Now The War Around #Yesallwomen Is Playing Out On Wikipedia

Women are woefully unrepresented on Wikipedia. Is the #yesallwomen page a sign that this is about to change?


by Sophie Cullinane |
Published on

Last month, Elliot Rodger killed six people before killing himself – an act he blamed on the rejection he had faced from the opposite sex. The next day a hashtag, #yesallwomen, started trending on Twitter – a response to the apparent misogyny in Rodger's final video message before the killings (much has since been much has been made of his involvement in so-called ‘Male Rights Activists’ forums). Since then, the tag has been fought and picked over on Twitter, as feminists, male rights activists and everyone in between attempted to dissect the tragedy.

And if you thought it had quietened down on Twitter, the debate is now raging on Wikipedia as both groups battle to control how Elliot Rodger's actions and #yesallwomen are remembered online. A page for the hashtag has been set up, and has been subject to what can only be described as an editing war, with well over 500 re-edits of the page since it’s creation in May.

A lot of the editors claim the changes they have been making are to make the post ‘less biased’ and if you look at the article history, you can see the reasons behind their changes:

One editor said:

‘…yep, more misandry. Humanity stupidity is a bottomless well.’

While another added:

‘Edited article to be slightly more NPOV. It’s still kind of a giant pile of feminist propaganda, though.’

Meanwhile, one of the more subtle criticisms of the article page surrounds around that the hashtag has (inappropriately) moved on from the killings itself: 'I do not feel this article is notable and was surprised to see it even existed. I haven't heard it discussed anywhere in media – at all (but personally, obv.). I would support this article being merged into or redirecting to the 2014 Isla Vista killings#Debate about misogyny page. I do not agree that a stand alone article on a Twitter hashtag should exist.'

But the creator of the article disagrees: 'I created this, so I should chime in about why I thought it was notable. I agree with Odie that while the movement may have started because of one violent act, it quickly transformed into much more than that. That's why I feel it deserves a page where it's separate from the article about the killings. As a side note (and a response to the social-media comment), I think we should consider that social media is a space where a lot of women speak out, unlike on the rest of the internet. Perhaps we should consider some leniency with our idea of notability when we want more representation of women (content-wise and editor-wise) on Wikipedia. Also, though you may consider the references op-eds, they're in legitimate sources that typically meet notability requirements.

Some fair points there, but does Wikipedia have a responsibility to represent women in its' current guise as ‘The Free Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit’?

Women remain woefully underrepresented on the website, where the vast majority of editors are men, so the fact that the feminist debate is moving over to Wikipedia from Twitter is potentially great – and very intriguing. But with even more edits happing only three days ago, it looks like neither side is giving up without a fight.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiecullinane

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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