Janitors of knowledge: constructing knowledge in the everyday life of Wikipedia editors

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Janitors of knowledge: constructing knowledge in the everyday life of Wikipedia editors
Authors: Olof Sundin [edit item]
Citation: Journal of Documentation 67 (5): 840-862. 2011.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1108/00220411111164709.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Added on initial load
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Janitors of knowledge: constructing knowledge in the everyday life of Wikipedia editors is a publication by Olof Sundin.


[edit] Abstract

Purpose - The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia. Design/methodology/approach - The study is inspired by online ethnography. It includes eleven Wikipedia editors, together with the sociotechnical resources in Wikipedia. The material was collected through interviews, online observations, web documents and discussions, and e-mail questions. The analysis was carried out from a perspective of science and technology studies {(STS).} Findings - Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory for knowledge construction in which the already published is being recycled. The references to external sources anchor the participatory encyclopaedia in the ecology of established media and attribute trust to the knowledge published. The policy on Verifiability is analysed as an obligatory passage point to which all actors have to adjust. Active Wikipedia editors can be seen as akin to janitors of knowledge, as they are the ones who, through their hands-on activities, keep Wikipedia stable. Originality/value - The study develops an innovative understanding of the knowledge construction culture in one of the most popular sources for information on the internet. By highlighting the ways in which trust is established in Wikipedia, a more reflexive use of the participatory encyclopaedia is made possible. This is of value for information literacy training.

[edit] Research questions

"The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia."

Research details

Topics: Contributor perceptions of credibility [edit item]
Domains: Information systems, Knowledge management [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "The theoretical starting point is the interdependence of information practices and

technology as developed in science and technology studies (STS) (eg. Callon, 1986; Frohmann, 2004; Latour, 1987; Latour & Woolgar, 1986[1979])....Moreover, Wikipedia has also been explored from the participants’ point of view. Bryant, Forte and Bruckman (2005) refer to the theory of legitimate peripheral participation, developed by Lave and Wenger (1991), when trying to understand “how users’ motivations and their perceptions of their roles in Wikipedia change as they become more engaged in the community” (p. 2)." [edit item]

Research design: Ethnography [edit item]
Data source: Direct observation, Documents, Interview responses, Survey responses [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Longitudinal [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Article, User [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Policy, Discussion and Q&A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English, Swedish [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory for knowledge construction in which the already published is being recycled. The references to external sources anchor the participatory encyclopaedia in the ecology of established media and attribute trust to the knowledge published. The policy on Verifiability is analysed as an obligatory passage point to which all actors have to adjust. Active Wikipedia editors can be seen as akin to janitors of knowledge, as they are the ones who, through their hands-on activities, keep Wikipedia stable."

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "Janitors of knowledge: constructing knowledge in the everyday life of Wikipedia editors"RDF feed
AbstractPurpose - The aim of this article is to exPurpose - The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia.

Design/methodology/approach - The study is inspired by online ethnography. It includes eleven Wikipedia editors, together with the sociotechnical resources in Wikipedia. The material was collected through interviews, online observations, web documents and discussions, and e-mail questions. The analysis was carried out from a perspective of science and technology studies {(STS).} Findings - Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory for knowledge construction in which the already published is being recycled. The references to external sources anchor the participatory encyclopaedia in the ecology of established media and attribute trust to the knowledge published. The policy on Verifiability is analysed as an obligatory passage point to which all actors have to adjust. Active Wikipedia editors can be seen as akin to janitors of knowledge, as they are the ones who, through their hands-on activities, keep Wikipedia stable.

Originality/value - The study develops an innovative understanding of the knowledge construction culture in one of the most popular sources for information on the internet. By highlighting the ways in which trust is established in Wikipedia, a more reflexive use of the participatory encyclopaedia is made possible. This is of value for information literacy training.
f value for information literacy training.
Added by wikilit teamAdded on initial load +
Collected data time dimensionLongitudinal +
ConclusionWikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory for knowledge construction in which

the already published is being recycled. The references to external sources anchor the participatory encyclopaedia in the ecology of established media and attribute trust to the knowledge published. The policy on Verifiability is analysed as an obligatory passage point to which all actors have to adjust. Active Wikipedia editors can be seen as akin to janitors of knowledge, as they are the ones who, through their hands-on activities, keep Wikipedia stable.ands-on activities, keep

Wikipedia stable.
Data sourceDirect observation +, Documents +, Interview responses + and Survey responses +
Doi10.1108/00220411111164709 +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22Janitors%2Bof%2Bknowledge%3A%2Bconstructing%2Bknowledge%2Bin%2Bthe%2Beveryday%2Blife%2Bof%2BWikipedia%2Beditors%22 +
Has authorOlof Sundin +
Has domainInformation systems + and Knowledge management +
Has topicContributor perceptions of credibility +
Issue5 +
Pages840-862 +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeJournal article +
Published inJournal of Documentation +
Research designEthnography +
Research questionsThe aim of this article is to explore how The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in

Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia.e

stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia.
Revid10,839 +
TheoriesThe theoretical starting point is the inteThe theoretical starting point is the interdependence of information practices and

technology as developed in science and technology studies (STS) (eg. Callon, 1986; Frohmann, 2004; Latour, 1987; Latour & Woolgar, 1986[1979])....Moreover, Wikipedia has also been explored from the participants’ point of view. Bryant, Forte and Bruckman (2005) refer to the theory of legitimate peripheral participation, developed by Lave and Wenger (1991), when trying to understand “how users’ motivations and their perceptions of their roles in Wikipedia change as they become more engaged in the community” (p. 2).ome more

engaged in the community” (p. 2).
Theory typeAnalysis +
TitleJanitors of knowledge: constructing knowledge in the everyday life of Wikipedia editors
Unit of analysisArticle + and User +
Urlhttp://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1949863&show=abstract +
Volume67 +
Wikipedia coverageMain topic +
Wikipedia data extractionLive Wikipedia +
Wikipedia languageEnglish + and Swedish +
Wikipedia page typePolicy + and Discussion and Q&A +
Year2011 +