Last modified on January 30, 2014, at 20:29

Limits of self-organization: peer production and "laws of quality"

Publication (help)
Limits of self-organization: peer production and "laws of quality"
Authors: Paul Duguid [edit item]
Citation: First Monday 11 (10): . 2006.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
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Link(s): Paper link
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Limits of self-organization: peer production and "laws of quality" is a publication by Paul Duguid.


[edit] Abstract

People often implicitly ascribe the quality of peer production projects such as Project Gutenberg or Wikipedia to what the author calls "laws"? 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.

[edit] Research questions

"More useful answers might emerge by asking, “What is it about peer production processes that assures quality?” I argue that two “laws” of quality, also borrowed from Open Source programming, explicitly or implicitly back up quality claims for peer production. It is important to understand the applicability, the strengths, and the limits of these laws."

Research details

Topics: Antecedents of quality, Quality improvement processes [edit item]
Domains: Information science [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Case [edit item]
Theories: "Undetermined" [edit item]
Research design: Conceptual, Content analysis [edit item]
Data source: Wikipedia pages [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"Project Gutenberg and Wikipedia are tremendous achievements. That does not entitle them to a free pass. Both, because free, tend to get some of the condescending praise given a bake sale, where it’s deemed inappropriate to criticize the cakes that didn’t rise."

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]