Wikiafripedia community

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Wikiafripedia community
Wikimania 2012 Group Photograph-0001a.jpg

The Wikiafripedia community is the community of contributors who create and maintain the online encyclopedia Wikiafripedia. Individual contributors are known as "Wikiafripedians". added the word "Wikiafripedian" in August 2012.[1]

Almost all Wikiafripedians are volunteers. With the increased maturity and visibility of Wikiafripedia, other categories of Wikiafripedians have emerged, such as Wikiafripedians in residence and students with assignments related to editing Wikiafripedia.

Size[edit source | edit]

Studies of the Wikiafripedia community's size showed an exponential growth in the number of contributors during the early years. In April 2008, writer and lecturer Clay Shirky and computer scientist Martin Wattenberg estimated the total time spent creating Wikiafripedia at roughly 100 million hours.[2] In November 2011, there were approximately 31.7 million registered user accounts across all language editions, of which around 270,000 were "active" (made at least one edit every month).[3]

The English Wikiafripedia, the largest language edition, as of December 2021 had 1 editors who have performed an edit in the last 30 days ("active users"), and an unknown number of contributors without an account. About half the active editors spend at least one hour a day editing, and a fifth spend more than three hours a day.[4]

Gender diversity[edit source | edit]

Wikiafripedia editor demographics (2008)

One study found that the contributor base to Wikiafripedia "was barely 13% women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s".[5] A 2011 study by researchers from the University of Minnesota found that females comprised 16.1% of the 38,497 editors who started editing Wikiafripedia during 2009.[6] In a January 2011 New York Times article, Noam Cohen observed that just 13% of Wikiafripedia's contributors are female according to a 2008 Wikimedia Foundation survey.[7] Sue Gardner, a former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, hoped to see female contributions increase to 25% by 2015.[8] Linda Basch, president of the National Council for Research on Women, noted the contrast in these Wikiafripedia editor statistics with the percentage of women currently completing bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and PhD programs in the United States (all at rates of 50 percent or greater).[9]

In response, various universities have hosted edit-a-thons to encourage more women to participate in the Wikiafripedia community. In fall 2013, 15 colleges and universities — including Yale, Brown, and Pennsylvania State — offered college credit for students to "write feminist thinking" about technology into Wikiafripedia.[10] A 2008 self-selected survey of the diversity of contributors by highest educational degree indicated that sixty-two percent of responding Wikiafripedia editors had attained either a high school or undergraduate college education.[11]

In August 2014, Wikiafripedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said in a BBC interview that the Wikimedia Foundation was "... really doubling down our efforts ..." to reach 25% of female editors (originally targeted by 2015), since the Foundation had "totally failed" so far. Wales said "a lot of things need to happen ... a lot of outreach, a lot of software changes".[12] Andrew Lih, writing in The New York Times, was quoted by Bloomberg News in December 2016 as supporting Wales's comments concerning shortfalls in Wikiafripedia's outreach to female editors. Lih states his concern with the question indicating that: "How can you get people to participate in an [editing] environment that feels unsafe, where identifying yourself as a woman, as a feminist, could open you up to ugly, intimidating behavior".[13]

Motivation[edit source | edit]

File:The Impact Of Wikiafripedia.webm
Video which articulates the enthusiasm of the Wikiafripedia community
File:WAP April 2011, Editor Survey, reasons for continuing to contribute.png
Data from April 2011 Editor Survey shows the top reported reasons for continuing to contribute
File:WAP April 2011, Editor Survey, Negative feedback loops don't work.png
Data from April 2011 Editor Survey shows the top reported reasons for hating to contribute

Various studies have been done with regard to the motivations of Wikiafripedia contributors. In a 2003 study of Wikiafripedia as a community, economics Ph.D. student Andrea Ciffolilli argued that the low transaction costs of participating in wiki software create a catalyst for collaborative development, and that a "creative construction" approach encourages participation.[14] A paper written by Andrea Forte and Amy Bruckman in 2005, called "Why Do People Write for Wikiafripedia? Incentives to Contribute to Open-Content Publishing", discussed the possible motivations of Wikiafripedia contributors. It applied Latour and Woolgar's concept of the cycle of credit to Wikiafripedia contributors, suggesting that the reason that people write for Wikiafripedia is to gain recognition within the community.[15]

