And we’re go for Sochi :D :D

It looks like the accreditation for the Ukrainian Wikinewsies has arrived in Kiev.  Despite paying €48 for expedited mail, it arrived two weeks after it was sent.  (This doesn’t mean the Ukrainians have the accreditation, merely that the accreditation got off the plane.) The accreditation arrived today. The Ukrainians got a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation to cover their Sochi expenses.  They have their travel arranged.

I’ve got my transportation booked.  I should have a “lovely” train ride across Russia, (30 hours, third class seat) but the experience should still be awesome.  I’ve got a hotel booked.  I’m seriously thinking about packing.  I’m working on a todo list and remember this fact list.

Remember:

1. Before getting on the train, I will need to go to the ticket desk and exchange my internet ticket for a paper ticket for the train.
2.  Meals on the train cost about €15.
3. Train bathrooms apparently get dirty quickly after leaving the station.
4. The fare on the express train on the route Domodedovo – Paveletskiy station, Vnukovo is about 640 rubles round trip.

To do list:
1. Print out basic Russian phrases for pointing at to get service.
2. Figure out where my seats on the train actually are.
3. Buy bottled water before getting on the train.  Bring snacks for the train.  Food options are limited.
4. Pack some baby-tissues, toothpaste and toothbrush.

Outside of that, I’ve updated Wikinews:Sochi Paralympic Games, and posted on the watercooler for Wikinews to let potential reviewers know what is going on.  I’m also trying to work on a copyright notice for all my pictures for Wikinews.  I am having some problems with the template.  Any assistance in fixing this would be appreciated.

Scholar and Feminist Conference at Barnard College was awesome

Opening presentationYesterday morning, I returned to Madrid from Locations of Learning: Transnational Feminist Practices , Scholar and Feminist Conference at Barnard College, New York City where I was a panelist.  It was a truly fantastic and wonderful experience.  I cannot thank the organizers enough for inviting me.

The session I took part in was one where people in the field of feminist activism shared their experiences.  Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh talked about her experiences producing on demand television for Zanan TV.  Tamura A. Lomax is associated with the Virginia Commonwealth University and is the co-founder of The Feminist Wire. Maria Belén Ordóñez is very involved with FemTechNet.  We all had a great deal experience in our chosen areas, and very different experiences.

One theme in our session was finding the balance when engaged in these activities.  For Lomax, it was doing The Feminist Wire on top of all her other obligations as a full time academic.  The process for the site involves a multi-tiered peer review process and working with a diverse group of people joined by a common feminist goal to write around the same topic.  For Abbasgholizadeh, it was dealing with the time issues when needing to constantly produce.  Europe, the Americas and Asia all are awake at different times.

Privacy was also discussed.  I think one of my points was that Wikipedia has conflicting definitions of privacy.  As an academic, no one can add your birthdate to the article about you including you unless you have a reliable source.  On the other hand, as a contributor, people can share your birthday and use sites not considered for Wikipedia text as much as they want on the talk pages.

From what I gather on Twitter, the takeaway from my comments during the panel was that Wikipedia is important for knowledge formation.  It isn’t always as easy as “who reads this article and how do they act in response to it” but who reads this article and shares knowledge with others based on this article.  This is actually something that Gavin Reynolds from the National Sports Information Centre at the Australian Institute of Sport made me really pause to think about.  “Where does our knowledge come from?”

While not everything I wanted to say got said, I think the presentation overall went very, very well.  (I would like to have mentioned the issues with a preference for English language sources making it hard for women’s voices in other languages to be heard on English Wikipedia.)  The feedback I got right after the session and at the mixer later was all good. 🙂

The organizers were very keen that we should tweet about the sessions we attended, and I tried my best because I really enjoyed myself and the company.  I found the whole thing incredibly motivating as a Wikimedia contributor to keep going.  I’ll repost and add to a few of my Facebook and Twitter comments to give a broader view of what happened. 🙂

Tate's session

discussion about New Caledonia at #sflocations was awesome. 😀 😀

Tate LeFevre presented on New Caledonia.  For me, this was awesome.  My PhD is Australian.  I have lived in Micronesia.  Seeing Oceania the focus of research makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  On some level, her work was a critique of French governmental practices regarding the definition of culture in France, and the idea that all should be working towards the same goal. Indigenous identity is not really culturally allowed in the French colony of New Caledonia because french policy says everyone should be working towards the same goals of supporting the state, not as different groups working towards getting along.  The leadership of the indigenous movement are willing to support a status quo that devalues women if it means getting what they want: the issue of current and ongoing abuses towards women is something that the leadership sees as something to revisit at a later date following greater independence.

