Analyzing Multi-Dimensional Networks within MediaWikis

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

Brian Keegan, Arber Ceni, Marc Smith

The MediaWiki platform supports popular socio-technical systems such as Wikipedia as well as thousands of other wikis. This software encodes and records a variety of relationships about the content, history, and users of its pages such as hyperlinks between pages, discussions among users, and editing histories. These relationships can be analyzed using standard techniques from social network analysis, however, extracting relational data from Wikipedia has traditionally required specialized knowledge of its API, information retrieval, network analysis, and data visualization that has inhibited scholarly analysis. We present a software library called the NodeXL MediaWiki Importer that extracts a variety of relationships from the MediaWiki API and integrates with the popular NodeXL network analysis and visualization software. This library allows users to query and extract a variety of multidimensional relationships from any MediaWiki installation with a publicly-accessible API. We present a case study examining the similarities and differences between different relationships for the Wikipedia articles about “Pope Francis” and “Social media.” We conclude by discussing the implications this library has for both theoretical and methodological research as well as community management and outline future work to expand the capabilities of the library.

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

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