Category "Authority"

Category "Community Rules"

Category "Conference Proceedings"

Category "Wikipedia"

July 9, 2005

Collaborative Authoring on the Web: A Genre Analysis of Online Encyclopedias

Emigh, William and Susan Herring. “Collaborative Authoring on the Web: A Genre Analysis of Online Encyclopedias.” Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 8 July 2005.

In order to compare genre conventions of Wikipedia and Everything2, the authors analyzed 15 comparable texts using corpus linguistic methods and factor analysis of word counts for features of formality and informality. These two text sets were compared to related texts from the Wikipedia discussion forum and the Columbia Encyclopedia. The research sought to answer the following questions:

Interestingly, Emigh and Herring suggest that Wikipedia’s consistent tone and format is not a positive feature. Instead, they claim that these elements destroy the diversity of the project and stall the development of alternative communication practices.

Posted by kenne329 at 4:30 PM | Authority | Community Rules | Conference Proceedings | Wikipedia

Category "Anarchism"

Category "Authority"

Category "Authorship"

Category "Community Rules"

Category "Wikipedia"

July 8, 2005

A small scale study of Wikipedia

Lawler, Cormac. “A small scale study of Wikipedia.” Wikisource. 24 Jan. 2005. 8 July 2005.

This small, quantitative, grounded-theory study seeks to examine the motivations and community experiences of Wikipedians. While the study is not representative (11 questionnaires were analyzed; the Wikipedia community is thousands-strong), it does reveal interesting data. It does not provide any information about the demographic makeup of the community, since the author neglected to include questions concerning gender, age, nationality, or professions.

Participants tended to view Wikipedia as very much a community, reporting a sense of ‘welcome,’ consubstantiality, and mutual aid. Consensus and dissensus were reported as vital to the ‘joint end product,’ although consensus was not always seen as a positive attribute; once consensus has been reached, it may seem ‘impossible for an outsider to contribute.’ Still, users reported a general sense of individual satisfaction tied to their roles in the project.

Participants seem to often refer to the process in anarchic terms:

This is interesting in light of the fact that the adminstrators do not see the structure as anarchic, but rather as very loosely governed.

Anonymous contributions were also discussed, and users have mixed opinions about it. A general desire for a way to determine identity was expressed (‘a better way of knowing who’s who’). They also remain concerned about authority and reliability.

Lawler echos boyd and Shirky in calling Wikipedia ‘both a process and a product,’ and concludes that the project is a success in terms of both production and community development.

Posted by kenne329 at 12:06 PM | Anarchism | Authority | Authorship | Community Rules | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Conference Proceedings"

Category "Participatory Journalism"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 29, 2005

Wikipedia as Participatory Journalism: Reliable Sources? Metrics for evaluating collaborative media as a news resource

Lih, Andrew. Wikipedia as Participatory Journalism: Reliable Sources? Metrics for evaluating collaborative media as a news alternative.” 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism. 16-17 April, 2004. 29 June 2005.

Wikipedia background and aspects of participatory journalism are inititially discussed, but most interesting is the fact that Lih develops a quantitative method for analyzing quality in Wikipedia articles. Articles were analyzed according to the average number of edits and number of unique editors, with the assumption that higher numbers of each would indicate a higher-quality article. (Unique editors = diversity, number of edits = rigor.) After benchmarks had been established, media citations of specific Wikipedia articles were tracked. Before being cited, 15% of articles exceeded the benchmark standard. After media citations, 31% did (15-16).

Lih concludes that “there is a linkage between Wikipedia as a ‘working draft of history’ and current news events. ... The tight feedback loop between reading and editing provides for a very quick evolution of encyclopedia knowledge, providing a function that has been missing in the traditional media ecology.” (19).

Posted by kenne329 at 1:46 PM | Authority | Conference Proceedings | Participatory Journalism | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Community Rules"

Category "Journal Articles"

Category "Peer Production"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 24, 2005

Phantom Authority, self-selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia

Ciffolilli, Andrea. “Phantom authority, self-selective recruitment, and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia.” First Monday. 8.12 (Dec. 2003). 24 June 2005.

