Promoting diversity on Wikipedia with the Equity Portal

In 2023, thanks to a Data for Good grant from the Nielsen Foundation, we built a set of pages to identify articles missing on the English language version of Wikipedia through an equity lens. We call these pages Equity lists. Like many online communities and publications, Wikipedia suffers from systemic bias, resulting in underrepresentation across diverse groups in the available content on Wikipedia. These Equity lists gather existing articles about people from other language versions of Wikipedia to encourage editors to write those articles in English. The pages use something called Wikidata, another Wikimedia project that connects all language versions of Wikipedia (over 300!), to generate lists based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, medical condition, and gender. While recognizing the multiple aspects of diversity beyond these characteristics, we began by focusing on these descriptors based on data availability.

This approach was inspired by the successful Women in Red project on Wikipedia that has generated thousands of articles about women over the past few years to help close one gender gap on Wikipedia. Similar to Women in Red, the Equity Portal pages query Wikidata to generate lists of articles from other languages that exclude English. The idea here is that since the articles exist in other languages, they already pass notability and should have some references associated with them. Our hope was to continue sharing this resource in the community, courses, and beyond to have English language Wikipedians write articles about people from these lists, increasing the available diversity and representation of content on Wikipedia. It’s been a few months, so what progress have we made?

A lot!

First, as of January 1st 2024, there have been over 3,600 page views for all of the pages associated with this project. This is a lot of eyes! If we take the ethnicity page as an example, we can see that there has been sustained interest in this page over time, with a few spikes here and there. Those spikes often reflect our efforts to promote the pages and demonstrate how they work.

Second, we have been working hard to promote these pages to the community by presenting at conferences, like Wiki Conference North America and Wikimania, announcing the resource during webinars, and promoting the resource in classes that we teach. Many of the days with higher page views correspond to a presentation or a webinar. We also published an article to the Signpost, Wikipedia’s community newspaper. Anecdotally, the feedback we received was very positive about the page’s creation and purpose. We hope the community continues to spread this resource beyond those we have already shared it with so more Wikipedians can contribute to improving the representation of these communities on Wikipedia.

Third, other editors are interacting with the pages. Continuing with the ethnicity page as an example, we can see that there have been some edits to the page. Edits can represent maintenance of a page or of a table being altered, which may mean an article has been created. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell when an article from these lists has been created since the tables update regularly (an update can indicate a new name is added through Wikidata or removed as a result of an article being published). There are several reasons for this. Wikipedia is a large community and anyone can write an article whenever they want. They may find it from this list or they may find it and write it from a different source. Another reason is that these lists are generated from Wikidata. They are based on queries, which are where the tables come from. These queries pull in several thousands of results and there’s no simple way on Wikipedia to keep track of all of those changes.

Over a few short months with the equity portal, there have been more than three thousand visits to these pages, as well as over 1,300 page views for just one presentation about the lists. The high interest in this tool is encouraging, and we expect more community members to continue to visit these pages. Most importantly, in the long run the Equity Portal can help to make Wikipedia more representative of the world we live in.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.