Wikipedia community

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wikipedia community is the group of people who edit and volunteer their time to build Wikipedia[1] and to select what content in Wikipedia is best representative of the project's work.[2] Prominent Wikipedians, as they are known, have commented on the importance of the communal aspects of the project and emphasized it as a major reason to help the project.[3] Members of the community have a variety of incentives to participate. One study attempts to prove that a major incentive to contribute is the resulting prestige and respect within the community;[4] although many Wikipedians contribute through pseudonyms, this prestige may not translate into a person's actual identity.[4]

The community has certain guidelines and taboos that have evolved since its conception. For example, notable members of the community editing their own articles,[5] is generally frowned upon and is considered "poor taste."[6][7]

Jimmy Wales, a co-founder[8] of Wikipedia, has described the Wikipedia editors as "The Community," and expanded by saying, "Everywhere I go it's about more or less the same: about 80 percent male, geeky. The geeky smart people."[9] Larry Sanger, who is the founder[10] of Citizendium[11] and a co-founder[12] of Wikipedia,[13] wrote in part in regard to Wikipedia's oft-cited problems,[14] that "this arguably dysfunctional community is extremely off-putting to … academics" and as such appears "committed to amateurism."[15] The project's preference for consensus over credentials has been labelled as "anti-elitism".[16]


[edit] Open source publishing

According to Wikipedia staff, the community works to keep the encyclopedia's articles neutral in tone.[17] The Wikipedia community also polices itself and the articles in the encyclopedia,[18] while identifying problems and factual errors.[19] According to Jimmy Wales, the community of the encyclopedia is built on trust, and regular members of the community would not insert disinformation, such as the falsely reported death of actor Sinbad in March 2007.[20][21] From the community, editors can be promoted to administrative system operator status by a community review by their peers, via a "Requests for adminship" process.[22] The New York Times stated that the community has a power structure, where the volunteer administrators have the authority to practice editorial control, delete articles that fail suitability requirements, and protect others against vandalism.[22]

Wikipedia relies on the efforts of its community members to remove vandalism to articles. According to Theresa Knott, a Wikipedian, "Vandalism would be difficult to police if there were more vandals, but the ratio of vandal editors to non-vandals is too low."[23] Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia where anyone can edit and is built on consensus of the community.[4] New contributors are called newbies[24] and editors, for the most part, with their real-life identity, remain anonymous.[25] The New York Times was also quoted as saying, "[Wikipedia] is not the experiment in freewheeling collective creativity it might seem to be, because maintaining so much openness inevitably involves some's an online community that has built itself a bureaucracy of sorts — one that, in response to well-publicised problems with some entries, has recently grown more elaborate."[22]

The community has certain policies and guidelines for Wikipedians to read and adhere to when publishing and editing content.[26][27]

[edit] International

Wikipedia began as an English language project, and now has expanded its development into multilingual content and translations. This includes the German, Japanese, Chinese and French editions of Wikipedia in which international members of the community are contributing their knowledge wherein.[28] For example, an informal group of Chinese volunteers are collaborating to establish an internet encyclopedia named Chinese Wikipedia to create a free source of information for Chinese surfers on the web.[29][30][31][32] The Wikipedia community of the German Wikipedia, second largest only to the English Wikipedia, have plans on a new experimental approach that could help protect pages from trolling and improve the quality of articles. The idea is for edits to be delayed for a period of time before they become visible in the live page articles. In the past, Wales proposed a "Wikipedia 1.0" which the central article versions would be static and free from vandalism, similar to the direction of the German community experiments.[33]

[edit] Recognition

The communal aspect of Wikipedia was recognized in 2004 by the Webby Award for the "community" category,[34] and recognized along with YouTube, MySpace and other user generated content sites by Time Magazine in declaring their 2006 Time Person of the Year to be "You".[35]

