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. http://csdl2.computer.org/comp/proceedings/hicss/2005/2268/04/22680099a.pdf. 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. http://wikisource.org/wiki/A_small_scale_study_of_Wikipedia. 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 "Community Rules"

Category "Conference Proceedings"

Category "Peer Production"

Category "Wikipedia"

July 7, 2005

Wikipedia as a learning community: content, conflict, and the ‘common good’

Lawler, Cormac. “Wikipedia as a learning community: content, conflict, and the ‘common good.’” Proceedings of Wikimania 2005. 4-8 Aug. 2005. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikimania05/Paper-CL1#Conclusions. 8 July 2005.

Lawler examines Wikipedia’s potential as a learning community, arguing that the project’s “organization, structure, and modus operandi [are] a learning process.” Theory concerning learning communities and communities of practice provides the framework.

Wikipedia fits the criteria set forth in previous studies of learning communities:

Such communities negotiate production through conflict, which the author views as the main potential for learning because it necessitates perspective-taking. During the process of conflict negotiation, contributors are forced to consider each other’s cultural backgrounds and attendant viewpoints, as the included case study demonstrates. (French, American, and Canadian contributors engage in conflict over perceived bias in the study.) Finally, involvement in Wikipedia demands the development and/or exercise of critical thinking abilities.

Posted by kenne329 at 4:02 PM | Community Rules | Conference Proceedings | Peer Production | Wikipedia

Category "Authorship"

Category "Community Rules"

Category "Conference Proceedings"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 30, 2005

Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations

Viégas, Fernanda B., Martin Wattenberg, and Kushal Dave. “Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations.” CHI 2004. 24-29 April 2004. http://web.media.mit.edu/~fviegas/papers/history_flow.pdf. 30 June 2005.

The authors developed a tool for creating a visual record of multiple document versions in wikis. The goal of this tool is “to make broad trends in revision histories immediately visible, while preserving details for closer examination” (577). Wikipedia served as their research site. The visual maps produced remarkable indications of cooperation and conflict as content was negotiated and vandalism occurred and was fixed.

Results were presented in two versions: with revisions equally spaced, and with revisions spaced according to date. When the space-by-date protocol was used, instances of vandalism virtually disappeared from the record because they were repaired so quickly (often within 2-3 minutes). Five common types of vandalism were identified:

  1. Mass deletion: deletion of all contents on a page
  2. Offensive copy: insertion of vulgarities or slurs
  3. Phony copy: insertion of text unrelated to the page topic
  4. Phony redirection: often pages contain only a redirect link to a more precise term (e.g. “IBM” redirects to “International Business Machines”), but redirects can also be malicious, linking to an unrelated to offensive term.
  5. Idiosyncratic copy: adding text that is related to the topic of the page but which is clearly one-sided, not of general interest or inflammatory; these may be long pieces of text (578-579).

The article also briefly discusses authorship within Wikipedia, noting the usual issues. They discuss familiarity among Wikipedians working on the same pages, and point to inconsistencies between pages regarding anonymous user contribution. (Some have heavy anonymous contribution, some not.) There seems to be no clear connection between anonymity and vandalism. Interestingly, the first version posted of a page seems to remain more intact than sequential edits, a phenomenon the authors term first-mover advantage (580).

Problems were encountered in attempts to measure the stability of Wikipedia pages because of the amount of time needed to develop and run a fine-grained differencing algorithm on all page versions and the fact that, when the research was done in 2003, Wikipedia was very new (581). Researchers therefore “focused on size change as a simple measure of change in content.” Little evidence for stability existed, and many pages with more than 100 versions demonstrated steady growth.

Three possible reasons for Wikipedia’s success were posited as a result of the study:

  1. watchlists, which are unique to Wikipedia, “provide a mechanism for community surveillance,” and may be responsible for the rapid repair of vandlism.
  2. Backchannels (talk pages, list servs) remove meta conversations from the main content.
  3. The Neutral Point of View (NPOV) policy provides “both common ground and rough guidelines” for dispute resolution.
While these reasons seem quite evident now, two years ago they were not. Time has proven them correct.

Posted by kenne329 at 4:03 PM | Authorship | Community Rules | Conference Proceedings | Wikipedia

Category "Community Rules"

Category "Journal Articles"

Category "Peer Production"

June 28, 2005

Towards Emancipatory Use of a Medium: The Wiki

Ebersbach, Anja, and Markus Glaser. “Towards Emancipatory Use of a Medium: The Wiki.”. International Journal of Information Ethics. Vol. 2 (Nov. 2004). container.zkm.de/ijie/ijie/ no002/ijie_002_09_ebersbach.pdf. 28 June 2005.

The authors argue that wikis fulfill the original egalitarian intent of the Web as conceived by Berners-Lee. As such, they constitute an emancipatory medium. They base their study on the seven criteria for emanicipatory media set forth in Enzensberger’s 1970 essay “Constituents of a theory of the media”:

  1. decentralized program
  2. each receiver a potential transmitter
  3. mobilization of the masses
  4. collective production
  5. interaction of those involved, feedback
  6. social control by self-organization
  7. a political learning process
Wikis do seem to fulfill each of these criteria. Several subsections are particularly useful. In the section entitled “Collective Production,” the authors point to useful analyses of the collaborative process demonstrated in general wikis, which differ from the Wikipedia process (discussion leading to production and vice versa). “Social Control by Self-Organization” briefly considers relevant IP issues, and the final section, “Political Learning Process” points to the process of perspective-taking that is discussed in more depth in the Reagle essay.

Posted by kenne329 at 11:12 AM | Community Rules | Journal Articles | Peer Production

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). http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_12/ciffolilli/. 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 "Anarchism"

Category "Community Rules"

Category "Conference Proceedings"

Category "Peer Production"

Category "Wikipedia"

June 23, 2005

A Case of Mutual Aid: Wikipedia, Politeness, and Perspective Taking

Reagle, Joseph. “A Case of Mutual Aid: Wikipedia, Politeness, and Perspective Taking.” Proceedings of Wikimania 05. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikimania05/Paper-JR1. 5 July 2005.

Reagle explores facets of mutual aid and interdependent decision making within the context of Wikipedia. (His discussion of mutual aid includes several brief, useful references to Kropotkin and anarchism.) He also focuses on participation as a cooperative endeavor and interdependent decision making.

The author disputes the widely held conception of Wikipedia as a contentious community, noting that Requests for Arbitration (52 archived, 0 active) and Requests for Mediation (74 archived, 8 active) were strikingly low in view of the fact that 13,200 active users and 135,763 registered users were listed at that time. Vandalism is also statistically uncommon. Dispute resolutions are generally civil and follow politeness and negotiation norms. The intersubjectivity and interdependence built into the system often account for this; wikipedia etiquette demands “perspective-taking,” (consideration of an opponent’s perspective) and dialogue.


(Link post from Many 2 Many.)

Posted by kenne329 at 11:26 AM | Anarchism | Community Rules | Conference Proceedings | Peer Production | Wikipedia