Assessing the value of cooperation in Wikipedia
February 19th, 2007

Dennis M. Wilkinson and Bernardo A. Huberman have released a paper (PDF) that examines cooperation dynamics and relationship to content quality in Wikipedia. The Abstract states:

Since its inception six years ago, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has accumulated 6.40 million articles and 250 million edits contributed in a predominantly undirected and haphazard fashion by 5.77 million unvetted contributors. Since it is not obvious that this kind of large-scale, voluntary effort can produce good results, we measured the correlation between the 50 million edits in the English-language Wikipedia and the quality of its 1.5 million articles. We found that article quality is indeed correlated with both number of edits and number of distinct editors. An analysis of editing patterns shows a heavy-tailed distribution of articles, in which relatively few articles having disproportionally high numbers of edits and editors end up at the forefront in terms of quality and visibility.

The findings show that the Wikipedia articles with the highest visibility/page rank receive the most edits, and that these articles also were of the highest quality.

This makes me think that it might be interesting to see how Wikipedia’s overall content could quality could be improved, by letting people vote on the “worst” pages, then creating periodic campaigns to improve those pages? This could be applied to many wiki, were quality content is a community goal (or possibly even non-wiki collaborative writing projects_.

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