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News Release

U of M researchers reveal new findings about Wikipedia authorship and vandalism

One-tenth of 1 percent of editors account for nearly half of Wikipedia's content value

Contacts: Robyn White, department of Computer Science and Engineering, (612) 625-2424
Rhonda Zurn, Institute of Technology, (612) 626-7959
Mark Cassutt, University News Service, (612) 624-8038

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/06/2007) —An ongoing study by University of Minnesota researchers has revealed that only one-tenth of 1 percent of Wikipedia editors account for nearly half the content value of the free online encyclopedia, as measured by readership. In addition, the computer science and engineering faculty and students have discovered that few edits inflict damage on the content and damage is typically fixed quickly.

The results of their study are reported in the academic research paper titled “Creating, Destroying and Restoring Value in Wikipedia.” The paper was published in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Group 2007 Conference proceedings on Nov. 4.

To view the research paper visit:
http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~reid/papers/group282-priedhorsky.pdf

The U of M study estimated a probability of less than one-half percent (0.0037) that the typical viewing of a Wikipedia article would find it in a damaged state. However, the researchers found that the chances of encountering vandalism on a typical page view increased over time, although the authors identified a break in the trend around June 2006, late in the study period. They attributed this to the increased use of anti-vandalism bots.

U of M researchers involved in the study of Wikipedia include computer science and engineering professors John Riedl and Loren Terveen and doctoral students Reid Priedhorsky (project lead), Jilin Chen, Tony Lamm and Katie Panciera.

“Our research suggests vandalism on Wikipedia is a relatively small problem today,” said Terveen. “But continued research is needed to contain that damage in the future.”

Wikipedia features more than seven million articles in 200 languages. It is a unique Web site, because it does not rely on professional editors to contribute information, instead it allows any user to manipulate the information. The Wikipedia Web site boasts 75,000 contributors.

Tags: College of Science and Engineering

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