Descending Mount Everest: Steps towards applied Wikipedia research

This presentation is part of the WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 program.

Dario Taraborelli

Over the last years, Wikipedia has seen an explosion of academic interest, as indicated by a steadily increasing volume of scholarly publications. Due to its history, its size and the immediate availability of its data under open licenses, Wikipedia has served over time as a testbed for sociological and psychological theory; as the primary source of data for models of commons-based peer production and computer-supported collaboration; as a body of norms for research on the governance of online communities; or as a large multilingual corpus to mine, or against which to train text analysis algorithms. This explosion of academic interest reveals a gap between Wikipedia as a topic of scholarly research and Wikipedia as a living community in need of actionable solutions, facing real challenges and the first serious
growth and sustainability problem in its entire lifecycle. The Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia communities have yet to find a viable model to leverage academic expertise to solve these challenges, in the same way that Wikimedia projects have effectively engaged with a large community of contributors and software developers to produce its contents and support its open source infrastructure. In this talk I will review recent research trends spanning scholarly work and internal research conducted at the Wikimedia Foundation, and how these relate to some of the most urgent needs of the Wikimedia movement and the Wikimedia Foundation’s work priorities. I’ll discuss models that can support actionable research, as well as open opportunities for researchers and contributors  to collaborate on developing joint solutions and identifying new growth opportunities for WIkipedia and its communities.

A PDF file will be made available on August 5, 2013, through the WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 conference proceedings.

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