The Network Structure of Successful Collaboration in Wikipedia

AbstractWikipedia is one of the largest and most successful examples of decentralized peer-production systems currently in existence. Yet, the quality of Wikipedia articles varies widely with articles considered of encyclopedic quality (called featured articles) representing less than 0.1 percent of all articles. In this paper, we examine how article quality varies as a function of the network mechanisms that control the interaction among contributors. More specifically, we compare the network mechanisms underlying the production of the complete set of featured articles, with the network mechanisms of a contrasting sample of comparable non-featured articles in the English-language edition of Wikipedia. Estimates of relational event models suggest that contributors to featured articles display greater deference toward the reputation of their team members. Contributors to featured articles also display a weaker tendency to follow the behavioral norms predicted by the theory of structural balance, and hence a weaker tendency toward polarization.


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