Limits of self-organization: Peer production and laws of quality

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Limits of self-organization: Peer production and laws of quality is a 2006 journal article by P. Duguid and published in First Monday.

[edit] Abstract

People often implicitly ascribe the quality of peer production projects such as Project Gutenberg or Wikipedia to what the author calls œlaws? of quality. These are drawn from open source software development and it is not clear how applicable they are outside the realm of software. In this article, the author looks at examples from peer production projects to ask whether faith in these laws does not so much guarantee quality as hide the need for improvement. The author concludes that, given the bulk of these projects (52 million tracks in the Gracenote database, 1 million entries on the English Wikipedia site, 17,000 books on Project Gutenberg), sampling for quality is both difficult and tendentious. Clearly, the author's is not a scientific survey. Nor was his intention simply to find flaws. Rather, the author used these examples to try, however inadequately, to raise questions about the transferability of open source quality assurance to other domains. The author's underlying argument is that the social processes of open source software production may transfer to other fields of peer production, but, with regard to quality, software production remains a special case.

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