Workshop on Online Social
December 7, 2007.
Reputation, Coordination, and Article
Quality in Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia written and edited by hundreds of
thousands of volunteers. Because all edits and discussions are automatically
recorded, Wikipedia is a great data set with which
to study coordination and self-organization in the context of distributed
collaboration systems. For example,
how can reliable knowledge production be sustained
in an open community that relies on individual efforts in the absence of a
formal incentive structure? And to
what extent does the quality of output derive from the attributes and social
network positions of the contributors?
I will describe the findings from an analysis of the complete editing
history of the English language Wikipedia from 2001
through 2006, which contains about 2 million articles edited by ca. 650,000 registered users.
Specifically, I will focus on the relationship between the social
network of editors and the quality of entries they produce. In Wikipedia,
high quality articles are selected through peer review, productive
contributors receive token awards from other members of the community, and
furthermore, members communicate with each other by collaborating on articles
and discussion pages. One could expect
that these mechanisms would lead to what what I
call "reputation clustering" in the network of wikipedians,
whereby contributors proximal to well-regarded editors will tend to produce
better work themselves. I will discuss
both theoretical and practical implications of this phenomenon and describe a
statistical model to predict article quality by incorporating contributors'
reputation and network positions