Wikimania, an annual conference for users of Wikipedia and other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikipedia community is the community of contributors to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. These contributors are also known as "Wikipedians". The overwhelming majority of them are volunteers.
Studies of the size of the community of Wikipedia showed an exponential growth rate of the number of Wikipedia contributors during the early years. By 2009, the growth of the community slowed down. In November 2011, there were approximately 31.7 million registered user accounts across all language editions, of which only around 270,000 accounts were active on a monthly basis.
Members of the Wikipedia community on the whole do not receive monetary compensation or other forms of compensation such as significantly elevated status within community or a possibility to self-promote.
Various studies have been done with regard to the motivations of Wikipedia contributors. In a 2003 study of Wikipedia as a community, economics Ph.D. student Andrea Ciffolilli argued that the low transaction costs of participating in wiki software create a catalyst for collaborative development, and that a "creative construction" approach encourages participation. A paper written by Andrea Forte and Amy Bruckman in 2005 called "Why Do People Write for Wikipedia? Incentives to Contribute to Open-Content Publishing" discussed the possible motivations of Wikipedia contributors. It applied Latour and Woolgar's concept of the cycle of credit to Wikipedia contributors, suggesting that the reason that people write for Wikipedia is to gain recognition within the community.
Oded Nov, in his 2007 paper "What Motivates Wikipedians", related the motivations of volunteers in general to the motivations of people who contribute to Wikipedia. Nov carried out a survey using the six motivations of volunteers, identified in an earlier paper. The six motivations he used were:
- Values – expressing values to do with altruism and helping others
- Social – engaging with friends, taking part in activities viewed favourably by others
- Understanding – expanding knowledge through activities
- Career – gaining work experience and skills
- Protective – e.g. reducing guilt over personal privilege
- Enhancement – demonstrating knowledge to others
To these six motivations he also added:
- Ideology – expressing support for what is perceived to be the underlying ideology of the activity (e.g. the belief that knowledge should be free)
- Fun – enjoying the activity
The survey found that the most commonly indicated motives were "fun," "ideology," and "values," whereas the least frequently indicated motives were "career," "social," and "protective."
The Wikimedia Foundation has carried out several surveys of Wikipedia contributors and users. In 2008 the Wikimedia Foundation, alongside the Collaborative Creativity Group at UNU-Merit launched a survey of readers and editors of Wikipedia. It was the most comprehensive survey of Wikipedia ever conducted. The results of the survey were published two years later on March 24, 2010. The Wikimedia Foundation began a process in 2011 of semi-annual surveys in order to understand Wikipedia editors more and better cater to their needs.
"Motivations of Wikipedia content contributors", a paper by Heng-Li Yang and Cheng-Yu Lai, hypothesised that because contributing to Wikipedia is voluntary, an individual's enjoyment of participating would be the highest motivator. However, their study showed that although people might initially start editing Wikipedia out of enjoyment, the most likely motivation for continuing to participate is self-concept based motivations such as "I like to share knowledge which gives me a sense of personal achievement."
Editors of Wikipedia have occasionally given personal testimonials of why they contribute to Wikipedia. A common theme of these testimonials is the enjoyment that editors seem to get from contributing to Wikipedia and being part of the Wikipedia community. Also mentioned is the potential addictive quality of editing Wikipedia. Gina Trapani of Lifehacker said "it turns out editing an article isn't scary at all. It's easy, surprisingly satisfying and can become obsessively addictive." Jimmy Wales has also commented on the addictive quality of Wikipedia, saying "The main thing about Wikipedia [...] is that it’s fun and addictive". Wikipedians sometimes award one another barnstars for good work. These personalized tokens of appreciation reveal a wide range of valued work extending far beyond simple editing to include social support, administrative actions, and types of articulation work. The barnstar phenomenon has been analyzed by researchers seeking to determine what implications it might have for other communities engaged in large-scale collaborations.
Wikipedia has spawned several community news publications. An online newsletter, The Signpost, has been published weekly since 10 January 2005. Professional cartoonist Greg Williams created a webcomic called "WikiWorld" which ran in The Signpost from 2006 to 2008. A podcast called Wikipedia Weekly was active from 2006 to 2009 while a series of Skype conference calls titled Not The Wikipedia Weekly ran from 2008 to 2009. Some topic-specific communities within Wikipedia called "WikiProjects" have also distributed newsletters and other correspondence.
Offline activities are organized by the Wikimedia Foundation or the community of Wikipedia. A WikiMeet is an organized face-to-face meeting of Wikipedia members, sometimes small and informal, sometimes large and formal.
Wikimania is an annual international conference for users of the wiki projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation (such as Wikipedia and other sister projects). Topics of presentations and discussions include Wikimedia Foundation projects, other wikis, open source software, free knowledge and free content, and the different social and technical aspects which relate to these topics.
The annual Great American Wikinic is a social gathering that takes place, in major cities of the United States, each year during the summer, usually just prior to the 4th of July. The Wiknic concept allows "Wikipedians", to bring together picnic food and to interact in a personal way.
Wikipedia has been subject to several criticisms. The complaints related to the community include the effects of users' anonymity, the attitudes towards newcomers, the abuse of privileges by administrators, biases in the social structure of the community, in particular, gender bias and lack of female contributors, and the role of the project's founder Jimmy Wales, in the community.
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