Critical issues presentations/Thanks networks on Wikipedia in European languages: a topological analysis and a proposal

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Submission no. 174
Title of the submission

Thanks networks on Wikipedia in European languages: a topological analysis and a proposal

Author of the submission
  • Valerio Perticone
  • Marco Elio Tabacchi
Country of origin

Italy; Italy



  • thanks
  • social networks
  • small-world scale-free

Community engagement is one of the critical issues faced by Wikimedia movement and Wikimedia Foundation's projects. Several tools were developed to attract and retain new Wikimedia editors. One of them is "Thanks": this feature, part of Notifications system, lets editors send a 'Thank you' notification to users for giving quick positive feedback to recognize productive contributions by clicking a small 'thank' link on their history or diff page. "Thanks" was deployed in May 2013 on English Wikipedia and later extended to all Wikipedias sites in several European languages. Thanks are public and are also recorded as a log entry.

The collection of thanks between users of the same project can be considered as a social network (SN) according the Boyd-Ellison definition: we consider the multigraph where contributors are nodes and thanks are directed edges. The topological study of this network can reveal some information about relationship between users without knowledge about previous interaction or edits on Wikipedia articles, their related talk pages or shared interests expressed through userboxes or own user pages.

We analyzed different thanks networks of several Wikipedias to test small-world scale-free hypothesis. In literature exists many examples of natural and artificial networks with this topology that guarantee robustness and resilience. In small world networks any node can be reached from any other in few steps, a phenomenon known as six degrees of separation: these networks are characterized by a small average shortest path length and a significantly higher clustering coefficient than random networks with the same number of vertices and edges. Scale free networks have a power law distribution of degrees, with few nodes that are highly connected to other nodes in the network (hubs).

We affirm that all examined thanks networks of Wikipedia projects have similar topological characteristics with a small difference on German Wikipedia. We also propose an enhancement of the MediaWiki extension to incorporate some elements of external tools, to improve the quality of collaboration between contributors.


Not accepted