Many of these volunteers had never edited on Wikipedia before, including junior Mac McArtor. McArtor said he was drawn to the event to learn about female artists and how to edit Wikipedia pages.
“Any opportunity to learn more about something you didn’t know, you should take," McArtor said. "Especially when you have the time to do it.”
Kristan Shawgo, a social sciences librarian at UNC, spoke at the editing session about what Wikipedia defines as a notable page and why pages on feminists with limited sourcing are often flagged as being trivial.
McGurrin said that a white male-generated definition of what is notable reinforces a white, Westernized view, therefore information from reputable library and online sources is important in maintaining these online pages.
“Meeting together like this takes away the hurdle that it takes to begin editing on Wikipedia, because it seems like a very intimidating process,” Shawgo said.
Organizers believe that offering resources to update and revise pages on female artists empowers artists and writers alike.
“As a feminist, I think it is important to come to these kinds of events and support these kinds of causes,” McGurrin said.
Supporting feminism, while not a prerequisite for attending the event, was a communal feature represented not only by pins and magazines offered on tables, but by an atmosphere of appreciation for female empowerment.
“I would consider myself to be a feminist, in that, I believe that women deserve everything and more than every other person on earth deserves,” McArtor said.
Edit-a-thons expand beyond Art + Feminism; the next upcoming event at UNC will be a writing workshop held on April 25, focusing on editing pages about women in science.
“The first step when (students) are doing research is the Wikipedia page, I've found. So when they're reading these Wikipedia pages, that's kind of their first impression of these artists," McGurrin said. "So if there isn’t a Wikipedia page, or if it's a Wikipedia page that's written by somebody who might not be as sympathetic to the artists’ work, it can have a negative impact on the student’s perception of the event, or artist, rather.”
Furthermore, Whiteside said it can be empowering to see an inaccuracy and fix it yourself.
“Kind of realizing that these really prominent artists aren’t receiving accolades on one of the first sources that people encounter is quite troubling and shows how important the Art + Feminism organization is in their numbers of how many edits they've made and pages they've created and that kind of data is really affirming,” McGurrin said.