The community is the community of contributors to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Individual contributors are known as "Wikipedians". OxfordDictionaries.com added the word "Wikipedian" in August 2012.
Studies of the size of the community of showed an exponential growth in the number of contributors during the early years. In April 2008, writer and lecturer Clay Shirky and computer scientist Martin Wattenberg estimated the total time spent creating at roughly 100 million hours. In November 2011, there were approximately 31.7 million registered user accounts across all language editions, of which around 270,000 were "active" (made at least one edit every month).
The English, the largest language edition, in 2015 had 137,073 editors who have performed an edit in the last 30 days ("active users"), and an unknown number of contributors without an account. About half of the active editors spend at least one hour a day editing, and a fifth spend more than three hours a day.
One study found that the contributor base to "was barely 13% women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s". A 2011 study by researchers from the University of Minnesota found that females comprised 16.1% of the 38,497 editors who started editing during 2009. In a January 2011 New York Times article, Noam Cohen observed that just 13% of's contributors are female according to a 2008 Wikimedia Foundation survey. Sue Gardner, a former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, hoped to see female contributions increase to 25% by 2015. Linda Basch, president of the National Council for Research on Women, noted the contrast in these editor statistics with the percentage of women currently completing bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and PhD programs in the United States (all at rates of 50 percent or greater).
In response, various universities have hosted edit-a-thons to encourage more women to participate in the community. In fall 2013, 15 colleges and universities — including Yale, Brown, and Pennsylvania State — offered college credit for students to "write feminist thinking" about technology into. A 2008 self-selected survey of the diversity of contributors by highest educational degree indicated that sixty-two percent of responding editors had attained either a high school or undergraduate college education.
In August 2014, co-founder Jimmy Wales said in a BBC interview that the Wikimedia Foundation was "... really doubling down our efforts ..." to reach 25% of female editors (originally targeted by 2015), since the Foundation had "totally failed" so far. Wales said "a lot of things need to happen ... a lot of outreach, a lot of software changes". Andrew Lih, writing in The New York Times, was quoted by Bloomberg News in December 2016 as supporting Wales comments concerning shortfalls in's outreach to female editors. Lih states his concern with the question indicating that: "How can you get people to participate in an (editing) environment that feels unsafe, where identifying yourself as a woman, as a feminist, could open you up to ugly, intimidating behavior".
Various studies have been done with regard to the motivations of contributors. In a 2003 study of 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? Incentives to Contribute to Open-Content Publishing", discussed the possible motivations of contributors. It applied Latour and Woolgar's concept of the cycle of credit to contributors, suggesting that the reason that people write for is to gain recognition within the community.
Oded Nov, in his 2007 paper "What Motivatesns", related the motivations of volunteers in general to the motivations of people who contribute to. Nov carried out a survey using the six motivations of volunteers, identified in an earlier paper. The six motivations he used were:
To these six motivations he also added:
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 contributors and users. In 2008, the Wikimedia Foundation, alongside the Collaborative Creativity Group at UNU-Merit, launched a survey of readers and editors of. It was the most comprehensive survey of 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 editors more and better cater to their needs.
"Motivations of Content Contributors", a paper by Heng-Li Yang and Cheng-Yu Lai, hypothesised that, because contributing to is voluntary, an individual's enjoyment of participating would be the highest motivator. However, their study showed that although people might initially start editing 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."
A further study in 2014 by Cheng-Yu Lai and Heng-Li Yang explored the reasons why people continue editing content. The study used authors of the English-language version of the site and received 288 valid online survey responses. Their results indicated and confirmed that subjective task value, commitment, and procedural justice were significant to satisfaction ofns; and satisfaction significantly influenced an author’s continued intention to edit content.
Editors of have occasionally given personal testimonials of why they contribute to. A common theme of these testimonials is the enjoyment that editors seem to get from contributing to and being part of the community. Also mentioned is the potential addictive quality of editing. 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, saying "The main thing about ... is that it’s fun and addictive".ns 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.
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 Weekly was active from 2006 to 2009 and sporadically thereafter, while a series of conference calls titled "Not the Weekly" ran from 2008 to 2009. Some topic-specific communities within called "WikiProjects" have also distributed newsletters and other correspondence.
Offline activities are organized by the Wikimedia Foundation or the community of.
Wikimania is an annual international conference for users of the wiki projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation (such as 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 Wiknic 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 allowsns to bring together picnic food and to interact in a personal way.
has been subject to several kinds of criticism. For example, the Seigenthaler and Essjay incidents caused criticism of's reliability and usefulness as a reference. 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 co-founder Jimmy Wales, in the community. Sue Gardner, former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, describedns as being like a "crusty old desk guy who knows the style guide backwards." A significant controversy was stirred with paid contributors to, which prompted the Wikimedia Foundation to send a cease and desist letter to the Wiki-PR agency. relies on the efforts of its community members to remove vandalism from articles.
Wikipedia's co-founder Larry Sanger, who later founded Citizendium - a rival project, characterizes the community as ineffective and abusive, stating that "The community does not enforce its own rules effectively or consistently. Consequently, administrators and ordinary participants alike are able essentially to act abusively with impunity, which begets a never-ending cycle of abuse." Oliver Kamm, of The Times, expressed skepticism toward's reliance on consensus in forming its content: "seeks not truth but consensus, and like an interminable political meeting the end result will be dominated by the loudest and most persistent voices."
The 2015 Erasmus Prize was awarded to the community for "[promoting] the dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally accessible encyclopaedia. To achieve that, the initiators of have designed a new and effective democratic platform. The prize specifically recognizes as a community — a shared project that involves tens of thousands of volunteers around the world."
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