Critical issues presentations/Identity-based motivation in Wikipedia as a key to collaboration and content spreading between language editions

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Submission no. 180
Title of the submission

Identity-based motivation in Wikipedia as a key to collaboration and content spreading between language editions

Author of the submission
Country of origin



Projects, Research

  • cultural identity
  • wikipedians
  • motivation
  • multilingual edition
  • data analysis

Unlike in most social network platforms, in Wikipedia editors are not encouraged to disclose personal traits, hobbies or affiliations. In fact, I think the identity issue has not been discussed enough. Since the project is dedicated to promote a common good, there is no content ownership, and the personal aspects become uncomfortable, or partly taboo. However, I defend that identity matters, in terms of building a Wikipedian reputation, and that editors' identities are tightly related to the content. As a Wikipedian, would you contribute equally if you couldn't choose the topics?

In this presentation I want to address the creation process and composition of Wikipedia language editions as a matter of identity. Our research on the issue has shown us that an identity-based motivation allows editors to conciliate the Wikipedian identity in the community along with their other identities. Therefore, in order to act congruently with each of such identities, they contribute with content related to them. To assess the influence of this motivation type, we developed a method and identified articles related to each Wikipedia language edition's Cultural Identities. The results on 40 Wikipedias show that this kind of content represents almost a quarter of each language edition. We analyze the content in terms of topical coverage and find that different specific topics emerge as important for each of them, although the most important topics are generally Geography, People and Culture. Inspecting how articles related to each language edition's cultural identities are exported to other languages, we show relationships between Wikipedias.

The selection of articles reflecting each Wikipedia language based cultural identities is a rich source for research, but can be also a useful base to establish an intercultural exchange between Wikipedia language editions. We propose the diversity of content across languages to be seen as an asset, and the spread of content specific to a language edition to be facilitated by automatic tools. The main point is to recognize the power of identity as a motivator for action and as a driver for change. Finally, we present a project called Wikiidentities in which we will disseminate the results of the research, make the datasets available, and provide some ideas and debate on how identities can be key to Editor Engagement in any Wikimedia project.



Interested attendees and comments

Culture Gap - Wikimania 2016 Cultural Identities in Wikipedia.pdf

Interested attendees: