Who’s Wiki-wor­thy?

The Dominion Post - - News - Nikki Mac­don­ald nikki.mac­don­ald@stuff.co.nz

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.

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