Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Organizer: Yağmur Yıldırım
Despite the current global pandemic, our Art+Feminism organizers continue to nurture community and help put more marginalized artists on Wikipedia. We hope to highlight some events that happened before COVID-19 stopped in-person events, as well as events that have pivoted to meet online in the coming weeks.
On the weekend of International Women’s Day, organizer Yağmur Yıldırım along with Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey (WMTR) had a tremendous event hosted by Women’s Library (Kadın Eserleri Kütüphanesi ve Bilgi Merkezi Vakfı, http://kadineserleri.org/aabout-us/). With 25 editors, they edited 85 articles at the event! We asked Yağmur to share more about the event.
How did I begin organizing Art+Feminism edit-a-thons? I knew and talked about these events, but the idea of organizing one flashed suddenly when I saw an announcement about 2016 edit-a-thons on the internet. I checked the programmed events, and there were no edit-a-thons in Turkey. It was nearly march, I didn’t know how to edit Wikipedia, I didn’t even have a Wikipedia account, I had no event organizing experience – but I thought, why not! A few e-mails were sent in a rush, several phone calls were done, and voila: we organized our first edit-a-thon in a week. This is how we met with Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey (WMTR) and started organizing edit-a-thons in Turkey, in Istanbul, and in Ankara in collaboration with the Flying Broom Foundation. This year, Istanbul Art+Feminism edit-a-thon took place on March 7, 2020 at the Women’s Library. Luckily, it was just a few days before the country was hit by the first COVID-19 cases and public health restrictions – we couldn’t make it if it would be in the next week. This was our third Istanbul Art+Feminism edit-a-thon experience in collaboration with Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey since 2016, and our second time at the Women’s Library (Kadın Eserleri Kütüphanesi ve Bilgi Merkezi Vakfı http://kadineserleri.org/aabout-us/).
The Women’s Library, which celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, is the only women-centered library in Turkey, founded by a number of women activists, academicians, and writers. The library hosts an extensive collection of great value, containing women’s periodicals, personal archives, visual and audio materials, newspaper clippings, artworks, rare books, etc. For this reason, we couldn’t imagine a better place to organize a feminist edit-a-thon. We took the advantage of the archive during the event, and contributed to Wikipedia with documents which cannot be found elsewhere – for instance, we uploaded the author Kerime Nadir’s photograph from the visual archive, and studied on the article of the Ottoman feminist magazine Kadınlar Dünyası (Women’s World), all issues of which exist in the library’s rare collections.
Gathering in physical space for an edit-a-thon is beneficial not only in terms of delving into an archive, but also community building and sharing moments. We have met with new wonderful people; we discussed, read, ate together during the day. This year in Istanbul edit-a-thon 23 editors created 14 articles, edited 85 articles, uploaded 19 documents to Commons.
A total of 277 edits were done. Beforehand, Neslihan from WMTR prepared a list of the non-existent ‘Women in Red’ in Turkish Wikipedia, which was quite useful for the beginner Wikipedians to create content. Also, this time we were experienced enough to prepare small things to make the event more fun: event stickers, little curiosities and gifts, etc.
A reason that makes this year’s event more meaningful for us is ‘re-meeting’ with Wikipedia. From April 2017 to January 2020, Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey by the authorities, so we couldn’t organize Art+Feminism edit-a-thons in 2017 and 2018. This year’s edit-a-thon was the first major Wikipedia event in Turkey since the block was lifted, and this is why both experienced Wikipedians and non-users showed great interest, along with media attention. It is highly encouraging to receive great feedback from people who are afterwards interested in signing up Wikipedia, creating content about their latest research, organizing other thematic edit-a-thons, or discovering the Women’s Library. This reminds me my excitement when I saw Art+Feminism’s announcement in 2016 and thought, ‘why not?’ It is wonderful to see more and more people around saying ‘why not’, too. So, keep editing!
architect & editor
[A group of people, smiling at the camera, standing in a room with laptops and books. Image from the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in Istanbul. Photography by Sakhalinio / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).]