Communicating on Wikipedia while female

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Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Laura Hale
Hey,

I posted some new research to meta at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Communicating_on_Wikipedia_while_female .  It is titled: Communicating on Wikipedia while female A discursive analysis of the use of the word cunt on English Wikipedia user talk pages.  Thought it might be of some interest to people on this list.

Sincerely,
Laura Hale

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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Nathan Awrich
This research excludes any incidence of the word "cunt" that appears in revisions other than those that are currently live, right? Since it relies exclusively on the search engine, which only returns live results? Doesn't that seem like a substantial weakness, and one that undercuts any year to year frequency analysis? 

Also, can you confirm if I'm understanding this correctly - the use of the word in a discussion about whether it is a gendered insult or not, or in a discussion admonishing a user to stop using it as an insult, counts each use (regardless of intent) as an additional incident of gendered insult? 

On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM, Laura Hale <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hey,

I posted some new research to meta at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Communicating_on_Wikipedia_while_female .  It is titled: Communicating on Wikipedia while female A discursive analysis of the use of the word cunt on English Wikipedia user talk pages.  Thought it might be of some interest to people on this list.

Sincerely,
Laura Hale

--
twitter: purplepopple

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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Laura Hale


On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 5:43 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
This research excludes any incidence of the word "cunt" that appears in revisions other than those that are currently live, right? Since it relies exclusively on the search engine, which only returns live results? Doesn't that seem like a substantial weakness, and one that undercuts any year to year frequency analysis? 

The search results included a huge number of years in them, and we're not talking a small percentage.  I don't think it undercuts it at all because it seems like the search results are random enough to get a statistically relevant sample.  I talked about the sample size and methodology with a few researchers, including ones doing Wikipedia research who thought the sample size was adequate and representational for the findings.  

At the same time, once I got past 20%, there was pretty much no substantial change in any of the numbers on a yearly basis.  I went up to 25% just to make sure.  This also confirmed for me the sample size being fine.

Do you have some reason to think they wouldn't be statistically relevant in terms of sample size?  This isn't my normal research methodology so I could be wrong, but I'd love to know more about what factors you think would lead to them not being representative across all years.


 

Also, can you confirm if I'm understanding this correctly - the use of the word in a discussion about whether it is a gendered insult or not, or in a discussion admonishing a user to stop using it as an insult, counts each use (regardless of intent) as an additional incident of gendered insult? 


Yes, "I think you should stop using cunt because it is offensive to women" would count as a gendered insult in the context of what I did, because it was clear from context that the word conveyed a gender loaded use of it.  That use is clearly different than "You're a cunt."  I could change the "gendered insult" to "gendered" but the point remains the same.  I reviewed this classification with several people before posting, and no one mentioned that as an issue because it was clear to them what the point of the classification was in terms of this particular discursive analysis.

There was no separate category for "admonishment" or "discussion about not using this word on talk pages".  If there was, the numbers for that would be pretty low because admonishments are pretty rare, and in many cases were met with more excuses for its usage.  That actually should be apparent based on the number of quotes for support versus admonishments.  It was actually a struggle to find them, and they are over represented in the samples compared to the "cunt is okay" examples.

Sincerely,
Laura Hale
 

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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Kerry Raymond
In reply to this post by Laura Hale

Thanks, Laura. It is indeed interesting.

 

While different terms do have different levels of offensiveness to different groups, I find it curious though that their use persists.  As an Australian and thus possessing a fairly rich vocabulary of swear words in my everyday speech, nonetheless I seem to be capable of not using them when communicating with wider audiences. I generally know quite well what words may be seen as offensive and simply don’t use them. I think the only one that really took me by surprise was “darned” with which I once offended someone from the USA southern states, who told me it was a variant of “damned” (which didn’t really inform me as I didn’t see the problem with “damned” either). But nonetheless being an intelligent person capable of learning, I now avoid both of those words too.

 

So, while I fully understand that a new user might use an offensive term without intending or realising it, I find it hard to understand why that user would continue to do so after it has been pointed out. It would seem anyone who persists does so deliberately knowing it causes offence and is probably delighted that it does so. Do we need such people on Wikipedia? It’s difficult to imagine that such lack of respect for others could make you an effective collaborator on content.