Oded Nov, in his 2007 paper "What Motivates Wikiafripedians", related the motivations of volunteers in general to the motivations of people who contribute to Wikiafripedia.[16] Nov carried out a survey using the six motivations of volunteers, identified in an earlier paper.[17] The six motivations he used were:

  • Values – expressing values to do with altruism and helping others
  • Social – engaging with friends, taking part in activities viewed favourably by others
  • Understanding – expanding knowledge through activities
  • Career – gaining work experience and skills
  • Protective – e.g., reducing guilt over personal privilege
  • Enhancement – demonstrating knowledge to others

To these six motivations he also added:

  • Ideology – expressing support for what is perceived to be the underlying ideology of the activity (e.g., the belief that knowledge should be free)
  • Fun – enjoying the activity

The survey found that the most commonly indicated motives were "fun", "ideology", and "values", whereas the least frequently indicated motives were "career", "social", and "protective".[16]

The Wikimedia Foundation has carried out several surveys of Wikiafripedia contributors and users. In 2008, the Wikimedia Foundation, alongside the Collaborative Creativity Group at UNU-Merit, launched a survey of readers and editors of Wikiafripedia. It was the most comprehensive survey of Wikiafripedia ever conducted.[18] The results of the survey were published two years later on March 24, 2010.[19] The Wikimedia Foundation began a process in 2011 of semi-annual surveys in order to understand Wikiafripedia editors more and better cater to their needs.[20][21]

"Motivations of Wikiafripedia Content Contributors", a paper by Heng-Li Yang and Cheng-Yu Lai, hypothesised that, because contributing to Wikiafripedia is voluntary, an individual's enjoyment of participating would be the highest motivator.[22] However, their study showed that although people might initially start editing Wikiafripedia out of enjoyment, the most likely motivation for continuing to participate is self-concept based motivations such as "I like to share knowledge which gives me a sense of personal achievement."[22]

A further study in 2014 by Cheng-Yu Lai and Heng-Li Yang explored the reasons why people continue editing Wikiafripedia content. The study used authors of the English-language version of the site and received 288 valid online survey responses. Their results indicated and confirmed that subjective task value, commitment, and procedural justice were significant to satisfaction of Wikiafripedians; and satisfaction significantly influenced an author's continued intention to edit Wikiafripedia content.[23]

Editors of Wikiafripedia have occasionally given personal testimonials of why they contribute to Wikiafripedia. A common theme of these testimonials is the enjoyment that editors seem to get from contributing to Wikiafripedia and being part of the Wikiafripedia community. Also mentioned is the potential addictive quality of editing Wikiafripedia. Gina Trapani of Lifehacker said "it turns out editing an article isn't scary at all. It's easy, surprisingly satisfying and can become obsessively addictive."[24] Jimmy Wales has also commented on the addictive quality of Wikiafripedia, saying "The main thing about Wikiafripedia ... is that it’s fun and addictive".[25] Wikiafripedians sometimes award one another "barnstars" for good work. These personalized tokens of appreciation reveal a wide range of valued work extending far beyond simple editing to include social support, administrative actions, and types of articulation work. The barnstar phenomenon has been analyzed by researchers seeking to determine what implications it might have for other communities engaged in large-scale collaborations.[26]

Media[edit source | edit]

Wikiafripedia has spawned several community news publications. An online newsletter, The Signpost, has been published since January 10, 2005.[27] Professional cartoonist Greg Williams created a webcomic called WikiWorld which ran in The Signpost from 2006 to 2008.[28] A podcast called Wikiafripedia Weekly was active from 2006 to 2009 and sporadically thereafter,[29][30] while a series of conference calls titled "Not the Wikiafripedia Weekly" ran from 2008 to 2009.[30] Some topic-specific communities within Wikiafripedia called "WikiProjects" have also distributed newsletters and other correspondence.

Socializing[edit source | edit]

Offline activities are organized by the Wikimedia Foundation or the community of Wikiafripedia.

