At Wikimania 2011 I attended the annual WikiChix lunch, an opportunity that allows female Wikipedia volunteers from around the world to come together to share experiences and ideas about the female experience and gender gap in Wikipedia and related websites. It was at WikiChix where I came to the epiphany: sometimes all it takes is an invite.
(You can read my report about the WikiChix 2011 lunch here.)
(I bet this was an interesting party. Photo from Commons.)
I came to this epiphany with the help of Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation and advocate to shrink the gender gap in Wikipedia. Sue had mentioned the importance of events, and how women can encourage other women to participate. She also mentioned the theory of how women need an invitation to participate. I’m not one to support blanket statements, but, I found myself thinking about my own path as a Wikipedian, as someone who usually identifies as a female, and realized that I needed an invitation.
Lori Phillips, Wikipedian in Residence at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, did just that for me. She invited me to join the cultural partnerships list for Wikipedians, a list for those involved in the GLAMWIKI movement. I knew the list existed, but, I didn’t think my work mattered…it did. Then came Katie Filbert, who was the primary planner behind the Wikipedia 10 event at the National Archives in January. I was introduced to Katie via email and she encouraged me to participate, and I did, presenting about WikiProject Public Art at my first Wikipedia event.
These two events changed my little Wiki-life. I felt that my work was validated, that people cared, and I was not just a name - I was a face, a figure, and a movement in myself amongst a movement to share knowledge for free with the world. And there were also a lot more nice people than there were rude geeks. Good geeks abounded.
So, you want to know one way we can get more volunteers? Invite someone to participate.
Invite someone to make that first grammatical error change in an article.
Invite someone to take a photo that you need for an article and upload it for them (or show them how!).
Invite someone to create a profile, and become the Wikigoddess (or god?) they deserve to be - and not just an IP address.
Invite someone to drink a good bottle of wine with you and write about women who are making a difference in the world today.
Invite someone to join a Wikiproject you work on, that you think they might enjoy participating in.
Invite someone, on their talk page, to ask you for help anytime on your talk page.
Invite someone to join a mailing list that you think they might get value out of.
Invite someone to invite someone else.
And now I invite you to be a part of the #wikinvite movement. Let me know if you invite someone, and let me know how it went.