Women and Wikimedian projects: SlimVirgin
For the background of this series of interviews, as well as for other interviews, please take a look at the page Women and Wikimedia projects and its subpages.
I got SlimVirgin‘s interview a couple of days ago and this is the second interview which I got from female Wikimedians. This one is very opposite to the first interview (with Delphine). I know why because I was in the both (quasi-)hierarchical positions and I am personally frustrated by this difference.
She is an admin of Engilsh Wikipedia and she is often a target of problematic contributors because of her steady dealing with Wikipedia disrupting.
How long are you involved in Wikimedian projects?
SlimVirgin: I first got involved in the English Wikipedia in November 2004. I’d read it a few times in 2003-4, but foolishly hadn’t realized it could be edited. All the articles I’d read were fairly well-written, so I’d assumed it was a professional encyclopedia. Then one day I came across something that was really very badly written, and I thought, “How on earth can they allow this?” It was only then that I looked closer at the page, which is when I saw the “edit”
Do you have some of the privileges on projects: admin, bureaucrat, checkuser, oversight, steward? (You don’t need to tell what privileges you have.) If you have some of them, do you think that you gain them easier or harder because you are female or you think that it was not relevant?
SlimVirgin: I’m an admin on the English Wikipedia. I didn’t feel that it was easier or harder to become an admin as a woman, although I do feel that it’s harder to be an active admin as a woman — harder in the sense that people are more judgmental if you’re assertive; and because trolls and troublemakers tend to target you.
By your opinion, what is the main reason of small relative number of women on Wikimedian projects?
SlimVirgin: It’s a very aggressive, male, adolescent atmosphere, and lots of women — as well as more mature men — may find it tiresome to negotiate.
Do you think that your communication with the rest of the (particular and global) community is easier or harder because you are female or you think that it is not relevant?
SlimVirgin: Being a woman does make you more of a target for troublemakers, and for certain types of men — largely very young men, who seem to feel threatened by assertive women, and who respond by becoming contemptuous — and then of course we have the out-and-out misogynists, of which we’ve had a few, unfortunately.
If you were in some decision-making process, do you think that your opinion (not) passed easier or harder because you are female or you think that it was not relevant?
SlimVirgin: I never noticed any difference.
Do you think that Wikimedian culture is sexist?
Have you ever been insulted on sexual/gender basis? If you did, how often is it happening?
SlimVirgin: By Wikipedia trolls and stalkers off-wiki, yes. It has happened a lot. They’ve discussed my appearance, what clothes they think I wear, what kind of bras I wear, whether I fear being raped, whether I’m a whore, whether I’ve had to sleep with men in real life to get jobs.
By your opinion, are there some positive examples and positive trends in Wikimedian communities toward better involvement of females in contributing to Wikimedian projects?
SlimVirgin: I’m not aware of any.
What do you think that it should be done to change the situation?
SlimVirgin: We need a top-down decision to create a more civil community, with zero tolerance of stalking and harassment, and with much less tolerance of the dominant teenage white boy culture, which is simply driving women and older men away. This should extend not only to Wikipedia, but to the mailing lists and to the Wikipedia IRC
channels. The entire culture needs to become less tolerant of adolescent male aggression. Otherwise, we’ll continue to fail to attract women, more mature men, more educated people, and people from other cultures, which means we’ll continue to fail to achieve NPOV.
By your opinion, what are the most important issues which should be solved to make better involvement of women in contributing to Wikimedian projects?
SlimVirgin: See above.
Do you think that there are some other important questions related to this issue? If so, please tell them and try to give an answer to them.
Update 1: I forgot to say that SlimVirgin gave to me a number of contacts which will be the next persons to interview (after the initial ten female Wikimedian which I knew before I started with those interviews).
Update 2: Comment field is not a place for personal attacks against SlimVirgin or any other (even reasonable) criticism of her work. You may chose to do the one of the next: (1) If you want to give answers to interview questions, please take female or male version of the questions depends of your gender and follow the instructions. (2) If you want to criticize my methodology, please wait for a couple of months. I’ll give some analysis based on all interviews.