Submissions:2015/Crowd Wisdom and Problem Solving: How can Wikimedia Engage?

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Crowd Wisdom and Problem Solving: How can Wikimedia Engage?
Type of submission
David H. Schaffer
E-mail address
UNC School of Medicine

Background and specific aims:

“The wisdom of the crowd” is neither a modern concept nor a foreign one to Wikimedia and its leadership; indeed, the power of accumulating public knowledge is rooted deep in civilized history and has fueled the success of Wikimedia since its conception.

In recent years, however, we have witnessed a surge in the applications of crowd wisdom and crowdsourcing, ranging from novel methods of tangible resource sharing (consider Uber or Airbnb) to situational problem solving: CrowdMed, a domain dedicated to solving complex medical issues, and MindSumo, a platform where college students receive small compensation for solving a company’s small-scale problems, stand out among the accelerating number of new problem-solving operations.

At surface level, the missions of these organizations and startups might seem incongruent with Wikimedia’s, particularly considering that the above platforms all enmesh a form of compensation. However, I will argue that the rise of crowdsourcing applications represents an opportunity for Wikimedia to tailor the trend towards its own mission, make foundational changes in the way complex problems are solved, and engage members of a once marginalized Wikimedia audience while discarding the need for monetary motivation.

At present, Wikimedia has already taken several innovative steps towards this goal, including the creation of Wikiversity in 2006, the 2012 launch of Wikidata, and the 2000+ Wikipedia projects which organize data regarding specific topics such as Buddhism, anatomy, or LGBT studies. Still, the vast majority of Wikimedia users remain uninvested in project development and are unmotivated to engage, as reflected by the small fraction Wikimedia users who contribute to page editing.

I will argue that Wikipedia is poised to engage its non-editing user base by developing a space for complex problem solving–-one that cultivates Wikimedia’s goal of broadening access to educational content. Further, I will explain why Wikimedia would boast remarkably more success than could other problem-solving domains, why it could begin this endeavor with a decisive advantage, how the domain could be implemented, why it remains distinct from other Wikimedia projects, what kinds of problems could be solved, and why the development of a problem-solving space is not only attune to Wikimedia’s mission, but can help define it for the future.

To make my argument, I will draw on my experiences working on public health campaigns in China, personal lessons learned in education research, relevant data regarding other problem-solving domains, pertinent publications, publicly available crowdsourcing implementation algorithms, and other applicable research.

Length of presentation
20-25 minutes
Special schedule requests
Cannot present Saturday
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  1. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 05:40, 9 September 2015 (EDT)
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