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Vandals, Administrators, and Sockpuppets, Oh My! An Ethnographic Study of Wikipedia’s Handling of Problem Behavior

Author(s): Michael Lorenzen

Journal: MLA Forum
ISSN 1539-4123

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Wikipedia | Ethnography

The way that people access information has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. The advent of the World Wide Web has reduced reliance on printed material at the same time it has empowered more voices to be heard. It has also raises issues relating to the validity of information. As much of the content on the Web goes through no editorial process, it can be difficult to assess whether information is accurate. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia which has attempted to address this concern. It allows anyone to edit but at the same time it has a variety of layers of review which make it difficult (but not impossible) to vandalize with spam or inaccurate information. This paper will relate an ethnographic study that explored the culture of Wikipedia with respect to how Wikipedia deals with some problem behaviors in the user community and how this might impact the understanding of Wikipedia as an authoritative source.
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