Grants:PEG/User:Gretchenmcc/Linguistics Editathon series: Improving female linguists' participation and representation on Wikipedia

This submission to the Project and Event Grants Program was funded in the fiscal year 2014-15. This is a grant to an individual.

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Linguistics Editathon series: Improving female linguists' participation and representation on Wikipedia
Editathon series at 2 linguistics conferences and month-long summer institute targets majority-female linguistics community to improve biographies of female linguists, linguistics stubs, and under-documented languages.
targetplease add a target wiki
strategic priorityplease add a strategic priority
start dateMay 15
start year2015
end dateNovember 15
end year2015
budget (USD)3736 USD
grant typeindividual
contact(s)User:Gretchenmcc• gretchen.mcculloch(_AT_)
created on23:29, Sunday, March 22, 2015 (UTC)

Project ideaEdit

What is the problem you're trying to solve?Edit

Linguistics contains between 50-75% women (depending on academic status and subfield). This is not well-reflected on Wikipedia in terms of either participation or representation. There are also many Wikipedia articles about linguistics and languages which could use further attention from experts.

What is your solution?Edit

I plan to facilitate a series of editathons for linguists. Three at prominent linguistics conferences in May and October 2015, as well as four at the month-long LSA summer institute in July 2015 (i.e. weekly).

This builds on the successful editathon that I organized at the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) annual meeting in Portland, Oregon in January 2015, which had approximately 60% female participants; report here and created/improved 41 articles, of which 16 were biographies of female linguists. As I did in January, I will also encourage linguists to participate from anywhere using the Twitter hashtag #lingwiki, since many linguists are already active on Twitter, especially livetweeting conferences and following conference hashtags remotely. (See my user page for more details.)

I will recruit primarily off-wiki through my extensive network of linguists (previous attendance at all of these events; Twitter, Facebook, my blog), the email list I started from the first editathon, and with the already-confirmed support of the Linguistics Society of America and the organizers of all these events (announcements in opening remarks, space on the official schedule, poster at event). Editing will focus on biographies of female and other minority linguists, linguistics stubs, and articles about under-documented languages.

I will also build and compile resources for linguists interested in holding their own editathons or having their class edit Wikipedia. As a single organizer for all of these events, I'll keep seeing repeat attendee linguists at them and building relationships and support for budding linguist Wikipedians, giving linguists a single logical point of contact if they're interested in running events themselves. I can also encourage participation via informal conversations at the rest of each event.

Project goalsEdit

At the editathon that I organized in January, 21 in-person participants + 6 online participants created or improved 41 articles, of which 16 were biographies of female linguists. Two of those participants are now working on organizing their own satellite editathons in March 2015, and a further non-participant found the lingwiki initiative online, contacted me, has translated my materials into Spanish, and is planning a satellite editathon on the Spanish Wikipedia for April 2015.

Conservatively, I expect that 6 further editathons with 15-30 participants each will result in the creation/improvement of 130-175 articles, the involvement of at least 75 unique participants and quite a few returning ones, and hopefully further engagement such as future satellite editathons and continued editing with the support of the #lingwiki hashtag. Previous research suggests that editathons are an effective means of improving content but need ongoing support and further experimentation in retaining participants as editors; I'm hoping that having a series of editathons, encouraging participants to organize their own editathons, and the hashtag will provide useful information about what works to retain editors. For example, I'm finding so far that setting a specific date well in advance encourages potential satellite editathon organizers to form more concrete plans.

Get involvedEdit

Open to hearing from experienced, friendly editors to help facilitate at the events. I already have people for Chicago in July and Montreal in October (feel free to add yourselves officially though!), and I expect Ottawa in May to be small enough that I can manage it alone.



