Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (February 24, 2015) – More than two dozen students, faculty, staff and members of the Howard University community met at Moorland Spingarn Research Center on Feb. 19 to update Wikipedia entries on Black history and African diaspora topics.

The “Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon” event focused on entries that covered a range of interests, including classical African civilizations, Trinidadian intellectuals, and a number of notable Black scholars and professionals. Wikimedia DC sponsored the event. The Howard University event is part of Moorland Spingarn Research Center’s Black History Month Initiative. 

“Wikipedia is the most widely used reference resource in the world right now,” said Howard Dodson, director of the Moorland Spingarn Research Center. “Unfortunately the African American and African diasporic experiences are not broadly represented in it. This activity marks yet another of our efforts to increase that presence through major, globally accessible digital resource.”

Dodson, who gave opening remarks at the event, eagerly responded to Wikimedia DC’s initial request to host the event at Howard and offered the center’s historic Reading Room as the optimal site.

Joshua Myers, Ph.D., assistant professor of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, said while he generally discourages his students from using Wikipedia as a credible source he participated to learn more about the site’s editorial process. At the event, Myers created an entry for the Association for the Study of Classical Civilizations and edited an article on 19th century Trinidadian intellectual John Jacob Thomas.

“If Wikipedia is going to be the first resort for students’ research, then Howard University has to have something to say about those issues and topics where we have expertise,” Myers said.

James Hare, the president of Wikimedia DC, one of 41 regional outreach organizations that seek to improve the content of Wikipedia articles, said the organization sought out Howard to ensure that more perspectives were represented on Wikipedia.

“We want to correct systemic biases on Wikipedia because in a way they represent systematic biases in society,” Hare said.

Hare said he hoped the Howard event would be the beginning of an on-going partnership to improve the quality of information on Wikipedia. 

For more information, please contact D. Kamili Anderson, public affairs/communications specialist, Howard University Library System at kamili.anderson@howard.edu

By Ashon Mask University News Service