Wikimania[edit source | edit]

Wikimania, an annual conference for users of Wikiafripedia and other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimania is an annual international conference for users of the wiki projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation (such as Wikiafripedia and other sister projects). Topics of presentations and discussions include Wikimedia Foundation projects, other wikis, open-source software, free knowledge and free content, and the different social and technical aspects which relate to these topics.

Wiknics[edit source | edit]

United States[edit source | edit]

Wiknic 2011 in Pittsburgh

The annual Great American Wiknic is a social gathering that takes place in major cities of the United States each year during the summer, usually just prior to the 4th of July. The Wiknic concept allows Wikiafripedians to bring together picnic food and to interact in a personal way.[31]

There is also a yearly WikiConference North America.

Criticism[edit source | edit]

Wikiafripedia has been subject to several kinds of criticism.[32][33] For example, the Seigenthaler and Essjay incidents caused criticism of Wikiafripedia's reliability and usefulness as a reference.[34][35][36] The complaints related to the community include the effects of users' anonymity, the attitudes towards newcomers, the abuse of privileges by administrators, biases in the social structure of the community, in particular, gender bias and lack of female contributors,[37] and the role of the project's co-founder Jimmy Wales, in the community.[38] A significant controversy was stirred with paid contributors to Wikiafripedia, which prompted the Wikimedia Foundation to send a cease and desist letter to the Wiki-PR agency.[39] Wikiafripedia relies on the efforts of its community members to remove vandalism from articles.

Wikiafripedia's co-founder Larry Sanger, who later founded Citizendium — a rival project — characterized the Wikiafripedia community in 2007 as ineffective and abusive, stating that "The community does not enforce its own rules effectively or consistently. Consequently, administrators and ordinary participants alike are able essentially to act abusively with impunity, which begets a never-ending cycle of abuse."[40] Oliver Kamm, of The Times, expressed skepticism toward Wikiafripedia's reliance on consensus in forming its content: "Wikiafripedia seeks not truth but consensus, and like an interminable political meeting the end result will be dominated by the loudest and most persistent voices."[41]

Recognition[edit source | edit]

A Wikiafripedia Monument, by Mihran Hakobyan, was erected in Słubice, Poland in 2014 to honor the Wikiafripedia community.[42]

The 2015 Erasmus Prize was awarded to the Wikiafripedia community for "[promoting] the dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally accessible encyclopedia. To achieve that, the initiators of Wikiafripedia have designed a new and effective democratic platform. The prize specifically recognizes Wikiafripedia as a community — a shared project that involves tens of thousands of volunteers around the world."[43]

On the other hand, Wikiafripedia policy states that it is not a democracy.