#sflocations speaker talking about how south asian domestic workers become muslim as a complement to their work, not in opposition to it.

This was one of those presentations I found really interesting, but wasn’t always sure I was understanding correctly.  The gist of it appeared to be that female South Asian domestic workers were not coerced into becoming Muslims.  Instead, as an extension of their labor and the subservience it called for, they embraced Islam by choice because of the subservience vein interwoven into the faith.

Other twitter and Facebook comments I made:

  •  #sflocations speaker talking about a feminist who created a model for better understanding Islam in context of the west.
  • #sflocations is an eye opener on the behind scenes perspective on USA academic hiring practices I had little knowledge of. ZOMG.
  • #sflocations comment just made me glad I did the Australian research PhD experience.
  • #sflocations one speaker said that attempts to do politically neutral fact based research is often a way of reasserting male hegemonic thought.
  • #sflocations Realizing I need to read http://t.co/ZYEIjPUsSo .
  • Listening to #sflocations discussing of understanding feminist outside own understanding, I see parallels with issues with Wikipedia models
  • Transnational feminism has issues because the type of critique of feminism can be so out of scope of models used that it makes it difficult to approach. #sflocations on a Wikipedia level, i can see this in the anglocentric view on sourcing and sources of knowledge and derived notability .
  • #sflocations some more recent Chinese and Japanese feminist academics to examine if taught belief that male feminists in both countries actually created liberal feminism there. They found this narrative not to be true. Turns out women shared feminist thought via sharing diaries and journals, and critiquing European models of feminism
  • #sflocations interesting critique of politics. Condemned non-profits as being political in the sense of being business and entertainment. Focused exclusively on profits, taking political movements and undermining them by individualized them and the narrative around the individual.
  • #sflocations is now talking about the history and evolution of transnational feminism. Interesting because the pair of speakers that are there touched upon that I have heard regarding the superiority of one American/European based typed of feminism.
  • #sflocations started. For someone with little knowledge of the history of feminist scholarship, this is interesting perspective on practice

Overall, the conference made me feel leery about the potential for joining the USA academic world. The system discussed was made to feel very closed, one in which research was difficult to conduct, where one question asker openly said being an adjunct professor was tantamount to slavery, and where PhD students were not given a realistic expectation regarding the job market and job expectations.  These were questions I asked my supervisors in Australia about early on.  While I do not think I have a completely clear grasp on the Australian perspective and I do know it has its faults, overall the Australian and New Zealand academic opportunities seem more ideal for me.  (Certainly the PhD process has been.  I wouldn’t change my university, my supervisors and my academic experience at the University of Canberra for anything.  It has been fabulous.)

The conference was also interesting because of the connections I could see between research being done, and either how Wikipedia works or how the research the people at the conference were doing could be incorporated into Wikipedia articles as sources that would overall provide more information regarding the global status of women.  It was also fantastic because as a Wikipedia contributor, I feel I could talk about that experience.  Too often it feels like the experiences of myself and other women who are contributors are either mediated through the press or by academics, sometimes without any request for input on our experiences.  It also helped me feel less isolated and less alone in the contributor process because here were a bunch of other women (and men) going through somewhat similar processes in academia.

I’d like to (again) thank the organizers for their fantastic job in organizing the conference, and bringing together a diverse group of academics who spoke on a wide array of topics.  It was just an awesome conference, and well worth the trip from Madrid.

