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This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2006 (Index of presentations)

Trust and Wikipedia: The Roles of Social Capitals in Participatory Knowledge Production

Author Cathy P. S. Ma
Track Wiki Social Science
License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the author
Cathy Ma has been researching the social dynamics of Wikipedia since 2003, following the advice of Andrew Lih user:fuzheado; she is interested in trust, commons-based peer production, and the potential promises and problems of Wikipedia.

Right now she is completing her degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong and finishing a thesis on Wikipedia and social capital. Feel free to give her moral support by vising her blog. With the experience of Wikimania 1.0 and 2.0, she is proud to claim herself as a Wikimaniac and randomly attacks helpers and guests in Wikimania. She aims to upload her whole thesis on Wikipedia at one point and leave it open for the community, so that the stubs she starts on her thesis can somehow be filled by other veteran Wikipedians or researchers. She thinks that if she drops the thesis to the community she will have more time to fully experience London for the coming year, while she can also learn more in editing and actually participating more on Wikipedia as an editor.

Cathy's hope is to have all the obsolete computers in the world redistributed to developing countries, though she doesn't know how to get there for the time being.  :)

Made possible by the open wiki structure, copyleft-movements, and the emergence of social capitals online, Wikipedia is perhaps more a product of trust than just volunteer’s effort alone. Four important genres of trust on Wikipedia are vital to Wikipedia’s development:
  1. Trust in the participants
  2. Participants’ trust in the project
  3. Public trusts on Wikipedia’s credibility
  4. State trust in this online Project.

While Wikipedia is picking its momentum in becoming one of the top 40 sites as counted by Alexa, increasingly it is facing different crises that threaten the four types of trust it founded on. This paper aims to provide a trajectory of incidents and the way they cast ripples of threats that potentially deplete its social capitals, such as the impacts of the ‘false’ biography of the veteran journalist John Seigenthaler, Chinese government's attempt to ban Wikipedia since October 2005, shrewd but malicious trolls and vandalisms. This presentation aims to explore the kinds of social capital that exist on Wikipedia, as well as shedding light on newly emerged online social ecology and its impacts on the formation of social network that sometimes transcends distance and space.

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