Beyond notification: Filling gaps in peer production projects

Publication Type:
Journal Article
New Media and Society, 2018, 20, (10), pp. 3799-3817
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In order to counter systemic bias in peer production projects like Wikipedia, a variety of strategies have been used to fill gaps and improve the completeness of the archive. We test a number of these strategies in a project aimed at improving articles relating to South Africa’s primary school curriculum and find that many of the predominant strategies are insufficient for filling Wikipedia’s gaps. Notifications that alert users to the existence of gaps including incomplete or missing articles, in particular, are found to be ineffective at improving articles. Only through the process of trust-building and the development of negotiated boundary objects, potential allies (institutional academics in this case) can be enrolled in the task of editing the encyclopaedia. Rather than a simple process of enrolment via notification, this project demonstrated the principles of negotiation required for engaging with new editor groups in the long-term project of filling Wikipedia’s gaps.
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