Is Wikipedia too 'masculine'?

Here’s the story.

I confess that I haven’t a clue what they’re talking about. “It’s aesthetically very masculine in design.” What does that even mean? OK, I’m a well-educated white male, perhaps I’m not seeing something that I should see. Or perhaps this whole debate is a crock of shit. I’m strongly inclined to go with the latter.

As a feminist, and a graphic designer, I think this is, indeed, a crock of shit. With all the genuine issues that women face, they choose *this *as campaign??! Pathetic.

I saw this earlier and I was attempting to look up examples of “feminist/feminism website designs” and I couldn’t find an example. I also couldn’t find a definition of what is “masculine” in web design.

That means it’s probably not a founded idea, but something that someone has in their head. I don’t know it’s crap until I see some evidence as to what it’s referring to.

As for the edits, themselves, Wikipedia strives for factual statements that are neutral. I’m not sure how that can be masculine or feminist overall, although I’m sure that some information can certainly be skewed in those directions, I would think it would be pared down without a dedicated “Take out the man in editing” campaign.

And why are they choosing Black History Month to do this, not Women’s History Month? Isn’t that the kind of thoughtless barging-in-on-a-minority-and-making-it-all-about-yourself that white males made infamous?

No kidding. The design is too masculine? Huh? The wiki globe is a good representation (IMHO) of what the site is about. As for the rest of it, it’s pretty boring. Which I think is good. It allows more room for content.

Perhaps they are upset that all the links are in blue. Need more pink links.

It means they’re bigots.

Well, see, this is what I don’t get. Surely they don’t mean they want the design ‘pretty-fying’, because most feminists would object strongly to that? I’d love to know what they regard as more ‘female friendly design’.

If you go to the source links (such as this or this), the tenor of the story changes quite a bit. The interview with Sarah Stierch, from which the Daily Caller writer plucked a single line, is about trying to get more women involved in editing Wikipedia.

The Bitch Magazine article piece on Krystal South reveals that the edit-a-thon’s goal is to create Wiki pages for several hundred female artists, it’s even called Art and Feminism.

Doesn’t seem very out-there or controversial to me, but of course the Daily Caller will try to dress it up as a radical feminist conspiracy to rewrite Wikipedia into a feminist manifesto.

I’m not sure I agree with the idea that all other campaign groups need to put their work on hold for a month just because it’s Black History Month, even if this particular campaign is stupid.

This strikes me as a terrible idea. I would agree with the idea that, just because there’s larger issues out there doesn’t mean they can’t do something about smaller issues, but there’s also the point where it is so small and so ridiculous that it makes the whole movement look ridiculous. Even if I did think that wikipedia was an issue, I think this is the sort of event that makes it easy for opponents to disregard the real issues that face women.

Further, I’m left utterly baffled by the idea that wikipedia is somehow inherently masculine, or at least moreso than other major sites they might be able to launch a campaign against. I see it as a fairly neutral, plain, an utilitarian site. Now, when I think of “feminine” web design, I certainly think of things that are less plain and utilitarian, but I’d think men are equally capable of going too far with that. I’d really like to hear what their complaints are about it that are specifically masculine. Simply saying it’s masculine isn’t enough, they need to define it. Otherwise, I think this will ultimately be counterproductive by reinforcing exactly the types of stereotypes I’d have thought they’d want to quash.

Further, it seems like the primary motivation here is that it’s largely editted and used by white men. So what? Men dominate in STEM fields, so it only follows that a majority of those working on the website and using it would be men. I think the problem here isn’t that men are the primary editors and users of the website, but the underlying problem that women are under represented in STEM fields. If anything, that wikipedia is largely run and used by men and is still neutral should be seen as a good thing. Yes? If anything, I think that this is a piece of evidence that the issues lie more with society and it’s expectations on women rather than anything particularly done by the men in these fields.

