On the 7th of January 2021 the Aotearoa New Zealand user group held an edit-a-thon to increase the quantity and quality of articles in English Wikipedia as well as the items and data in Wikidata about Māori women weavers. The motivation for this event was serendipitous. It came about as a result of a Christmas present.
I (Ambrosia10) had been given the first two volumes of the ATE Journal of Māori Art by Einebillion for Christmas. On Boxing Day, in a flurry of WikiCite inspired editing, I added the journal, its publisher, editors, articles, and authors to Wikidata. The first full article of the first journal was about the influential Māori weaver Cath Brown. While searching in Wikipedia for more information on Brown, her teachers, the people who influenced her art, and her students, it quickly became apparent that there was a knowledge gap in both English Wikipedia and Wikidata on Māori women weavers.
As is my wont, I vented about this on twitter, expressing my desire to head to the library for an impromptu edit-a-thon to attempt to rectify this. However the library I prefer to frequent was closed over the Christmas/New Year break until the 7th of January. As a result, this was the day I unilaterally picked to hold what initially I anticipated to be a one person effort. But the enthusiasm of a core group of experienced editors from around New Zealand morphed this plan into a much more extensive editing endeavour.
Pakoire, who like me was based in Wellington, was the first to express an interest in joining in, swiftly followed by DrThneed (contributing in Dunedin), Giantflightlessbirds (contributing in Nelson) and MurielMary (contributing in Christchurch). Other Wellington based editors David Nind and Noracrentiss also attended and contributed on the day.
Prior to the edit-a-thon I created a shared Google document listing the weavers who needed to be added to Wikidata or have Wikipedia articles created or expanded about them. This list quickly grew to over 60 weavers and as we had more than a week until the edit-a-thon, we put work into collating research, adding the women we uncovered to Wikidata and, for some women with enough coverage online to make them notable for English Wikipedia, creating at least stub articles on them.
As I explained in the Meetup page for the edit-a-thon, the intended focus of the day was to improve the quality of current English Wikipedia articles on Māori women weavers, with the aim that these would then be available for reuse and hopefully translation into other languages, including into te reo Māori. I was also aware that if data on these women were added to Wikidata, they would be more easily discovered by academics and journalists on whom Wikipedia editors rely to generate secondary sources. Wikidata entries had the added bonus of ensuring these artists would appear on lists in WikiProjects such as WomenInRed and Art+Feminisim, giving encouragement to other editors to create articles about the weavers.
As a result, prior to the edit-a-thon, significant work was undertaken to add numerous Māori women weavers to Wikidata and to create new articles for those sufficiently notable for English Wikipedia.
On the day of the edit-a-thon, editors from around New Zealand enriched the content on Māori women weavers in Wikipedia and Wikidata from sources in three libraries - He Matapihi Molesworth Library at the National Library in Wellington, Elma Turner Library in Nelson and Hocken Library in Dunedin.
A dashboard for the event was created that tracked the efforts of the seven experienced editors participating. By the end of the day content relating to Māori women weavers in Wikipedia and Wikidata had been markedly improved with numerous articles created and over 100,000 words being added.
However, although all the editors came away from this experience with a sense of achievement, as is usual when contributing to Wikipedia and Wikidata, the participants of this event all recognise there is so much more that needs to be done.