Hello Prof. Chan,
Here is a rough outline of the data-gathering activities I'd like to complete for this thesis. I don't know how realistic gathering this large of an amount of data is, so I would really appreciate any advice you can give in this respect.
It looks like I'm heavily leaning towards working mostly with the editing community, mostly because I think they will be the easiest to access, and there is much to be learnt from the experiences of current women editors from this group. I think that most of the insight about what barriers are faced by women when they are attempting to become editors will be coming from the A2K team, who is working to bring more female editors in, though I'm sure current editors will have faced interesting barriers, as well.
Please do look over my plan and tell me if it's realistic and, more importantly, useful!
1. Perform survey of English Language and (maybe only the largest) Indic Language editing communities to see how many women editors are part of the editing communities
-interaction with A2K team and communities themselves to do a head count (possible language/access complications, but hopefully A2K team will be able to help with this)
-counting and analyzing names on mailing lists ( (a)less reliable, as some editors may not be currently active in the community or even editing, etc. May be useful for getting an idea of increase/decrease of female editors over time? (b) Language barrier as I will not be able to recognize female versus male names in some of the Indic languages)
2. Perform survey of English Language and Indic Language community mailing lists and IRC chats to see how many female editors have been actively posting on the mailing lists and participating in IRC chats in the last 5 years
-Make a list of all editors who have posted to the mailing list in the last 5 years, with post counts
-Identify female editors through interaction with communities (they may know of past editors who
-Compare how many posts have been made by female editors versus male editors
3. [tentative idea] Create a data map of all the edits performed by all active female editors over the last calendar year, along with any revisions/deletions associated with their edits
-Using editors' names, look up their edit counts, etc. If this turns out to be less labour-intensive than I thought, maybe I can go back another year or more.
-OR put together survey for members of the community that would require them to identify this information themselves
 A survey may be able to encompass all or a large part of the information I'm looking for in activities 1-3.
a) Interviews (and possibly in surveys for editors):
i) With A2K/Wikipedia team, and others working for/on Wikipedia in India:
-How would you describe the condition of female editors in the English-language/Indic language community? Do they tend to be active in the community? Are their voices heard? Why or why not?
-What are the barriers faced by women editors? What is stopping more women from becoming editors?
-What are the challenges in attracting more women editors?
-What kind of work have you been doing to encourage more women to take up editing?
-What kind of women are you targeting? How are you going about this?
-How has the community been receiving your attempts to bring in more women editors?
-What kind of work have you been doing with current women editors? Have they been receptive to your aid? Are they supportive or unsupportive of your efforts?
-What else can be done to bring in more women editors, and encourage the already-existing editors to become more active?
ii) With female editors active in the community
-Can you tell me a bit about yourself? What do you do? How old are you? What kind of certifications do you hold (educational attainment)?
-What prompted you to become involved in editing Wikipedia? What prompted you to continue to stay involved? If you are not involved, why not?
-Tell me a bit about your editing experiences. What kind of articles do you tend to edit? How often do you edit? Do you feel that you make more additions or revisions? How are those edits received? Do you find that many of your posts are revised and/or deleted? How do you feel that your knowledge additions/revisions are received?
-Do you feel that you've faced barriers to you participation in the editing of Wikipedia? If so, what were/are they? Have these changed?
-What has been your experience interacting with the editing community a) in India b) internationally?
-How do you feel that you are received by the editing community? Do you feel like your voice is heard? Do you feel like your inputs are considered?
-Do you face barriers or adversity to your involvement with the editing community? If so, what were/are they?
-Have you ever felt like you've been treated differently because of your gender, either in your editing, during your participation in the community, from other editors, from non-editors, from the general public, etc.?
-What do you feel could be done to improve the experiences of women editors, and bring in more editors?
iii) [possibly] From women editors not involved in the community
-Same questions as above for women editors involved in the community, but with less questions about their involvement (I'll simply ask: “Why are you not involved in the editing community?”)
b) Documentary research
-What barriers are women facing to their involvement in Wikipedia? In the Indian context, how much of this lack of women participation is due to physical/infrastructural barriers? How much is it due to educational barriers? How much is it due to language barriers? How much is it due to cultural barriers?
-Verification requirements of Wikipedia, the issue of authoritative or verifiable sources, and epistemological debates within Wikipedia about what knowledge is.
-What roles do cultural narratives surrounding the authority of knowledge play in women's participation in editing/adding to the "sum of all knowledge"?
-What role does the inclusionist versus revisionist debate play into cases where things that are typically viewed as "Women's knowledge" (knowledge that is traditionally/culturally feminine or associated with the female gender) are revised/deleted for being insignificant or having "no indication of importance"?
Notes on data-gathering activities:
1. Required to determine exactly who I will be working with as my research subjects, and to understand how large of a sample size I am working with. Also gives me a better idea of the male-to-female editors ratio, which is a required data-point for the research, particularly when it comes to the justification of this research project. This is basically the first step of the research
2. While this doesn't give us much of an idea of how many women are editing Wikipedia actively, it does give us an idea of how active women are in the editing community, upon which inferences of how often their voices are heard, if they are having input into the on-going development of Wikipedia and the Wikipedia platform, etc. Analyses of the repercussions of “missing” female voices can be performed.
3. This is where I get into the hardcore quantitative editing data that will hopefully lead to some indices on what women are editing, how they are editing (are they making additions, or revisions?), how often their posts are being revised/deleted, etc. This could make a really cool and useful chart/graph. I should petition the Wikimedia Foundation to commission the creation of a data map of all edits/additions of all declared female editors, as well as the deletions/revisions afterwards. I'm sure the outputs of that could be compared to statistics about how often pages are edited/revised, etc. If those kind of stats are available.
-I'll need statistics on male editors to make a comparison for analysis
-This, of course, limits my sample size to active editors, and can not reach editors that are not active in the communities. How do I reach non-active editors? How do I reach infrequent editors? How does this diminish the legitimacy of my research and its intended outputs?
-Mailing lists: Not just editors posting (I myself have posted on the mailing list), so requires me to look up each poster's name, see if they have an editing account, label them as infrequent/average/frequent editors, etc. I believe that these would still useful statistics, however, so I am more than willing to put in the leg work for this.
-These seem quite labour-intensive (though I'm not actually too worried about this—I have the time and the determination!), and I wonder if a survey could be put together that could be circulated on the mailing lists that could gather a large amount of the data I'm looking for (like gender, account names, edit counts, data from both male and female editors...As well as some possible qualitative data points which will be discussed below)
-However, the issues with surveys is response. I would just have to hope I got a good response. Further, for the Indic language communities, I would have to get the surveys translated, and the responses translated. I'm sure this could be done.
4. a) iii) Only issue I foresee is getting access/in touch with women that are editors but are not active in the community. May not even include them as research subjects, as I seem to be leaning heavily towards working only with the community...Problematic?
b) The majority of which will probably be done once the writing of thesis begins in September...
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“Editor”: Someone who edits or who has edited wikipedia, and possesses an editing account
“Active Editor”: Someone who currently edits Wikipedia
“Infrequent Editor”: Someone who currently edits Wikipedia research to find out number
“Average Editor”: An editor who currently edits Wikipedia on this measurement shall be determined with more literature review)
“Frequent Editor”: An editor who currently edits Wikipedia
“Involved Editor”: An editor who is active and involved in their respective editing community
“Community”/ “Editing Community”: Come up with definition for this, not just mailing list but...etc.