For many around the world, Wikipedia is the first source of information they learn about a topic. That’s why WNYC’s Nancy podcast and Grindr teamed up to “queer the internet” and hosted an “edit-a-thon” of Wikipedia pages at South by Southwest.
The goal of the event was simple: Invite Austin residents, as well as the internet, to help edit and include relevant LGTBQ information on Wikipedia pages.
“People should have a say in their own stories, who’s telling their stories and stories about their community,” said Zach Stafford, editor in chief of Grindr, adding that the edit-a-thon is providing “a space for folks to come work inside Wikipedia, correct stuff that isn’t fully correct [and] make some pages a bit more queer.”
The event ran for five hours, saw 50 attendees (with others working on edits online), and included more than 500 edits to Wikipedia pages across topics like art, history and entertainment. While the numbers are positive, Tobin Low, cohost of WNYC’s Nancy podcast, thinks the significance of the event is much bigger than the quantitive aspects of it.
“The impact on a young queer person going to Wikipedia and seeing proper pronouns used or finding substantive information about important figures in queer history is immeasurable,” said Low. “The greatest hope for something like this hack-a-thon is that you help someone feel affirmed in their existence.”
The event was yet another example of an SXSW activation focused on social good. Stafford said the point of the activation was to make a societal impact, as well as to empower those who can’t be at SXSW to still feel a part of it and do something bigger outside of the Austin bubble.
For now, Stafford doesn’t know if there will be more edit-a-thons in the future, but he’s hopeful that the event catalyzed people to take action on their own.
“You can always fact-check Wikipedia,” Stafford said. “We’re hoping to give people tools that will empower them moving forward.”