Cultural differences in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia

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Cultural differences in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia
Authors: Ulrike Pfeil, Panayiotis Zaphiris, Chee Siang Ang [edit item]
Citation: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (1): 88-113. 2006 October.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00316.x.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Added on initial load
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Cultural differences in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia is a publication by Ulrike Pfeil, Panayiotis Zaphiris, Chee Siang Ang.


[edit] Abstract

This article explores the relationship between national culture and computer-mediated communication {(CMC)} in Wikipedia. The articles on the topic game from the French, German, Japanese, and Dutch Wikipedia websites were Studied using content analysis methods. Correlations were investigated between patterns of contributions and the four dimensions of cultural influences proposed by Hofstede {(Power} Distance, Collectivism versus Individualism, Femininity versus Masculinity, and Uncertainty Avoidance). The analysis revealed cultural differences in the style of contributions across the cultures investigated, some of which are correlated with the dimensions identified by Hofstede. These findings suggest that cultural differences that are observed in the physical world also exist in the virtual world.

[edit] Research questions

"This study aims to explore the relatively new research area of cultural differences in wikis through the use of content analysis methods to investigate the behavior of wiki participants. The primary focus of the study is the relations between the patterns of changes on wiki sites and the cultural backgrounds of the contributors. Content analysis methods have been used previously to study wikis (Emigh & Herring, 2005), and the influence of cultural background on web design has also been explored (Callahan, 2005). However, as far as we know, there has been no previous study that combined these two areas to apply content analysis methods to the study of cultural influences on wiki collaborations. Specifically, we investigate the relation between users’ behavior in Wikipedia and their cultural backgrounds as defined by the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede (1991)."

Research details

Topics: Cultural and linguistic effects on participation, Other collaboration topics [edit item]
Domains: Sociology [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "To arrive at a set of

categories, we followed the process of grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). We processed the pages and extracted possible categories as they emerged. By doing this several times in an iterative cycle, the categories were refined according to the data until saturation was reached." [edit item]

Research design: 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: Dutch, French, German, Japanese [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"The findings of this exploratory study show that content analysis methods can be useful for investigating cultural differences in wiki communities. The methodology further demonstrated that valuable information can be extracted from the history page of a wiki, by categorizing and then relating it to cultural dimensions. The study shows that the Internet—and Wikipedia in particular—is not a culturally neutral space, but that differences in behavior across cultures can be observed. The amount and strength of the correlations between changes made in Wikipedia and Hofstede’s cultural dimension shows that cultural differences that are observed in the real world can be related, carefully, to the virtual world. Our study thus enhances the validity of previous studies that have observed cultural differences on the World Wide Web (e.g., Singh & Baack, 2004; Singh, Zhao, & Hu, 2003; Tsikriktsis, 2002). These findings give rise to implications regarding how aspects of collaborative online work are influenced by pre-existing cultural differences. For example, as indicated by the significant negative correlation between the Power Distance Index and the category Delete Link, as well as the similar trend in Delete Information, people of a country with a high Power Distance Index, such as the French, are likely to feel uncomfortable about deleting others’ work. It is therefore advisable not to expect or require it of them in collaborative online work. These findings provide useful indications for understanding the behavior of people from another culture in cross-cultural online communication (e.g., online communities with international members). People from a given culture are likely to have attributes and behaviors concerning online communication according to their cultural background. If we understand the way people behave in online communication, the effectiveness of this communication or work can be increased and misunderstandings and problems may be minimized. The knowledge gained from this project also has implications for how to improve the design of online communities, as it is advisable to consider cultural differences and approach the community according to the cultural backgrounds of the members. One should offer communication and collaborative work tools suitable to the cultural preferences of the users. For example, if the users of a community come from a masculine country such as Japan, they—according to our data—are likely to be more active in adding and clarifying information. This can be interpreted as their desire to make the content grow, develop, and succeed. The design of a community should provide functions in the community that support this motivation by, for example, identifying the total number of edits made (‘‘you have made a total of 25,434 edits’’) or giving rewards in the form of rank to members who contribute frequently. People froma country with a high Power Distance are, according to the data,more reluctant to delete information. It is believed that the reason for this is that deletions are powerful actions that people from such countries do not think they have the right or privilege to do. For the design of a community for these people it might therefore be advisable to provide a function similar to deletions but use terminology that would make it appear like a less powerful action, e.g., hide information instead of delete it."

