Do and Don’ts in Wikipedia

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Do and Don’ts in Wikipedia

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Jointly but not peacefully

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

As “Star Trek” is not only a spanning decades TV series and movies, but is also a subculture of “trekkies”, Wikipedia is not only a “free online encyclopedia, which can be edited by anyone”, but a subculture.  There are people, who always go beyond an occasional spelling mistake correction, and often spend all their free – and some work – time editing, administrating, reverting vandalism and quarreling with outsiders and each other in Wikipedia. These people are called “wikipedians” and I am one of them.

People love researching other people, this is whole premise of anthropology. Online communities allow to research alien cultures without the inconvenience of travelling into remote locations, eating strange food and being in any danger from unfriendly locals. No wonder that wikipedians proved to be more fascinating object of study than the artifact  created by them. A brief search in PLoS One shows one paper about Wikipedia semantics  and one about   language complexity and 5 about the Wikipedia community.

However, reducing complex systems such as communities to a simple metric is fraught with danger of missing the point. Let us consider the recent study about Wikipedia community interaction: Jointly They Edit: Examining the Impact of Community Identification on Political Interaction in Wikipedia  by J. J.Neff et al.  The authors used the wikipedia user pages to determine political affiliation of the users and then assessed their interactions with each other. They came to some conclusions, which ring true to me both as a wikipedian and a scientist:

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