I had a great time this weekend editing Wikipedia at the San Francisco satellite of the Art+Feminism edit-a-thon. Check out the venue:
There were a few dozen people there, mostly new to editing, all excited to contribute some work. And we got a lot of great stuff done! I spent most of the day teaching people how to use the markup (lots of people needed additional help with the citation format) and finding information about the reclusive but increasingly popular artist Lutz Bacher. I hadn’t heard of her before, but in the course of putting together that article I became very interested. I am now trying to get my hands on an early copy of a new major book of her work to see if there’s anything I can add to her bio.
It’s always great to see people make their first few edits, and people were so excited to make a new page and all of a sudden have the thing actually be there and available online. I think that Wikipedia’s ubiquity has really had a lot of influence on that process: people have used hundreds or thousands of articles before, and now they can actually make their own, and it’s a full-fledged part of the site immediately. That’s great.
Another fun thing was talking to people about copyright. Obviously, since the event focused on artists, people wanted to include images and art from the subjects. Sometimes I feel that the case for copyright reform and a freer culture requires a lot of abstraction, but this situation was dramatic and concrete. I probably converted a number of new copyfighters that day.
The results are impressive: dozens of new articles created, dozens more cleaned up or improved, and countless new people editing Wikipedia and slowly—but surely—improving the quality of representation for all kinds of issues.