Sunday, May 14, 2023

Gender balance at @Wikipedia, deletion; a rear guard action.

 A recent Wikipedia Research article aims to prove that the English Wikipedia deletion process is not biased. For some that is a loaded question because it  centers on the question if Wikipedia is equitable.

As so often the article is all about English Wikipedia and it has its own bias. English Wikipedia does not serve half the public of the Wikimedia Foundation and much of the other half does not read English. The gender balance in English Wikipedia is however improving; the percentage of articles about women is slowly but surely increasing.

At issue in the article is whether the English Wikipedia deletion policies effectively harm gender and race biases. Obviously there are more biases; you may be male and white but when you are not from an Anglo-american background chances for Wikipedia recognition are slim. When you care to research this, check out Wikidata, it includes a super set of what Wikipedia includes and it is biased in this way as well.

When a Wikipedia article about a scientist is deleted, it does not follow that its Wikidata item is deleted and given enough identifiers, it is likely that its related subset increases over time tilting the "notability" balance. Even so, many important scientists are "scientists in red", an example is Prof Emily Fairfax her prominence is for instance in her explaining and demonstrating that beavers feature prominently in the fight against forest fires

When English Wikipedia defends its own policies, it follows that they rely on the base assumptions in those policies. When those assumption are questioned, their arguments are lost. Given that English Wikipedia represents a subset of "the sum of all knowledge" that is included in Wikidata, it follows that much of Wikipedia can be understood from such a perspective. 

Wikidata has no "red links"; when a relation exists for an recipient of an award, there must be an item for both the award and the recipient. Wikipedia has one link in black to the "SIRS Lifetime Achievement Award". while Wikidata has a link to all recipients. They are linked to identified publications and other awards and consequently the Scholia for the award is really informative. 

Based on information like this improved information is available that must wait for a Wikipedia volunteer. English Wikipedia is a victim of its success, it cannot fully maintain its information. The same can be said for Wikidata. It is however a superset and it does not necessarily require a mastery of English.

With new technologies becoming more relevant, there is an avenue to improve the quality of any Wikipedia, inform people based on the data in Wikidata and improve on the quality of the information that we provide. 



1 comment:

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