Only 12pc of delegates for Wikimania conference in Hong Kong are women

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 July, 2013, 6:00am

It seems that internet geekdom is still very much a male thing.

Volunteers from around the world who put together the biggest and most used encyclopedia - Wikipedia - will converge on Hong Kong next month for the ninth global Wikimania conference - but most of them will be men.

Only 12 per cent of the delegates signed up for the conference at Polytechnic University from August 7 to 11 are female.

"When you look at the library and museum industry, they are very female-heavy. Wikipedia is very similar to them, it's about information management but only 20 per cent of the contributors are females," said Hong Kong chapter member Deryck Chan Yick-kiu.

To balance the geek-male bias, a speed-dating programme called Wiki Speed Geeking will take place during conference lunch breaks. There will also be a WikiWomen's lunch to address the gender issue in cyberspace.

The conference will feature a keynote address by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and a full test run of Wikipedia's new editorial technology - the Visual Editor - which should make it much easier for people to edit entries in the giant internet encyclopedia, which now has 30 million articles in 286 languages.

It aims to attract non-computer-savvy volunteers to contribute, and halt a declining growth in new contributors.

Although there are hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia users in Hong Kong, only 100 users are regular contributors, according to organisers.

Polytechnic University Associate Professor Gino Yu said "Wiki in Asia" would be a major topic for discussion.

At present, there are 690,000 items listed in Wikipedia Chinese, but that ranks last among the major languages.

Eight young men in their 20s form the core of the Hong Kong organising team. "None of us have a full-time job. We have all been volunteers since 2006," said Jeromy-Yu Chan, 26, Wikimania 2013 co-ordinator-in-chief.