A study of the decision making processes which fuel changes to Wikipedia content is currently underway at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI ) in NUI Galway.
With almost four million articles, the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers, and is the sixth most visited site on the web today. DERI-based PhD researcher Jodi Schneider is investigating the decision factors and arguments used in the often complex debates around article deletion.
In recognition of this research, the New Jersey native has been awarded the prestigious Zipf fellowship with an accompanying cash award of $10,000. Sponsored by the US Council on Library and Information Resources, the award is given annually to acknowledge one outstanding postgraduate student who shows exceptional promise for leadership and technical achievement in information management.
Jodi Schneider explains her work: “Under the calm exterior of the Wikipedia website lies a seething hive of activity where an average of 7,000 articles are deleted on a weekly basis. Deleting articles is beneficial as it helps to remove biased, irrelevant, and factually incorrect content from an encyclopaedia where anyone can write anything. Significantly, around 500 of these deletions require community discussion. What interests me is how are these decisions made, and who makes them?” Schneider’s work will support Wikipedia editors in determining what content belongs on the site. Her research proposes the streamlining of 70 per cent of debates on article deletion based on four factors: Notability, sources, maintenance, and bias.
According to Professor Stefan Decker, director of DERI at NUI Galway: “The focus of our research here at DERI is on networking the vast amounts of data and knowledge which exist in the online world, making it more accessible and understandable. Jodi’s work is a great example - Jodi is investigating the different ways in which people argue online in order to achieve a consensus, enabling us to understand how people resolve arguments online. The Zipf fellowship and her work with Wikipedia are testament to her promising research.”
DERI is one of the leading international web science research institutes interlinking technologies, information and people to advance business and benefit society. Established in 2003 with funding from the Science Foundation Ireland, it is home to over 140 researchers, including 43 PhD students.