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Future Internet 2016, 8(2), 14; doi:10.3390/fi8020014

The Evolution of Wikipedia’s Norm Network

1,2
and
1,3,4,5,*
1
Program in Cognitive Science, Indiana University, 1900 E 10th St, Bloomington, IN 47406, USA
2
Department of Political Science, Indiana University, 1100 E 7th St, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
3
Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, Department of Informatics, Indiana University, 919 E 10th St, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA
4
Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, 513 N Park Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA
5
Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Emilio Ferrara
Received: 4 December 2015 / Revised: 25 March 2016 / Accepted: 6 April 2016 / Published: 20 April 2016
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Abstract

Social norms have traditionally been difficult to quantify. In any particular society, their sheer number and complex interdependencies often limit a system-level analysis. One exception is that of the network of norms that sustain the online Wikipedia community. We study the fifteen-year evolution of this network using the interconnected set of pages that establish, describe, and interpret the community’s norms. Despite Wikipedia’s reputation for ad hoc governance, we find that its normative evolution is highly conservative. The earliest users create norms that both dominate the network and persist over time. These core norms govern both content and interpersonal interactions using abstract principles such as neutrality, verifiability, and assume good faith. As the network grows, norm neighborhoods decouple topologically from each other, while increasing in semantic coherence. Taken together, these results suggest that the evolution of Wikipedia’s norm network is akin to bureaucratic systems that predate the information age. View Full-Text
Keywords: social norms; norm networks; Wikipedia; oligarchy; bureaucracy; governance; knowledge commons social norms; norm networks; Wikipedia; oligarchy; bureaucracy; governance; knowledge commons
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Heaberlin, B.; DeDeo, S. The Evolution of Wikipedia’s Norm Network. Future Internet 2016, 8, 14.

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