Finally, I don’t see how a “mass-edit” of wikipedia is going to accomplish anything positive. Surely, all the changes will get monitored, the editors at the site will get overworked reviewing a bunch of what are ultimately pointless edits. This means legitimate edits that could be correcting or adding useful information may get delayed or even rejected in what is ultimately just increasing the noise on the website. This will probably also cost the site, which is supported completely by donations, a lot of money. And, I suspect, that in the end, most of the edits will either be rejected or completely unnoticed by anyone not directly involved.

So, yeah, this seems like an ill-defined issue, going after a very weak symptom rather that what is a real problem they should be addressing, and I suspect it will not only be counter-productive, but ultimately lead to greater ignorance by lowering the signal to noise ratio of edits on the site. Just a terrible idea.

I encourage readers to look at the suggested topics for article creation and editing for this project, which can be found here. They are not proposing widescale feminist-thought edits to random articles, it’s almost exclusively creating new articles for female artists and related topics (feminist art criticism, a few genres).

Not surprising. When one of the first lines of the article includes the line “obviously horribly sexist,” why did anyone keep reading after that? The intent is clearly to poke fun at the silly feminists and not to convey useful or accurate information.

Edit: Based on the responses in this thread, I guess they do it because it works.

Probably just that it’s relatively utilitarian. Straight simple lines, extremely limited color palette and so on. I don’t know how stringent or popular this type of terminology is but I’ve definitely run across books and articles (generally older materials) that will consider something like a Modern couch with sheer edges, metal legs and no or few adornments masculine while something like baroque wainscoting with its curls and loops and intricate designs feminine.

This is the only kind of thing that I’ve seen being promoted. There was a similar drive to create pages for women scientists on Ada Lovelace Day. The only thing close to “wiki is masculine in design” that I’ve ever run across is the idea that women who wouldn’t sit down alone and fiddle with the interface to make articles as if they were an expert WILL work in a group to fill in information that would be useful to others. I know I’d be more likely to post something if there was someone else in the room to answer questions if I got stuck.

I’ve also run into the idea that since fiddling with wiki is a thing that guys are more likely to find interesting, the subjects covered tend to be the kind of thing that guys are interested in.

What movement? These are women who say radical things like “The exciting thing about Wikipedia is that it’s a cultural institution with very few gatekeepers. . . . But while anyone can edit Wikipedia pages, surveys show that the vast majority of people who actually do edit the site are men . . .” and then they look at why and try to get more women involved in developing this resource. This is not a group that’s promoting anything more.

Since there are folks clutching their pearls, Now I have to follow the links. Let’s see. One journal abstract explores why there are few women wiki editors. Its findings are mostly social.

In fact, in most of the links, male-oriented aesthetics of technology is mentioned and then the further comments are social.

The fact that women are very involved in social sites, but much less involved with wikipedia is noted, as is the result.

This is not meant to be a fight against a conspiracy to keep women down. This is looking at a cool resourse and noticing that women aren’t using it as much as they could be.

OK. I think I found it. “Masculine aesthetic” is not at all related to simple lines or neutral language or not being able to choose a color palatte. The masculine part of the design is that the interface is technical, requiring users to figure the details out on their own. Period. End of story. Other than the shape of the social group that creates, that’s all that male-oriented design means. You have to be comfortable with that kind of interface.

And if you really dig, you findthis.

I’ve poked at a couple of wiki articles that I thought could use a piece of information that I had. Wading into the technical process was just more than it was worth. Wiki does not make it easy for a beginner. I’m fairly technical and I quit after half an hour. I may have successfully left a recommendation to add a sentence and link, but then again, I may not have.

The Teahouse, now, I might use. This looks like a much more user-friendly starting point.

What would it look like if it were feminine in design?

Lace doilies everywhere.

Pink background, and a font in which the i’s are dotted with little hearts.

Less technical. More social.

Thanks for bringing the factchecking, Human Action.

Yes, thank you. I’m not surprised that this turns out to be less ridiculous than the article in the OP made it sound.