This article explores team and club theory within the context of production-based communities such as Wikipedia. Krishnamurthy’s idea that large, or “crowded,” communities are a poor fit for production is initially noted. However, the author argues that heterogeneous crowding is a positive feature in such communities, since it allows for variety of talents and skills that will move production forward. The evidence demonstrated in Wikipedia’s successful production rate runs counter to existing club theories concerning crowding. Wikipedia is also remarkable for the self-selection of its participants. Therefore, club theory (which places value on exclusivity) may not be applicable to wiki-like environments.

Ciffolilli also suggests that part of Wikipedia’s success is due to lowering transaction costs for editing and changing information to the point that they are nearly cancelled. These reduced costs allow for full exploitation of community strengths and provide an incentive for participation. Because fixes are so simple, there is more incentive for “creative construction” than “creative destruction” (5). Authority within the community is gained through accumulated reputations, and motivation for participation may also be tied to reputation. A host of other motivations are also posited (6).

Posted by kenne329 at 2:02 PM | Authority | Community Rules | Journal Articles | Peer Production | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Conference Proceedings"

Category "Peer Production"

Category "Trust"

June 21, 2005

Authority Models for Collaborative Authoring

Krowne, Aaron, and Anil Bazaz. “Authority Models for Collaborative Authoring.” HICSS 2004 Proceedings. Jan. 2004. 20 June 2005.

Krowne and Bazaz conducted an empirical study to research which authority model works best in a Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) environment. The CBPP in question was PlanetMath, which is powered by the wiki-like Noosphere interface. They recruited 25 mathematics students and asked them to contribute to the project over a period of six days. Noosphere typically operates with a hybrid authority model that is a combination of the two models researched, and so it was easily altered to offer only one model to users during each three-day section of the study. The two authority models in question are defined as follows:

The exit survey indicated that while “the free-form model is the most productive, the owner-centric model is preferred by users. However, a significant fraction of users depart from a preference for the owner-centric model (about a third), indicating that there is probably a place for supporting the free-form model as well” (IV). The authors suggest that if production (economic reality) is paramount over users feelings, then the free-form model is appropriate for a project (as demonstrated by corporate wikis). In environments where users are not obligated to contribute and thus their feelings are more important, the owner-centric model may be an appropriate default.

They also noted that “swift trust” did not develop over the course of the project. Their hypothesis had supposed it would as participants noted the quality of each others work, but instead production dropped from 30 instances in the first half of the study to 4 in the second half. They posit that since the theory of swift trust was not developed for a commons-based setting, perhaps it does not apply to it.

Posted by kenne329 at 3:02 PM | Authority | Conference Proceedings | Peer Production | Trust

Category "Authority"

Category "Peer Production"

Category "Webzines"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 18, 2005

The FUD-based Encyclopedia

Krowne, Aaron. “The FUD-based Encyclopedia.” Free Software Magazine. March 2005. 16 June 2005.

Krowne responds rather vehemently to McHenry’s “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia,” calling the piece “contradictory, incoherent ... selective, dishonest, and misleading” (1). He also considers Wikipedia within the context of Commons-Based Peer Production.

FUD stands for ‘Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt,’ and Krowne claims that these terms describe oppositional rhetoric directed at open-source and open-access communities. McHenry’s piece is, then, propaganda in this war (1). As a librarian, Krowne endorses Wikipedia and finds it to be a good, solid source (2). He attacks McHenry’s notions about the unreliability of Wikipedia entries, most particularly through the size of McHenry’s sample set: 1 entry out of (at that time) 1 million (3). He also points to McHenry’s complaints about lower-order concerns (spelling, grammar, text flow), which ignore the sheer breadth of Wikipedia’s coverage. Finally, he sweeps aside McHenry’s use of the public restroom metaphor, pointing out that Wikipedia’s revision history is transparent and readily available — quite the opposite of Britannica.

More importantly, Krowne situates Wikipedia within theories of Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP). Working from Benkler’s “Coase’s Penguin,” he proposes the “first two laws of CBPP”:

  1. When positive contributions exceed negative contributions by a sufficient factor in a CBPP project, the project will be successful (5).
  2. Cohesion quality is the quality of the presentation of the concepts in a collaborative component (such as an encyclopedia entry). Assuming the success criterion of Law 1 is met, cohesion quality of a component will overall rise. However, it may temporarily decline. The declines are by small amounts and the rises are by large amounts (5-6).
He also adds a companion corollary:
  1. Laws 1 and 2 explain why cohesion quality of the entire collection (or project) increases over time: the uncoordinated temporary declines in cohesion quality cancel out with small rises in other components, and the less frequent jumps in cohesion quality accumulate to nudge the bulk average upwards. This is without even taking into account coverage quality, which counts any conceptual addition as positive, regardless of the elegance of its integration (6).

