The Wikipedia gender gap: trolling, doxxing and online safety

An image of the Wikipedia start page to illustrate the research on the Wikipedia gender gap, doxxing and online safety
© iStock/tomch

A new study has assessed the Wikipedia gender gap, and describes some of the issues for online safety including trolling and doxxing.

There is a lack of female and non-binary Wikipedia editors. A team from University of Washington assessed the issues surrounding the Wikipedia gender gap by interviewing 25 well-established editors and found that online safety was a common theme in their interviews.

Discussions included how the Wikipedia editors managed their safety conceptually and physically and how they acted on their understanding to create safe spaces both on and off Wikipedia.

Exploring the Wikipedia gender gap

The video shows some of the researchers and participants in the Wikipedia gender gap study.

Co-author Wanda Pratt, a professor in the UW’s Information School, commented: “People can get harassed when they’re editing content in Wikipedia. If you’re constantly getting negative feedback for doing something, how often are you going to do it?”

Doxxing and trolling online

The first author and doctoral student in the iSchool, Amanda Menking, explained: “In the data we collected, it goes beyond trolling. There’s doxxing, which is exposing people’s personal information and where to find them online or in physical space such as their address. Some of the women we talked to received death threats.”

Why Wikipedia should be representative

The authors suggest solutions for future online environments that encourage equity, inclusivity and safety for historically marginalized users.

The study authors suggested solutions for online environments which encourage online safety, equity and inclusivity for historically marginalised users. Menking added:”Wikipedia says it’s the sum of all human knowledge and it’s the encyclopedia anyone can edit. That is a pretty big claim. There’s also a responsibility to be held to those claims, that if you say you are the sum of all human knowledge then you need representative humans contributing that information.”

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