2019/Grants/Reading together: Reliability and Multilingual Global Communities

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Project name

Reading together: Reliability and Multilingual Global Communities.

Your name

Amber Berson and Melissa Tamani

Wikimedia Username

Amber Berson - 13ab37 Melissa Tamani - Yhhue91

E-mail address

amber@artandfeminism.org melissa.taman{{@}artandfeminism.org


Link to resumes in PDf versions

Geographical impact

International scope (though notably English, French, and Spanish language spheres)

Type of project

Research + Output

What is your idea?

This research project will work to expand the definition and scope of what is considered a reliable source (WP:RS) on Wikipedia for marginalized communities. Art+Feminism is an intersectional feminist non-profit organization that directly addresses the information gap about gender, feminism, and the arts on the internet. Since 2004, our work has been centered on building an equitable global community striving to close the gaps in content and editorial representation on Wikipedia, ensuring that the histories of our lives and work are accessible and accurate. The project has three parts, with the possibility of a publication at the end:

Part 1: A research project to expand the definition, scope, and interpretation of reliable sources for marginalized communities in multiple language versions of Wikipedia, including Spanish, English, and French.

Part 2: Art+Feminism to organize town halls for the community in multiple languages including Spanish, English, and French (Amber Berson is fluent in French and resides in Montréal, Canada, and Melissa Tamani is fluent in Spanish and resides in Lima, Peru).

Part 3: Art+Feminism to collect feedback and adjust expansion as a result of the town halls. The main deliverable of the project consists of a report with the results of the three phases, as well as a series of recommendations for different stakeholders in the Wikipedia community.

Research methods

We will analyze primary sources like the current Policy on Reliable Sources in French, English, and Spanish Wikipedias, and their respective Talk Pages; as well as a sample of Deletion Discussion pages where infringements of the Reliable Sources Policy are claimed. For the latter, we will take the study sample from articles created at past Art+Feminism edit-a-thons and nominated for deletion, using the Programs and Events Dashboard Alert filter: https://outreachdashboard.wmflabs.org/campaigns/artfeminism_2020/alerts

We will review and analyze the literature produced on the subject in the three languages.

We will conduct public focus groups with community members to gather ideas that will later be integrated into the research. It’s important for us to make involvement with this discussion as transparent and accessible as possible. We expect each research group meeting to host a maximum of twenty in order to maximize engagement. While we expect to host a limited number of meetings, we are open to hosting additional ones to accommodate higher demand if need be.

Target participants: seasoned Wikipedia editors in the three languages, especially the ones involved in discussions around Wikipedia’s policies; members of user groups, and chapters; people working on projects focused on equity on Wikipedia.

The axis that will guide the development of the community conversation process will be the search for concrete proposals to improve the policy of reliable sources.

It is essential to dialogue with the various community actors since the implementation of any recommendation requires a broad consensus from the Wikipedia community.

Participants will self-select though we will also consider solicitation of key actors.

We will use all the data collected to formulate proposals for expanding or readjusting the Policy on Reliable Sources to allow for greater representation of marginalized communities.

During the entire process, we will have an advisory committee, composed of four specialists in the fields of digital communication and online communities, with whom we will periodically evaluate the results and direct the research.

Why is it important?

A major barrier to our work is the flagging of sources as unreliable (WP:RS) per current policies and guidelines. In a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female; more recent research puts that number at 16% globally and 23% in the United States. Further, data analysis tools and computational linguistics studies have concluded that Wikipedia has fewer and less extensive articles on women; those same tools have shown gender biases in biographical articles. At the same time, secondary sources that focus on non-dominant populations and in languages other than English are more likely to be flagged as unreliable and uncredible.

Is your project already in progress?


How is it relevant to credibility and Wikipedia?

Current reliability guidelines place undue emphasis on Western, English sources, though the etymological root of reliable means knowledge coming from communities. The inequality in the content offered by Wikipedia is one of the main criticisms of the project, both from outside and from within. This lack of equity is reflected in the gender gap in terms of content, but also in other structural gaps, such as the scarce and inaccurate representation of historically excluded communities like black communities, indigenous people, individuals from the global south, queer communities, among others.

