Managing Complexity: Strategies for Group Awareness and Coordinated Action in Wikipedia

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

Michael Gilbert, Jonathan Morgan, David McDonald, Mark Zachry

In online groups, increasing explicit coordination can increase group cohesion and member productivity. On Wikipedia, groups called WikiProjects employ a variety of explicit coordination mechanisms to motivate and structure member contribution, with the goal of creating and improving articles related to particular topics. However, while explicit coordination works well for coordinating article-level actions, coordinating group tasks and tracking progress towards group goals that involve tracking hundreds or thousands of articles over time requires different coordination strategies. To lower the coordination cost of monitoring and task-routing, WikiProjects centralize coordination activity on WikiProject pages – “micro-sites” which provide a centralized repository of project tools, tasks and targets, and discussion for explicit group coordination. These tools can facilitate shared awareness of member and non-member editing activity on articles that the project cares about. However, whether these tools are as effective at motivating members as explicit coordination, and whether they elicit the same kind of contributions, has not been studied. In this study, we examine one such tool, Hot Articles, and compare its effect on the editing behavior of WikiProject members with a common explicit coordination mechanism: making edit requests on the project talk page.

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

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