 

Of course, sometimes words are not written with a cool head but in the heat of anger. This is where Wikipedia must take a portion of blame. A communications medium that allows these words to be visible to all and retained for all time is very different to angry words exchanged between two people verbally. I think it is much easier for people to forgive and forget the verbal lashout than it is to forgive and forget the User Talk equivalent, in part because there is an audience. Not only has the person been insulted, they’ve been insulted in front of others. I note that some forums have a “rude word” filter and either warn or prevent the user from posting the message. If nothing else, it ensures that any use of such words is deliberate and therefore the user is liable of censure if used inappropriately (noting that many of these words can have a literal and appropriate use). Perhaps we need this on Talk pages?!

 

Kerry

 


From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Laura Hale
Sent: Friday, 21 November 2014 2:28 AM
To: Research into Wikimedia content and communities
Subject: [Wiki-research-l] Communicating on Wikipedia while female

 

Hey,

 

I posted some new research to meta at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Communicating_on_Wikipedia_while_female .  It is titled: Communicating on Wikipedia while female A discursive analysis of the use of the word cunt on English Wikipedia user talk pages.  Thought it might be of some interest to people on this list.

 

Sincerely,

Laura Hale

 

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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Kerry Raymond
In reply to this post by Nathan Awrich

Is there an easy way to search the “not live” content?

 

Kerry

 


From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Nathan
Sent: Friday, 21 November 2014 2:44 AM
To: Research into Wikimedia content and communities
Subject: Re: [Wiki-research-l] Communicating on Wikipedia while female

 

This research excludes any incidence of the word "cunt" that appears in revisions other than those that are currently live, right? Since it relies exclusively on the search engine, which only returns live results? Doesn't that seem like a substantial weakness, and one that undercuts any year to year frequency analysis? 

 

Also, can you confirm if I'm understanding this correctly - the use of the word in a discussion about whether it is a gendered insult or not, or in a discussion admonishing a user to stop using it as an insult, counts each use (regardless of intent) as an additional incident of gendered insult? 

 

On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM, Laura Hale <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hey,

 

I posted some new research to meta at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Communicating_on_Wikipedia_while_female .  It is titled: Communicating on Wikipedia while female A discursive analysis of the use of the word cunt on English Wikipedia user talk pages.  Thought it might be of some interest to people on this list.

 

Sincerely,

Laura Hale

 

--

twitter: purplepopple


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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Joe Corneli-3
In reply to this post by Kerry Raymond
> Not only has the person been insulted, they've been insulted in front
> of others. I note that some forums have a "rude word" filter and
> either warn or prevent the user from posting the message.

A warning seems like a good idea, as it could help solve most problems
before they occur, while still allowing people to express themselves
colorfully if they wish.  After all some people may be unintentionally
offensive, for instance even with a typo.  (I tried to read it as "word
count"!)

In such a case, people would have to be just a bit more intentional in
order to be rude.

This seems important, partly because if someone DOES end up being
uncivil, the recourse is complicated and might not work.

 «Civility is part of Wikipedia's code of conduct and one of its five
 pillars.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Civility

Nevertheless:

 «Sanctions for civility violations should only happen when nothing else
 would do.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Civility#Blocking_for_incivility

 «3O is only for assistance in resolving disagreements that have come to
 a standstill.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Third_opinion#How_to_list_a_dispute

This leaves:

 «Before requesting community comment, at least two editors must have
 contacted the user on the user's talk page, or the talk page(s)
 involved in the dispute, and tried but failed to resolve the problem.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment#Request_for_comment_about_the_conduct_of_another_user

(Finally!)  But... is this really going to work out in the case where
someone is being directly insulting or just unduly crass?  Assuming the
insulted party finds the page mentioned above, would they then have time
to follow through on the somewhat elaborate process that it recommends?
Where will they find a supportive editor to back them up?  And if they
go through all the steps, would an apology really be forthcoming?  Is
that even what's wanted?

IMO from a research standpoint, it would be interesting to understand
the process - if it works at all.  E.g. was there any followup of this
nature on any of the usages identified by Laura Hale?  My guess is
something close to 0% of the cases would end in a "positive" resolution,
however that's defined.

