talkgroup

Notability

Susan Mernit brought my attention to this piece by someone frustrated with the un/deletion process on Wikipedia. I left my comments regarding the rant on her blog.

While I was writing that I was thinking about the idea that articles on women are harding to gain acceptance or are more likely to be deleted. I don’t have any numbers to support the assertion, but I am almost sure it is the case. The reason I am confident on that is also my point.

The guidelines for notability, no matter how well meaning, are still informed by the biases and values of those who follow them. It may well be that if we were to list all possible candidates for notability, there would be a substantial majority of men (and probably white), simply because at any point in history, notability is not measured by potential, but rather opportunity and those who used it to become notable.

This, of course, doesn’t completely explain why articles on women get pushed out. However, I think it lends to the different (and bias) set of criteria that allows for women to (continually) be marginalized on Wikipedia.

I don’t have any solutions to suggest, I am not even really tied to this, it was just an idea that popped in my head. I would like some data to check out, and maybe a query on Wikipedia of deleted articles about women. It also seems worth it to put together a group of people whose goals would be to contribute to the debates on notability as they come in. One of the original rant’s points was that a few chose for the many. I think we can at least fix that quickly.

Also, check out the Wikipedia proposal, “Change Wikipedia Notability Guidelines”. Your thoughts are valuable.