Academics to improve Wikipedia articles related to midterm elections

By on June 7, 2018

Academics to improve Wikipedia articles related to midterm elections

By on June 7, 2018

Academics to improve Wikipedia articles related to midterm elections

This week, Wiki Education kicked off a new project to engage academic experts to improve Wikipedia articles on issues and candidates related to the upcoming midterm elections in the U.S. As part of our ongoing efforts to improve politically relevant topic areas on Wikipedia, we are supporting academic experts to improve these articles over the course of the next four months. Voters often consult Wikipedia seeking neutral, fact-based information as they go to the polls, and this program will bolster the availability and accuracy of that information.

The term “fake news” has come to encompass a wide range of political, social, and educational challenges facing today’s public. Wikipedia has increasingly become a valuable and trusted resource in this new landscape of online information. So ensuring that its information is up-to-date, representative, and comprehensive for the millions that access it is essential.

But the processes and norms of the Wikipedia editing community can be challenging to navigate for newcomers. That’s why Wiki Education has developed tools and resources to support new editors, and has employed them successfully with students for years. Wikipedia Fellows now presents this opportunity to academic subject-area experts.

Wikipedia Fellows is an interdisciplinary program that engages scholars in improving Wikipedia using their subject-matter expertise. We’ve partnered with three academic associations for the midterms project: the American Sociological Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the National Women’s Studies Association. Each association has expressed interest in empowering their members to give the public more tools to make informed decisions in their political lives. These associations put out a call to their membership to apply to participate in Wiki Education’s midterms project; from our pool of applications, we selected 22 Fellows for this summer’s project, spread over two cohorts.

Applicants were drawn to apply to the midterm project for a variety of reasons. Many of them expressed an interest in ensuring the public has access to accurate information when making political decisions, which aligned perfectly with our goal for the project. One applicant expressed that what had interested them most about the program was the opportunity to “[become] an active agent for positive and substantive change when it comes to public access to accurate, updated, and relevant facts.”

The Wikipedia Fellows program presents a unique opportunity for public scholarship, and one that makes a real impact. Wikipedia receives millions of visitors a month, many of whom use the information they find there to make political and behavioral decisions in their lives. Another applicant wrote that as a Fellow, she wants to “[help] battle ‘fake news’ and [contribute] to productive discourse.”

When it comes to educating voters, ensuring that information is well-sourced and comprehensive has big implications. “I know so many people who get information from Wikipedia that I think it is crucial to have accurate information available, especially as it relates to political pages and forums,” says another applicant.

Meet our new Fellows:

Cohort 1

American Sociological Association

  • Liz Coston is an Instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University. They are interested in editing articles related to the intersections of public policy, the criminal justice system, and identity.
  • Shantel Gabrieal Buggs is Assistant Professor at Florida State University. She is interested in updating articles related to underrepresented communities in politics and the broader public sphere, racial discourses, media representation, and multiraciality/interracial relationships.
  • Jared Wright is a PhD candidate at Purdue University. He’s interested in improving articles about social movements and social movement theory to include modern perspectives in the field.

National Women’s Studies Association

  • Frances Barrett is affiliated with the University of Mississippi. She’d like to improve articles about political activism within rural communities, queer life in the South, Appalachian culture, and Appalachian history.
  • Marilyn A. Batchelor is a PhD candidate at Claremont Graduate University. Her areas of expertise include the intersections of politics with African American literature, women’s history, African American theology, and pop culture.
  • Rebecca Dew is an independent researcher at the University of Queensland. She is interested in editing topics related to congressional districts, underrepresented communities in government, political parties, issues relevant to voters, fake news and propaganda, candidates, and more.
  • Amy Dye-Reeves is Assistant Professor at Murray State University. Through her editing work, she would like to strengthen public understanding of fake news and propaganda.
  • Kate Edenborg is Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Through her editing, she’s interested in providing the public with skills to understand where information comes from and how it informs how we think. She specializes in journalism and media studies.
  • Jamie J. Hagen is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She will improve articles related to international LGBTQ politics, LGBTQ human rights, queer politics, queer rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  • Wendelin Hume is Associate Professor at the University of North Dakota. She is interested in tribal justice and victimology (as well as statistics) for Native American populations.
  • MaryAnn Kozlowski is a graduate student and instructor at the University of Kentucky. She’d like to improve articles related the the racialized and gendered histories of the body, as well as the history of the civil rights movement, feminist movements, and LGBT movements in the United States.
  • Katie Lally is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She specializes in literature, women’s health story and politics, Jewish culture and history, rhetoric, education and educational policy, political theory, and continental philosophy.
  • Bailey Poland is a Graduate Assistant at Bowling Green State University. She is interested in improving articles related to underrepresented communities in government, as well as fake news and propaganda.
  • Meg Rose is an independent scholar whose scholarship focuses on Mexico-US Borderlands, especially immigration and citizenship law and history in the United States, economics of the region, militarization, and criminalization.
  • Melissa Tombro is Associate Professor at the State University of New York, FIT. Her research focuses on forgotten or underrepresented voices, studies that she believes is aligned well with filling content gaps on Wikipedia.
  • Alixandra Yanus is Associate Professor and Assistant Department Director at High Point University. Her interests lie at the intersection between women’s studies and political science as the fields relate to American political and social development.

Cohort 2

Midwest Political Science Association

  • Tyler Steelman is a PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His interests include congressional districts, underrepresented communities in government, political parties, candidates, representation in American politics, and special interest organizations.
  • Heather E. Yates is Assistant Professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Her areas of expertise include American elections, campaigns, the U.S. presidency, and women and African Americans in U.S. politics, as well as identity politics.

National Women’s Studies Association

  • Gayatri Devi is Associate Professor at Lock Haven University. She is looking to broaden perspectives represented in articles related to social systems.
  • Megan McGee is a PhD candidate at West Virginia University. She is interested in the field of public history, and in making information accessible to everyone, so that language doesn’t stop people from understanding important concepts.
  • Amy Smith is Associate Professor at Salem State University. She is interested in Wikipedia articles related to women in politics and communication strategies for community building.

While these two cohorts are focused on improving articles on issues and candidates related to the midterm elections, we are actively planning for additional Wikipedia Fellows cohorts in many other subject areas throughout the year. For more information about how to apply, visit fellows.wikiedu.org or send an email to wikipediafellows@wikiedu.org.

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