Women and Wikimedian projects: Anonymous Male Wikimedian 1

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.

This is the first anonymous interview. Anonymous Male Wikimedian 1 (AMW1) is nominated by one of females which did or promised to do an interview.

In which projects you are involved?

AMW1: English Wikipedia

How long are you involved in Wikimedian projects?

AMW1: Since January 2006.

Do you have some of the privileges on projects: admin, bureaucrat, checkuser, oversight, steward?

AMW1: No.

By your opinion, what is the main reason of small relative number of women on Wikimedian projects?

AMW1: Wikipedia is a hostile environment, and is becoming increasingly so, particularly in more contentious articles. I believe this is why females are less likely to become involved. Increasingly, Wikipedia is becoming a “free for all,” sort of like the worst parts of Usenet. Civility is observed in the breach and the rule against personal attacks is rarely and inconsistently enforced. Cyberstalking has become a severe problem, particularly in the more heated articles and those involving “cult” groups and personalities.

Adding to this problem is the obviously tender age of many of the participants. Many if not most are teenagers, and I would not be surprised if some are even younger.

Do you think that your communication with the rest of the (particular and global) community is easier or harder because you are male or you think that it is not relevant? Did you notice that females have easier or harder communication with the rest of the community only because they are females?

AMW1: It is easier in general to communicate if you are perceived as being male. Females are liable to sexist remarks and personal attacks, as well as the increasingly troublesome stalking issue.

If you were in some decision-making process, do you think that your opinion (not) passed easier or harder because you are male or you think that it was not relevant? Did you notice that it is easier or harder to female contributors?

AMW1: I think that the male dominated and hostile culture definitely makes it harder for female contributors to have impact.

Do you think that Wikimedian culture is sexist?

AMW1: Yes, absolutely. This is obvious in the tenor of comments to the mailing list and on talk pages.

Have you ever been insulted on sexual/gender basis? If you did, how often is it happening? Have you ever seen that some female had been insulted on sexual/gender basis? If so, how often?

AMW1: Yes, I have seen females insulted occasionally.

By your opinion, are there some positive examples and positive trends in Wikimedian communities toward better involvement of females in contributing to Wikimedian projects?

AMW1: No, I’m afraid I see absolutely no positive examples or trends in that regard. Things re becoming progressively worse.

First two interviews ( Delphine’s and SlimVirgin’s) gave a very opposite picture of this issue. I think that the main difference is related to their roles inside of the community. Delphine is working on much higher level, with people interested in developing free knowledge community. At the other side, SlimVirgin is working at the battlefield. Did you noticed this difference during your involvement in Wikimedian projects?

AMW1: There is definitely a difference between editing articles and working on a higher level. The vast majority of Wikipedians are in the “battlefield,” and one problem is that the Wiki hierarchy is divorced from the reality of the volunteers. There is an attitude of utter indifference toward the people who write the encyclopedia.

If you are involved in more then one Wikimedian community, do you see any difference between them in relation of this issue?

AMW1: Not applicable.

If you think that the situation should be changed, what do you think that it should be done to change the situation?

AMW1: There needs to be a top-to-bottom change in culture, starting with some leadership being shown by Jimbo.

By your opinion, what are the most important issues which should be solved to make better involvement of women in contributing to Wikimedian projects?

AMW1: There needs to be a zero tolerance policy toward cyberstalking and a firmer attitude toward civility and personal attacks.

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.

AMW1: No, none come to mind. Thanks.


~ by millosh on October 27, 2007.

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