Fans and critics of Wikipedia alike have compared its open collaborative process to open source software development. Both communities maintain transparent development processes and both produce publicly available, free content. However, differences remain. Most contributors to open source software projects are identifiable, which is not necessarily true for Wikipedia. Unlike software, a wiki based encyclopedia is less dependent upon architectural decisions. However, both types of communities share a similar challenge: managing ‘the boundary of an open project’. How can open communities devoted to collaborative production manage growth and improve the quality of contributions, while maintaining open boundaries? These three parameters imply seemingly divergent organizing practices. Yet, managing these tensions is essential for innovation to occur in both communities.
The scholars on this panel have all researched how open source communities have wrestled with: socializing new members to project norms and developing governance systems that can support open and democratic processes. This panel draws upon their work to identify how Wikipedia and open source development projects compare. The panel focuses on the lessons from open source software that are relevant to Wikipedia. Our goal is to identify principles that can simultaneously foster growth, quality and openness.
Professor of Information Studies studying virtual organizing bio from Twitter
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