Submissions:2024/Meeting at the Crossroads: University Edit-A-Thons

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This submission has been noted and is pending review for WikiConference North America 2024.


Meeting at the Crossroads: University Edit-A-Thons

Type of session:

Lecture (15-30 min)

Session theme(s):

Diversity & Inclusion, Education, Partnerships


It is well established that, although Wikipedia aims to summarize all the world's knowledge, Wikipedia English skews towards white males for article topics and editors. To address this shortcoming, librarians and faculty at Tennessee State University (TSU), the University of South Florida (USF) have joined together with Wikimedia Foundation DC to hold a series of Wikipedia edit-a-thons during Black History, Women’s History, Native American History and Latin American History Months.

These edit-a-thons bring together the goals of Wikimedia, and universities. They are held in the space where the need to increase diversity in content and editors intersects with university needs to increase student information literacy, critical thinking and research skills, and the desire to help minority students feel connected to content and part of a community which values their knowledge.

This presentation will briefly cover the history of these edit-a-thons and how we have created buy in among 2 different faculties and librarians. Then we will discuss what participants created or edited and how these participants felt about their experiences. Followed by a short discussion of plans for the future and how to become involved yourselves.

TSU is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) in Nashville, while USF has a significant Hispanic student body. By hosting edit-a-thons with both universities, we encourage editing with underrepresented populations through the online encyclopedia. So far, we have hosted our events to coincide with Black History Month and Women's History Month, and this fall, we plan to have events aligned with Native American History Month and Latin American History Month.

Our events cover three hours, and for the first hour, Wikimedia Foundation DC teaches attendees how to edit for Wikipedia. They help to provide articles on these subjects that need creation or more information. They also provide data such as the number of attendees, new articles created, number of edits, and so forth.

So far, we have had good buy-in from professors, who agreed to give extra credit to students participating in the events. We have partnered with faculty and other librarians across both universities. We have had dozens of students create or improve articles about people of color, females, and related topics. This benefits students because it helps improve information literacy, critical thinking and research skills. Wikipedia editing also instills a sense of agency in students.

In the long term, I want to persuade teaching faculty to assign students a Wikipedia editing project to replace a traditional research assignment. By then, I could impart the best practices I have learned from the edit-a-thons to the faculty and help them write the lesson plan. Through this two-step process, we can build a culture of Wikipedia editing at my institution, one where student research does not get filed, collects dust, and then is shredded a few years later. Instead, students can point to an article they created or improved and say, "I did that!"

Author name(s):

James Scholz Kiersten Cox

Wikimedia username(s):


E-mail address:

Affiliated organization(s):

Tennessee State University University of South Florida

Able to attend without scholarship?


Estimated length of session

30 minutes

Will you be presenting remotely?

Okay to livestream?

Livestreaming is okay

Previously presented?


Special requests:

We would like to offer this in conjunction with an edit-a-thon we have proposed.