Wikipedia and Wikimedia Research Track

For the details on all tracks, please see the OpenSym 2016 general call for papers.

The OpenSym conference includes a track specifically addressing research on Wikipedia and other projects within the Wikimedia ecosystem (e.g., Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, etc). Topics of interest to this track include, but are not limited to:

Participation in Wikimedia communities

  • What skills, attributes, or connections enable participants to become empowered members of the Wikimedia communities? How are those skills, attributes, or connections obtained and enacted?
  • What patterns of individual behavior do Wikimedia project contributors follow? What do these patterns suggest about how software might better support effective collaboration between people?
  • Why do editors embrace particular social roles and join particular networks within communities? What relationships do these roles have to their motivations or psychological characteristics?
  • How do gender, geography, and other characteristics of editors influence Wikimedia contribution?

Group Dynamics and Organization in Wikipedia and related projects

  • Why do particular modes of organization and collective behavior support more inclusive or effective collaborative participation in Wikimedia projects?
  • What collective dynamics contribute to abusive patterns of participation (e.g., trolling and vandalism) and how can these be better harnessed or avoided in order to advance Wikimedia community goals?
  • How do different Wikipedias, Wikiprojects, and/or WIkimedia projects compare in terms of their organization, norms, and governance?

Readership/Engagement on Wikipedia and related projects

  • What do people read on Wikipedia or view or consume on other projects? Is it possible to connect topics to news or events? Have readers’ interests changed over time?
  • Is it possible to determine a typical evolutionary path from reading (passive participation) to contributing (active participation)? If yes, what kind of software tools can support this transition process?
  • Does the engagement of people differ between countries? Between mobile and other site visitors? What role do local outreach activities play?

Technical Infrastructure and Design in Wikimedia projects

  • How are Wikimedia projects shaped by MediaWiki’s technical infrastructure? How might the infrastructure be changed to improve article quality, the engagement of editors, or other outcomes?
  • To what extent is the development path of MediaWiki influenced by Wikimedia projects’ communities? For example, to what extent does Wikipedia’s editor community limit development? What design and development practices can facilitate Wikimedia Foundation and community support?
  • What effects do new MediaWiki features have on system usability, performance, and participant experiences?

Evaluating Content of Wikimedia projects

  • Who writes for Wikipedia or contributes to other Wikimedia projects and how has qualities of contributors affected quality and coverage?
  • How can we measure the evolution of Wikipedia, for example, in quality and quantity of content, engagement of editors, or sustainability of the project?
  • Is Wikipedia still a growing project? In which topical areas do editors still add content and how has this changed over time?

Knowledge Diffusion, Outreach, and Generalization

  • What are the interactions between Wikimedia project and the production and diffusion of new research by the academic or business world?
  • As galleries, libraries, archives and museums hire Wikipedians-in-residence, what is the effect of these outreach initiatives involving the growing institutionalization of Wikipedia activities?
  • How can findings from research on Wikipedia and Wikimedia generalize to other online communities, organizations, movements, or sociotechnical systems?

Special Paper Instructions

For the Wikipedia and Wikimedia track only, there is no minimum or maximum length imposed on papers. Rather, reviewers will be instructed to weigh the contribution of a paper relative to its length. Papers should report research thoroughly but succinctly: brevity is a virtue. A typical length of a “long research paper” is 10 pages (formerly the maximum length limit and the limit on other OpenSym tracks), but may be shorter if the contribution can be described and supported in fewer pages—shorter, more focused papers (called “short research papers” previously) are encouraged and will be reviewed like any other paper. While we will review papers longer than 10 pages, the contribution must warrant the extra length. Papers whose length is incommensurate with their contribution will be rejected.

For details on dates and deadlines, please see the OpenSym 2016 general call for papers.



  • Claudia Müller-Birn (Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Benjamin Mako Hill (University of Washington)
  • Robert Biuk-Aghai (University of Macau)
  • Oliver Ferschke (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Mayo Fuster Morell (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
  • Michael Gilbert (University of Washington)
  • Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute)
  • Aaron Halfaker (Wikimedia Foundation)
  • Jerome Hergeaux (ETHZ)
  • Dariusz Jemielniak (Kozminski University)
  • Nicholas Jullien (Telecom Bretagne)
  • Andreas Kaltenbrunner (Barcelona Media)
  • Brian Keegan (Harvard Business School)
  • David Laniado (Barcelona Media)
  • Jonathan Morgan (Wikimedia Foundation)
  • Finn Årup Nielsen (Technical University of Denmark)
  • Oded Nov (New York Polytechnic University)
  • Felipe Ortega (Rey Juan Carlos University)
  • Xiangju Qin (UC Dublin)
  • Jodi Schneider (NUI Galway)
  • Shilad Sen (Macalester)
  • Aaron Shaw (Northwestern University)
  • Dario Taraborelli (Wikimedia Foundation)
  • Bob West (Stanford)
  • Ellery Wulczyn (Wikimedia Foundation)
  • Haiyi Zhu (University of Minnesota)