Definitely seems like a case where an ounce of prevention would be worth
a pound of cure.

That said, if people are intentionally cutting as opposed to just
thoughtlessly crass, the follow-up still needs significant tuning.

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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Jane Darnell
Interesting post! As a woman, I would say I am negatively affected by both intentionally cutting reactions on my talk page AND thoughtlessly crass reactions. I am also unsure if an apology would help, now that I think about it. In all cases (and fortunately these have been few) I have always opted to stop whatever it was that caused the reaction and have just disengaged from that user (whoever he/she was). That said, there are certain venues that I just avoid altogether because of the casually crass tone I see regularly. Examples are the AfC and AfD queues.

On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 12:33 PM, Joe Corneli <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Not only has the person been insulted, they've been insulted in front
> of others. I note that some forums have a "rude word" filter and
> either warn or prevent the user from posting the message.

A warning seems like a good idea, as it could help solve most problems
before they occur, while still allowing people to express themselves
colorfully if they wish.  After all some people may be unintentionally
offensive, for instance even with a typo.  (I tried to read it as "word
count"!)

In such a case, people would have to be just a bit more intentional in
order to be rude.

This seems important, partly because if someone DOES end up being
uncivil, the recourse is complicated and might not work.

 «Civility is part of Wikipedia's code of conduct and one of its five
 pillars.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Civility

Nevertheless:

 «Sanctions for civility violations should only happen when nothing else
 would do.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Civility#Blocking_for_incivility

 «3O is only for assistance in resolving disagreements that have come to
 a standstill.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Third_opinion#How_to_list_a_dispute

This leaves:

 «Before requesting community comment, at least two editors must have
 contacted the user on the user's talk page, or the talk page(s)
 involved in the dispute, and tried but failed to resolve the problem.»

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment#Request_for_comment_about_the_conduct_of_another_user

(Finally!)  But... is this really going to work out in the case where
someone is being directly insulting or just unduly crass?  Assuming the
insulted party finds the page mentioned above, would they then have time
to follow through on the somewhat elaborate process that it recommends?
Where will they find a supportive editor to back them up?  And if they
go through all the steps, would an apology really be forthcoming?  Is
that even what's wanted?

IMO from a research standpoint, it would be interesting to understand
the process - if it works at all.  E.g. was there any followup of this
nature on any of the usages identified by Laura Hale?  My guess is
something close to 0% of the cases would end in a "positive" resolution,
however that's defined.

Definitely seems like a case where an ounce of prevention would be worth
a pound of cure.

That said, if people are intentionally cutting as opposed to just
thoughtlessly crass, the follow-up still needs significant tuning.

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Re: Communicating on Wikipedia while female

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by Kerry Raymond
You'd need to run a query on a full dump with version history. Doing that would give you actual stats on usage; using live data only obscures anything that has been reverted or overwritten... which in the case of this word probably results in the loss of the majority of incidents. 

On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 10:36 PM, Kerry Raymond <[hidden email]> wrote:

Is there an easy way to search the “not live” content?

 

Kerry

 


From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Nathan
Sent: Friday, 21 November 2014 2:44 AM
To: Research into Wikimedia content and communities
Subject: Re: [Wiki-research-l] Communicating on Wikipedia while female

 

This research excludes any incidence of the word "cunt" that appears in revisions other than those that are currently live, right? Since it relies exclusively on the search engine, which only returns live results? Doesn't that seem like a substantial weakness, and one that undercuts any year to year frequency analysis? 

 

Also, can you confirm if I'm understanding this correctly - the use of the word in a discussion about whether it is a gendered insult or not, or in a discussion admonishing a user to stop using it as an insult, counts each use (regardless of intent) as an additional incident of gendered insult? 

 

On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM, Laura Hale <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hey,

 

I posted some new research to meta at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Communicating_on_Wikipedia_while_female .  It is titled: Communicating on Wikipedia while female A discursive analysis of the use of the word cunt on English Wikipedia user talk pages.  Thought it might be of some interest to people on this list.

 

Sincerely,

Laura Hale

 

--

twitter: purplepopple


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