Getting to Sochi: Implementing the plan to get there

I have tickets to get to Moscow, and from there I plan to take the train from Moscow to Sochi.  This is supposed to be a beautiful train ride, doesn’t involve scary domestic flights and gives me more time to see what is supposed to be a beautiful country.

I’ve heard of some problems involving journalists and their experiences with Sochi at the Olympics.  My first hiccup with booking? The Russian railway ate my ticket order, charged my account for the ticket that they have no record of, and when I sent them an e-mail per “In the event of a dispute about debiting funds when paying for e-tickets, passengers should send an email to ticket@bnk.ru, keep a copy of this correspondence, and contact the bank which issued their card.“, the response I got back was in Russian requesting that I put the request to them in Russian.

Whut?  Seriously, not fun.  I used Google Translate to send them the message I sent them in English in Russian.  Waiting to hear back.  This does not feel like a good start.

Update: Apparently, the way the system works is this.  You go through the ticket process as round trip.  When it comes time to payment, they first bill you for the first part where they give you the total for the WHOLE trip.  After you pay for the way there, you then go through a second transaction to pay for the RETURN which also says the cost is for the whole trip.  The assumption is everyone buying a round trip ticket knows this is a two step payment process, so there is no warning about it when you get to the second payment screen that if you cancel, you kill the whole round trip ticket. ( Book: Moscow to Sochi, Sochi to Moscow.  Ordering: Whole trip: €120.  Pay €120.  First payment is actually €60 and only for Moscow to Sochi.  Then despite second booking, new screen saying pay €120 for Moscow to Sochi, Sochi to Moscow but actually paying €60 for Sochi to Moscow. )

This e-mail is all taking place in Russian with my use of Google Translate.  Their responses are all attached in Word documents written in Russian.

My concerns about the Wikimedia Foundation’s proposed changes on the Terms of Use

There is a conversation going on on meta about changes to the Wikimedia Foundation terms of use.  One of my comments in that discussion is pasted below.

I too have concerns, not just for professors but for the religious, for members of the armed forces and for anyone who receives an income. As the proposal stands, it creates a climate where contributors are actively encouraged to violate Assume Good Faith, and ascribing motivations to edits and encouraging contributors to make accusations of bad faith, COI editing. This creates a highly toxic editing climate, which we can see from the Chelsea Manning case that went to ArbCom and the related controversy. Advocates of certain positions had people seek out personal details on their lives. The type of information sought out would not be allowed in a Wikipedia article about the individual, but could be used to discredit the user. Accusations of a financial incentive to promote a certain position took place during the Chelsea Manning case with the implication that members of the military were acting as spokespeople to promote a government position. (Similar accusations were also made about people on the opposing side of the issue, with related COI complaints.) Others face similar accusations on a regular basis while editing English Wikipedia, with the text of the edit not being examined for its alignment with local policies regarding acceptable content on Wikipedia. Instead, accusations of COI editing are used to undermine the body of their work. This proposal should include Terms of use/Harassment and outing amendment which details about what non-personally disclosed details about a user may be shared by other contributors on pages hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, methods for dealing with disclosure of non-public information (such as employment details) on Wikimedia projects that would actively discourage people from refusal to interact with just the text, and details about how the WMF will support its user base who comply with this policy while making edits that comply with pillars on Wikipedia and BLP but are targeted for harassment by Wikipedia users.

Digital Engagement Panel at Scholar and Feminist Conference

This weekend, I am off to New York City for a Scholar and Feminist Conference, Locations of Learning: Transnational Feminist Practices at Barnard College.  They’ve asked presenters at a panel I am participating on to ask our community the following questions:

  • What you get out of digital spaces in terms of transnational feminist collaborations?
  • Stories or lessons you want to share from collaborating / sharing research, knowledge, etc. online—things you learned, challenges you encountered, etc.
  • What suggestions would you give to scholars who want to use digital platforms to enhance their research collaborations, especially transnationally?
  • How do you deal with barriers like language differences in online spaces, different levels of internet access, etc.?

