How male editors/men can be better participants

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Bryce Peake: “People experience things, and you are not the arbiter of whether their experiences were “real” or not.”

I’ve watched the disruptive editing. I’ve seen the “I’m innocently asking something without realizing it’s a giant assertion of my male privilege, and is meant to protect that privilege from changes.” And, I’ve seen the ways in which men/male editors attack women editors on here. If Wikipedia has a systemic bias, so too does it have an ignorance issue – because I doubt many of the men on here want to be the assholes they come off as (WP:GOODFAITH here).

So I thought, as someone who identifies as a man and is committed to closing the gender gap here, I would leave a few tips for my fellow male-identifying homo sapien sapiens (bots and cyborgs are welcome to read too). I ask that you read these, think about them, and add to them if you have anything productive or constructive to add.

  • Before responding to a thread/comment/etc, ask yourself why you are responding: is it out of genuine concern for the topic? Is it to prove a point? Is it because you are personally offended? Where does your answer come from: concern for the WikiProject or concern for yourself? If any of those answers is about you, it’s probably better to write your feelings down in a word document or blog, and not on Wikipedia. People experience things, and you are not the arbiter of whether their experiences were “real” or not. You might think efforts are misguided, but find ways to constructively engage and not be a negative niles.
  • Before citing WP:_____ in response to anything, ask yourself why you are citing it: to win an argument? Wikipedia is not about winning. To make the encyclopedia better? Remember, Ignore all rules if it makes the encyclopedia better – and having more perspectives and points of view from the other side of the (socially constructed) gender binary undoubtedly makes the encyclopedia better. Or, are you citing WPs to demonstrate your expertise of Wikipedia over someone else? That’s not welcome here or anywhere on Wikipedia.
  • We all fail at life/humanity sometimes. I’ve done it. It’s ok to say you’re sorry, or that you’re wrong, or that you shouldn’t have typed something that you did. People will appreciate it. So, if you’ve been on the wrong side of the above, maybe you should send a message to the editors you were engaged with that says “I’m sorry. I feel very passionate about this topic, but I know I can be a better person about it. Just wanted to let you know I realized that. Looking forward to editing some more with you in the future.” You’ll feel better about yourself, and be on your way to being a better editor.
  • Are you really interested in the gender gap, in a constructive way? If not, move on. Life is too short, there are too many articles that need to be written and revised, and Wikipedia is about using team work to create a free and open encyclopedia. If you are interested in fixing the epic gender gap, take a seat and listen. You can learn a lot about yourself and how to be a better editor here.

This essay by Bryce Peake appeared as a comment at the Gender Gap task force page on September 4, 2014.

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