  • Really detailed proposal with a clear potential impact and talented organizer! I support this 100%. Keilana|Parlez ici 17:46, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Also love the level of detail in this proposal. I like how the approach not only seeks to address the gender gap but also the oppression/challenges faced by minority linguists and undocumented languages -Thepwnco (talk) 21:51, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Nice proposal Atanuami (talk) 17:20, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Clear proposal with realistic outcomes and good approaches. Proposer has done her research. The Interior (talk) 17:42, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Well thought out plan with achievable objectives. Lindybeat (talk) 00:06, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Gretchen has the organisational skills and the enthusiasm that means that the Lingwiki events have made a substantive difference both to the quality of Wikipedia and the attitude of many linguists towards Wikipedia as a worthwhile activity Loztron (talk) 10:39, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

Project planEdit


January 2015 - in-person editathon in Portland OR at annual meeting attracted 21 people, concurrent online #lingwiki attracted 6 and together they improved 41 articles. (not part of this grant, already happened with no food for participants and other costs out of pocket)

final weekend March 2015 - my efforts focussed on online #lingwiki, but 2 former online participants confirmed to organize satellite in-person editathons in Singapore and Australia, plus an additional new contact in Spain organizes satellite editathon for first weekend of April. (not part of this grant, I've already organized the online portion cost-free and satellite events are figuring out their own costs) Update: 24 people from four continents participated, creating or improving 54 articles in 7 languages. Full report here.

May 2015 - Editathon at Canadian Linguistics Association (CLA) in Ottawa - largest annual Canadian linguistics conference typically attracts 100-120 people (& concurrent online #lingwiki/satellite events encouraged)

July 2015 - 4 weekly editathons at month-long LSA summer institute in Chicago (attracts ~400 students + ~100 profs). Concurrent online #lingwiki for month of July (institute hashtag is typically already very active for this month), satellite events encouraged. (Note that if someone attends all 4 editathons, they'll have 16 hours of Wikipedia editing experience.) Also, I'll do a seminar on using Wikipedia in the classroom & provide/liaise with providing classroom support for any profs who want to use Wikipedia for their classes during the institute. Institute classes are a great fit for trying out Wikipedia in the classroom because students are generally grad students or advanced undergrads, and courses are taught by highly reputable professors but often taken pass/fail or audited.

October 2015

  • Editathon at NELS (Montreal) - large regional north-east theoretical linguistics conference (~250 participants)

Concurrent online #lingwiki/satellite events encouraged.

January 2016 - in-person editathon at annual meeting in Washington DC (Not part of this grant application but on the horizon. The LSA has confirmed that they're happy to host another editathon.)


MAY 2015:

  • editathon food $100 (smallest conf so food expense is less)
  • conference registration $170 (linguistics fee $75 to be waived; amount listed is the portion under control of the Congress of Humanities and not under local organizers' control)
  • train Montreal-Ottawa $131 (Via Rail economy adult fare, return, includes tax)
  • cab train-hotel x 2 $80
  • hotel x 4 nights $160 (night before May 30-Jun1 at UOttawa residences at conf rate)

subtotal: $641

JULY 2015:

  • editathon food x 4 $600 ($150 x 4)
  • registration $0 ($2000, waived by organizers)
  • flight Montreal-Chicago $465 (return, includes tax, Porter - includes 1 checked bag)
  • cab from airport x 2 $80
  • lodging $1325 (1 month stay in University of Chicago dorms)
  • meal plan $475 (UChicago dorms meal plan)

subtotal: $2945


  • editathon food $150
  • registration $0 (reg $100 waived by organizers)
  • transport to Montreal $0 (I live in Montreal)
  • Montreal accommodation $0 (ditto)

subtotal: $150


Note that some costs will end up being in Canadian dollars; for simplicity's sake and because I don't know what future exchange rates will look like, I've estimated costs as if the dollars are at par but obviously I'd only invoice Wikimedia for the actual final cost. Based on the past decade or so, it is very reasonable to expect the Canadian dollar to be less than or equal to the American dollar.

Non-financial requirementsEdit

I'll be asking for some Wikipedia swag to give out to participants, if that's ok, and a temporary waiver of the 24-hour IP address account creation limit.

My time in organizing the editathons and seminar will be volunteered: I've already shown I'm willing to do this for previous events, and many of the resources (such as slides) can be re-used. I also have a professional incentive to do a good job in my own field. Advance logistics (room booking, food ordering) will be done in collaboration with institute/conference organizers; other volunteer facilitators will basically just need to show up to the events and answer questions.