If you’re a feminist interested in Wikipedia, Wikinews or Wikimedia, I would love to hear your responses as part of my preparation for the panel. If you want to follow the conference, the organizers are using the hashtag #sflocations as a way of following what is taking place. 🙂

Wikipedia audience interest and the legitimacy of preferencing working on articles about men

Wikipedia cannot make people write about what they are not interested in, and in the world of sports, many people preference working on men’s articles over women’s articles or where women have been systematically removed from general pages about the sport to turn an article that should be gender neutral into a male topic page.  On a few occasions where I have seen this behavior called out as sexist, I have seen responses that basically translate to “The audience for Wikipedia is not interested in women’s sport because of the inherent inferiority of the women’s sport.”  Ignoring for now the problem with the second half of that statement, the first part is worth looking at.  Are women’s sports articles getting fewer views than men’s articles?

Using the same dataset I’ve referenced in earlier posts, I got the monthly page views for the USA men’s and women’s national teams.  This includes 31 articles about USA women’s teams and 31 articles about men’s teams.  For each gender, I calculated the mean, median and mode on a monthly basis from January 2008 to December 2013.

Mean, median and mode page views to English Wikipedia articles about Team USA men and women.

Mean, median and mode page views to English Wikipedia articles about Team USA men and women.

Using mean, we can clearly see that for the United States, women can outperform men in terms of total page views.  Also unsurprisingly, there is a reasonably strong correlation between article performance based on page views for men and women.  The correlation for the mean is 0.523901249 and for the median is 0.56629795.  The two tend to move in harmony together.  There are a number of factors at play here, including the fact that the USA has a number of matched pairs for teams and some of them have major championships at the same time.  (Think the Olympics.  Think winter sports, and summer sports.)

This single case suggests that the relative interest in men is not always higher. The case of the United States is clearly not going to be universal for a number of reasons discussed in earlier posts.

Let’s take a quick look at Djibouti.  Not the best example, but it has 2 men’s national team articles and 1 women’s national team article. Small sample, and easy enough to do some manual data mining. The existence of both men’s national team articles predates January 2008.  The article about the women’s national team dates to April 2012.  The men’s national team articles are both stub/starts.  The women’s national team article is a GA. (Disclaimer: I created and took the article to GA as part of the goal of addressing systemic bias regarding women’s sport on Wikipedia.)  Overall, we’re not really comparing similar things in terms of articles.  In terms of team performance, yeah because neither one of these teams have ever been particularly impressive.

Average views to Djibouti men's national team article versus women's national tea

Average views to Djibouti men’s national team article versus women’s national tea

There is that pattern with the women topping the men for one tiny period, right at the time the article was creating. The page views to the article about the men’s national team are prone to much more wild fluctuations than the women’s national team article.

male v female djbibouti women size matters

The fluctuation of the men’s national team looks to be independent of the article content. The page size from the graph does not appear to correlate with page views. Ditto for women. When getting the actual data, this conclusion is somewhat supported. The correlation between the monthly page views and end of month word count of the article is -0.134183181. For women, it is a different story. The correlation is 0.446656979. This appears on the face of it to suggest possibly that if you write about women, and if you write more about women, the articles will get more page views.

The sample size here on a country basis is too small to draw any real conclusions. More data is needed. More countries need to be looked at. Hopefully, I will have the time and will get back to looking at that question. But at the end of the day, I think it might be fair to draw a conclusion that the sports seeking audience for Wikipedia is not more interested in men than women. In certain situations, the audience on Wikipedia for women’s sport may actually be higher than for men’s sport.

Planning is annoying: More Sochi travel stuff

Badly, I am not doing the good reporter thing of trying to write about the Paralympics and prepare as a reporter for Sochi.  I’m not writing.  I’m not actually contributing anything to Wikinews at the moment.

I am still trying to figure out the feasibility of how to get there. If I fly into Moscow, things are considerably cheaper and the hassle is less in terms of not having 24 hours of flight travel to get there.  Alas, I’ve looked at the train solution and it doesn’t quite seem feasible either.  Train from Moscow to Sochi takes 26 hours each way and costs €88 each way.  Potential savings and hassle negated unless I want what could be an unforgettable train trip across Russia.