This won’t surprise anybody who actually pays attention to the climate of the editing discussions on many wikipedia pages. This blog post notes:
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the survey took place in November of last year, with results being presented last week at a conference in Buenos Aires. A total of 53,888 respondents indicated that they were Wikipedia contributors, but only 6,814 of them were women.
The research also showed that women are less likely to read articles as well, with 31% of women and 69% of men reading entries, but not writing or editing them.
The linked WSJ article reports: “Among the reasons for not contributing, many respondents cited time constraints, satisfaction with just reading entries or simply not knowing how to edit the pages. One quarter, however, said theyâ€™re afraid of making a mistake â€œand getting â€˜in troubleâ€™ for it.â€ As I have noted before, many entries on feminism have been written or edited by people who are actively hostile toward feminists, but they prevail because they seem to have a lot of free time and the few feminists who challenge their actions experience a lot of targeted hostility. Thanks to Wikipedia, the Google search generated public face of feminism is contrived by misogynists.
And even seeming innocuous information can be controversial in wikiworld. I thought about editing the entry for Siva Vaidhyanathan, because he is important and special to me as a friend as well as a scholar, but take a look at the editing discussion associated with his entry – it’s an argument about whether his sports fandom is relevant to his biography. I think it is, but don’t have any interest in arguing about it. Siva gets no say in the matter, which seems ridiculous to me because he is in the best position to decide how important sports are to his public persona.