Wikipedian Self-Governance in Action: Motivating the Policy Lens

Ivan Beschastnikh, Travis Kriplean, David W. McDonald

While previous studies have used the Wikipedia dataset to provide an understanding of its growth, there have been few attempts to quantitatively analyze the establishment and evolution of the rich social practices that support this editing community. One such social practice is the enactment and creation of Wikipedian policies. We focus on the enactment of policies in discussions on the talk pages that accompany each article. These policy citations are a valuable micro-to-macro connection between everyday action, communal norms and the governance structure of Wikipedia. We find that policies are widely used by registered users and administrators, that their use is converging and stabilizing in and across these groups, and that their use illustrates the growing importance of certain classes of work, in particular source attribution. We also find that participation in Wikipedia's governance structure is inclusionary in practice.

Subjects: 6. Computer-Human Interaction; 13.1 Discourse

Submitted: Feb 16, 2008

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