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.


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