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Small experiments beat big ones, and other takeaways from BizLab’s public radio innovation summit
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Feb. 12, 2014, 1:30 p.m.
LINK: www.youtube.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   February 12, 2014

What can we learn from examining the networks of users who edit articles on Wikipedia?

That’s the question Brian Keegan, a post-doctoral fellow at Northeastern University, is asking, and he gave a presentation of some of his findings at Harvard’s Center for Research on Computation and Society this week.

Keegan discussed some of the same themes in a piece published in the Lab a little more than a year ago, but he shared some interesting findings on the different roles editors take on in editing articles on Wikipedia.

Keegan looked at 3,000 articles about natural disasters, plane crashes, and other breaking news events and found that there is a solid core group of editors who work together and consistently edit articles about these events within the first 24 hours after they break. Then other editors swoop in and edit those articles once they’re no longer fast-changing news stories.

Interestingly though, Keegan found a third group of editors who focus on a single topic — he highlighted WikiProject Tropical Cyclones — who will edit articles, breaking or not, on the topic that interests them. So members of the cyclone group (their motto: “Wanna go for a spin?”) will get involved in newsier articles if, say, a hurricane is about to hit somewhere — but they’re also interested in editing historical and scientific articles about tropical storms.

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