Krowne also explores multiple styles of CBPP. The first distinction is based on the idea of an authority model. “The authority model of a CBPP system governs who has permissions to access and modify which artifacts, when, and in what workflow sequence” (7). He outlines two distinct authority models:

Posted by kenne329 at 11:04 AM | Authority | Peer Production | Webzines | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Blog Posts"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 16, 2005

The Authority Debate: A Chronological Link List
The Shirky/boyd Debate

boyd, danah. “Academia and Wikipedia.” Many 2 Many. 4 Jan. 2005. 10 June 2005.

Boyd responds to Shirky with this refutation of Wikipedian authority. She supposes that the Academy does not necessarily dislike Wikipedia, but rather fears it because it is new. She herself does not encourage her students to cite Wikipedia as a source, and notes that her own early, incorrect articles on anthropology have yet to be corrected. However, she is careful to say that she does not dislike Wikipedia, but rather does not consider it equivalent to an encyclopedia. Her primary concern is that students are not experienced enough to know when to trust Wikipedia and when they would be better off with another source. She pushes for a vetted Wikipedia that would be more accountable and authoritative.

Shirky, Clay. “Wikipedia: Me on boyd on Sanger on Wales.” Many 2 Many. 1 Jan. 2005. 14 June 2005.

Shirky states once again that Wikipedia and Britannica are not comparable. The question should instead be, “Under what conditions is Britannica better, and under what conditions is Wikipedia better?“ Wikipedia has the advantage as a real-time information source, as demonstrated by the article on the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake. It also has advantages in the areas of cost, availability, topicality, and breadth of coverage. In all of these ways, it will in fact never be an encyclopedia. Instead, it is something radically different — and “the principle value is in that radical difference.”
Britannica’s innovation was the move to substitute institutional brand for authorship. “This was a huge leap, and one that required a shift in authority, away from the literal (authority derived from a particular author) to authority by proxy (though the entries have authors, the authority is derived from the values of the institution that employs those authors.)” As such, it and Wikipedia are very closely related in nature.

Shirky, Clay. “Wikipedia: The nature of authority, and a LazyWeb request...” Many 2 Many. 6 Jan. 2005. 14 June, 2005.

“Wikipedia is not a product, it is a system,” Shirky says in this second response. This property transforms time into an advantage: while Britannica becomes stale over time, Wikipedia is constantly refreshed. Shirky also explores personal authority (i.e. Mom’s Diner) versus brand authority (McDonald’s). Wikipedia has yet to achieve brand authority, and since all contributions are anonymous it also lacks personal authority. Instead, it has a market of trust in the same way that Ebay does: “the syndication of user attention and the possibility of recourse for bad behavior keeps people generally honest.” Trustworthiness becomes a social fact in such a market. We assume that many pairs of eyes have re/viewed it, and so it (whatever ‘it’ is) becomes worthy of our trust.
The problem, of course, is those Wikipedia pages that have only been edited by one person. Shirky proposes a dashboard trust profile for pages that would show how many times the page had been edited by how many people over how much time. Such a widget would serve as a method of generating trust (or not).

boyd, danah. On a Vetted Wikipedia, Reflexivity and Investment in Quality (a.k.a. more responses to Clay).” Many 2 Many. 8 Jan 2005. 14 June 2005.

Boyd clarifies her position (that Wikipedia is not worse than Britannica, but different) and adds, “If legitimacy requires a definitional change, I’m worried. Why does it have to be an encyclopedia? Why can’t it simply be Wikipedia?” She suggests:

Most interestingly, she points to the value of Wikipedia as open-source brand, with attendant expectations for that brand that are very different from expectations for Britannica.

Shirky, Clay. “Who’s Afraid of Wikipedia?” Many 2 Many. 28 Feb. 2005. 16 June 2005.

Shirky gets his first student paper citing Wikipedia, and says that he would expect a student to cite any sources they gleaned information from. If they learned something from the Wikipedia entry and didn’t cite it, they would be guilty of academic dishonesty. As with any encyclopedia citation, one would look for additional primary-source citations in the bib. That’s that.

boyd, danah. “Situating Wikipedia.” Apophenia. 6 March, 2005. 16 June 2005.

