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Session Overview
B 3: Online Participation
Thursday, 19/Mar/2015:
12:00 - 13:00

Session Chair: Carol Scovotti, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Location: Room 147
Fachhochschule Köln/ Cologne University of Applied Sciences <7br> Claudiusstr. 1, 50678 Cologne


Skill Divide in Online Participation: The Case of Wikipedia

Aaron Shaw, Eszter Hargittai

Northwestern University, United States of America

Relevance & Research Question: Millions of people have contributed to one of the most popular Web sites online, Wikipedia, yet research has shown that participation is much more likely by certain types of people such as men. Are there other characteristics that make Wikipedia editing more likely? To sustain contribution and achieve an encyclopedic resource that represents diverse voices and thereby diverse topics in depth, it is important that Wikipedia draw on different people’s contributions.

Methods & Data: We collected survey data of close to 900 adults of all ages in the United States to explore what factors explain likelihood of having edited Wikipedia. Our survey does not sample on Wikipedia editors thereby sidestepping one of the limitations of most existing work on Wikipedia contributions. Rather, our data set includes information about both contributors and non-contributors.

Results: Analyzing data about 898 adults, we find that men, younger people, and those with higher income are more likely to have edited Wikipedia. Unique to our study is the inclusion of several measures of self-efficacy and skill, factors that prior literature about other online engagement has found to be relevant to explaining participation. Perhaps not surprisingly, we find that confidence in editing Wikipedia relates to having done so. Additionally, having received help with editing Wikipedia is a significant explanatory factor. We also find that knowing more about how to edit Wikipedia is not related to editing experiences when we control for other factors. However, interestingly, more general Internet skills do matter. When looking at both demographic and Internet experience variables together in one logistic regression model, we no longer find gender differences in editing. That is, when we control for confidence in editing, having received support with Wikipedia editing, Wikipedia-specific skills, and general Internet skills, there is no difference in women’s versus men’s likelihood of contributing to Wikipedia content. Age, however, remains significant with older people less likely to edit Wikipedia.

Added Value: The study contributes to understanding the role of Internet skills in differentiated Wikipedia editing. Findings suggest that with support, more people may become editors in the future.

Shaw-Skill Divide in Online Participation-190.pptx

Open Education and Online Participation: Exchanging Practices inside a Research Project

Francisco Freitas

Centro de Estudos Sociais, Portugal

In this presentation, it is intended to offer an overview of the research practices established in ALICE Project, an Advanced Grant funded by the European Research Council currently hosted at the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra. This 5 year project on the field of social sciences and humanities encompasses a team of 22 researchers distributed by 4 main research domains. There has been an effort in order to produce not only traditional academic outputs, but also a myriad of non-academic deliverables, including multimedia files, art exhibitions and performances. For all, there is a strong commitment with open dissemination over the internet, social networks included.

Relevance & Research Question:

How can the internet and particularly how social media can foster and influence dissemination?

Methods & Data:

The provided answers will be grounded on data coming from Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, or MailChimp. The data illustrates the dissemination results across the project timeline, tracing the evolution in terms of the online participation and achievements. In addition explanation of the processes and routines will be highlighted.


With the data, we are able to obtain results in different directions namely in terms of tracing target groups, in identifying the sociodemographic characteristics of the audience, in pinpointing their geographic distribution, in evaluating the participation.

Added Value:

The value of this work is twofolded. On the one hand, it is possible to demonstrate how internet is populated by tech savvy tools that foster academic dissemination at little or no cost. In addition and considering this age of information overload, there are reasons to consider that the effort to communicate over the internet is becoming crucial to conquer the necessary audience. Secondly, the project data is generated in many different sources and data collections. In many respects, the produced information and outputs testify how the offline and the online worlds are interconnected, not establishing a clear divide between the two branches.

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