American University of Beirut

Edit-a-thon helps diversify Wikipedia content on Arab women

Office of Communications,

An initiative as part of AUB’s Coed Centennial, 2Rāth, a Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Wikipedia project that seeks to develop an online presence for Arab authors on the world’s largest online encyclopedia, recently hosted AUB’s first annual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, AUB Libraries, Women and Gender Studies, AUB Press, CCCC Wikipedia, Wikipedia Education, Wikimedia Foundation, and the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The Edit-a-thon was preceded by introductory sessions and a week-long training on Wikipedia Education for faculty, staff, and students in preparation for the event. 

The Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon is a global event designed to diversify Wikipedia’s coverage of women in the arts, for less than 10 percent of Wikipedia editors identify as women. Only 17 percent of all biographical articles on Wikipedia focus on women, and the numbers representing the Arab world are almost negligent. 

This homegrown initiative which was founded in 2019 by Abir Ward from the Department of English​ and Fatme Charafeddine from AUB Libraries, began by creating biographies about Arab authors with the help of AUB students. These articles have since garnered over 15 million views. This year, the initiative, which became 2Rāth, opted to concentrate its efforts on diversifying Wikipedia’s coverage of Arab women by creating and improving articles about Arab women and AUB alumnae. 

The Edit-a-thon that took place on November 18 at College Hall attracted 70 faculty, staff, and students. Together, they edited 39 articles and added close to 16,000 words and 133 references to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of Arab women

In addition to improving encyclopedic content and working on preserving Arab literary heritage, this project also enables participants to practice crucial skills related to critical thinking, digital literacy, online source evaluation—determining which sources are most authoritative (considering publishers, formats, dates of publication, and author bias), and writing for a global audience. 

The Edit-a-thon was collaboratively organized by Abir Ward (2Rāth), Miriam Rita Boulos (FAS), Kathryn Maude (Women and Gender Studies), Yasmine Hajjar (AUB Press), and Faysal Shlash (2Rāth). Finally, the event was supported by Charles Bazerman, Melanie Kill, Matthew Vetter, and Savannah Cragin from CCCC Wikipedia as well as Helaine Blumenthal from Wikipedia Education.​​​​​

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