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A feminist’s Wikipedia biography

By Andreas Kolbe

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and video blogger whose work focuses on sexism in video games. Her video blog, Feminist Frequency, is used as reading material in numerous universities’ women’s studies courses. Last year Sarkeesian became the target of a sustained harassment campaign because of her Kickstarter project, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. The attacks on her were coordinated from various video game forums.

Sarkeesian was subjected to a torrent of hate on YouTube – thousands of abusive and often sexually explicit hate messages. At the same time, her Wikipedia biography was vandalised. Sarkeesian herself spoke of harassment via Wikipedia vandalism.

She posted a screenshot of her vandalised biography on her blog:

The image below shows the result of the vandalism that took place over the course of June 5th and 6th, 2012. This was not done by just one or two trolls but was a coordinated cyber-mob-style effort involving a whole gang working together. The screenshot below was downloaded directly from one of the internet forums organizing the harassment. They were proudly posting this image as a trophy to boast about what they were doing and to encourage others to join in.

Sarkeesian's Wikipedia biography at the height of the June 2012 harassment episode.

Sarkeesian’s Wikipedia biography at the height of the June 2012 harassment episode.

The vandalism included changing the text, changing the page categories, changing the external links to re-reroute to porn sites and adding a drawing of a woman with a man’s penis in her mouth captioned with “Daily Activities”.

Some of the vandalism was subtle, and bore the marks of insider knowledge. Adding her biography to the

…continue reading A feminist’s Wikipedia biography

Gender, Bending Wikipedia

By Moxie

This article explains how a single user on Wikipedia with an agenda can manipulate the project over an extended period. Wikipedia lists a number of articles under the category “English murderers“, and as of writing this category has a handful of subcategories: English assassins (7), English murderers of children (36), English people convicted of murder (155), English female murderers‎ (40), and English regicides (mostly those involved in the execution of Charles I)‎. For some reason Wikipedia does not have a category “English male murderers” which some may consider a bias in itself.

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Lets focus on the two categories English people convicted of murder (155) and English female murderers‎ (40). It turns out that 35 of the 40 “English female murderers” are also in the category “English people convicted of murder”; the remainder are male. Assuming that eventually the missing 5 women will get added to the category, Wikipedia has 120 articles (75%) concerning male murderers and 40 articles (25%) concerning female murderers. How does this compare to actual gender breakdown of murder convictions in England?

In 1995/6 (which does not seem to be a special year) there were 935 males convicted of murder (90%) and 101 females convicted of murder (10%). How is it that a female is 2.5 times more likely to be listed as a murderer on wikipedia than a male? Enter the special interest contributor by the name of Shakehandsman, a Wikipedian who tends to add negative copy to articles on women. Even when Shakehandsman isn’t writing overt negative comment, his additions are designed to denigrate the person indirectly. For example here is the before and after Shakehandsman version of the article on journalist

…continue reading Gender, Bending Wikipedia