[edit] Comments

""The Internet—and Wikipedia in particular—is not a culturally neutral space, but that differences in behavior across cultures can be observed. The amount and strength of the correlations between changes made in Wikipedia and Hofstede’s cultural dimension shows that cultural differences that are observed in the real world can be related, carefully, to the virtual world. ""


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "Cultural differences in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia"RDF feed
AbstractThis article explores the relationship betThis article explores the relationship between national culture and computer-mediated communication {(CMC)} in Wikipedia. The articles on the topic game from the French, German, Japanese, and Dutch Wikipedia websites were Studied using content analysis methods. Correlations were investigated between patterns of contributions and the four dimensions of cultural influences proposed by Hofstede {(Power} Distance, Collectivism versus Individualism, Femininity versus Masculinity, and Uncertainty Avoidance). The analysis revealed cultural differences in the style of contributions across the cultures investigated, some of which are correlated with the dimensions identified by Hofstede. These findings suggest that cultural differences that are observed in the physical world also exist in the virtual world.cal world also exist in the virtual world.
Added by wikilit teamAdded on initial load +
Collected data time dimensionCross-sectional +
Comments"The Internet—and Wikipedia in particular—"The Internet—and Wikipedia in particular—is not a culturally

neutral space, but that differences in behavior across cultures can be observed. The amount and strength of the correlations between changes made in Wikipedia and Hofstede’s cultural dimension shows that cultural differences that are observed in the

real world can be related, carefully, to the virtual world. "
elated, carefully, to the virtual world. "
ConclusionThe findings of this exploratory study shoThe findings of this exploratory study show that content analysis methods can be

useful for investigating cultural differences in wiki communities. The methodology further demonstrated that valuable information can be extracted from the history page of a wiki, by categorizing and then relating it to cultural dimensions. The study shows that the Internet—and Wikipedia in particular—is not a culturally neutral space, but that differences in behavior across cultures can be observed. The amount and strength of the correlations between changes made in Wikipedia and Hofstede’s cultural dimension shows that cultural differences that are observed in the real world can be related, carefully, to the virtual world. Our study thus enhances the validity of previous studies that have observed cultural differences on the World Wide Web (e.g., Singh & Baack, 2004; Singh, Zhao, & Hu, 2003; Tsikriktsis, 2002). These findings give rise to implications regarding how aspects of collaborative online work are influenced by pre-existing cultural differences. For example, as indicated by the significant negative correlation between the Power Distance Index and the category Delete Link, as well as the similar trend in Delete Information, people of a country with a high Power Distance Index, such as the French, are likely to feel uncomfortable about deleting others’ work. It is therefore advisable not to expect or require it of them in collaborative online work. These findings provide useful indications for understanding the behavior of people from another culture in cross-cultural online communication (e.g., online communities with international members). People from a given culture are likely to have attributes and behaviors concerning online communication according to their cultural background. If we understand the way people behave in online communication, the effectiveness of this communication or work can be increased and misunderstandings and problems may be minimized. The knowledge gained from this project also has implications for how to improve the design of online communities, as it is advisable to consider cultural differences and approach the community according to the cultural backgrounds of the members. One should offer communication and collaborative work tools suitable to the cultural preferences of the users. For example, if the users of a community come from a masculine country such as Japan, they—according to our data—are likely to be more active in adding and clarifying information. This can be interpreted as their desire to make the content grow, develop, and succeed. The design of a community should provide functions in the community that support this motivation by, for example, identifying the total number of edits made (‘‘you have made a total of 25,434 edits’’) or giving rewards in the form of rank to members who contribute frequently. People froma country with a high Power Distance are, according to the data,more reluctant to delete information. It is believed that the reason for this is that deletions are powerful actions that people from such countries do not think they have the right or privilege to do. For the design of a community for these people it might therefore be advisable to provide a function similar to deletions but use terminology that would

make it appear like a less powerful action, e.g., hide information instead of delete it.
g., hide information instead of delete it.
Data sourceWikipedia pages +
Doi10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00316.x +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22Cultural%2Bdifferences%2Bin%2Bcollaborative%2Bauthoring%2Bof%2BWikipedia%22 +
Has authorUlrike Pfeil +, Panayiotis Zaphiris + and Chee Siang Ang +
Has domainSociology +
Has topicCultural and linguistic effects on participation + and Other collaboration topics +
Issue1 +
MonthOctober +
Pages88-113 +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeJournal article +
Published inJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication +
Research designContent analysis +
Research questionsThis study aims to explore the relatively This study aims to explore the relatively new research area of cultural differences

in wikis through the use of content analysis methods to investigate the behavior of wiki participants. The primary focus of the study is the relations between the patterns of changes on wiki sites and the cultural backgrounds of the contributors. Content analysis methods have been used previously to study wikis (Emigh & Herring, 2005), and the influence of cultural background on web design has also been explored (Callahan, 2005). However, as far as we know, there has been no previous study that combined these two areas to apply content analysis methods to the study of cultural influences on wiki collaborations. Specifically, we investigate the relation between users’ behavior in Wikipedia and their cultural backgrounds as defined by the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede (1991).al

dimensions proposed by Hofstede (1991).
Revid10,725 +
TheoriesTo arrive at a set of

categories, we folloTo arrive at a set of categories, we followed the process of grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). We processed the pages and extracted possible categories as they emerged. By doing this several times in an iterative cycle, the categories were refined according to the data until saturation was reached. to the data

until saturation was reached.
Theory typeAnalysis +
TitleCultural differences in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia
Unit of analysisArticle +
Urlhttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00316.x/full +
Volume12 +
Wikipedia coverageMain topic +
Wikipedia data extractionLive Wikipedia +
Wikipedia languageDutch +, French +, German + and Japanese +
Wikipedia page typeArticle +
Year2006 +