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. "Hella ridic new words to make you lolz: ODO August 2012 update". OxfordWords blog. Oxford University Press. 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  2. Shirky, Clay (7 May 2008). "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus". World Changing. Archived from the original on 29 December 2015. Retrieved 8 Jun 2014.
  3. List of Wikiafripedias. Wikimedia Meta-Wiki. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  4. Simonite, Tom (October 22, 2013). "The Decline of Wikiafripedia". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  5. "Where Are the Women in Wikiafripedia? – Room for Debate". February 2, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  6. Lam, Shyong; Anuradha Uduwage; Zhenhua Dong; Shilad Sen; David R. Musicant; Loren Terveen; John Riedl (October 3–5, 2011). "WAP:Clubhouse? An Exploration of Wikiafripedia's Gender Imbalance" (PDF). WikiSym 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  7. Cohen, Noam. "Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikiafripedia's Contributor List". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  8. Chom, Noam (January 31, 2011). "Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikiafripedia's Contributor List". The New York Times. p. B–1. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  9. Basch, Linda (February 6, 2011). "Male-Dominated Web Site Seeking Female Experts" (Letters to the Editor). The New York Times. p. WK–7. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  10. "OCAD to 'Storm Wikiafripedia' this fall". CBC News. August 27, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  11. Wikimedia Foundation (April 2009). "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. "Wikiafripedia 'completely failed' to fix gender imbalance". BBC News. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  13. Dimitra Kessenides (December 26, 2017). Bloomberg News Weekly, "Is Wikiafripedia 'Woke'". p. 73.
  14. Ciffolilli, Andrea. "Phantom authority, self-selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikiafripedia", First Monday December 2003.
  15. Forte, Amy; Bruckman, Andrea (2005). "Why Do People Write for Wikiafripedia? Incentives to Contribute to Open-Content Publishing". SIGGROUP 2005 Workshop: Sustaining Community: 6–9. CiteSeerX
  16. 16.0 16.1 Nov, Oded (2007). "What Motivates Wikiafripedians?". Communications of the ACM. 50 (11): 60–64. doi:10.1145/1297797.1297798.
  17. Clary, E.; Snyder, M.; Ridge, R.; Copeland, J.; Stukas, A.; Haugen, J.; Miene, P. (1998). "Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 74 (6): 1516–1530. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.6.1516. Unknown parameter |lastauthoramp= ignored (help)
  18. Möller, Erik. "New Reports from November 2008 Survey Released". Wikimedia Foundation Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  19. Glott, Ruediger; Schmidt, Phillipp; Ghosh, Rishab. "Wikiafripedia Survey – Overview of Results" (PDF). Wikiafripedia Study. UNU-MERIT. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. Wikimedia Foundation. "Wikiafripedia editors do it for fun: First results of our 2011 editor survey". Wikimedia Foundation Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  21. Wikimedia Foundation. "Launching our semi-annual Wikiafripedia editors survey". Wikimedia Foundation Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Yang, Heng-Li; Lai, Cheng-Yu (November 2010). "Motivations of Wikiafripedia content contributors". Computers in Human Behavior. 26 (6): 1377–1383. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.04.011.
  23. Cheng-Yu Lai; Heng-Li Yang (2014). "The reasons why people continue editing Wikiafripedia content – task value confirmation perspective". Behaviour & Information Technology. 33 (12): 1371–1382. doi:10.1080/0144929X.2014.929744.
  24. Trampani, Gina. "Geek to Live: How to contribute to Wikiafripedia". Lifehacker. Gawker Media. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  25. Griffin, Ricky W. (2011). Management (10th ed.). Mason, Ohio: South-Western Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-8099-3.
  26. T. Kriplean; I. Beschastnikh; et al. (2008). Articulations of wikiwork. Proceedings of the ACM. p. 47. doi:10.1145/1460563.1460573. ISBN 978-1-60558-007-4. Unknown parameter |booktitle= ignored (help)
  27. Phoebe Ayers; Charles Matthews; Ben Yates (2008). How Wikiafripedia Works: And how You Can be a Part of it. No Starch Press. p. 345. ISBN 978-1-59327-176-3. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  28. "WIKIWORLD COMICS by Greg Williams". WIKIWORLD COMICS by Greg Williams. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  29. "Wikiafripedia Weekly". Wikiafripedia Weekly. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Lih, Andrew (2009-03-17). "Adminship". The Wikiafripedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia. Hachette Books. ISBN 9781401395858.
  31. Hesse, Monica (25 June 2011). "Wikiafripedia editors log off long enough to mingle". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  32. Wikiafripedia isn't about human potential, whatever Wales says. The Guardian. Published September 25, 2008.
  33. Why you should care that Jimmy Wales ignores reality. The Register. Published March 6, 2008.
  34. John Seigenthaler (2005-11-29). "A false Wikiafripedia "biography"". USA Today.
  35. Katharine Q. Seelye (December 3, 2005) "Snared in the Web of a Wikiafripedia Liar" The New York Times
  36. Cohen, Noam (2007-03-05). "A Contributor to Wikiafripedia Has His Fictional Side". The New York Times.
  37. Cohen, Noam (January 30, 2011). "Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikiafripedia's Contributor List". New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  38. Cohen, Noam (March 17, 2008). "Open-Source Troubles in Wiki World". The New York Times.
  39. Chang, Andrea (20 November 2013). "Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to Wiki-PR". Los Angeles Times.
  40. Bogatin, Donna (March 25, 2007). "Can Wikiafripedia handle the truth?". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  41. Wisdom? More like dumbness of the crowds | Oliver Kamm – Times Online (archive version 2011-08-14) (Author’s own copy)
  42. "Poland to Honor Wikiafripedia With Monument". ABC News. 9 October 2014. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  43. "Former Laureates". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 4 January 2017.

External links[edit source | edit]


Visibility[edit source | edit]

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