Finding social roles in Wikipedia

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Finding social roles in Wikipedia is a 2011 publication written in English by Howard T. Welser, Dan Cosley, Gueorgi Kossinets, Austin Lin, Fedor Dokshin, Geri Gay, Marc Smith.

[edit] Abstract

This paper investigates some of the social roles people play in the online community of Wikipedia. We start from qualitative comments posted on community oriented pages, wiki project memberships, and user talk pages in order to identify a sample of editors who represent four key roles: substantive experts, technical editors, vandal fighters, and social networkers. Patterns in edit histories and egocentric network visualizations suggest potential "structural signatures" that could be used as quantitative indicators of role adoption. Using simple metrics based on edit histories we compare two samples of Wikipedians: a collection of long term dedicated editors, and a cohort of editors from a one month window of new arrivals. According to these metrics, we find that the proportions of editor types in the new cohort are similar those observed in the sample of dedicated contributors. The number of new editors playing helpful roles in a single month's cohort nearly equal the number found in the dedicated sample. This suggests that informal socialization has the potential provide sufficient role related labor despite growth and change in Wikipedia. These results are preliminary, and we describe several ways that the method can be improved, including the expansion and refinement of role signatures and identification of other important social roles.

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