Open collaboration systems like Wikipedia need to maintain a pool of volunteer contributors in order to remain relevant. Wikipedia was created through a tremendous number of contributions by millions of contributors. However, recent research has shown that the number of active contributors in Wikipedia has been declining steadily for years, and suggests that a sharp decline in the retention of newcomers is the cause.
This paper presents data that show that several changes the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face of a massive growth in participation have ironically crippled the very growth they were designed to manage. Specifically, the restrictiveness of the encyclopedia’s primary quality control mechanism and the algorithmic tools used to reject contributions are implicated as key causes of decreased newcomer retention.
Further, the community’s formal mechanisms for norm articulation are shown to have calcified against changes – especially changes proposed by newer editors.
URL : https://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~halfak/publications/The_Rise_and_Decline/halfaker13rise-preprint.pdf
This paper attempts to define Wikipedia in an information literacy context by providing an analysis of learning knowledge and Wikipedia’s structure. The distribution of learning in the digital information age is a core topic for scholarly communication. It is highly relevant to students, citizens and instructors in their roles as users of content and as creators of content.
Even though it appears to be far removed from traditional publishing in the print world, many students, citizens and instructors use digital information tools to share aspects of their works in a way that is defined as publishing. Understanding the difference between information acquisition and learning knowledge are essential in educational settings.
URL : http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4875
Thanks to a vibrant community united by a few core principles, plus detailed policies and safeguards against trolls and vandalism, Wikipedia has already become a piece of the knowledge ecosystem. Like science, its aim is to propose a synthesis of existing knowledge and conflicting interpretations of reality. It also changes the way people interact with knowledge thanks to its extensive use of hyperlinks, portals, and categories.
As a consequence, I suggest academics contribute to articles in their field. They could also use Wikipedia as a course assignment and make sure that the topics related to their discipline are fairly presented in this encyclopedia.
URL : Wikipedia and the ecosystem of knowledge
Alternative location : http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/view/201
Wikipedia has quickly become one of the most frequently accessed encyclopedic references, despite the ease with which content can be changed and the potential for ‘edit wars’ surrounding controversial topics. Little is known about how this potential for controversy affects the accuracy and stability of information on scientific topics, especially those with associated political controversy. Here we present an analysis of the Wikipedia edit histories for seven scientific articles and show that topics we consider politically but not scientifically “controversial” (such as evolution and global warming) experience more frequent edits with more words changed per day than pages we consider “noncontroversial” (such as the standard model in physics or heliocentrism).
For example, over the period we analyzed, the global warming page was edited on average (geometric mean ±SD) 1.9±2.7 times resulting in 110.9±10.3 words changed per day, while the standard model in physics was only edited 0.2±1.4 times resulting in 9.4±5.0 words changed per day. The high rate of change observed in these pages makes it difficult for experts to monitor accuracy and contribute time-consuming corrections, to the possible detriment of scientific accuracy. As our society turns to Wikipedia as a primary source of scientific information, it is vital we read it critically and with the understanding that the content is dynamic and vulnerable to vandalism and other shenanigans.
URL : Content Volatility of Scientific Topics in Wikipedia: A Cautionary Tale
DOI : 10.1371/journal.pone.0134454
Authors : Misha Teplitskiy, Grace Lu, Eamon Duede
With the rise of Wikipedia as a first-stop source for scientific knowledge, it is important to compare its representation of that knowledge to that of the academic literature. This article approaches such a comparison through academic references made within the worlds 50 largest Wikipedias.
Previous studies have raised concerns that Wikipedia editors may simply use the most easily accessible academic sources rather than sources of the highest academic status. We test this claim by identifying the 250 most heavily used journals in each of 26 research fields (4,721 journals, 19.4M articles in total) indexed by the Scopus database, and modeling whether topic, academic status, and accessibility make articles from these journals more or less likely to be referenced on Wikipedia.
We find that, controlling for field and impact factor, the odds that an open access journal is referenced on the English Wikipedia are 47% higher compared to closed access journals. Moreover, in most of the worlds Wikipedias a journals high status (impact factor) and accessibility (open access policy) both greatly increase the probability of referencing.
Among the implications of this study is that the chief effect of open access policies may be to significantly amplify the diffusion of science, through an intermediary like Wikipedia, to a broad public audience.
URL : Amplifying the Impact of Open Access: Wikipedia and the Diffusion of Science
Alternative location : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asi.23687/full
« This paper investigates how knowledge is constructed collaboratively in a crowd-sourced environment. More specifically, the study presented in this paper empirically analyzes online discussions in regard to Wikipedia entries on the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster that occurred in March 2011 in Japan. For this study, we examined the encyclopedia articles in both the English and Japanese versions of Wikipedia. The findings indicate similarities and differences between the two language versions. The implications of the study for collaborative knowledge production are also discussed. »
URL : http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i6.5869
« What is the value of works in the public domain? We study the biographical Wikipedia pages of a large data set of authors, composers, and lyricists to determine whether the public domain status of available images leads to a higher rate of inclusion of illustrated supplementary material and whether such inclusion increases visitorship to individual pages. We attempt to objectively place a value on the body of public domain photographs and illustrations which are used in this global resource. We find that the most historically remote subjects are more likely to have images on their web pages because their biographical life-spans pre-date the existence of in-copyright imagery. We find that the large majority of photos and illustrations used on subject pages were obtained from the public domain, and we estimate their value in terms of costs saved to Wikipedia page builders and in terms of increased traffic corresponding to the inclusion of an image. Then, extrapolating from the characteristics of a random sample of a further 300 Wikipedia pages, we estimate a total value of public domain photographs on Wikipedia of between $246 to $270 million dollars per year. »
URL : http://ssrn.com/abstract=2560572