Mayoral mistress Bevan Chuang and streaker Lisa Lewis weren’t important enough, but Paddles the cat made the cut.
Who’s in – and who’s out – on the world’s most visited encyclopaedia is a revealing window on whom we consider worthy of recognition, and why.
The captain of the most successful rugby team in the world – Black Ferns chief Fiao’o Fa’amausili – merits just four lines of Wikipedia coverage; controversial Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, and serial sexual abuser Stewart Murray Wilson all get extensive articles.
Broadcaster Mike McRoberts has an entry, but his former wife and notable journalist Paula Penfold does not. Fashion boss Denise l’Estrange Corbet makes it in, but her fellow World founder Francis Hooper is nowhere to be found.
Anyone can create a Wikipedia article, but it has to meet Wikipedia’s criteria which determines whether someone is notable enough to merit inclusion.
They include things like receiving significant coverage in independent published sources; winning a major award; making a historically enduring contribution to their field; being featured in a dictionary of national biography; or being awarded an academic professorship.
Stuff trawled the deletion discussions to find out how editors decide which Kiwis make the cut.
The former president of the Cancer Society, Young Enterprise Trust and Auckland Chamber of Commerce, Geoffrey Clatworthy, got the chop, because his MNZM award wasn’t high enough up the honours hierarchy to convey ‘‘inherent’’ notability.
However, New Zealand’s Next Top Model’s first winner Christobelle Grierson-Ryrie survived a deletion attempt. An article about streaker Lisa Lewis, who went on to host a naked news television show, was removed for reasons so secret they had to be hidden.
Chuang, whose liaison with Len Brown almost toppled the Auckland mayor, was axed because her notability was solely linked to the affair. However, Paddles the former prime ministerial cat shook off allegations of triviality.
Globally, Wikipedia is heavily weighted in favour of men, with only 17 per cent of biographical articles featuring women.
Wikipedian Mike Dickison, who is touring the country encouraging more Kiwis to edit the online encyclopaedia, was open about its biases, which reflect the gender and interests of its creators.
However, Wikipedia did not host original research, so entries simply reflected the bias of society as a whole, he said.
‘‘If there are people who would love to see, say, a New Zealand woman in Wikipedia, who we all agree is important in their field, but it’s been almost impossible to find any published information about her life and career, they should try and get some of it published.’’
Siobhan Leachman is among about 160 Kiwi volunteer editors trying to improve the quality and breadth of New Zealand Wikipedia coverage.
The 47-year-old Wellington mum spends at least two hours a day on Wiki projects. It was not hard to satisfy the notability criteria if you were prepared to search libraries for sources that were not online.
‘‘We live in a digital age. If you are not on the internet, then you’re regarded as not necessarily being noteworthy or of interest. One of the ways to make sure people are not disappeared and you don’t know about them is to make sure they’re in Wikipedia.’’
Wikipedia has deleted articles about mayoral mistress Bevan Chuang, left, and streaker Lisa Lewis, right, but an entry about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s former cat Paddles is still there.
Siobhan Leachman is one of about 160 Kiwis trying to improve the quality and breadth of Wikipedia’s New Zealand coverage.