One of the barriers to achieving this equity and thus making Wikipedia an encyclopedia that truthfully reflects the sum of humanity's knowledge is the rigidity of editorial policies linked to the criterion of notability, including the policy on reliable sources. This is pointed out in the Gender Equity Report presented in 2018 by the Wikimedia Foundation. This is also the position stated by numerous user groups, Wikipedians, academics, journalists, etc.

In this sense, it is urgent to develop research that allows us to build scenarios of flexibility and expansion of some key editorial policies in Wikipedia, such as the policy on reliable sources, without compromising the credibility of the project.

What is the ultimate impact of this project?

Our project aims to identify pathways to address this problem from the perspective of the editorial policy itself. In recent years, more and more initiatives have appeared that address the content gap in Wikipedia from 'outside' it, through Editathons, contests, and campaigns that encourage greater coverage of the knowledge of underrepresented communities.

Could it scale?

Yes, we are working in three of the most dominant languages but we believe that this project has the potential to benefit larger linguistic and geographic communities

Why are you the people to do it?

Art+Feminism lead co-organizers Amber Berson and Melissa Tamani will co-lead the project. We plan to hire someone with greater community Wikipedia knowledge to help guide community consultation on the platform. Further, we will build an advisory board to help guide our research, with members from a variety of geographic and linguistic populations.

Amber Berson is a writer, curator, and Ph.D. candidate conducting doctoral research at Queen’s University on artist-run culture and feminist, utopian thinking. She most recently curated Utopia as Method (2018); World Cup! (2018); The Let Down Reflex (2016-2018, with Juliana Driever); TrailMix (2014, with Eliane Ellbogen); *~._.:*JENNIFER X JENNIFER*:.~ (2013, with Eliane Ellbogen); The Annual Art Administrator’s Relay Race (2013, with Nicole Burisch); The Wild Bush Residency (2012–14); and was the 2016 curator-in-residence as part of the France-Quebec Cross-Residencies at Astérides in Marseille, France. She is a co-lead at Art+Feminism, a project that works for a more equitable Wikipedia and was the 2019-2020 Wikipedian in Residence at Concordia University.

Melissa Tamani has a BA in Art History from the National University of San Marcos (Lima). She’s developed a career in the fields of cultural management and museum education at various cultural institutions in Peru. In 2017 she was the Cultural Manager at the Faculty of Art and Design from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She’s part of Art+Feminism since 2015, formerly as Regional Ambassador in Latin America and currently as Lead co-organizer. She is also a promoter of Wikimedia culture in Peru, organizing and taking part in campaigns focused on gender, human rights, and ecology.

What is the impact of your idea on diversity and inclusiveness od the Wikimedia movement?

Our idea directly addresses the under-representation of the lives and stories of non-hegemonic communities within Wikipedia. This includes, but is not limited to, cis and transgender women, non-binary people, LGTBIQ+, and BIPOC communities.

  • What are the challenges associated with this project and how will you overcome them?

One of the main challenges is to achieve a high degree of interest and participation from the communities in the different languages addressed by the project (English, French, and Spanish). To overcome this, we will make use of the networks we have built —for 6 years in the case of Amber Berson and 5 years in the case of Melissa Tamani— within the Wikimedia ecosystem, which includes user groups, Wikimedia chapters, academics with an interest in Wikipedia, projects related to the mission of Art+Feminism, staff of the Wikimedia Foundation, among others. We plan to enhance our outreach within the Wikipedia community by hiring a third researcher with greater knowledge of the community’s dynamics.

How much money are you requesting?

9000 USD

How will you spend the money?

  • 3000 USD - research on WP:RS guideline expansion (three researchers)
  • 1960 USD - Advisory committee honorarium (four advisors)
  • 300 USD - preparation for live (virtual) events
  • 360 USD - live (virtual events)
  • 800 USD - review of data
  • 740 USD - live translation services
  • 1500 USD - report preparation
  • 340 USD - annual Zoom license

How long will your project take?

We expect the project to occur over a four-month period, with the three participants spending between 5 and 10 hours per week.

Have you worked on projects for previous grants before?

Melissa Tamani worked on projects funded by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Rapid Grant Program in 2020 and 2018.

In addition to successfully working with Canadian arts funders (such as the Canada Council for the Art) for over a decade, Amber Berson is a recipient of multi-year SSHRC research funding.