Another Wikipedian is cultivated

Dr. Pratima Gupta (she/her/hers) is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She recently completed one of our Wiki Scholars courses sponsored by the Society of Family Planning, in which she learned how to add content to Wikipedia pages in her area of expertise. She practices in California with a professional emphasis on medical education and reproductive health rights, justice, and advocacy. When not doctoring, she can be found exploring outdoor adventures with her children.

Pratima Gupta (Rights Reserved).

“Is Wikipedia always right?” queried my ever-curious seven year old. I was selected to be a participant in a weekly 12 session Wiki Scholar program sponsored by the Society of Family Planning. The somewhat intimidating goal was to learn the process of updating and curating reproductive health articles on Wikipedia. Our virtual sessions were scheduled on Mondays at 11am PST- an ideal time for my focus and solitude… until the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Despite my best efforts of privacy and attempts at hiding, my Wiki Scholar Zoom sessions were frequently interrupted by my seven year old requesting assistance with his homeschool journal or wanting to say hi to my cohort of scholars. Finally, he asked me,  “what exactly is YOUR job at Wikipedia?”

I am a board-certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist and I provide abortion care — I was excited and a bit nervous about the perceived impact of updating family planning articles on Wikipedia. I explained to my child that Wikipedia is the go-to resource for millions of individuals for just about anything. But I also cautioned him that just because it was on Wikipedia, didn’t make it true. So, in answer to his questions, I informed him that Wikipedia is not always right and my “job” was to try and find the sections in health care (my expertise), where updates were needed.

Together we Wikipedia’d his favorite things like Darth Vader and Harry Potter to the things he dreads like flu shots and tomatoes. I showed him the updates that I had contributed to transgender sex work, abortion restrictions during COVID-19, and types of abortion restrictions in the United States. He was impressed that I was an “author” on Wikipedia. This mainstream integration of Wikipedia has persisted in his world when he squealed in excitement that Wikipedia was being utilized in the cartoon Smurfs movie.

Recently, we went on a bicycle ride through some trails near our home and spotted a two foot striped snake on the side of the path. We observed it from a distance in awe and trepidation as it slithered away into the underbrush. My son looked at me with a glimmer of intrigue in his deep hazel eyes and said, “I’ll race you home. We need to Wikipedia that snake!” Another committed user is born!

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One thought on “Another Wikipedian is cultivated

  1. Thank you Dr Gupta, for adding your expertise and wisdom to Wikipedia’s body of knowledge!

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