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

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Let's talk about bees: What a single Wikipedia article can tell us about Wikipedians
Type of submission
Presentation + discussion
Authors of the submission
Siko Bouterse, Aaron Halfaker, Stephen LaPorte, Guillaume Paumier*, Haitham Shammaa, Anna Stillwell (alphabetized by last name)
E-mail address
* Corresponding author: gpaumier@wikimedia.org
see author list
Country of origin
Wikimedia Foundation
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.
WikiCulture & Community
Length of session
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information
Special requests
This session focuses on Wikimedia content contributors. We recommend that it be scheduled successively with its twin session focusing on Wikimedia readers, assuming both proposals are accepted.

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  1. mako 00:04, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 12:13, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Jean-Frédéric (talk) 13:46, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. CT Cooper · talk 21:42, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
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  6. Risker (talk) 00:25, 8 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. GeorgeLouis (talk) 21:55, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 06:38, 23 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Braveheart (talk) 22:31, 9 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. --ProtoplasmaKid (talk) 06:34, 27 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
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