Normative behaviour in Wikipedia

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Normative behaviour in Wikipedia
Authors: Christopher Goldspink [edit item]
Citation: Information 13 (5): 652-673. 2010 August.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1080/13691180903214523.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Added on initial load
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Normative behaviour in Wikipedia is a publication by Christopher Goldspink.


[edit] Abstract

This paper examines the effect of norms and rules on editor communicative behaviour in Wikipedia. Specifically, processes of micro-coordination through speech acts are examined as a basis for norm establishment, maintenance, reinforcement and effectiveness. This is pursued by analysing discussion pages taken from a sample of controversial and featured articles. The results reveal some unexpected patterns. Despite the Wikipedia community generating a large number of rules, etiquettes and guidelines, the explicit invocation of rules and/or the use of wider social norms is rare and appears to play a very small role in influencing editor behaviour. The emergent pattern of communicative exchange is not well aligned either with rules established by Wikipedia contributors or with the characteristics of a coherent community and nor is it consistent with the behaviour needed to reach agreement on controversial topics. The paper concludes by offering some tentative hypotheses as to why this may be so and outlines possible future research which may help distinguish between alternatives. Adapted from the source document.

[edit] Research questions

"This paper contributes to the debate about governance behaviour in on-line communities, particularly those associated with Open Source. It addresses evidence of normative selfregulation by analysing the discussion pages of a sample of Wikipedia Controversial and Featured articles. It was assumed that attempts by editors to influence one another within these pages will be revealed by their use of rules and norms as well as the illocutionary force of speech acts. The results reveal some unexpected patterns. Despite the Wikipedia community generating a large number of rules, etiquettes and guidelines, explicit invocation of rules and/or use of wider social norms appeared to play a small role in regulating editor behaviour. The emergent pattern of communicative exchange was not well aligned either with these rules or with the characteristics of a coherent community. Nor was it consistent with the behaviour needed to reach agreement on controversial topics. The paper concludes by offering some tentative hypotheses as to why this is so."

Research details

Topics: Featured articles, Policies and governance [edit item]
Domains: Sociology [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "Within speech act theory (Searle 1969; Habermas 1976), validation refers to whether

an utterance made by one speaker is accepted, rejected, ignored or let go unquestioned by the intended recipient/s. In the Wikipedia sample 50% of all utterances were accepted without question. A further 18% were explicitly accepted by at least one editor; 11% were explicitly rejected and a substantial 22% were ignored. 25% of positive style utterances were accepted by at least one editor compared to 18% of neutral and only 9% of negative. By comparison only 2% of positive utterances were rejected compared to 9% of neutral and 26% of negative. Positive utterances were more likely to be accepted without question (61%) compared to negative (21.7%) and neutral (54.4%). Negative comments were more likely to be ignored (44.1%) compared to neutral (18.2%) and positive (11.4%). From this we can conclude that positive utterances are more likely to be validated than negative, but that overall, a significant number are ignored or rejected. The theory of speech acts distinguishes between the meaning of an utterance and its pragmatic intent. A typical utterance may have a form that differs from the intent. The utterance ‘could you close the door?’, for example, has the form of a question but the intent of advisement: the speaker intends the listener to close the door. With the VRM coding frame used in this research each utterance is coded twice, once to capture the semantic form and again to capture the use of language to exert (illocutionary) force (Searle 1969). In VRM, the relationship of form to intent is expressed using the statement “in service of” (Stiles 1992). In this example the question ‘could you close the door’ is ‘in service of’ the advisement ‘close the door’. In standard presentation this is recorded as (QA)." [edit item]

