Women and Philosophy

In our podcast "Women Are Not Men," we explored why Wikipedia has such a low percentage of female editors. John Riedl, the researcher who studied the Wikipedia gender gap (and who passed away this summer), had this to say:

RIEDL: We know from a bunch of psychology studies that women tend to be made more uncomfortable by conflict than men are made uncomfortable by conflict. And so one of the ideas is maybe in Wikipedia where the fundamental nature of the site is that if you want to correct what someone else has done, the way you do that is you delete it and write them a really mean message. Well, maybe that’s creating a culture of conflict that is driving women away. They just don’t find it a place they enjoy being, and so they go places where they’re happier.

An op-ed by Linda Martín Alcoff in The New York Times reports a similar discussion in the field of philosophy, where only 16.6 percent of professors are women, and none are women of color.

FREAK-est Links

1. They said it would never happen: Israel's ultra-orthodox lose many of their exemptions.

2. Health-care economics: how the American Medical Association prices medical procedures.

3. The most popular page on Wikipedia in 2012: Facebook. (HT: Eric M. Jones)

4. Everyone knows that the French work fewer hours -- but judging by their GDP per capita, they are very productive.

Is Wikipedia Ghettoizing Female Writers?

The novelist Amanda Filipacchi (a very good writer; I happen to have gone to grad school with her) writes in the Times that female novelists seem to be getting ghettoized on Wikipedia:

I just noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too.

The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men. The category lists 3,837 authors, and the first few hundred of them are mainly men. The explanation at the top of the page is that the list of “American Novelists” is too long, and therefore the novelists have to be put in subcategories whenever possible.

Too bad there isn’t a subcategory for “American Men Novelists.”

Further details are welcome. This piece brings to mind a section of our recent "Women Are Not Men" podcast, reported by Bourree Lam, about the relative scarcity of female editors on Wikipedia -- and this followup post about females posing as males online to avoid harassment.

By a Bunch of Nobodies: A Q&A With the Author of The Wikipedia Revolution

These debates notwithstanding, Wikipedia's popularity continues to make standard encyclopedias look as hip as buggy whips.

Wikipedia editor/administrator Andrew Lih, author of the book Wikipedia Revolution, has agreed to answer our questions about Wikipedia and what it means to society.

The FREAK-est Links

Is Wikipedia more accurate than we think? (Earlier) Parentonomics to be published in Australia. Olympic athletes permitted to blog at the 2008 games. Does working in solitude lead to greater productivity?

A Few Things (Among Many) I Didn’t Know About Brazil

I am flying to Brazil today for a very brief visit. The Wikipedia entry on Brazil is very good, if true, and now I feel a little bit bad about some of the Wikipedia posts I’ve written in the past. Here are a few interesting facts about Brazil that caught my eye: 1. “Major export […]

Give Your Children Power Tools, and Buy Them Guns

Last week, I blogged about the conservative/Christian website Conservapedia, one of several Wikipedia copycats. Another of these sites is Uncyclopedia, which pokes fun at Wikipedia’s credibility issues by fudging practically every fact. The site is an impressive piece of mockery, perhaps best judged by its very excellent entry on Freakonomics — a book written, per […]

Hate Wikipedia? Start Your Own

Have you all heard of Conservapedia? It bills itself as “a conservative encyclopedia you can trust,” and it is pretty fascinating. It has a strong pro-Christian, anti-liberal (and especially anti-N.Y. Times) bent, and is just one of several user-run encyclopedias that have taken root in response (or tribute) to Wikipedia. (Here are our previous posts […]

Saving the World Through Distributed Computing

A reader named Andrew Gendreau recently wrote in on the topic of distributed computing, which refers to a method of computer processing in which different parts of a program run simultaneously on two or more computers while they communicate with each other over a network. According to Wikipedia (whose reliability is imperfect but often commendable), […]

Wikipedia Oops

For the record, I do not hate Wikipedia, as I tried to make clear here. As a showcase of communal knowledge, it is astonishingly interesting and useful. But it is also, alas, a showcase of communal knowledge, which can lead to complications. There are other issues too. Back in July, Stacy Shiff published a really […]