Wikipedia's founder confesses contributors are mostly men

Aug 25, 2014 at 1:37 p.m. ET
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Next time you Wiki something to settle a dinnertime argument, remember the online encyclopedia is largely written by white, Western, tech-savvy men.

Wikipedia acknowledges the imbalance and set a goal for itself to boost the number of women participants from 10 percent to 25 percent by 2015. And at last week's annual Wikimania cabal in London, founder Jimmy Wales admitted the company isn't anywhere close to hitting that number.

“We've completely failed,” Wales told BBC's Caroline Hepker. “We are doubling down on our efforts.”

Reaching out to a more diverse group of editors and writers is key to covering a broader range of topics and from a richer perspective. One example Hepker uses in her interview with Wales is that there are more articles on Wikipedia about Lord of the Rings than sub-Saharan Africa. As silly as that idea sounds, Wales makes the point that encouraging contributors to write articles on subjects about which they aren't passionate or super-knowledgeable could also negatively impact the quality of the content. The task of attracting a broader base of contributors is a complicated affair.

Wikipedia will continue to try and build a more diverse community through recruitment and tweaks to its software, Wales adds. In the meantime, help Wikipedia out and participate. It could use your perspective.

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