Taking Fashion to Wikipedia

Today there is a real lack of fashion content on Wikipedia, the world’s biggest encyclopedia, but this is about to change! This year Europeana Fashion, a new Europeana project, has started working together with the Wikimedia movement and 22 fashion GLAMs to organize fashion edit-a-thons all over Europe during the next two years. Last Friday the first of these fashion edit-a-thons was held in Stockholm, Sweden, co-organized by Wikimedia Sverige, Europeana Fashion, Europeana, Nordiska museet and The Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University.

This edit-a-thon was the largest one ever organized in Sweden, with a total of 47 people participating. What made this event even more special was that a stunning 64 percent of the participants were women – which can be compared to the latest numbers showing that only nine percent of all editors on Wikipedia are women!

During the Edit-a-Thon, 61 images were added to articles

For this event, we targeted bloggers, journalists as well as university classes within fashion studies. To attract these fashion experts, we had designed the event a bit differently with more focus on making it feel exclusive and special, with goodie bags, a nice diploma and a mingle at the end. To make it easier for the newbies to start writing we had also arranged a preparatory workshop about editing Wikipedia on the 12th of March.

During the edit-a-thon a number of presentations were given about the organizations behind the event, the material that the participants could use as well as about how Wikipedia works. However, as we had gathered all these fashion experts in one place, we wanted to make sure that they could focus on writing and adding fashion content to Wikipedia. Therefore, instead of a boring presentation about all the technicalities on Wikipedia we had Wikimedia Sverige’s staff and volunteers walking around and helping all the beginners in getting the articles to look just right before pressing save.

This seemed to have done the trick as we were very productive! During the 10 hours of the event 10 new articles were created, and a total of 67 distinct articles were edited in eight languages. Out of the 371 pictures that Nordiska museet and MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp uploaded specifically for this event 61 different pictures have now been added to articles, with the pictures being used a total of 84 times.

What we are also really happy about is that even though the event spanned over the whole day, nearly all participants stayed until the evening mingle. Before going home many of the participants also came up to us, telling how much fun they had had and how proud they had felt when publishing their work on Wikipedia.

Overall we look at this event and our partnership with Nordiska museet, Europeana Fashion, Europeana and Stockholm University as a big success and we would love to arrange more fashion edit-a-thons also in the future! Perhaps this initiative can be a step towards fixing the skewed gender balance on Wikipedia? Or if nothing else, it will increase the amount of freely licensed fashion content online!