Tuesday, November 3, 2009

STUDY from Wikimedia Foundation says "Women and Wikipedia Don't Mix"

Okay, so I've heard this before: women are more inclined to participate on social networking sites than they are to contribute to an article aggregator or ranking site (Digg, for example) or to Wikipedia, and this article from the Wall Street Journal proves that again, in statistics-from-a-survey form.

I originally read about this survey on Mashable, where I found what could possibly be considered simultaneous a feminist's worst nightmare and, if you're lucky enough to be a feminist who has a sense of humor, a straight up LOLfest.

The first comment on the article was posted by "man", who had this to say:
Wikipedia has to be fact-checked and referenced, whereas women prefer to make baseless claims and get into arguments. Attempting to end the argument by referencing an actual document is only going to piss them off, the only positive result is to acquiese.

This does not mean they are always wrong, they are correct roughly 50% of the time. But no fact-checking.
And then, of course, the attacking of baseless sexism via comment threads ensues. This seems to somehow further my professor Chris Mann's point that the Internet is not a medium suited for any dialectic other than agreement. It also echos my work as the New Media Intern at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where I am able to post an article to their Facebook page, sit back, and watch a conversation unfold. And if someone makes a sexist, racist, untrue or overtly inflammatory comment, I get to watch Planned Parenthood's supporters jump in and make sure they are aware that intolerance is not permitted. And I totally love it.

Wait a second, though. Isn't this a kind of intolerance of intolerance? Fighting fire with fire? Are these types of baseless comments just left ignored?

I suppose sometimes, supporting freedom of speech also causes one to shoot oneself in the foot. Don't want to step on anyone's toes in the process of self expression. Calling someone sexist could lead the commenter to come back at The Girl Who Cried Sexism for being a militant feminist, thus causing The Girl Who Cried Sexism to put her foot in her mouth.

Any other feet-related idioms you can think of for this?

I'm really tired and had a sudden urge to post since it's been a while, so do mind my eventual side-stepping of the main issue.



n/a said...

I'm confused. Who put the computer in the kitchen to let them use Wikipedia anyway?

Katharine Relth said...

Oh, Rinaldi, how I love you.

deepthiw said...

Damn that's depressing. I feel like I see stuff like that ALL the time. I've been noticing that blogs tend to be highly gendered too, which I guess goes with the "niche" interest kind of community blogs tend to encourage. And the idea that Internet conversations encourage agreement is interesting--I don't think it's so much that necessarily as it is that it doesn't encourage people to change their opinions, even in the face of highly reasonable arguments. People feel very confident expressing their opinions (often anonymously) and then sticking to their guns whether people bring proof against their argument or not. But then, proof is so easy to come by these days, for just about anything....