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This project started when it was recognized that there are very few notable women (or famous women or leading women) computer scientists who have Wikipedia pages. For example, a large number of women with notable awards such as ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, ACM Distinguished Educator, Scientist or Engineer, or other notable awards had no Wikipedia page. As a result, in April 2012, a few members on the CRA-W board got together and wrote their first Wikipedia page for a notable woman and started some new categories for women with specific awards. Later when we looked back at the page, our categories had been deleted, and the page we had written was full of error messages.
We realized we did not quite understand the process or rules for creating Wikipedia pages. Although it seems easy to edit a page, it seems difficult to get a new page created. We then spent about a year on and off trying to figure out how to write a simple wikipedia page for a biography, and running into other types of error messages such as the orphan warning shown below. To remove this error message, we wrote a page for her advisor, who was also notable, and linked the two pages together.
From that experience, which includes other warning messages we received, we have created a set of guidelines to get others started on creating simple Wikipedia pages about notable women in computing.
In March 2013 we had an experience to see how powerful it was to create a new Wikipedia page and to see that most people editing Wikipedia pages only edit them and do not create new pages. Prof. James Bonk at Duke University died who was a great Chemistry educator for 53 years. He was also an internet legend for a story about giving students a makeup exam, who had missed an exam because they had had a flat tire. He put them in separate rooms and the exam had a question that asked "which tire?". He died on March 15, 2013 and three days later we noticed he didn't have a Wikipedia page, so we wrote one for him. That same day two other people started editing his Wikipedia page and made 9 edits. Then other people started editing it and adding to it. If you can get a simple page started, others will fill it out.
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© August 11, 2013, Susan H. Rodger