Research design: Content analysis, Statistical 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:talk [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Not specified [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"In this study we set out to identify the mechanisms that underpin the emergence of systemic self-organisation in a volunteer on-line global institution. The findings have challenged some of our assumptions and expectations, in particular: • The detailed and specific behavioural etiquette published in Wikipedia seems to have little influence on the overall character and style of interaction. • The overall quality of interaction of editors falls short of the range and quality of communicative style characteristic of a community and also of that which would be expected, given the nature of the task. • Most regulation is achieved without the need for frequent explicit invocation of rules or norms. Rather, behaviour seems to accord to a convention which editors quickly recognise and conform to (or bring to the Wikipedia) and which minimally accommodates what needs to be done to satisfy the task in a context of divergent personal goals. • There was a lack of evidence of active negotiation of expectations and standards and convergence of behaviour towards a norm. Within the discussion pages there appeared to be little obvious norm innovation, evolution, adaptation or extension. This suggests that on first encounter with Wikipedia, editors read a set of cues as to what constitutes appropriate or acceptable behaviour and then more or less accommodate to it. Alternatively the order observed may be largely attributable to the prior socialisation of participants with local norms and rules playing a very minor role. • While there is a difference between Controversial and Featured article Discussion pages this is small and the quality of the interaction cannot explain the difference in status. Similarly there appeared to be little in the subject matter of the two groups of articles that would explain the difference – both contained subject matter which was contestable and subject to significantly diverse opinion. There is no clear basis to argue that the apparent order is a direct result of the use of deontic commands associated with social norms and environment specific rules. Despite the fact that the community has been a prolific rule generator, they appear to play a minor role. Contributors demonstrate a style which is broadly inconsistent with these rules and not a good fit with the task. Overall though there is order and it appears to be emergent. The mechanisms that underpin this emergence have not been revealed by the analysis undertaken to date although some hypotheses can be tentatively suggested. The neutral-objective style may be a consequence of the anonymity and open nature of the environment – leading to a suspension of trust. It may propagate as newcomers copy the pattern through a process of behavioural cueing. It is possible also that the order is due to pro-social behaviour internalized and brought to the task. The volunteer nature of Wikipedia, and the level of commitment required, is likely to mean that long term editors reflect a pro-social disposition (Penner, Dovidio et al. 2005). In this context a little norm/rule invocation may go a long way, if not by influencing immediate behaviour, then by encouraging future compliance and/or by giving an incentive for non-compliers to leave. Such a view is quite different from that presumed by previous theories of social norms."

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "Normative behaviour in Wikipedia"RDF feed
AbstractThis paper examines the effect of norms anThis paper examines the effect of norms and rules on editor communicative behaviour in Wikipedia. Specifically, processes of micro-coordination through speech acts are examined as a basis for norm establishment, maintenance, reinforcement and effectiveness. This is pursued by analysing discussion pages taken from a sample of controversial and featured articles. The results reveal some unexpected patterns. Despite the Wikipedia community generating a large number of rules, etiquettes and guidelines, the explicit invocation of rules and/or the use of wider social norms is rare and appears to play a very small role in influencing editor behaviour. The emergent pattern of communicative exchange is not well aligned either with rules established by Wikipedia contributors or with the characteristics of a coherent community and nor is it consistent with the behaviour needed to reach agreement on controversial topics. The paper concludes by offering some tentative hypotheses as to why this may be so and outlines possible future research which may help distinguish between alternatives. Adapted from the source document.natives. Adapted from the source document.
Added by wikilit teamAdded on initial load +
Collected data time dimensionCross-sectional +
ConclusionIn this study we set out to identify the mIn this study we set out to identify the mechanisms that underpin the emergence of

systemic self-organisation in a volunteer on-line global institution. The findings have challenged some of our assumptions and expectations, in particular: • The detailed and specific behavioural etiquette published in Wikipedia seems to have little influence on the overall character and style of interaction. • The overall quality of interaction of editors falls short of the range and quality of communicative style characteristic of a community and also of that which would be expected, given the nature of the task. • Most regulation is achieved without the need for frequent explicit invocation of rules or norms. Rather, behaviour seems to accord to a convention which editors quickly recognise and conform to (or bring to the Wikipedia) and which minimally accommodates what needs to be done to satisfy the task in a context of divergent personal goals. • There was a lack of evidence of active negotiation of expectations and standards and convergence of behaviour towards a norm. Within the discussion pages there appeared to be little obvious norm innovation, evolution, adaptation or extension. This suggests that on first encounter with Wikipedia, editors read a set of cues as to what constitutes appropriate or acceptable behaviour and then more or less accommodate to it. Alternatively the order observed may be largely attributable to the prior socialisation of participants with local norms and rules playing a very minor role. • While there is a difference between Controversial and Featured article Discussion pages this is small and the quality of the interaction cannot explain the difference in status. Similarly there appeared to be little in the subject matter of the two groups of articles that would explain the difference – both contained subject matter which was contestable and subject to significantly diverse opinion. There is no clear basis to argue that the apparent order is a direct result of the use of deontic commands associated with social norms and environment specific rules. Despite the fact that the community has been a prolific rule generator, they appear to play a minor role. Contributors demonstrate a style which is broadly inconsistent with these rules and not a good fit with the task. Overall though there is order and it appears to be emergent. The mechanisms that underpin this emergence have not been revealed by the analysis undertaken to date although some hypotheses can be tentatively suggested. The neutral-objective style may be a consequence of the anonymity and open nature of the environment – leading to a suspension of trust. It may propagate as newcomers copy the pattern through a process of behavioural cueing. It is possible also that the order is due to pro-social behaviour internalized and brought to the task. The volunteer nature of Wikipedia, and the level of commitment required, is likely to mean that long term editors reflect a pro-social disposition (Penner, Dovidio et al. 2005). In this context a little norm/rule invocation may go a long way, if not by influencing immediate behaviour, then by encouraging future compliance and/or by giving an incentive for non-compliers to leave. Such a view is quite different from that presumed by previous theories of social norms.umed by previous theories of social

