Storming Wikipedia

Wikipedia depends on readers and volunteer editors to write, edit, and correct its entries.  Theoretically, the vast network of contributors will make for an online encyclopedia that is accurate, objective, and self-correcting.  But this also leaves Wikipedia open to contributors with an ideological agenda.  Which is the plan for an organized effort–for college credit, no less–“to advance feminist principles of social justice” by “writ[ing] feminist thinking” into Wikipedia.  The project is called “Storming Wikipedia,” an image from the French Revolution, with the revolutionary masses storming the Bastille.  But the feminists doing this could inspire other sans-culottes.

From Katherine Timpf,  ‘Storming Wikipedia’: Colleges offer credit to students who enter ‘feminist thinking’ into Wikipedia:

Fifteen universities worldwide — including Yale University, Brown University, and Pennsylvania State University — will offer college credit to students who “write feminist thinking” into Wikipedia.

The program, “Storming Wikipedia,” will be part of the Dialogues on Feminism and Technology online course developed by FemTechNet, an organization of feminist educators and scholars.

Students will be given course credit if they contribute the “feminist thinking” article on Wikipedia.

Approximately 300 students are currently registered for the course, Alexandra Juhasz, professor of media studies at California’s Pitzer College and one of the course facilitators, told Campus Reform Thursday.

“A woman’s point of view or feminist point of view is not yet expressed in relationship to women in technology in Wikipedia,” she said. “We hope that people engage in this project in respect to other themes as well.”

FemTechNet alleges that many Wikipedia pages are “skewed now toward male participation,” citing a 2011 study which found that fewer than 15 percent of Wikipedia contributors were females, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

It appears that “feminist thinking” is not currently an entry in Wikipedia at all, however there are entries for both “feminism” and “black feminism.”

A goal of the course is “to advance feminist principles of social justice in creating educational models and pedagogies for the future,” according to a FemTechNet news release.

Other participating colleges include Bowling Green State University, California Polytechnic State University, Colby-Sawyer College, The City University of New York Graduate Center, Macaulay Honors College and Lehman College (CUNY), The New School, Ohio State University, Ontario College of Art and Design University, Pitzer College, Rutgers University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, according to the news release.

What if Christians were to storm Wikipedia, writing their thinking into the entries?  I assume that would not be academically acceptable.  (Would it be theologically acceptable, since Christianity holds to objective truth and doesn’t need to be advanced by propaganda, as radical ideologies do?  Or should Christians also storm Wikipedia?)

I wonder which ideologies would be an acceptable basis for re-writing according to the prestigious universities offering academic credit for this.  Could there be a course storming Wikipedia from the perspective of Marxists?  (I suspect that would be all right. ) Or libertarians?  (I don’t think so.)  Or animal rights activists?  (Of course.) Or political conservatives?  (That would be corporate manipulation!)

Wouldn’t contributors who push an ideological agenda be the death of Wikipedia?  The Bastille was not just stormed; it was destroyed.

HT:  Doug Favelo

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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