In this final response, boyd clarifies two brief points:

Posted by kenne329 at 2:46 PM | Authority | Blog Posts | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Blog Posts"

Category "Webzines"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 10, 2005

The Authority Debate: A Chronological Link List
Anti-Elitism in Wikipedia


Sanger, Larry. “Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism.“ Kuro5hin. 31 Dec. 2004. 10 June 2005.

Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia and an ex-employee, discusses issues that he feels impede Wikipedia’s current and future success. The root problem, he says, is a policy of anti-elitism, or lack of respect for expertise. He identifies two contributing factors:

This perception, which may or may not mirror reality, results in lack of support from the Academy and the public. Sanger reinforces the claim that Wikipedia's product is uneven, and suggests that this is largely due to anti-elitism. An example he uses is the article posted by two experts that is then “hacked to bits by the hoi polloi” who make later edits to the article without respect to the expertise of the original authors. While the premise of Wikipedia is that errors and gaps will be fixed over time, Sanger suggests that something should be done to “guarantee a reputation for reliability.”Sanger no longer participates in Wikipedia because of the uncollegial atmosphere fostered by policies of tolerance for trolls. He suggests that other experts shun the project because they do not want to deal with rudeness and disrespect. Less tolerance for disruption would create a more welcoming atmosphere that would draw in subject matter experts.

It’s been suggested that Sanger’s opinions are at odds with Wikipedia’s policy of “radical openness.” In his conclusion, Sanger says they are not, and that openess does not require disrespect. He doubts that his suggestions will be implemented at Wikipedia, and supposes that a project fork will eventually occur so that a vetted version of Wikipedia can be developed.


Shirky, Clay. “K5 Article on Wikipedia Anti-Elitism”. Many 2 Many. 3 Jan. 2005. 10 June 2005.

In response to the Sanger piece, Shirky claims that Wikipedia’s anti-elitism is a feature, not a flaw. He responds to Sanger point-by-point:

He ends with the warning that Wikipedia and Britannica are not comparable, but are different things entirely. Wikipedia, as a real-time open application, is capable of things that Britannica is not, and vice versa. In five years, he claims, Wikipedia will be “essential infrastructure.”

(Same-day link post at BoingBoing.)

Posted by kenne329 at 1:54 PM | Authority | Blog Posts | Webzines | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Webzines"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 8, 2005

The Faith-Based Encyclopedia

McHenry, Robert. “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia”. Tech Central Station. 15 Nov. 2004. 8 June 2005.

McHenry, a former editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica, entirely dismisses Wikipedia as an authoritative resource. His primary concerns center around the fact that it is impossible to determine the expertise levels of the contributors or to ensure correction of incorrect articles. He calls the Wikipedian procedure of organic improvement a “unspecified quasi-Darwinian process” that has no hope of ensuring eventual accuracy. In particular, he takes issue with Wikipedia’s policy of encouraging people to post rough drafts for improvement, claiming that this is a disservice to readers who come in search of accurate information. In his review of one article, he points not only to factual errors but also to typos and style errors as well as awkward writing — all of which are prevented through the formal process of encyclopedias such as Britannica.
His concerns are founded in a very traditional view of knowledge production, and his tone is vitriolic — he goes so far as to compare Wikipedia to a public restroom, where it’s not possible to know who used the facilities previously.

Posted by kenne329 at 4:13 PM | Authority | Webzines | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Blog Posts"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 7, 2005

The Authority Debate: A Chronological Link List
Wikipedia Stress Tests

(See also note on Havalais, “The Isuzu Experiment,” in previous entry. It’s filed there instead of here to maintain chronological order.)

Felten, Edward W. “Wikipedia Quality Check.” Freedom to Tinker. 3 Sept. 2004. 7 June 2005.

Felten reviews entries on subjects he knows well: his university, his town, himself, his research areas, and the Microsoft anti-trust case. The entries on Princeton University and Princeton township were accurate, and the entry on him had only an incorrect birth year. He also notes that the articles on his research areas (virtual memory and public-key cryptography) are remarkably accurate, thorough, and contain information that would not normally be found in a traditional encyclopedia. The entry on the Microsoft case was “riddled with errors.”

CmdrTaco. “Wikipedia != Authoritative?” Slashdot. 9 Sept. 2004. 7 June 2005.

Points to similar experiment conducted by Frozen North. Five errors were entered, and five days later they remained uncorrected.

