Let's talk about bees: What a single Wikipedia article can tell us about Wikipedians

A session at Wikimanía México 2015

Sunday 19th July, 2015

12:00pm to 12:30pm (LMT)

On Wikipedia and its sister sites, every single change made to a page is recorded in the page's history, from the most innocuous comma to the most disruptive rewrite. This exhaustive and meticulous bookkeeping results in an ever-increasing wealth of data encompassing millions of editors and billions of individual edits.

This incredible granularity is smoothed out in many studies of Wikipedia. Indeed, when trying to make sense of the dynamics of the Wikimedia community, researchers often need to take a step back to consider the bigger picture. They need to identify patterns without getting lost in the sea of edits.

However, this approach alone cannot provide an accurate picture of the complex ecosystem that is the Wikimedia community. Like most human endeavors, Wikipedia is organic, uneven and messy. Its riches lie in the details.

From this point of view, the granularity of a page's history represents a wikiarchaeologist's treasure trove. One can look up and compare any old versions of the page, review minor and controversial edits, follow links to a user's page, contemplate the exhaustive list of their contributions, and marvel at their interactions with other contributors.

In this talk, we'll dive into the history of a single Wikipedia article and follow its growth and evolution over the years. We'll excavate edits from ancient times, dig up dusty reverts and examine the remains of long-forgotten arguments.

As we piece together the story of the article, we'll discover how it's intertwined with larger trends identified in the academic literature. We'll look at that article as a microcosm, and see how representative it can be of the larger community.

On this journey through time, we'll get to meet a few contributors, and notably an academic entomologist, a professional copyeditor and feminist, and a student in mathematics with a passion for microorganisms.

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Siko Bouterse

Head of Individual Grants @Wikimedia, lover of social community projects, terrible track record of consistent tweeting bio from Twitter

This person is speaking at this event.
Aaron Halfaker

Senior Research Scientist at the Wikimedia Foundation bio from LinkedIn

This person is speaking at this event.
Stephen LaPorte

Legal Counsel at Wikimedia Foundation bio from LinkedIn

This person is speaking at this event.
Guillaume Paumier

Photographer for @Wikipedia. Sr. Analyst for @Wikimedia. Master organizer/optimizer, traveler & physicist. I put things into boxes, I fix stuff and I play Lego.

This person is speaking at this event.
Haitham Shammaa

Senior Strategist at Wikimedia Foundation bio from LinkedIn

This person is speaking at this event.
Anna Ruth Stillwell

Major Gifts Officer at Wikimedia Foundation bio from LinkedIn

Next session in Auditorium / Don Alberto 1

12:30pm Wikimania Hackathon Showcase

Sign in to add slides, notes or videos to this session

Tell your friends!


Time 12:00pm12:30pm LMT

Date Sun 19th July 2015


Auditorium / Don Alberto 1, Hilton Mexico City Reforma

Short URL


Official session page


View the schedule


Books by speaker

  • Wikipedia (French Edition)

See something wrong?

Report an issue with this session