2019-01-31 | What motivates Wikipedia editors? - Seren Yenikent successfully defends dissertation
Wikipedia is for many people the first step to close a knowledge gap. For others, it is a platform to collect their own knowledge in articles, to correct and update entries – and they do this voluntarily. But what motivates Wikipedia editors to join the platform if there is no obvious compensation for their efforts?
Seren Yenikent from IWM answers this question in her dissertation "Understanding the effects of topic factors and threat exposure on motivation to participate in knowledge artefacts: The case of Wikipedia". Previous studies have identified several encouraging factors (e.g. fun, ideology, community aspect) as reasons for Wikipedia participation. The PhD student now found that general (i.e., topic familiarity and controversiality) and specific characteristics (i.e., sentiment and psychological content) of a topic played significant roles in Wikipedia motivation. Yenikent presented her findings in the successful defence of her work last Wednesday: Using two laboratory studies and one Wikipedia text analysis study, she showed that working with known and controversial issues that had socio-political implications increases engagement with Wikipedia articles. A closer examination on psychological content showed that affective (positive and negative emotion) and drive states (achievement, reward, power, affiliation and risk) were the best predictors of article production. Yenikent's results support the human-oriented aspect of the Wikipedia platform that is distinctively fostered by editors’ psychological, social and emotional interests.