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The sociology of critique in Wikipedia
Abstract This paper presents a new conceptual frameThis paper presents a new conceptual framework for the analysis of authority in antiauthoritarian environments. Legitimate domination in commonsbased peer production projects such as Wikipedia rests on two main principles: the extraordinary qualities of charismatic individuals and collectivelyformulated norms and rules. Selfgoverned authority is in turn based on a critique of separated power in the realms of expertise and justice. It thereby constitutes a prefigurative response to widespread democratic aspirations in technologicallyadvanced societies. However this conceptual framework also raises analytical and practical questions. In the first instance, critiques of separation on Wikipedia are hindered by the persistent regard for outside expertise, and by perceptions that justice is unfairly applied because of the everincreasing power of the administrative caste as well as the anonymity of some participants. Second, the proposed sociology of critical actions in Wikipedia requires discussions of specific decisions by project officers and may thus contradict traditional ethical prohibitions regarding the identifications of online research subjects, suggesting the need for a clarification of the aims of research into peer production projects.of research into peer production projects.
Added by wikilit team Added on initial load  +
Collected data time dimension N/A  +
Comments "critiques of separation on Wikipedia are "critiques of separation on Wikipedia are hindered by the persistent regard for outside expertise, and by perceptions that justice is unfairly applied because of the everincreasing power of the administrative caste as well as the anonymity of some participants. Second, the proposed sociology of critical actions in Wikipedia requires discussions of specific decisions by project officers and may thus contradict traditional ethical prohibitions regarding the identifications of online research subjects, suggesting the need for a clarification of the aims of research into peer production projects." p. 1earch into peer production projects." p. 1
Conclusion This paper has outlined a critical researcThis paper has outlined a critical research framework based on the actions of participants, rather than on the uncovering of master narratives of domination. In technologically advanced societies, where domination occurs through soft control, political activism is rarely a mass phenomenon. The radical impulses of the dispersed multitude instead adopt sideways strategies of resistance: constituting digital commons as alternatives to proprietary goods (though these may also operate as justifications for capitalism) and inaugurating new kinds of agencies, communities, and practices. The activity of participants in massively distributed commonsbased peer production projects such as Wikipedia are prefiguring a type of society where expertise and justice are not in the exclusive service of dominants, but democratically available to all. The characteristic of peer production is that people are motivated to form a collective which is not based on class identity (as in traditional social movements) or on a cause such as environmentalism or feminism (as in new social movements) but on collective ownership of the means of production and on democratic control over justice and expertise. In the process of working together for personal satisfaction and the common good, Wikipedians are criticising and overcoming separated domination, rejecting the power of offline scientific knowledge and justice specialists. However personal and structural factors such as the presence of outside experts on the one hand, and firstmover advantage and uncertainty over identity on the other restrain this critique of separation. Possible solutions include reassessing the role of anonymity on the project as well as the drafting of a Constitution which would more clearly lay out the roles and responsibilities of authorityholders (both these suggestions contradict core elements of the Wikipedia ethos). The role of researchers in a legal system which is de facto impermeable to outside scrutiny has also been evoked. Should researchers strictly obey the ‘golden rule’ by only conducting quantitative analysis at the macro level (‘there may be cases of abusive authority because of structural factors x, y and z’), thereby staying out of Wikipedia’s embodied arrangements of power? Wikipedia administrators, bureaucrats and especially arbitrators are effectively operating as judicial authorities: a Wikipedia arbitrator (who happens to be a lawyer in the offline world) once referred to his role in the project as that of a ‘judge of a multimember appellate court with a discretionary jurisdiction’ (Matetski, 2009). Legal scholars do not ask for the permission of judges when reviewing and criticising their decisions. Declarations by the Wikimedia Foundation inviting scholars to join in the process of managing the relationship between researchers and Wikimedia projects show that the issue has not gone unnoticed (Moeller, 2010), but it is not clear to what extent such developments extend to fully independent review by outsiders. Beyond Wikipedia, this is a central question for emerging CSPP RS 1.2 (2011) 8 organisations that promote participatory, horizontal distributions of power. If such organisations are to constitute a viable alternative to corporate hierarchies, their administrative and judicial processes should be able to withstand a similar, or higher, level of scrutiny. In other words, it is time to seriously debate the merits of oversight mechanisms for commonsbased peer production projects.for commonsbased peer production projects.
Data source N/A  +
Google scholar url http://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22The%2Bsociology%2Bof%2Bcritique%2Bin%2BWikipedia%22  +
Has author Mathieu O'Neil +
Has domain Philosophy and ethics + , Information systems +
Has topic Ethics + , Social order +
Month June  +
Peer reviewed Yes  +
Publication type Journal article  +
Published in Critical studies in peer production +
Research design Conceptual  +
Research questions This paper presents a new conceptual framework for the analysis of authority in antiauthoritarian environments.
Revid 10,994  +
Theories Legitimate domination in commonsbased peerLegitimate domination in commonsbased peer production projects such as Wikipedia rests on two main principles: the extraordinary qualities of charismatic individuals and collectivelyformulated norms and rules. Selfgoverned authority is in turn based on a critique of separated power in the realms of expertise and justice. It thereby constitutes a prefigurative response to widespread democratic aspirations in technologicallyadvanced societies.ions in technologicallyadvanced societies.
Theory type Analysis  +
Title The sociology of critique in Wikipedia
Unit of analysis N/A  +
Url http://works.bepress.com/mathieu_oneil/9/  +
Wikipedia coverage Main topic  +
Wikipedia data extraction N/A  +
Wikipedia language N/A  +
Wikipedia page type N/A  +
Year 2011  +
Creation dateThis property is a special property in this wiki. 15 March 2012 20:31:23  +
Categories Ethics  + , Social order  + , Philosophy and ethics  + , Information systems  + , Publications  +
Modification dateThis property is a special property in this wiki. 30 January 2014 20:31:56  +
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