Mind the Gap: Bridging Wikipedia’s “Geographical Gap” for the Global Periphery

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2021-12

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Abstract

Studies reveal biases in Wikipedia’s content, attributable to the uneven representation of volunteer editors across the gender, ethnic, and geographic divides. While compositionists have participated actively in bridging the gender gap, little attention is paid to the geographical gap. This study expands the literature on Wikipedia’s geographical gap through an investigation of where the gap lies, its negative implications on underrepresented cultures and communities, and the role of academia, with a key intention to design pedagogical strategies for narrowing the gap and raising awareness. I approach the above through postcolonial and critical pedagogy lenses to frame the analysis. I conduct a case study methodology and employ theoretical, statistical and visual reading and analysis. To address Wikipedia’s imbalance in knowledge production and representation of periphery cultures, I propose two key strategies rooted in education: (1) position the geographical gap as a global issue to create awareness among the global network of academics, editors, and activists; and (2) conduct action research on WikiProjects and campaign use in classrooms. Three pedagogical recommendations may be applied to implement the above strategies, namely (1) encourage the knowledge production of students on Wikipedia, (2) develop students’ critical awareness through Wikipedia-based assignments, and (3) design localized multilingual Wikipedia-based assignment. Through engaging academia, scholars and educators in both core and periphery communities can take responsibility for the geographical gap and contribute their part toward empowering periphery communities and increasing the diversity of worldviews on Wikipedia.

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Keywords

Wikipedia, equity, geographical gap, center, periphery, cultural representation, wikipedia-based assignment, ESL, composition, writing courses

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