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  • Author: Maria Mattus x
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Abstract

The user-generated wiki encyclopedia Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Wikipedia has become the world's largest wiki encyclopedia, and behind many of its entries are interesting stories of creation, or rather intercreation, since Wikipedia is produced by a large number of contributors. Using the slogan “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” (), Wikipedia invites everyone to participate, but the participants do not necessarily represent all kinds of individuals or interests – there might be an imbalance affecting the content as well as the perspective conveyed. As a phenomenon Wikipedia is quite complex, and can be studied from many different angels, for instance through the articles’ history and the edits to them.

This paper is based on a study of Featured Articles from the Swedish Wikipedia. Three articles, Fri vilja [Free will], Fjäll [Fell], and Edgar Allan Poe, are chosen from a list of Featured Articles that belongs to the subject field culture. The articles’ development has been followed from their very first versions in 2003/2004 to edits made at the end of 2012.

The aim is to examine the creation, or intercreation, processes of the articles, and the collaborative production. The data come from non-article material such as revision history pages, article material, and some complementary statistics. Principally the study has a qualitative approach, but with some quantitative elements.

Abstract

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Internet-based, free, wiki-encyclopaedia that is created by its own users.

The aim of the present article is to let users’ descriptions of their impressions and experiences of Wikipedia increase our understanding of the function and dynamics of this collaboratively shaped wiki-encyclopaedia.

Qualitative, structured interviews concerning users, and the creation and use of Wikipedia were carried out via e-mail with six male respondents – administrators at the Swedish Wikipedia – during September and October, 2006.

The results focus on the following themes: I. Passive and active users; II. Formal and informal tasks; III. Common and personal visions; IV. Working together; V. The origins and creation of articles; VI. Contents and quality; VII. Decisions and interventions; VIII. Encyclopaedic ambitions.

The discussion deals with the approach of this encyclopaedic phenomenon, focusing on its “unfinishedness”, its development in different directions, and the social regulation that is implied and involved. Wikipedia is a product of our time, having a powerful vision and engagement, and it should therefore be interpreted and considered on its own terms.