Collaborative Writing: Wiki and Wikipedia Keshava P Subramanya (firstname.lastname@example.org)email@example.com Roopa Kannan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Today’s Talk Quick introduction about the wiki and collaborative writing idea. Wikipedia Two views of how Wikipedia works Criticisms Details about the Community Future
What is collaborative writing? Projects where written works are created by multiple people together (collaboratively) rather than individually Some projects are overseen by an editor or editorial team Many grow without any top-down oversight.
Computer based collaborative writing Revision control software providing check-in/out ( example subversion, cvs ) Enterprise information portal, Content management system SharePoint Wikis
Some Collab projects Novel Twists Online collaborative novel where each of the 150 pages is written one at a time by a different person. co-write.me.uk The Linux documentation project OOoAuthors
What is a Wiki Essentially a dynamic, collectively authored set of web pages. Invented in 1995 by Ward Cunningham to facilitate online collaboration about programming and design best practices. Evolved by the early 2000’s into a way to facilitate all kinds of online collaboration.
Wiki – Definition A wiki (according to Ward Cunningham) is a type of website that allows users to add and edit content and is especially suited for constructive collaborative authoring. In essence, a wiki is a simplification of the process of creating HTML pages combined with a system that records each individual change that occurs over time, so that at any time, a page can be reverted to any of its previous states. As defined in Wikipedia.
How the Wiki Got Its Name Wiki is the Hawaiian word meaning “quick”, “fast”, or “to hasten”. Wiki-Wiki is the name of the bus line in the Honolulu International Airport.
“Wiki-wiki to the beach.” - Elvis Presley (as Chad Gates) in the movie Blue Hawaii (1961). The line was said with a snap of the fingers.
Some more … Wiki (according to UIC Prof. Steve Jones) Web-based Interactive Kollaborative (collaborative) Iterative Wiki is sometimes interpreted as the backronym for “What I Know Is”, which describes the knowledge contribution, storage and exchange function.
More Uses for a Wiki 100 things to do before you die 100 things to do before you die The world’s largest “How-To” manual – wikiHowwikiHow Things to do in Seattle Things to do in Seattle World-wide travel guide – wikitravel.orgwikitravel.org Everything you want to know about VoIP Everything you want to know about VoIP All about the flu – Flu WikiFlu Wiki
What is Wikipedia? Wikipedia is a freely licensed encyclopaedia written by thousands of volunteers in many languages Free license allows others to freely copy, redistribute, and modify work commercially or non- commercially Founded January 15, 2001 Run by the wikimedia foundation. wikipedia.org
What is the Wikimedia Foundation? Non-profit foundation Its 4th Quarter 2005 costs were $321,000 USD, with hardware making up almost 60% of the budgetUSD Where does it get the money ? Aim: to distribute a free encyclopaedia to every single person on the planet in their own language Wikipedia and its sister projects wikimediafoundation.org
Advantages of Freely Licensed Content GNU Free Documentation Licence Remains non-proprietary Enhances the popularity of Wikipedia Decreases individual sense of ownership Increases a sense of shared ownership
Free Software MediaWiki is GPL Uses all free software on the website GNU/Linux Apache MySQL Php
How big is Wikipedia? English Wikipedia is largest and has over 260 million words English Wikipedia larger than Britannica and Microsoft Encarta combined In 15 months the publicly distributed compressed database dumps may reach 1 terabyte total size
How big is Wikipedia Globally? Total more than 5 million articles! English – 1,412,000 articles German – 172,000 articles Japanese – 87,000 articles French – 66,000 articles Swedish –53,000 articles Over 5 million across 250 languages 19 with >10,000. 52 with >1000 (statistics could be dated)
How popular is Wikipedia? According to Alexa.com, Wikipedia (ranked ~ 20th) is more popular than the websites of: IBM Paypal Open Directory Project Geocities ~400 Million page views monthly
Wikipedia vs. Britannica AP article on CNN website AP article on CNN website This study was challenged by Encyclopædia Britannica, who described it as "fatally flawed.“ source www.wikipedia.org
Wikinews Community edited news along the same principles of Wikipedia Fairly new project Aim of the project wikinews.org
Wikimedia’s Hardware 30+ servers Squid caching servers in front to serve cached objects quickly Apache/PHP webservers in the middle Database backend (MySql)
MediaWiki MediaWiki is one of many wiki engines Collaborative software that allows users to add or edit content Primarily developed for Wikipedia from 2002 onwards Scalable and multilingual Free license
MediaWiki features Quality control features (versioning) Editing features (simple markup) Community features (talk pages, profiles, access levels)
Criticism Workshop Hints: Can Wikipedia Content Be Trusted? Systematic bias Reliability of Information Technology requirement
Can Wikipedia Content Be Trusted? Review processes Partly post-moderation, partly reactive moderation Linking to particular revisions Development of a stable version Free license allows you to modify it
Reliability of Information Criticism The community contribution approach allows for too much false information. Without an expert background a person can not present an unbiased, factual position. Rebuttal The open source approach allows for new information to be added on a daily basis. The articles that exist on Wikipedia are a group effort where any wrong information can be edited. The group editing also lets people combine information to get a broad background.
