Queensland University of Technology and Pia Ednie-Brown from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

“During a recent one-day international wiki-editing program to add women architects, we countered resistance from some other Wikipedia editors, who questioned the ‘notability’ of some entries and deleted others,” said participants in the project in a subsequent statement. “We found that entries on subjects who did not have a large existing digital footprint were challenged, despite citations to material available in analog formats.”

Groups such as Parlour remains undeterred, however, responding to difficulties experienced while attempting to contribute content to Wikipedia by redoubling their efforts to raise the profile of women architects on the site.

They’re participating in the launch of the “More Female Architects on Wikipedia” campaign, which seeks to raise as much as USD$30,000 to “increase the visibility of women in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Engineering and Planning on Wikipedia.”

The campaign envisages the creation of an “international education and advocacy program that will enable more women and men to write Wikipedia articles on women in architecture and the built environment.”

 

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3
  1. Nihiltres

    The characterization of Wikipedians here as "trolls" is uncalled-for. When I read in this article about the examples, I went to look at them, and at the deletion discussion for the "Pia Ednie-Brown" article, I found that I had personally argued that the page should be deleted. My argument follows verbatim:

    "Weak delete: While this person may be notable, the sources present in the article don't back that up. In particular, *none* of the listed sources seem independent of the subject. If better sources were added, this article could probably be kept."

    This is not a "troll" argument; it is a cool and balanced critique based on Wikipedia's standards! It discredits everything you're saying to use offensive labels like "troll" without any context or justification.

    Wikipedia's "notability" inclusion criteria don't reflect "importance" or "relevance"; rather, "notability" is jargon for "availability of good sources for the subject". If these articles don't meet that minimum standard, deleting them is justified, despite the worthiness of the cause of this campaign.

  2. Paul Roberts

    Though I could be wrong, my understanding is that Wikipedia articles are, like normal encyclopaedia entries, supposed to be simply informative and free of any form of agenda – political or otherwise.

    Much as the promotion of women in architecture is important, under no circumstances should Wikipedia be used as a medium to promote any forma of agenda of any kind. If that is indeed what has happened here, then those pages should not be allowed to stand and those who persist in trying to use it as such should desist from doing so.

    Wikipedia should only ever be a source to promote genuine, informative and unbiased information.

  3. Mark Quinn

    Keep in mind that Nihiltes, a.k.a Michael Frank, is a long-time Wikipedia insider who goes to great lengths to screech and scream at any one or any source that criticizes the Wikipedia.