WikiSym features research on Wikipedia
WikiSym (short for the International Symposium on Wikis) is an annual international conference about wikis and wiki technology. This year's conference was the fifth annual WikiSym, and was held in Orlando, Florida on Oct. 25-27. It was co-located with OOPSLA, the major ACM conference on object-oriented programming.
Compared with Wikimania, the annual Wikimedia Foundation conference, the conference has more of an academic focus, with papers getting published in the ACM digital library, and is broader in scope, with papers about all aspects of wikis. It is also much smaller than Wikimania, with three main tracks: presented papers, workshops/tutorials, and open space.
The opening conference keynote was given by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, and was called "Visualizing the Inner Lives of Texts" (pdf). In their talk, Viégas and Wattenberg discussed various tools for visualizing the history and content of texts (including wiki articles) that they have developed, including History Flow, Chromogram, and the Many Eyes project.
There were many other papers and posters about researching Wikipedia in the program as well. These included work on the slowing growth of Wikipedia, the formation and roles of groups and WikiProjects, the lifecycles of articles, searching Wikipedia, user interface extensions, bots and assisted editing tools, as well as various ways of measuring quality, credibility, collaboration, and conflict.
Papers that featured research based on Wikipedia included:
- "Bipartite Networks of Wikipedia's Articles and Authors: a Meso-level Approach" (pdf) by Rut Jesus, Martin Schwartz, and Sune Lehmann, about how networks of related articles and editors behave;
- "Herding the Cats: The Influence of Groups in Coordinating Peer Production?" (pdf) by Aniket Kittur, Bryan Pendleton, and Robert E. Kraut, about editor behavior before and after joining WikiProjects on Wikipedia, and the impact of WikiProjects (the researchers found that edits to WikiProject pages account for around 1% of all Wikipedia edits total);
- "The Singularity is Not Near: Slowing Growth of Wikipedia(pdf) by Bongwon Suh, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, and Peter Pirolli, about Wikipedia editing activity by various levels of editors (by edit count), the slowing growth of mid-level editors, and the growing number of new edits that get reverted;
- "A Jury of Your Peers: Quality, Experience and Ownership in Wikipedia" (pdf) by Aaron Halfaker, Aniket Kittur, Robert Kraut, and John Riedl;
- "Assessing the Quality of Wikipedia Articles with Lifecycle Based Metrics" (pdf) by Thomas Wohner and Ralf Peters;
- "Organizing the Vision for Web 2.0: A Study of the Evolution of the Concept in Wikipedia" (pdf) by Arnaud Gorgeon and E. Burton Swanson, which looked at the evolution of a single Wikipedia article, Web 2.0, over time.
The best paper award went to Michael D. Ekstrand and John T. Riedl at the University of Minnesota for their paper "rv you’re dumb: Identifying Discarded Work in Wiki Article History" (pdf), which provides a new way of visualizing an article's history and revision flow, as well as whether diffs between revisions discard previous work, with an overlay over the current MediaWiki history page display.
Workshops and technical demos were also held, including a demonstration called "ProveIt: A New Tool for Supporting Citation in MediaWiki" (pdf) by Kurt Luther, Matthew Flaschen, Andrea Forte, Christopher Jordan, and Amy Bruckman.
Other papers presented at the conference focussed on various aspects of wikis, including wiki search, mapping the universe of wikis, and more. Workshops included topics such as "Wikis for software engineering." Tom Malone of the MIT Sloan school gave the conference keynote.
The conference also made use of Open Space Technology to hold many ad-hoc sessions on a wide range of topics. Open space sessions included discussions on how academics can better research Wikipedia, parsers and search functions, a possible Wikimedia Commons for references, how Wikipedia compares to other large Internet websites, and the future of wikis.
Finally, Brion Vibber gave the closing conference keynote on "Community Performance Optimization: Making Your People Run as Smoothly as Your Site" (pdf).
The next WikiSym will be co-located with Wikimania 2010 in Gdańsk, Poland.