• The BBC's media cafe was bustling with Wikipedia editors taking part in the event. (BBC/Talia Franco /Twitter)Source: BBC/Talia Franco /Twitter
Ever heard of Helen Nibouar? Neither had Wikipedia.
By
Ben Winsor

13 Dec 2016 - 12:54 PM  UPDATED 13 Dec 2016 - 12:55 PM

In 2013, the BBC launched its first 100 Women campaign, a cross-platform series of stories cataloguing the achievements of 100 women around the world.

The BBC World Service – which runs a global network of radio stations in 29 languages – had received feedback from female listeners requesting more coverage of women and women’s issues.

It was a request that resonated with women in the BBC newsroom, and so 100 Women was born.

But this year BBC editor, Fiona Crack - one of the original organisers of the first campaign - decided to leave a more permanent mark at the end of the series.

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Partnering with Wikipedia – the world’s 7th most popular website – the BBC hosted an ‘edit-a-thon’ to boost the profiles of women around the world.

“We’re adding women who don’t currently appear on Wikipedia, to Wikipedia,” Crack said.

“We’re hoping for new pages, new edits, added photos, better citations, longer articles and more women editing in more languages."

According to the BBC, just 17 per cent of notable profiles on Wikipedia are women – perhaps reflective of the fact that just 15 per cent of people who contribute to Wikipedia editing are women.

The 12-hour world-wide edit-a-thon - held last weekend - saw more than 400 pages created or added to Wikipedia in a whole range of languages.

New profiles in Wikipedia included Helen Nibouar, an influential code-breaker in World War II; Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên, a record-holding Vietnamese Olympian; and Hande Kader, a murdered Turkish trans activist who’s profile had never been written in her own language before.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, joined the BBC for the event.

"It’s really important that we get more women involved in editing Wikipedia," Wales said.

The event wasn’t trouble-free, however.

In Turkey, a BBC reporter received complaints about 're-editing history' from a male Wikipedia editor.

“He complained about each of our entries by saying they are not 'notable' despite the fact that some others appeared in other languages before Turkish,” reporter Rengin Arslan said.

“Wikipedia's Turkey team helped us to sort out this problem and he was suspended of being an editor for six months."

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One female journalist was harassed with obscene images sent to her Wiki account.

But those events weren't entirely surprising for organisers.

"The internet can be a negative place for women," Crack said before the event kicked off, "instances of revenge porn and trolling are much higher for women".

Ultimately though, the BBC hailed the event a success.

“It's been a great day that has seen lots of fascinating women being added to the world's best known online encyclopaedia,” organisers said.

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