Wikipedia & Research: The innovative character of Wikipedia research and the new challenges (and opportunities) associated with it

In 2011, Wikipedia celebrated its tenth anniversary as one of the world’s ten most visited websites and as one of the more active communities on the web. Particularly since 2005, there has been an increasing interest within the scientific community in researching Wikipedia. A recent review of Wikipedia literature resulted in 2,100 peer-reviewed articles and 38 doctoral theses related to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Academic_studies_of_Wikipedia). Quantitative analysis of large data sets and on the English version of Wikipedia was the predominant approach in early empirical research on Wikipedia.,The focus was then expanded to conducting research on other language versions, covering a larger variety of issues, such as socio-political questions, and also adopting qualitative methods. In conjunction, the research on Wikipedia constituted a substantial body of research in itself which allowed researchers (and communities) to better and critically understand Wikimedia projects functioning from a plurality of perspectives, and to advance our knowledge on issues that go beyond Wikipedia itself. Research in a sense (and under certain conditions) is becoming a way of contributing to the Wikimedia movement. Furthermore, the community of (more or less committed) researchers on Wikipedia is growing, together with the willingness to collaborate, the synergy between research initiatives of various kinds, and the willingness to continue innovating (in what is already constituting one of the leading node of methodological innovation); a Wikimedia research “informational common” is growing, as it also increases the promotion of research from the Wikimedia Foundation (such as with the creation of the Research Committee) and Wikimedia chapters (such as the performance of surveys by Amical Viquipedia or the German Wikimedia participation in the Render project).

But new problems have also emerged, such as information overload, the lack of coordination between the various research efforts, and tensions between community members and certain researchers’ needs (for example on the question of subject recruitment, or on the publication policy of researchers and the need to maintain their positions in academia). In sum, Wikipedia research has increased substantially, and in the process has become an important area for experimentation and research innovation, but also faces new challenges associated with progression.

The workshop will focus on addressing the stage of Wikipedia research and in general common – based peer production (less focused on the content than on the methodologies and research process itself) and the innovations, problems and new insights regarding (action) research on common-based peer production. The workshop is organized in collaboration between the Research Committee of the Wikimedia Foundation, German Wikimedia and Amical Viquipedia (Catalan Wikimedia). It will consist of a set of brief presentations (including Mayo Fuster Morell Research Committee WMF member and presentation from wikimedia german chapter, among others) and “networking” discussions towards action.

by Mayo Fuster Morell, June 30th, at 14:00 in Workshop I

Mayo Fuster Morell member Research Committee of the Wikimedia Foundation and Amical Viquipedia, Daniel Mietchen members Research Committee of the Wikimedia Foundation, Mathias Schindler from Wikimedia German and the Render project, and Mako Benjamin Hill Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board.

Mayo Fuster Morell is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Govern and Public Policies (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and visiting scholar at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (Open University of Catalonia). She has been appointed Berkman Center of Internet & Society fellow for the academic year 2011-2012. She collaborates in research projects on Wikimedia/pedia with Science Po and Barcelona Media. She is member of the research committee of the Wikimedia Foundation and the Association Amical Viquipedia (User: Lilaroja). She is promotor of the international forum of collaborative communities for the building of digital commons. She was co-founder of the International Forum on Free Culture and organized its first two editions (2009 & 2010). Additionally, she promoted the Networked Politics collaborative research and developed techno-political tools within the frame of the World Social Forum. She did her PhD thesis at the European University Institute on “The governance of online creation communities: Provision of infrastructure for the building of digital commons”. She co-wrote the books Rethinking Political Organisation in an Age of Movements and Networks (2007), Activist Research and Social Movements (in Spanish, 2005), and Guide for Social Transformation of Catalonia (in Catalan, 2003).

Daniel Mietchen (User:Mietchen) is a biophysicist by training and currently a postdoc in brain morphometry at the University of Jena, Germany. He has a general interest in integrating collaborative activities in wikis and similar environments with scholarly workflows in the framework of open science, particularly with original research, encyclopaedic knowledge, open access publishing, reputation systems and scientific networking as well as teaching and outreach. His home wikis are Citizendium and OpenWetWare, and he also contributes to a number of other wiki communities, including several Wikimedia wikis, Encyclopedia of Earth, Scholarpedia and WikiEducator.

Mathias Schindler co-founded Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. He is member of the Communication Committee of the Wikimedia Foundation and project manager in the German chapter. After studying in Frankfurt/Main, Germany he worked at the German National Library at the office for authority files. He was co-organizer of the Social Web and Knowledge Management Workshop SWKM 2008 in Beijing, China, co-located with the WWW conference. He was on the organization committee for the WikiMania conference in 2005, 2007 and 2009. His research interests include Wikipedia-style massive collaboration and bibliographic metadata.

Benjamin Mako Hill (born December 2, 1980) is a Debian hacker, intellectual property researcher, activist and author. He is a contributor and free software developer as part of the Debian and Ubuntu projects as well as the author of two best-selling technical books on the subject, Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible (ISBN 978-0-7645-7644-7) and The Official Ubuntu Book (ISBN 978-0-13-243594-9). He currently serves as a member of the Free Software Foundation board of directors.[2] Hill has a Masters degree from the MIT Media Lab and is currently a Senior Researcher at the MIT Sloan School of Management where he studies free software communities and business models. He is also a Fellow at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media where he coordinates the development of software for civic organizing, and works as an advisor and contractor for the One Laptop per Child project. He is a speaker for the GNU Project,[3] and serves on the board of Software Freedom International (the organization that organizes Software Freedom Day).

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