Research:Becoming Wikidatians: evolution of participation in a collaborative structured knowledge base.

This page documents a completed research project.

Key Personnel edit

  • Alessandro Piscopo
  • Dr Christopher Phethean
  • Dr Elena Simperl

Project Summary edit

This research study aims at understanding how newcomers become experienced users in Wikidata and what their characteristics are. In particular, we want to gain insights about how their goals, responsibilities, and relationship with the overall Wikidata community change over time. By completing this study we will be able to better understand how motivations, interactions with the community, and use of the interface change over the lifespan of users' collaborations to Wikidata.

Methods edit

This research study will be carried out by interviewing active Wikidata users, in order to obtain a direct account of their experience in collaborating to Wikidata.
Participants are recruited by advertising the research project on Wikidata Project Chat page, where diverse subjects are discussed. The ideal sample size is of about 30 to 40 users, who have previously shown high levels of activity within Wikidata.
Users can show their interest to take part in the study by replying to an email address included in the message posted. Before proceeding with the interview, the investigator sends to each participant a Consent form, a Debrief plan, and a Participant information sheet; the Consent form has to be sent back signed to the investigator, in order for the interview to take place.
Respondents remain anonymous and responses are treated with the strictest confidentiality. The data gathered during the interviews does not contain any personal information. Respondents' personal data is collected only with the purpose of recording their consent to participate in this study. Participants can decide to leave the study at any time and without explanation. They have the right to ask that any data they have supplied to that point be withdrawn or destroyed.
Interviews are carried out either by videotelephony, e.g. Skype, phone, or email, according to the interviewee’s preference. The chosen form is the semi-structured interview, which allows to obtain relevant information about the topics covered by the research, while leaving the possibility to obtain further insights from the elaboration of the questions made by the single participants. Each interview lasts approximately one hour and, if by phone or videotelephony, recorded for further analysis.

Dissemination edit

Findings derived from this research will be published in the form of scientific papers, submitted to the main conferences and journals in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and Computer-Supported Collaborative Work. Any article will be granted Open Access by depositing it on the institutional repository of the University of Southampton.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection edit

The study, with ref. no. ERGO/FoPSE/20117, has received ethical approval on May 5, 2016 following the University of Southampton guidelines.

Benefits for the Wikimedia community edit

The overall research aim that this study contributes to is an analysis of Wikidata community dynamics and how these influence the quality of information within this knowledge base. Furthermore, an improved understanding of how different types of users interact with the community, use the interface, and apply policies and community norms would be helpful to find new methods to reduce turnover of Wikidata users and optimise their contributions.

Timeline edit

  • May 2016: Interviews should be carried out and analysed.
  • End of May 2016: Submission of first findings of the research for publication in a conference proceedings.
  • Data collected will be further analysed and findings submitted for publication to other conferences/journals.

Funding edit

References edit

Results edit

Background edit

The results of this set of interviews will be analysed relying on previous literature in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and Computer Supported Cooperative Work. For further information on the general topic, please see:

  • Bryant, S. et al. 2005. Becoming Wikipedian: transformation of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. In Proceedings of the 2005 international ACM SIGGROUP conference on Supporting group work (pp. 1-10). ACM. Available at:
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. 1991. Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge university press.