Sarah Stierch

Hi! I'm a writer, photographer and open culture advocate based in Sonoma, California. I also serve as Research Director and partner of Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting


I have been editing Wikipedia for over 14 years. I am the former Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution and Library of Congress and former Susan B. Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. My efforts to encourage more women to edit Wikipedia and cultural institutions to partner with Wikimedia has been featured in Smithsonian, Slate, the Atlantic, East Bay Express, the Daily Dot, The Mary Sue, Tech Republic, Linux Magazine and on KCRW, National Public Radio, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I have been named an Ada Lovelace Day Hero by the Ada Initiative for my efforts.


As a photographer, I shoot historic sites, auto racing, and food/beverage. My photography has been published by WAMU, California State Parks, ROAR, Washington Post, Utne Reader, NBA, Motorburn, Red Bull, Nature World News, Buzzfeed, Christian Post, KNPR, Thrillist, Frommers, Lonely Planet, Financial Observer, Hilton, PETA, Joie de Vivre Hotels, the National Park Service, and more. I am a passionate advocate for Creative Commons and all of my photography has been released under a CC license. 


I am a contributor to Sonoma Magazine, North Bay Voyager (on hold), Sonoma Index-Tribune, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, North Bay Woman, NorthBay Biz, Huffington Post, KQED, North Bay Business Journal, Nuvo Newsweekly, Sonoma Valley Sun, and the Bohemian. I reported extensively during the 2017 North Bay Fires. My work, which was featured on KQED, is credited with changing the way media outlets report on natural disasters in our region. I continue to report on natural disasters and local emergencies.


I earned my bachelor's degree in Native American Studies from Indiana University and my master's degree in Museum Studies from George Washington University.

Wiki editors boost entries on female scientists to mark Ada Lovelace Day

For five years now, fans of female scientists have set aside the date of Oct. 15th to recognize their accomplishments, naming the effort after the remarkable Ada Lovelace, a 19th century woman who began her life as the only child of the poet Lord Byron with his wife. Lovelace then went on to write the first algorithm intended to be used by a machine, rendering her, in effect, the world's first computer programmer. The early years of celebrating Lovelace and other women saw requests for people ar

PG&E outage: Spotty cell service in Sonoma, Marin counties

Sarah Stierch could barely get AT&T cell service on the westside of Sonoma after PG&E cut power during Wednesday’s early hours — but she could get a White Claw spiked seltzer at the still-lit Whole Foods, she tweeted ironically. “AT&T has been very weak all day on the east side of town and downtown,” another Sonoma resident Nina Sheridan said in a message. She had no service at her house Wednesday morning, where she said it’s never great. But even downtown where service is usually stronger, her

Sonoma developers face local backlash over LGBTQ views

A husband-and-wife team of developers faced mounting backlash in Sonoma this week after a series of anti-gay online posts made by the wife went viral this month. Stacy Mattson who, together with her husband Ken, has spent $80 million the past three years purchasing 26 properties throughout Sonoma Valley, made the controversial comments on her then-public Facebook page. In one post, she described herself as “disgusted” by the 2013 Rose Bowl Parade being “high-jacked by the gay agenda,” adding th

Update: The Fremont Diner Has Officially Closed

Employees of the Fremont Diner — a mandatory stop for tourists on the way to and from wine country — write on Facebook that they’re suddenly looking for work: The restaurant is rumored to have closed according to locals, though the circumstances are unclear. Calls and emails to the business have gone unanswered, and Eater SF has reached out to employees and neighbors for confirmation and further details. Update, 10 p.m. Wednesday: In an Instagram post this evening, the roadside haunt confirms

Weeks after wildfires, California wine country is ‘as beautiful as ever’ — and hurting for visitors

Northern California wine country wants you to know: It is open for business. Last month’s wildfires across Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Solano counties sparked countless headlines about wine country burning. Dramatic photos of the winery at Signorello Vineyards engulfed in flames fed fears that venerable wineries along Napa’s Silverado Trail or nearby Atlas Peak, where the conflagration started, were also destroyed. Alarmist headlines spelled the ruin of the 2017 vintage and predicted pric

Vineyard owners share stories of loss and salvation amid wine country wildfires

“I just really wish we knew our fate,” wrote Carole Meredith in a recent Facebook post as she waited out her evacuation from her winery and home on Mt. Veeder. Meredith, of Lagier Meredith vineyard in the Napa Valley, is one of the many affected by the multiple wildfires burning in Northern California. For most, the mantra has been watch and wait, looking anxiously at ridgelines, at puffs and plumes in the distance, hoping not to hear the loudspeaker announcing evacuation, hoping that the winds

