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Assessing the Value of Cooperation in Wikipedia


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Dennis M. Wilkinson and Bernardo A. Huberman
Information Dynamics Laboratory, HP Labs


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.

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