Conference Paper

Wisdom of the Crowds: Decentralized Knowledge Construction in Wikipedia

DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.1025624


Recently, Nature published an article comparing the quality of Wikipedia articles to those of Encyclopedia Britannica (Giles 2005). The article, which gained much public attention, provides evidence for Wikipedia quality, but does not provide an explanation of the underlying source of that quality. Wikipedia, and wikis in general, aggregate information from a large and diverse author-base, where authors are free to modify any article. Building upon Surowiecki's (2005) Wisdom of Crowds, we develop a model of the factors that determine wiki content quality. In an empirical study of Wikipedia, we find strong support for our model. Our results indicate that increasing size and diversity of the author-base improves content quality. We conclude by highlighting implications for system design and suggesting avenues for future research.

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