Guy Fieri Brings TV Crew, Mobile BBQ Unit to Aid in Fire Relief Effort [Updated]

TV game show host, flame shirt apologist and Santa Rosa native son Guy Fieri has arrived in fire-ravaged Sonoma County today. As local journalists Sarah Stierch and Heather Irwin reported on Twitter this morning, Fieri’s team was spotted setting up shop in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, with a CBS TV crew and a mobile BBQ unit in tow. While it’s currently unclear what Fieri’s relief efforts entail, the sight of crews setting up chafing dishes in the parking lot

Wikipedia's Hostility to Women

Then, in January 2015, Lightbreather proposed a women-only space on Wikipedia for female editors to support each other and discuss the specific barriers they face online. The proposal was part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Inspire Campaign, launched to fund projects aimed at closing the site’s gender gap—but users took to the “oppose” section of proposal’s discussion page to promise to “fight this to the death.” “It’s just incredible how much hatred was spewing out of these guys. … When you hav

The ‘Five Horsemen’ Of Wikipedia Paid The Price For Getting Between Trolls And Their Victims

Late last summer, the internet was suddenly abuzz with the controversy known as Gamergate. The crux of the heated public debate was sexism in video game culture, but it quickly spiraled into dangerous territory. While the public was being inundated with news and Twitter wars and stories of women being harassed, a subsequent storm was brewing in plain sight on one of the world’s most popular websites. Disturbing content was being plastered on the Wikipedia biography pages for female game develop

Wikipedia: Grenzenlose Exklusion?

„Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.“ Diese freundliche Begrüßung findet sich auf der Startseite der englischen Wikipedia. Ganz ähnlich die Vision auf der Seite der gemeinnützigen Wikimedia Foundation, der Organisation hinter der Wikipedia: „Imagine a World in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.“ Beide Sätze stehen für digitale Inklusionsutopien. Jede/r – „anyone“ – soll die Möglichkeit haben, in der Wikipedia am Weltwissen

Sarah Stierch Emerges as Wikipedia’s ‘Go-To Woman’

(WOMENSENEWS)–With as few as 13 percent of its English-speaking editors/contributors being female, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia is reeling under the latest charges of sexism. Some of the site’s repair and recovery on this issue could fall to 32-year-old Sarah Stierch, a Wikipedia editor, “open culture” enthusiast and former deejay from Oakland, Calif., who is emerging as the go-to person for gender-related issues. “She is a central figure in the community of volunteer editors on the issue

Yes, Wikipedia Is Sexist -- That's Why It Needs You

In a New York Times op-ed, writer Amanda Filipacchi shared her discovery that sexism on Wikipedia is intrusively shaping how women are represented, and in this case, how women are sometimes categorized as a special subset within a broader occupation. [Disclaimer: one of the services my agency offers is teaching webinars and workshops on the principles of Wikipedia editing.] While the veracity of this claim is being debated and questioned within the Wikipedia community (many are pointing out that

What has Wikipedia’s army of volunteer editors got against Kate

There are more than four million articles in English on Wikipedia, not to mention the entries in 27-odd other languages. In spite of its almost infinite reach, however, the site's conscientious volunteer editors still argue over the inclusion of certain topics. Before last year's Royal Wedding was even over, for instance, there was already an article on Wikipedia about Kate Middleton's wedding dress. There was also a debate raging on the accompanying "article for deletion" page about whether it

How Many Women Does It Take to Change Wikipedia?

Sarah Stierch, the Smithsonian Archives’ new Wikipedian-in-Residence, freely admits there are some drawbacks to crowd-sourcing an encyclopedia. “When you have the world writing the world’s history, you’re going to have: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, General Custer, John F. Kennedy, maybe Jackie O,” she says. “And then you’re going to have ‘Seinfeld,’ Justin Bieber, The Hunger Games, and Lady Gaga. The end. That’s the history of the world.” Since Wikipedia’s birth in 2001, the non-profit

Women Can Do Science Too; Wikipedia 'Bout to Find Out

A volunteer at the Smithsonian Archives has made it her mission to put female scientists back where they belong: the kitchen. Just kidding — she's putting them back in annals of history, via Wikipedia. As Adrian Chen noted last year, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has spoken publicly of the need for female writers to opine on subjects dumb boys don't know no nothin' about: issues surrounding early childcare, famous women other than Angelina Jolie, and other miscellaneous lady business. A survey
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