Submissions/Who reads what and how: Transforming reading behavior into valuable feedback for the Wikipedia community

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Submission no. 1096
Title of the submission
What and how users read: Transforming reading behavior into valuable feedback for the Wikipedia community
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Janette Lehmann, Claudia Müller-Birn, David Laniado, Mounia Lalmas, Andreas Kaltenbrunner
E-mail address
Country of origin
Spain, Germany, UK
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain), FU Berlin (Germany), Barcelona Media (Spain), yahoo labs (UK)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
Most of the attention in previous research on the Wikipedia community has been devoted to the study of its production side: editors and their motivations, activity and roles. However, the value of the encyclopedia is also given by the millions of people who access it every day. In this work we focus on the - until now understudied - usage side of Wikipedia, investigating readers’ preference and behaviour as a precious source of information that can provide useful feedback to the editors’ community. One reason for the limited focus on Wikipedia readers in previous research might be how scholars consider the role of passive users, i.e. the readers, in online communities. Readers are often considered to not provide any visible contribution to the community, and have been referred to as “lurkers” or “free-riders” who are “more resource-taking than value-adding”. In our presentation, we want to show how information on reading patterns can be used by the Wikipedia community to support editorial work and to improve existing tools. We study users’ reading preference (what they read) and reading behavior (how they read) in Wikipedia. First, we observe that the most read articles do not necessarily correspond to the articles that are more frequently edited, suggesting some degree of non-alignment between users’ reading interests and authors’ editing interests. We then show that articles differ in the way they are read and that reading patterns can also change over time. For example, whereas some articles are read by many users for a short time, others attract less readers, but more time is spent reading them. In general, this means users show their interest in an article in different ways. Based on these results, we discuss how the study of reading patterns can provide valuable insights to the Wikipedia community and how these can help to build new tools or to adapt existing ones, such as the Article Feedback Tool or the SuggestBot. Information on users’ reading preference and behavior can be used to improve the structure and presentation of an article, as well as to decide which articles to edit next, bridging the gap between Wikipedia’s usage and production side.
  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
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Slides or further information (optional)
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  1. the wub "?!" 23:10, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
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