[edit] Trivia

Every year, on or around April Fools' Day, the Wikipedia community prepares itself for the massive vandalism that is expected to take place because of the day's celebrations.[36]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Terdiman, Daniel. "Wikipedia Faces Growing Painsdate", Wired News, January 1, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “Since its birth in 2001, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia from the Wikimedia Foundation, has grown to include more than 1.1 million entries. The English-language version alone has nearly 444,000 entries, all written for no compensation by members of the Wikipedia community.— Daniel Terdiman.
  2. ^ Pincock, Stephen. "Best Wikipedia pages edited over and over", News in Science, ABC Science Online, March 7, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  3. ^ Kleeman, Jenny. "You couldn’t make it up", TimesOnline, March 2, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Bruckman, Amy. "Why Do People Write For Wikipedia? Incentives To Contribute To Open Source Publishing.". Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  5. ^ Wales, Jimbo. "Jimmy Wales - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia", Wikipedia, Revision as of 22:38, December 1, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  6. ^ Hansen, Evan. "Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio", Wired News, December 19, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “People shouldn't do it, including me," he said. "I wish I hadn't done it. It's in poor taste....
  7. ^ Musante, Kenneth. "The Outlaw Jimmy Wales: Discovering the Man Behind the Monolith That is Wikipedia", Adotas, February 21, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “Few websites can claim to have changed the way that people find information like Wikipedia.— Kenneth Musante.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Dan. "Insider Editing at Wikipedia", The New York Times, December 24, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  9. ^ "Wikipedia: Getting to Truth by 'Community'", ABC News, September 12, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. Jimbo said it is "the Community" who decides whether something is right or not.
  10. ^ Bergstein, Brian. "Citizendium aims to be better Wikipedia", USA Today, March 25, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “This week, Sanger takes the wraps off a Wikipedia alternative, Citizendium. His goal is to capture Wikipedia's bustle but this time, avoid the vandalism and inconsistency that are its pitfalls.” — Brian Bergstein.
  11. ^ Bergstein, Brian. "Sanger says he co-started Wikipedia", Associated Press, March 25, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “The nascent Web encyclopedia Citizendium springs from Larry Sanger, a philosophy Ph.D. who counts himself as a co-founder of Wikipedia, the site he now hopes to usurp. The claim doesn't seem particularly controversial - Sanger has long been cited as a co-founder. Yet the other founder, Jimmy Wales, isn't happy about it.” — Brian Bergstein.
  12. ^ Mehegan, David. "Bias, sabotage haunt Wikipedia's free world", Business, The Boston Globe, February 12, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  13. ^ Lyman, Jay. "Wikipedia Co-Founder Planning New Expert-Authored Site", Linux Insider, September 20, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  14. ^ Helm, Burt. "Wikipedia: "A Work in Progress"", BusinessWeek, March 14, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “The encyclopedia is designed to be self-policing, allowing the public to weigh in and correct inaccuracies.— Burt Helm.
  15. ^ Sanger, Larry. "Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge (longer version)", Citizendium. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “We may take Wikipedia as an early prototype of the application of open source hacker principles to content rather than code. I want to argue that it is just that, an early prototype, rather than a mature model of how such principles should be applied to reference, scholarly, and educational content.— Larry Sanger.
  16. ^ Sanger, Larry. "Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism", Kuro5hin, December 31, 2004. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  17. ^ Claburn, Thomas. "Wikipedia Becomes Intelligence Tool And Target For Jihadists", Information Week. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  18. ^ Ochman, B.L.. "Wikipedia's Not the Net Police", BusinessWeek, March 22, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  19. ^ "Wikipedia Falsely Reports Sinbad's Death", Associated Press, March 16, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  20. ^ "10 Questions: Jimmy Wales", Time Magazine, March 21, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “The key is to look at the quality of articles. The quality of Wikipedia today compared with three years ago is a dramatic improvement. But people do need to be aware of how it is created and edited so they can treat it with the appropriate caution.— Jimmy Wales.
  21. ^ "10 More Questions with Jimmy Wales", Time Magazine, March 23, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  22. ^ a b c Corner, Stuart. "What's all the fuss about Wikipedia?", iT Wire, June 18, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  23. ^ Kleeman, Jenny. "Wiki wars", The Observer, March 25, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  24. ^ Kleinz, Torsten. "World of Kowledge", The Wikipedia Project, Linux Magazine, February, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  25. ^ Schiff, Stacy. "Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?", Know It All, The New Yorker, July 24, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  26. ^ Nair, Anand. "The success of Wikipedia", Chilli Breeze. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that is free and immensely "searchable". The most amazing fact about Wikipedia is that it is "open". Anyone on the Internet can contribute articles to this on any subject. And any one can "edit" existing articles! What is more, the changes you make become immediately visible to the rest of the world!— Anand Nair.
  27. ^ "How and Why Wikipedia Works: An Interview with Angela Beesley, Elisabeth Bauer, and Kizu Naoko", Dirk Riehle. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  28. ^ Lih, Andrew. "Wikipedia and the rise of participatory journalism", Reuters, October 20, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  29. ^ Lemon, Sumner. "Chinese Build Free Net Encyclopedia", PC World, May 31, 2004. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  30. ^ Cohen, Noam. "Beijing lifts ban on English-language version of Wikipedia", International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, October 16, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  31. ^ Cohen, Noam. "China Lifts Wikipedia Ban, but Some Topics Remain Blocked", Technology, The New York Times, November 16, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  32. ^ "China loosens grip on Wikipedia", Australian IT, Reuters, October 20, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  33. ^ Terdiman, Daniel. "Can German engineering fix Wikipedia?", CNET News, ZDNet, August 23, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “As always, anyone will be able to make article edits. But it would take someone who has been around Wikipedia for some yet-to-be-determined period of time--and who, therefore, has passed a threshold of trustworthiness--to make the edits live on the public site. If someone vandalizes an article, the edits would not be approved.— Daniel Terdiman.
  34. ^ "Winner of Community Category: And the winners are... The best of 2004", The Webby Awards. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “The only award show for Internet sites that matter.— The Los Angeles Times.
  35. ^ "'You' named Time's person of 2006", BBC News Online, December 17, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. "You" have been named as Time magazine's Person of the Year for the growth and influence of user-generated content on the internet.
  36. ^ Kleeman, Jenny. "Wikipedia braces itself for April Fools' Day", The Guardian newspaper, March 28, 2007. Retrieved on April 1, 2007. “Spare a thought for Wikipedia editors this Sunday. While most of us are leafing through the newspapers and enjoying a long lunch, they will be stationed in front of their computers, bracing themselves to defend the site against the annual onslaught of April Fools' hoaxes.— Jenny Kleeman.

