Younger generations today are said to read less and less proper literature. Admittedly, I fit that stereotype myself, so have no problem believing it. Instead of reading books, we form our opinions based on what we read on social media, blog posts, opinion pieces, and perhaps Wikipedia, which aims to be a factual, neutral source of information curated openly by the very people who use the website: all of us. This means the feminist movement needs a strong online presence.
In principle, the idea of Wikipedia is great, and works very well in many contexts. Sadly though, some parts of Wikipedia are anything but neutral, as the open-to-all nature of the platform is prone to manipulation by ideologically motivated groups of editors who swarm topics covering their interests, and ensure only their perspectives get fair representation. On mainstream topics that garner a lot of attention, the opposing biases of different groups hopefully cancel each other out, providing neutral representation. But when it comes to more niche topics, such as the intricacies of feminist theory, the risk of a Wikipedia article becoming one-sided (and inaccurate) is serious, and often this bias is not favourable to feminist positions.
Given that Wikipedia aims to be a general encyclopedia and not focused on any topic in particular, various groups tend to create their own “wiki” that uses the same basic principle: an online knowledge database curated by a community of users. For example, one of the oldest wikis, predating Wikipedia, is the C2 Wiki, focused on software development and related topics. Many software projects also have their own specialized wiki, and almost every video game under the sun seems to have its own wiki nowadays.
Creating a wiki focused on feminism seems an obvious move. This would be a website where users can easily find definitions for various terms used in feminist analysis, read about famous feminists, or learn about more niche feminist topics from an explicitly pro-feminist perspective, without the risk of anti-feminist activists putting a negative or innacurate spin on the topic as happens on Wikipedia.
The software used by Wikipedia, MediaWiki, is free software (as in freedom), meaning that anyone can install it to set up a site functioning like Wikipedia. All that’s needed is for someone to put in the time and resources.
In early 2018, a small project started by Penny White aimed to create a wiki that represents radical/classical feminist positions on topics like prostitution, opposition to pornography, and abolition of gender roles. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to fruition at the time. Inspired by her idea, I found myself thinking a website like this could be invaluable to the feminist movement in the long term, and that I might have the capacity to create and maintain it. In August 2018, I began working on FeministWiki.org.
Since its launch, the website has been improved upon, becoming more than just a wiki: the infrastructure provides its registered users an email address ([email protected], for example) that they may use for political activism, a blogging platform that won’t censor you (so long as your articles aren’t anti-feminist or break German laws, as the site is hosted in Germany), a chat/instant-messaging system, a traditional web forum, and an online file storage system (akin to DropBox) where you can save your images, videos, and PDF documents related to feminism. All these services are linked at the top of the main page of the FeministWiki. There are plans to add a federated social media server similar to Spinster as well. Not as competition, but to enrich the Fediverse with more pro-feminist servers.
In 2020, I decided to found a German non-profit under the name FeministWiki gemeinnützige UG (haftungsbeschränkt). The strange long name is related to a German legal requirement of Germany, so let’s call the it FeministWiki UG. I don’t plan to ask for donations yet, as the cost of running the platform is surprisingly low, but the official non-profit status should lend the project some credibility. The legally binding mission statement is to “promote equality between women and men.” (This exact wording is required by German law to register for non-profit status, otherwise I might have worded it as liberation from patriarchy.)
To contribute content to the wiki or use any of the services offered by the platform, just request an account by filling out the registration form, then log in with the username and password emailed to you. Your username and password are synchronized across the FeministWiki, so just use them to log in to make use of any other FeministWiki services, like file storage, email account, or web forum. Users can set up a blog by contacting me at [email protected].
Although the project is following standard security best-practices to ensure the integrity of user data, it is to be expected that the server of the wiki may be targeted with hacking attempts by motivated anti-feminist activists. Please don’t ever use the FeministWiki for storing or transmitting sensitive personal data. A broken website can always be repaired, but leaked data cannot be unleaked.
I understand there may be trust issues around the fact that the platform is administered by a male. I have sought out women with IT experience who might be interested in replacing me as administrator, but so far I haven’t been able to find anyone with the necessary combination of free time, motivation, and IT expertise. There was a plan to have Spinster LLC take over the project before I founded the non-profit, but it was scrapped due to their lack of spare resources. As a partial remedy, the platform documents in detail how its whole infrastructure is set up, meaning that anyone with systems administration or similar software-related knowledge and skills should be able to set up an equivalent system and even copy over articles from FeministWiki, as they are released under a Creative Commons license.
Enough disclaimers: If you want to register for an account and start adding content to the wiki, there is a comprehensive network of help pages at MediaWiki.org, all of which are applicable to the FeministWiki. The FeministWiki welcome page may also be helpful for newcomers.
Don’t be intimidated by the fact that the project calls itself a wiki. You are welcome to create an account just just to make use of the online file storage or any other feature of the platform. For example, you could upload some of your favorite feminism-related videos or PDFs so you can access them from anywhere. Or you request a blog of your own on the website (setup is easy) and air out your thoughts without having to refine them into a dry, encyclopedic tone more suitable for a wiki.
Taylan Kammer is a Turkish/German software developer who was convinced by radical feminism after reading the works of Andrea Dworkin.