[p2p-research] Who Writes Wikipedia? (blog post by Aaron Swartz)
Paul D. Fernhout
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 21 03:57:49 CET 2009
From someone (Aaron Swartz) who ran an analysis on Wikipedia contributions
in 2006, and found results different than Jimmy Wales suggested:
"Who Writes Wikipedia? (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)"
When you put it all together, the story become clear: an outsider makes one
edit to add a chunk of information, then insiders make several edits
tweaking and reformatting it. In addition, insiders rack up thousands of
edits doing things like changing the name of a category across the entire
site — the kind of thing only insiders deeply care about. As a result,
insiders account for the vast majority of the edits. But it’s the outsiders
who provide nearly all of the content. ...
Wales is right about one thing, though. This fact does have enormous
policy implications. If Wikipedia is written by occasional contributors,
then growing it requires making it easier and more rewarding to contribute
occasionally. Instead of trying to squeeze more work out of those who spend
their life on Wikipedia, we need to broaden the base of those who contribute
just a little bit.
Unfortunately, precisely because such people are only occasional
contributors, their opinions aren’t heard by the current Wikipedia process.
They don’t get involved in policy debates, they don’t go to meetups, and
they don’t hang out with Jimbo Wales. And so things that might help them get
pushed on the backburner, assuming they’re even proposed.
Out of sight is out of mind, so it’s a short hop to thinking these
invisible people aren’t particularly important. Thus Wales’s belief that 500
people wrote half an encyclopedia. Thus his assumption that outsiders
contribute mostly vandalism and nonsense. And thus the comments you
sometimes hear that making it hard to edit the site might be a good thing.
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