Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Another Wikipedia statistical analysis

(Courtesy of the Value Wiki Blog)

An interesting, although preliminary, analysis on the relationship between anonymous editors and vandalism can be found at Wikipedia:WikiProject Vandalism studies/Study1. According to the three Wikipedians who spent the better part of two months uncovering the details and putting their results to a statistical analysis, in a given month approximately 5% of edits are vandalism and 97% of that vandalism is done by anonymous editors.

An interesting counterpoint to Aaron Swartz's often referenced essay, which argues that the majority of all content comes from editors who contribute a total of less than 25 edits: if my impression is correct, these two groups -- anonymous editors and these low-total editors -- largely overlap.

A voice worth adding to this conversation is Betsy Devine's paper from last summer's Wikimania, Schrödinger's Wiki: The Quantum Challenge of Media Attention. Her title is a bit misleading: an important point she made in her presentation was how media attention to a given Wikipedia article will lead to a flurry of anonymous edits, many of which she characterized as "vandalism" using a definition similar to the one used by the team behind the WikiProject Vandalism study above.


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i think if anything is shouldn't encourage us to limit anonymous user's editing but to focus more on getting them to register. the numbers plainly show: the more users we can get to register, the less likely the aforementioned editor will vandalize, the less wikipedia will be vandalized. it looks like [[Wikipedia_talk:Welcoming_committee]] is actually doing anti-vandal work! ;)
ps, if this were wikipedia, i could go back and make that 'is' into an 'it'. oh if only all the internet were a wiki, heh.
I won't argue that using a carrot is always better than a stick. Unfortunately, both are often needed to guarrantee the expected results.

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