Posted by kenne329 at 3:36 PM | Authority | Blog Posts | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Blog Posts"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 6, 2005

The Authority Debate: A Chronological Link List
Initial Blog Responses


Doctorow, Cory. “Journalist: Wikipedia is ‘outrageous,’ ‘repugnant,’ and ‘dangerous’.” BoingBoing. 28 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

News of the debate moves to the blogosphere with this post to BoingBoing. It contains a summary of the Fasoldt/Technodirt debate, but does not go further.

Ito, Joi. “Wikipedia Attacked by Ignorant Reporter.” Joi Ito’s Web. 8/29/04 (JST). 6 June 2005.

Ito provides the usual summary, and then provides support through references to the authorityWikipedians earn through participation:

Tradition[al] authority is gained through a combination of talent, hard work and politics. Wikipedia and many open source projects gain their authority through the collective scrutiny of thousands of people. Although it depends a bit on the field, the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived.

He also referenced the Gillmor article and the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica prize awarded to Wikipedia that year.

Powers, Shelley. “Truth and Authority”. Burningbird. 28 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

The popular Burningbird also notes the previous posts. Most interestingly, she points to another article by Fasoldt writted under the pseudonym Dr. Gizmo, in which he defends Wikipedia. (No link available.) She then turns to a short discussion of truth v. authority, noting that both are relative at best. She pronounces Wikipedia a good source, but not the good source.

Mayfield, Ross. “Wikipedia Reputation and the Wemedia Project.”. Corante: Many 2 Many. 29 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

Mayfield specifically tags Wikipedia as “collaborative editing”, and further notes that “Coupling emergent content development and formal editorial process is a very competitive business model for print. But if the public learns to use and trust the content that emerges in Wikipedia as an authority, it is even more disruptive.” He then traces the previous discussion from Fasoldt through Powers and briefly wonders if codifying reputation will constrain production within the Wikipedia community.

Havalais, Alex. “The Isuzu Experiment.” Alex Havalais, a thaumaturgical compendium. 29 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

Havalais details his experiment to determine the self-correcting potential of Wikipedia by entering incorrect information on 13 pages and seeing how long it takes to be corrected. He planned to give the experiment two weeks, but all changes were found and fixed within hours. (See also Wikipedia proves its amazing self-healing powers, BoingBoing 8/30.)

Brooke, Collin. “Better to be ignored?” Collin vs. Blog. 29 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

Brooke points to a false binary in Fasoldt’s arguments: “Authority/trustworthiness/reputation/credibility is something that pre-exists the research.” Credibility is demonstrated through rigor as well as scholarly conflict and resolution, not through citing ‘authoritative’ sources. Wikipedia’s advantage is that this scholarly back-and-forth is visible to the public through the article histories, allowing researchers to make individual decisions concerning authority. He further suggests teaching critical thinking by assigning students to research the validity of Wikipedia posts and, if they find information missing, to contribute it themselves.

Posted by kenne329 at 12:09 PM | Authority | Blog Posts | Wikipedia

Category "Authority"

Category "Popular Press"

Category "Wikipedia"

The Authority Debate: A Chronological Link List
Initial Press Volleys

Fasoldt, Al. “Wikipedia is a free-for-all ‘encyclopedia’ that allows anyone to change the content. Is that OK?” Technofile. 25 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

In this column for Central New York’s Around Town news site (sponsored by Channel 10), Fasoldt warned that Wikipedia is untrustworthy and that educators should not allow students to cite it. He quoted a local high school librarian as saying that Wikipedia is not an authoritative resource, a remark the librarian later denied. The column was widely disparaged in the blogosphere, and the current page for the article includes a notation that the author received dozens of letters on the issue, “most of them deploring his stand.”

Mike. “Misunderstanding Wikipedia”. Techdirt. 25 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

In this one-paragraph response to Fasoldt’s piece, the author contends that concerns regarding Wikipedia’s “lack of editorial review” demonstrate a lack of understanding of what Wikipedia is or the process that drives it.

Mike. “Who Do You Trust, the Wiki or the Reporter?” Techdirt. 25 Aug. 2004. 6 June 2005.

Details the author’s correspondance with Fasoldt. Its primary intent is retaliation, but it does extend the argument that Wikipedia is a self-correcting community.

Posted by kenne329 at 11:39 AM | Authority | Popular Press | Wikipedia