wikipedia and the gender neutral voice

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6 Responses

  1. Keri says:

    Fabulous application of theories of gender difference about the male tendency for a preference for justice over care. Although I spend much of my time writing, and have read studies that allude to the potential for writing to be a gendered space, what you write about above is new and intriguing. I also wonder how texts that are paper based would stack up? The internet was initially a male dominated place (I think), which might still be reflected in today’s content.


  2. Martin Eve says:

    “As of today, it looks like it has a 63% success rate; not impressive but better than chance.”

    Doesn’t this assume that there is a 50/50 balance of male to female writing on the internet? I’d say that, to date, it’s still rather more male-centric…

  3. nathanjurgenson says:

    good point! it could simply be programmed to guess male more often. however, when encountering the tool, people might tend to try to feed it both male and female blogs, meaning that the data it is encountering might be more gender neutral than the internet in general. i have no evidence of this at all, though!

  4. desa0122 says:

    Let’s assume for a moment that males and females do, in fact, have different writing styles and that these styles can be discerned from each other. I think something you leave out of this, nathan, is how Wikipedia as a whole functions. When Wikipedia was first getting heavily used, its main audience was IT professionals. This field is very male-dominated. They created the initial Wiki entries that the rest of the world then edited. Even if it was a female editing a male’s entry at that point, it was often so minor an edit that the overall “male presence” would still be in the message, even if a fact was edited or added. Then Wikipedia began to gain popularity, meaning that it became more gender neutral in terms of viewers. Let’s assume that 50/50 girls and men now began editing Wikipedia, though the real numbers are most likely in vast favor of men. The edits that are made are still reviewed by other members as well as a team of specially appointed moderators whose sole function is to go through Wikipedia entries and check them and otherwise edit them. In a male-dominated system, even when a woman manages to get a page approved and retain her own wording, what chance do the majority of pages have in keeping their feminine language style?

  5. Pkeets says:

    I tried a Wikipedia article that I know was written by a woman, and the analyzer tagged it as written by a man. Wikipedia has gender neutral standards.

  1. 16th March 2011

    […] of the Web. Cyborgology editor Nathan Jurgenson, for example, has previously covered the Wikipedia’s bias toward masculine language. Saskia Sassen warns “it may be naïve to overestimate the emancipatory power of cyberspace […]

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