norms.
Data sourceWikipedia pages +
Doi10.1080/13691180903214523 +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22Normative%2Bbehaviour%2Bin%2BWikipedia%22 +
Has authorChristopher Goldspink +
Has domainSociology +
Has topicFeatured articles + and Policies and governance +
Issue5 +
MonthAugust +
Pages652-673 +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeJournal article +
Published inInformation +
Research designContent analysis + and Statistical analysis +
Research questionsThis paper contributes to the debate aboutThis paper contributes to the debate about governance behaviour in on-line communities,

particularly those associated with Open Source. It addresses evidence of normative selfregulation by analysing the discussion pages of a sample of Wikipedia Controversial and Featured articles. It was assumed that attempts by editors to influence one another within these pages will be revealed by their use of rules and norms as well as the illocutionary force of speech acts. The results reveal some unexpected patterns. Despite the Wikipedia community generating a large number of rules, etiquettes and guidelines, explicit invocation of rules and/or use of wider social norms appeared to play a small role in regulating editor behaviour. The emergent pattern of communicative exchange was not well aligned either with these rules or with the characteristics of a coherent community. Nor was it consistent with the behaviour needed to reach agreement on controversial topics. The paper concludes by

offering some tentative hypotheses as to why this is so.
tentative hypotheses as to why this is so.
Revid11,615 +
TheoriesWithin speech act theory (Searle 1969; HabWithin speech act theory (Searle 1969; Habermas 1976), validation refers to whether

an utterance made by one speaker is accepted, rejected, ignored or let go unquestioned by the intended recipient/s. In the Wikipedia sample 50% of all utterances were accepted without question. A further 18% were explicitly accepted by at least one editor; 11% were explicitly rejected and a substantial 22% were ignored. 25% of positive style utterances were accepted by at least one editor compared to 18% of neutral and only 9% of negative. By comparison only 2% of positive utterances were rejected compared to 9% of neutral and 26% of negative. Positive utterances were more likely to be accepted without question (61%) compared to negative (21.7%) and neutral (54.4%). Negative comments were more likely to be ignored (44.1%) compared to neutral (18.2%) and positive (11.4%). From this we can conclude that positive utterances are more likely to be validated than negative, but that overall, a significant number are ignored or rejected. The theory of speech acts distinguishes between the meaning of an utterance and its pragmatic intent. A typical utterance may have a form that differs from the intent. The utterance ‘could you close the door?’, for example, has the form of a question but the intent of advisement: the speaker intends the listener to close the door. With the VRM coding frame used in this research each utterance is coded twice, once to capture the semantic form and again to capture the use of language to exert (illocutionary) force (Searle 1969). In VRM, the relationship of form to intent is expressed using the statement “in service of” (Stiles 1992). In this example the question ‘could you close the door’ is ‘in service of’ the advisement ‘close the door’. In standard presentation this is recorded as (QA).ard

presentation this is recorded as (QA).
Theory typeAnalysis +
TitleNormative behaviour in Wikipedia
Unit of analysisArticle +
Urlhttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13691180903214523 +
Volume13 +
Wikipedia coverageMain topic +
Wikipedia data extractionLive Wikipedia +
Wikipedia languageNot specified +
Wikipedia page typeArticle:talk +
Year2010 +