Critical issues presentations/Why Editor Engagement depends on the Wikipedia Foundational Myth

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Submission no. 181
Title of the submission

Why Editor Engagement depends on the Wikipedia Foundational Myth

Author of the submission
  • Marc Miquel-Ribé
Country of origin



Governance, other, Outreach, Projects, Research

  • editor engagement
  • interface design
  • social network
  • sociotechnical system

One of the most striking facts about the Wikipedian community is that those editors who entered the project in 2007 are still among the most active. Even though this is not necessarily negative, it is clearly symptomatic of the difficulties in attracting new strong committed editors. In fact, since then many research studies have focused on specific aspects from the editing process to understand either why editors leave the project, what causes them to stay or how their interactions allow them to contribute with better content. Then the question is not what we know about editor engagement, but most importantly, does it help in applying the changes we need?

In this presentation I want to bring debate on the possible hurdles editor engagement encounters, with the aim of encouraging the changes in communities which can make it happen. First, I will provide a digest of the current state of art in research on Wikipedia Editor engagement, focusing on all aspects from the sociotechnical system (the interface, the guidelines, the social communication, among others). Then, I will present several reasons that in my view matter in slowing down the process of technological design change, which can be influenced by current editors’ needs, but most importantly, the Wikipedia’s foundational myth.

Some of the values inherent to the way the encyclopedia was created still define the relation between the editor and the system. So far, Wikipedia is empowering the editors, but at the same time is setting a high expectation on their learning at many levels. Some might think that engagement is not critical, because after all the project grows. However, I advocate that in a self-governed sociotechnical system like Wikipedia, the role of engagement is as important as participation in a democracy. Finally, I will propose several insights to stimulate going in this direction. The more engagement, the closer Wikipedia will be to “the sum of human knowledge”.


Not accepted