Reliability of Information Criticism The large quantity of daily information added prevents proper fact checking. The daily edits allow too many mistakes to go unnoticed or be reintroduced. Rebuttal Wikipedia does maintain a staff whose sole purpose is to review and edit articles. Each day articles are viewed by thousands of people, any one person can implement changes to correct mistakes. Printed encyclopedias can not fix errors once released, while Wikipedia is always able to make corrections.
Systematic Bias Criticism Systematic bias exposes WIkipedia to unbalanced amounts of information. People are more likely to write about topics that interest them as opposed to more historically significant topics. Rebuttal Past requests for information have been met with quick action. These responses have created huge increases in the amount of coverage of topics. Wikipedia also includes a inquiry page. Any topic can be requested and the Wiki community is quick to respond.
Technology Requirements Criticism Wikipedia faces technology constraints as an online encyclopedia. A reader must have Internet access at all times. The possibility of tech failure on the Wikipedia’s end also presents problems. Rebuttal The technology constraints constantly decrease as the world becomes more advanced. The student population has almost 100% Internet access due to school resources and class requirements.
Latest Information Wikipedia is built on the belief that collaboration among users will improve articles over time. The software of Wikipedia allows for rapid updating of existing articles, as well as constant introduction of new topics.
Quick Vandalism Response Most vandalisms on Wikipedia are reverted within five minutes. There is a record of change made to every page and Wikipedia volunteers watch the list of recent changes. If a user constantly vandalizes pages of Wikipedia, individuals can be blocked and pages can be locked down.
Neutral Point of View Three sides to everything, your version, my version, and the truth Editors are asked to maintain a neutral point of view when writing for Wikipedia. When editing wars break out and neutral points of view are not maintained, Wikipedia volunteers usually remove the information posted. Click here
Two Views of Wikipedia Emergent Community of thoughtful users
Emergent Thousands of individual users who don’t know each other each contribute a little bit Out of this emerges a coherent body of work
A Community? A dedicated group of a few hundred volunteers who know each other and work to guarantee the quality and integrity of the content. London Berlin Genoa
Implications Emergent Model Need reputation mechanisms like Ebay, Slashdot Users are tiny, have no power Community Model Reputation is a natural outcome of human interactions Users are powerful, must be respected
80/10 Rule Counting only logged in users, and even excluding some prominent approved bot users 10 percent of all users make 80% of all edits 5 percent of all users make 66% of edits Half of all edits are made by just 2 1/2 percent of all users
Edits by Anons Controversial, intriguing Yes, you can edit this page Without logging in! Anonymous ip numbers can edit Wikipedia But these edits make up a total of around 18% of all edits, with some evidence of a downward trend over time
Edits across namespaces Articles 85% Talk pages 8% User Page 3% User Talk Pages 4% These percentages are stable in 2003 And 2004
Wikipedia is a community… How does it work? Who are the users? How do they self-regulate?
Many types of users As in any society, there are many types of people -- these types are reflected in editing patterns Individual users may not fit cleanly into a single type, but thinking about editing patterns is a helpful way to understand the community
Bees The most important users at Wikipedia But may go unnoticed unless special attention is given Generalists Specialists Proof-readers Question: What attracts the bees??
Sock Puppet Not all sock puppets are bad Privacy The chance to start over But when used wrongly, is one of the worst offenses
Moth Drawn to flames Not necessarily a bad thing - some people thrive on controversy
Vandal Less of a problem for the community than most people assume Vandalism is easy to revert, and blocking vandals (temporarily) slows them down and takes the fun away
Outside the Wiki Developers - coders and system admins IRC Channels Mailing lists
Wikipedia Governance A confusing but workable mix of Consensus Democracy Aristocracy Monarchy
Community Challenges How can such a large community scale? –Through software features –Through policy (mediation, arbitration) –Through an atmosphere of love and respect
Community Self-Regulation Quality control features: recent changes, watchlists, related changes, page histories, user contributions lists Community features: talk pages, user profiles, access levels, user-to-user email, message notification.
International Community Interlanguage linking of articles Choice of language interface Global newsletter: Quarto “Translation of the week”
Conclusion Wikipedia is a community Automated and artificial Slashdot-style reputation metrics are not needed and may not be desirable Achieving quality levels equalling or exceeding traditional publishing models can be expected without “emergent” magic
Credits http://www.wikipedia.org and related sites http://www.wikipedia.org Some slides adapted from –Jimmy Wales President, Wikimedia Foundation Wikipedia Founder –Prof. Burks Oakley II Prof of E.C.E University of Illinois