2006/05/18

Wikipedians sense of community

The Wikipedia project describes itself as community. Wikipedians are invited to participate in the 'Community portal' ("Wikipedia wants you! Together we are building an encyclopedia and a wiki community") and communities issues are discussed at a place called the 'Village pump'.

Wikipedia community can be described as a Community of Practice (CP). The CP model is based on the concept that knowledge cannot be separated from practice (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). The model assumes that activity and mutual engagement brings members together into social entity with shared repertoire of communal resources (Wagner, 2000). The process of knowledge building (discussed later) taking place in Wikipedia enables us to identify it as Community of Practice.

One potential explanation for Wikipedians' sense of community might be Wikipedia enabled interactivity. Most of the empirical findings regarding interactivity speak for positive effects. Interactivity was found to effect increased citizens' participation in political process, positive effects on perceived users' satisfaction, effectiveness, efficiency and overall attitude towards a Web site (Stromer-Galley, 2000; Teo, Oh, Liu & Wei, 2003). Rafaeli (1988) identified interactivity as “an expression of the extent that in a given series of communication exchanges, any third (or later) transmission (or message) is related to the degree to which previous exchanges referred to even earlier transmissions” (p.111). Rafaeli, Raban & Ravid, (2005) found users' interactions as a relevant parameter of their incentives for participation. Wikipedia allows its users to interact directly through conversations about every article. However, we might consider the whole process of knowledge building in Wikipedia as interactive and not mere conversations.
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