University of Oulu

Production of knowledge in Wikipedia : content disputes and used sources

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Author: Tchubykalo Fesenko, Evgueni1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : E. Tchubykalo Fesenko, 2015
Publish Date: 2015-06-08
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Roberts, Gordon
Reviewer: Roberts, Gordon
Lanamäki, Arto
The following research attempts to understand the manner in which Wikipedia has contributed to the way production and consumption of knowledge has changed over time. Through literary review, it presents an overview of the inner mechanisms that make Wikipedia work, and delves into its complex power relations in an attempt to determine possible structural manifestations of article bias. Based on the significance of the knowledge gap, which is the lack of significant sources about an event between the period when the news are published and further academic studies are developed, five Wikipedia articles with topics related to a current socio-political event are chosen for study. Two aspects of information storage within Wikipedia articles are studied: First, according to Laclau’s understanding of discourse as a system of signs that receive their meaning through articulation, which is a process that is understood as a conflict between individuals whose goal is to impose a particular understanding of the world; content disputes within Wikipedia discussion pages are analyzed and categorized using the work of Kriplean et al. on power plays, which are defined as ways for groups of contributors to claim legitimate control over content through the discourse of Wikipedia policy. Secondly, based on Van Dijk’s understanding that macro-notions such as group or institutional power and dominance, as well as social inequality do not directly translate to typical micro-notions such as text, talk or communicative interaction; along with his notion that specific text production is based on mental representations that are shaped by existing knowledge and by variable or shared general attitudes or ideologies; prevailing sources within the Wikipedia articles, as well as those used in order to get the upper hand during content disputes, are selected for analysis because they better portray such social cognition models or mental representations than the characteristics of disputing editors’ text. In order to analyze the sources, the domains of used references are extracted from the chosen articles using a simple python script and are subsequently coded manually based on their geographical origin and their type, such as newspaper, financial institution, governmental or non-governmental organization, academic paper etc. The resulting data is categorized and put into perspective in search for possible trends that could show cognitive bias that might influence the general outcome of the articles. Based on the initial literary review on the way Wikipedia works and how it is defined, the study of power relations within Wikipedia, and the analysis of the content disputes and the origin and type of prevalent sources; results show that even if Wikipedia offers new ways in which knowledge is gathered, stored and published, its legitimacy is still strongly dependent upon traditional journalistic models, which have their own inherent forms of bias.
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Copyright information: © Evgueni Tchubykalo Fesenko, 2015. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.