Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Wikipedia's barnstarring performance

I've had several discussions recently with people who seems to have just woken up to the fact that Wikipedia accepts user contributions: "Hey, wouldn't it be a great idea if scientists contributed to Wikipedia?". In these uncomfortable encounters I am forced to play the part of the guy who points out contributing to Wikipedia ain't all sunshine and light.

As if dealing with the Wikipedia incrowd bitchfest wasn't bad enough, I hope I don't shock you by letting on that contributing to Wikipedia doesn't count as Impact for REF. Or anything else, like job security, or that promotion you were hoping for. Nevertheless, contributing to Wikipedia is fundamentally A Good Thing, so the following is of interest:

Experimental Study of Informal Rewards in Peer Production. (2012) PLoS ONE 7(3): e34358. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034358
We test the effects of informal rewards in online peer production. Using a randomized, experimental design, we assigned editing awards or “barnstars” to a subset of the 1% most productive Wikipedia contributors. Comparison with the control group shows that receiving a barnstar increases productivity by 60% and makes contributors six times more likely to receive additional barnstars from other community members, revealing that informal rewards significantly impact individual effort.


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