Why Wikipedia: self-efficacy and self-esteem in a knowledge-political battle for an egalitarian epistemology

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Why Wikipedia: self-efficacy and self-esteem in a knowledge-political battle for an egalitarian epistemology
Authors: Timme Bisgaard Munk [edit item]
Citation: Observatorio (OBS*) 3 (4): 13-34. 2009.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
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Link(s): Paper link
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Why Wikipedia: self-efficacy and self-esteem in a knowledge-political battle for an egalitarian epistemology is a publication by Timme Bisgaard Munk.


[edit] Abstract

What makes people contribute voluntarily to Wikipedia? A new qualitative empirical study uncovers new motives, publication strategies and social dynamics in Wikipedia. In addition to the motives treated in the existing scientific literature such as status through status play, altruism through ideological identification, identity through community, the analysis uncovers three other motives through theoretical probability-making and empirical demonstration. Consequently, the following three motives must be added to the repertoire of possible motives for contributing voluntarily to Wikipedia. Firstly, the contributors experience a unique and cheap feeling of self-efficacy. They feel that they are efficient and able to handle the tasks that they take upon themselves. This feeling is caused by the fact that many types of contributions may be experienced as a successful contribution, from small text corrections to authoring of complete lexicon articles. Secondly, the contributors get a unique and cheap experience of self-esteem. A feeling that their modest input has a great impact because they are contributing to the creation of a global knowledge good. Thirdly, they are motivated by the ideology that all people have something to bring to Wikipedia. This may be called an egalitarian epistemology. These three motives in combination with the motives described in the literature provide a better and more balanced answer to the above question. The case is the Danish version of Wikipedia and the qualitative survey consists of six qualitative interviews with six contributors.

[edit] Research questions

"What makes people contribute voluntarily to Wikipedia?"

Research details

Topics: Contributor motivation [edit item]
Domains: Philosophy and ethics, Information systems [edit item]
Theory type: Explanation [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "This empirical study is based on the theory of Wikipedia as a common good with the three above-mentioned supplementary motives. According to this theory, Wikipedia may be perceived as a virtual free common knowledge good with the opportunities and problems that arise when many people are collectively working to create common good in the physical as well as in the virtual world (Samuelson, 1954; Olson, 1970; Ostrom, 1994; Shirky, 2008)" [edit item]
Research design: Content analysis [edit item]
Data source: Interview responses [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: User [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Danish [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"The answer is that they do it to achieve status, feel that they are part of the community, for political reasons, for identity, learning, joy of creating and because it is fun it itself. They do it because they believe in the ideology of a common free virtual knowledge good and fight for an egalitarian epistemology. They do it because it gives them a unique and cheap feeling of self-efficacy and self-esteem. Which of these motives is most important, when and how, depends on the different historical stages, social roles and work assignments in Wikipedia. The optimal strategy for realizing most of these benefits with the lowest possible risk and smallest possible investment is by writing articles on narrow subjects with few readers as a niche expert. That is why we have Wikipedia."

[edit] Comments

"This is conducted in the Danish Wikipedia, though there is no such option in our 'Wikipedia language' field"


Further notes[edit]