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User digest/State of Wikimedia Research 2015-2016

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy

User Digest Title:The State of Wikimedia Resarch 2015-2016

Date: Friday 24 June 2016

Time: 14:00

Venue:Gym Palace (map)

Author of the submission
Benjamin Mako Hill; co-presenters: Tilman Bayer, Aaron Shaw
E-mail address
mako@atdot.cc / tbayer@wikimedia.org / aaronshaw@northwestern.org
User:Benjamin Mako Hill / User:Tbayer (WMF) / User:Aaronshaw
University of Washington / Wikimedia Foundation / Northwestern University
Personal homepage or blog
This talk is a regular talk given at Wikimania each year. Previous version were given at 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009, for example.

This talk will offer a quick tour of scholarship and academic research on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects from the last year. It will give a bird's-eye view of Wikimedia research and go into depth on a dozen or so of the most important findings from the last year. The goal is to explain both what our community is teaching others and what Wikimedia editors, the foundation, and our community as a whole, might be able to learn about ourselves. While wonderful research will be presented as part of the academic track, this talk will focus on the other important results that will not be presented. The work will involve collaboration with the team that produces the monthly Wikimedia Research Newsletter.

A quick search of a multi-disciplinary scholarly database shows over 300 scholarly publications (i.e., articles, books, thesis, etc.) in the last year alone that contain the term "Wikipedia" in their title. Journals and conferences in the social sciences, computational sciences, humanities, engineering, and a variety of other fields have published scholarly works that examine Wikipedia, use data mined from Wikipedia, and try to help us make sense of Wikimedia projects, their people, processes, and artifacts. More than a dozen people have now graduated with PhDs earned by studying Wikipedia (and at least one by studying Wiktionary). There are even conferences — OpenSym (formerly WikiSym) most notable among them — that focus on wikis and who focus on publishing work based on Wikipedia. What does all this work mean for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects? How can our community learn from academic research into our projects? Does any of this work have anything to teach us about how to run our projects? What does all that academic jargon mean in terms that any editor could understand?

This talk will try to point toward answers to these questions with a quick tour — a literature review in the scholarly parlance — of the last year's academic landscape around Wikimedia and its projects, geared at non-academic editors and readers. It will try to categorize, distill, and describe, from a bird's-eye view, the academic landscape as it is shaping up around our project. It will build both the experience of the facilitators, existing resources in our community (e.g., meta:Research:Newsletter, meta:Wiki Research Bibliography, w:Wikipedia:Wikipedia in academic studies), and on research done for this presentation. It will quickly highlight a dozen or so of the most important articles published in the last year on Wikipedia, summarize their results, and describe what these findings might mean for Wikipedia, its editors, and processes.

Wikimedia and its projects are and will remain under academia's magnifying glass. This talk will give Wikimedians a view from the other side and help point at where we might go with some of the insight we gain in the process.