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Illustration by Melinda Beck.

A Boulder Group Is Rewriting History—One Wikipedia Article at a Time

Fewer than 18 percent of Wikipedia bios spotlight women. Help Inclusipedia archive the stories of local ladies and people of color before they're forgotten.

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If Wikipedia is your go-to information source, you might think women exist solely as the wives, sisters, or daughters of great men. The mistake would be understandable: Just 17.8 percent of the site’s English-language biographical entries profile ladies. But it’s an error worth correcting, which is why Boulder’s Inclusipedia is working to ensure women’s contributions to history are no longer lost to time.

Launched in April 2018, Inclusipedia enlists volunteers to add bios for women and people of color from Boulder’s past to Wikipedia. For the group’s 30 or so members, who meet regularly at the Museum of Boulder, the research is more than a scholarly exercise: As the sixth-most-visited site in the United States, Wikipedia has become the fount of knowledge in the digital age. Stories not recorded there could disappear forever.

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Inclusipedia isn’t the first femme-focused editing squad. Many formed after a 2011 study from the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that oversees Wikipedia, revealed that only nine percent of the site’s editors were women. The disparity prompted the formation of Boulder’s Adventures in Wikipedia, which highlights ladies in the outdoor industry. Its success inspired the Museum of Boulder’s director of community engagement, Megan Moriarty, to start Inclusipedia’s project—an undertaking that proved more complicated than expected.

Although anyone can edit articles, the online encyclopedia has strict sourcing standards. If a fact isn’t linked to a verifiable document like a newspaper, an administrator removes it. The rule attempts to keep articles accurate, but it also presents a challenge. Mainstream media have historically neglected the accomplishments of people lacking Y chromosomes, leaving a dearth of “acceptable” sources for women’s stories; the same problem exists for many people of color. In short, diversifying Wikipedia isn’t easy. As of January, Inclusipedia had published only five local biographies.

But the dial is moving: The number of women’s entries on Wikipedia has grown by more than 86,000 pages since 2014. To speed up the rewrite, Inclusipedia is soliciting help during Women’s History Month by hosting editing sessions and trainings around Boulder on Saturday, March 9. “I don’t want us to be in the same place 100 years from now,” Moriarty says. “It’s not going to magically be fixed unless we do it ourselves.”

Overdue

Five Boulderites who finally have Wikipedia pages thanks to Inclusipedia.

Find more Inclusipedia-related events here.

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