In-kind contributionsEdit

The organizers of the Institute have agreed to provide a suitable room for all four events on the University of Chicago campus, which will be in a location familiar to attendees from regular Institute programming (value of approx 4 x $100). Since the Institute already supplies all participants with nametags, wifi connections to the UChicago network, and library access to the UChicago library, these will not need to be arranged. They have also agreed to waive my registration fee for the Institute ($2000) so that I can attend all Institute events and liaise with participants informally.

The May and October events will have rooms and wifi provided by the event organizers, and registration fee waivers for NELS (October); only a portion of the registration fee can be waived by the CLA (May) because it's part of a larger conference (Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences) and the organizers do not have control over that fee. However, I'm looking into whether I can get the CLA to contribute to the cost of food.

Community engagementEdit

I've run an end-of-editathon survey at since the first editathon which tracks participant usernames and articles worked on, and also asks for comments/feedback. Participants can also engage with each other on social media, especially on the twitter hashtag #lingwiki, both during and after the editathons. (Note that the hashtag has remained active since January.) I have also written reports on the results of both lingwikis so far, including links to all articles edited, so that articles may receive a second wave of attention after the editathon. I will continue writing these reports.

Both the Institute organizers and the Linguistics Society of America back this project and will be promoting it on their listservs and social media channels, as will the conference organizers. I'm primarily recruiting new participants and lapsed/infrequent editors off-wiki, on my own blog/social media, through other linguistics blogs and organizations, and of course in person, but I've also mentioned it on WikiProject:Linguistics and will continue to promote it there. I'll also have announcements and promotional material (eg posters) as appropriate at the Institute and conferences.

The last time an individual was involved in outreach between official linguistics societies and linguistics on Wikipedia was in 2007, when LinguistList hired an intern (User:Linguistlist) to be effectively a Wikipedian in Residence before the term was commonly used, and edit/coordinate the editing of quite a few linguistics articles. However, this project ended when its funding ran out in early 2008, and to my knowledge there have been no further attempts to establish relationships between Wikipedia/Wikimedia and linguistics organizations/conferences, although there are individual editors who interact with each other and on WikiProject:Linguistics.

Experienced Chicago Wikipedians User:Keilana and User:I_JethroBT have agreed to attend and help facilitate editathons at the Institute in July 2015, and User:RMDechaine and User:The_Interior have given advice on their work with linguistics classes editing Wikipedia. I also appreciate the advice of them, User:Ocaasi, User:Skud_(WMF), and User:Thepwnco on this application; any errors or missing parts are my responsibility.

Note on "female linguists and other minorities": I've found documentation of gender, class, and Western biases on Wikipedia, but I can't find any on e.g. race, sexuality, or (dis)ability. If anyone can point me to these, I'd appreciate it, otherwise I'll continue encouraging participants to also pay attention to likely under-representation of biographies in these areas as well (Future Inspire campaign, perhaps?).


Linguistics editing resources will remain available under CC licenses for linguists to use to organize editathons. The timeline of this grant is not the end of my involvement in the project -- I'm already looking at conferences and events in 2016 that I could organize. It's also cost-free and low effort for me to set a few dates for online-only events via the hashtag, like the one in March, which supports linguists editing in a communal setting beyond the in-person event and encourages the organization of low-cost local editathons.

Measures of successEdit

Conservatively, I expect that 6 editathons with 15-30 participants each will improve or create 130-175 articles, including at least 40 biographies of female linguists. I expect at least 75 unique participants, of which 60% will be female (I also expect quite a few returning participants, especially between the four July events). I also expect at least 3 further satellite events, although these are beyond my control to a certain degree.

Project teamEdit

Gretchenmcc - I'm a linguist who's highly involved in linguistics outreach and bridging the gap between linguists and the general public. I previously organized a linguistics Wikipedia editathon at the big annual linguistics conference in Portland, Oregon in January 2015, which went very well, involving 21 in-person participants + 6 virtually via the #lingwiki hashtag on twitter, 41 articles improved, and a gender ratio of approximately 60% female. I have also helped facilitate at my local Art+Feminism editathon in 2014 and 2015, and I've previously trained linguists in using independent wikis for language documentation projects in 2011 and 2012. Building on the strong interest expressed by participants in the first lingwiki, I currently have planned a second online-only editathon for the last weekend in March 2015, which has inspired 3 satellite editathons. I'm also attending AdaCamp Montreal in April 2015.

Community notificationEdit

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