Submissions:2018/The pipeline of online participation inequalities: The case of Wikipedia editing

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This submission is waitlisted for WikiConference North America 2018. It was not scheduled in the first round of scheduling, but may still be scheduled after further review, as slots open up, or as a pre-conference session.

The pipeline of online participation inequalities: The case of Wikipedia Editing
Theme (optional)
Inclusion & Diversity, Editor Recruitment & Retention
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Aaron Shaw
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
aaronshaw (En:WP user page)
Affiliation(s) (optional)
Northwestern University

Participatory platforms like the Wikimedia projects have unique potential to facilitate more equitable knowledge production. However, digital inequalities such as the Wikipedia gender gap undermine this democratizing potential. In this talk, I present new research in which Eszter Hargittai and I conceptualize a "pipeline" of online participation and model distinct levels of awareness and behaviors necessary to become a contributor to the participatory web. We test the theory in the case of Wikipedia editing, using new survey data from a diverse, national sample of adult internet users in the U.S.

The results show that Wikipedia participation consistently reflects inequalities of education and internet experiences and skills. We find that the gender gap only emerges later in the pipeline whereas gaps along racial and socioeconomic lines explain variations earlier in the pipeline. Our findings underscore the multidimensionality of digital inequalities and suggest new pathways toward closing knowledge gaps by highlighting the importance of education and Internet skills.

We conclude that future research and interventions to overcome digital participation gaps should not focus exclusively on gender or class differences in content creation, but expand to address multiple aspects of digital inequality across pipelines of participation. In particular, when it comes to overcoming gender gaps in the case of Wikipedia, our results suggest that continued emphasis on recruiting female editors should include efforts to disseminate the knowledge that Wikipedia can be edited. Our findings support broader efforts to overcome knowledge- and skill-based barriers to entry among potential contributors to the open web.

(Please note: the talk will be based on a paper that was published in the Journal of Communication in February and reviewed and summarized in the Wikimedia Research Newsletter in May.)

Length of presentation
Up to 30 minutes
Special requests
Preferred room size
No clue! How about 25-50? I am happy to defer to the program organizers if the talk is accepted.
Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?
At the London School of Economics in the colloquium series of the Department of Media and Communications and at the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association.
If you will be incorporating a slidedeck during your presentation, do you agree to upload it to Commons before your session, with a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, including suitable attribution in the slidedeck for any images used?
Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?

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  1. Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 22:06, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Ragesoss (talk) 19:03, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
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