[edit] Additional sources

  1. Lu Stout, Kristie. "Wikipedia: The know-it-all Web site", CNN, August 4, 2003. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “It's described as a free encyclopedia logging over 140,000 articles sent in by people from all over the world.— Kristie Lu Stout.
  2. M. Reagle Jr., Joseph. "A Case of Mutual Aid: Wikipedia, Politeness, and Perspective Taking", Reagle. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  3. "Studing cooperation and conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations", University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  4. Berinstein, Paula. "Wikipedia and Britannica: The Kid’s All Right (And So’s the Old Man)", Information Today, Inc., March, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  5. Bogatin, Donna. "Can Wikipedia handle the truth?", ZDNet, January 24, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  6. Orlowski, Andrew. "Who owns your Wikipedia bio?", The Register, December 6, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  7. Thompson, Bill. "What is it with Wikipedia?", BBC News Online, December 16, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “Wikipedia, the open source encyclopaedia [sic] that is created entirely by its readers, with entries which can in the main be edited by anyone who feels they have something useful to contribute, has had an interesting few weeks.— Bill Thompson.
  8. Arthur, Charles. "Log on and join in, but beware the web cults", Guardian Unlimited, December 15, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  9. Cohen, Noam. "A Contributor to Wikipedia Has His Fictional Side", The New York Times, March 5, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  10. Williams, Martyn. "The Wikipedian founder addresses user credentials", PC World, March 09, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  11. "Fact or fiction?",, March 10, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  12. Ball, Philip. "The more, the Wikier",, February 27, 2007. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  13. Macintyre, Ben. "How wiki-wiki can get sticky", The Times, July 21, 2006. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “The phenomenal but unreliable online encyclopedia is best used with a healthy dose of scepticism.” — Ben Macintyre.
  14. H. Pink, Daniel. "The Book Stops Here", Wired News, March, 2005. Retrieved on March 25, 2007. “Four years ago, a wealthy options trader named Jimmy Wales set out to build a massive online encyclopedia ambitious in purpose and unique in design. This encyclopedia would be freely available to anyone. And it would be created not by paid experts and editors, but by whoever wanted to contribute. With software called Wiki - which allows anybody with Web access to go to a site and edit, delete, or add to what's there - Wales and his volunteer crew would construct a repository of knowledge to rival the ancient library of Alexandria.” — Daniel H. Pink.
  15. Moses, Asher. "Founder defends evolving Wikipedia", The Sydney Morning Herald, March 27, 2007. Retrieved on April 1, 2007. “The Wikipedia community does a great job of policing things but they need better tools to be able to do that more effectively.” — Jimmy Wales.
  16. Youngwood, Susan. "Wikipedia: What do they know; when do they know it, and when can we trust it?", Vermont Sunday Magazine, Rutland Herald, April 1, 2007. Retrieved on April 1, 2007. “Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Wikipedia - both its genius and its Achilles heel - is that anyone can create or modify an entry. Anyone means your 10-year-old neighbor or a Nobel Prize winner - or an editor like me, who is itching to correct a grammar error in that Wikipedia entry that I just quoted. Entries can be edited by numerous people and be in constant flux. What you read now might change in five minutes. Five seconds, even.” — Susan Youngwood.

[edit] Further reading

  • The Wiki Way: Quick Collaboration on the Web (Paperback). Authors: Bo Leuf and Ward Cunningham. Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; Pap/Cdr edition (April 3, 2001). ISBN 020171499X
  • Wiki: Web Collaboration (Hardcover). Authors: Anja Ebersbach, Markus Glaser, Richard Heigl, and G. Dueck. Publisher: Springer; 1 edition (October 6, 2005). ISBN 3540259953
  • Wikis For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) (Paperback). Author: Dan Woods. Publisher: For Dummies (July 10, 2007). ISBN 0470043997