Research:CSCW 2015

"Openness and collaboration" by Paul Downey

This page lists all Wikimedia-related research events and presentations taking place at the 18th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing - CSCW 2015 (March 14-18, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada). The complete program is also available.


'Is' to 'Was': Coordination and Commemoration in Posthumous Activity on Wikipedia BiographiesEdit

Brian C Keegan, Jed R Brubaker

Following the deaths of notable people, Wikipedians incorporate this new knowledge by updating or creating biographical articles. Drawing on literature from death studies and peer production, we demonstrate how the creation of these "wiki-bituaries" requires complex coordination work and highlight processes of commemoration and memorialization within socio-technical systems. Using the corpus of 6,132 articles about people who died in 2012, we examine the network relationships and contribution dynamics of users who perform this work and identify behavioral and content dynamics on the biographical articles about the deceased. The collaborations that emerge from posthumous editing of these biographies are sites of significant activity that coalesce into complex but temporary collaborations. Based on these findings, we argue that Wikipedia has re-imagined the obituary into a genre for creating memory spaces in which the death of a subject prompts a form of "death work" involving the collective re-evaluation of article content and a transition into a new mode of data stewardship.

MoodBar: Increasing new user retention in Wikipedia through lightweight socializationEdit

Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Dario Taraborelli

Socialization in online communities allows existing members to welcome and recruit newcomers, introduce them to community norms and practices, and sustain their early participation. However, socializing newcomers does not come for free: in large communities, socialization can result in a significant workload for mentors and is hard to scale. In this study we present results from a natural experiment that measured the effect of a lightweight socialization tool on the activity and retention of newly registered users attempting to edit for the first time Wikipedia. Wikipedia is struggling with the retention of newcomers and our results indicate that a mechanism to elicit lightweight feedback and to provide early mentoring to newcomers improves their chances to become long-term contributors.

The Success and Failure of Quality Improvement Projects in Peer Production CommunitiesEdit

Morten Warncke-Wang, Vladislav R Ayukaev, Brent Hecht, Loren G Terveen

Peer production communities have been proven to be successful at creating valuable artefacts, with Wikipedia a prime example. However, a number of studies have shown that their work tends to be of uneven quality, with certain content areas receiving more attention than others. In this paper, we examine the efficacy of a range of targeted strategies to increase the quality of under-attended content areas in peer production communities. Mining data from five such quality improvement projects in the English Wikipedia, the largest peer production community in the world, we show that certain types of strategies (e.g. creating artefacts from scratch) have better quality outcomes than others (e.g. improving existing artefacts), even if both are done by a similar cohort of participants. We discuss the implications of our findings for Wikipedia as well as other peer production communities.

Functional Roles within Wikipedia: Organizational Structure and Career PathsEdit

Ofer Arazy, Felipe Ortega, Lisa Yeo, Adam Balila, Oded Nov

Participants in peer production efforts can take on different roles. Recent studies established that the organization of online production communities is not flat; rather, functional roles are well-defined and organized. What is the nature of these functional roles? How have they evolved? And how do participants' career paths traverse these functions? Prior studies focused primarily on participants' activities -- rather than functional roles -- and those investigating functions focused on administrators. Further, extant conceptualizations of role transitions in production communities, such as the Reader to Leader framework, emphasize a single dimension, of hierarchical power, overlooking distinctions between functions. In this work we empirically study functional organization within Wikipedia, seeking to validate existing theoretical frameworks. The analysis sheds new light on the nature of functional roles, revealing the intricate "career paths" resulting from participants' role transitions. Our results call into focus the essential, yet under-investigated, mid-level layer of functional roles within Wikipedia.

The Virtuous Circle of Wikipedia: Recursive Measures of Collaboration StructuresEdit

Maximilian Klein, Thomas Maillart, John Chuang


In open collaboration, knowledge is created and iteratively improved by a multitude of editors, who freely choose what should be their contributions. The quality of knowledge artifacts (e.g. article, source code file) is deeply tied to their individual expertise, and to their ability to achieve collaboration. Conversely, the expertise of contributors is a function of artifacts contributed to. Building upon a large stream of literature on the measurement of article quality and contributor expertise, we propose a recursive algorithm to measure how editor expertise influences the quality of articles, and how contributions to articles influence editor expertise. This bi-partite network random walker metric reveals the specific structure of cooperation and how the quality of articles is achieved through coordination. We show that while the wisdom of crowds is well pulled in some categories, more editors per article can also create disvalue.


Advancing an industry/academic partnership model for Open Collaboration researchEdit

Jonathan Morgan, Aaron Halfaker, Dario Taraborelli, Tim Hwang, Sean Goggins
[Workshop homepage]

Open collaboration systems like Wikipedia, Imgur, Zooniverse, StackExchange, and Reddit have shown that networked communities of volunteer contributors can produce and maintain immense, valuable public resources. A growing body of work within the CSCW research community has come to recognize novel opportunities and challenges that openness brings with it. For example:

  • Distributed production and the need for quality control
  • Maintaining volunteer motivation to participate
  • Distributing the processes for articulation and governance
  • Community maintenance via socializing newcomers

However, findings from these academic studies do not always permeate the boundaries between scholarship and practice. Furthermore, many important phenomena related to peer production are not yet fully understood. This workshop will focus on characterizing areas of research within the domain of Open Collaboration Systems (OCS’s) where partnerships between academic and industry researchers can both increase our scientific understanding of OCS’s and also support those systems through research. This workshop's purpose is to bring together researchers on both sides of the "data divide" to identify current challenges and opportunities for future research within these research areas, and to develop a preliminary set of requirements for improved resource sharing and collaboration between OC enterprises and academic research institutions.