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Infrequent Anonymous Cowards Reliable on Wikipedia 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-visit-from-the-correction-fairy dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Researchers at Dartmouth University have recently discovered that infrequent anonymous contributors, so called "Good Samaritans," are as reliable as registered users who update constantly and have a reputation to maintain. A graph from page 31 of the group's original paper (pdf file) shows that the quality of contributions of anonymous users goes down as the number of edits increases while quality goes up with the number of edits for registered users."
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Infrequent Anonymous Cowards Reliable on Wikipedia

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  • Not news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Titoxd (1116095) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:41PM (#21019655) Homepage
    Unlike what some users may tell you, many anonymous users contribute content and not vandalize. The quality of the edits per se is all over the place, but this is to be expected, as there is no way a new contributor can know all the nuances of the in-house referencing system [wikimedia.org], or the indications made by the Manual of Style [wikipedia.org]. But they do try.

    ~~~~
    • Re:Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:57PM (#21019773)
      I don't think that this is really all that surprising, people that just do one or two edits aren't typically doing it because the have an investment, they are generally doing it because they found an error.

      Some presumably do deface the pages, but I don't find it terribly surprising that somebody that primarily uses wikipedia would be more reliable than somebody that spends most of their time building a reputation. There's just so much more incentive to fix it if you are using it. That isn't to say that named contributers are inherently bad.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Titoxd (1116095)
        I'm not really sure I understood the second part of the comment, but I agree with the first part. However, you'd be surprised at the number of people who don't. To prohibit anonymous editing is actually a perennial proposal [wikipedia.org] which comes up periodically. However, studies like these really help debunk the perception that IP editors are inherently bad.

        ~~~~
      • by epee1221 (873140)
        I would also expect that vandals would typically be repeat offenders. The times when I have looked through page history, I generally find many instances of vandalism, all from a few IP addresses. Wikipedia vandals aren't all that different from forum trolls.
        • I'm a great believer in (and a solid user of) Wikipedia, and consideration of the vast number of people who have contributed good content vs. the much smaller number of poo-flinging monkeys gives me a good feeling; I think the ratio is inherently good.

          Although I do believe grammar is becoming a specialty skill, I'm also glad that such "specialists" regularly edit the submissions. Forum trolls (really, let's keep the word "trolls" -- "poo-flinging monkeys" may be accurate, but is a slight on our simian bre

    • I probably edit two entries a month (mainly corrections, sometimes minor additions). I'm not registered and I cannot see any real benefiit in doing so. Perhaps being registered allows you to add pages or modify GW Bush's entry or something but I have not been motivated enough to find out what the benefits are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gloy (1151691)
        It allows you to do both those things (create pages, and edit semi-protected pages). It also allows you to not have an annoying captcha pop up when you try to add an external link, and reduces the chance of your edits being mistaken for vandalism and reverted even though they were perfectly good.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Titoxd (1116095)
        There are several tangible benefits to having a registered account. The primary one I would think of is GFDL attribution: since your IP is not guaranteed to be stable (at least for most people), your edits cannot be attributed back to you as easily.

        Additionally, as an anonymous editor, you can't edit semi-protected pages, but you cannot upload images either. You cannot move pages either, nor create pages in the article namespace. You can still create talk pages, but if you want to create an article, you
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fluffman86 (1006119)
      Even for a registered user like myself this is difficult. I never got around to editing much, but when I did I'd get a notice criticizing my edit for putting periods and commas "inside quotation marks," as opposed to "outside". It seems like the other editors just disregarded the fact that I corrected some major grammatical flaws. I soon stopped making edits while logged in and just waited on other people to fix most problems. :(

      (By the way, in US english, commas and periods should ALWAYS go inside the q
      • Re:Not news (Score:5, Funny)

        by Whiteox (919863) <htcstech@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:43PM (#21020663) Journal

        (By the way, in US english, commas and periods should ALWAYS go inside the quotes.)
        * Citation Required

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Regarding the placement of commas, periods and quotes, I just had to share this. http://worsethanfailure.com/Articles/Its-a-Different-Set-of-Rules.aspx [worsethanfailure.com]
      • Re:Not news (Score:5, Interesting)

        by FuturePastNow (836765) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @11:25PM (#21020953)
        I am not a registered Wikipedia user, so anything I do is anonymous. I've only made a few (3 or 4) edits to articles, always to fix minor typos or spelling errors I've seen while reading.

        Every time I have done so, it has been rolled back within minutes, which I assume means that registered editors are watching for anonymous changes and removing them no matter what. As a result, my current attitude towards Wiki editors can be summarized with the words "fuck you."

        Hopefully, some of those pricks will read this article and change their attitude, but I doubt it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Stormie (708)

          I've only made a few (3 or 4) edits to articles, always to fix minor typos or spelling errors I've seen while reading. Every time I have done so, it has been rolled back within minutes

          [citation needed]

        • Can you tell us which article and when you did the edit? I have never had a spelling fix reverted, so you story looks strange. Not to question you, but I wonder if you (unknowingly) changed British spelling into American or something like that.
      • by mcrbids (148650)

        (By the way, in US english, commas and periods should ALWAYS go inside the quotes.)


        No they "don't".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Myopic (18616)
        (By the way, in US english, commas and periods should ALWAYS go inside the quotes.)

        Yes, but for a strange reason. American newspapermen couldn't be bothered with the nuances of the English language, even though some of the nuances were linguistically valuable. In this case, placement of punctuation inside or outside quotation marks relays information about the quote. I'm American so, you know, screw the redcoats and all that, but I think our stateside grammarians dropped the ball on this one.
    • Re:Not news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Petrushka (815171) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:05PM (#21020375)

      The graph they show is practically meaningless.

      • First, the graph shows that the retention rate for all contributors is below 1%. I find that pretty hard to swallow in the first place, and it makes me doubt that it's based on good data, though I suppose the decimal point could be an error (I'm hoping so).
      • Secondly, the graph shows a continuous line, though the x axis is clearly discrete. Based on the graph, the retention rate for non-registered contributors who have made one edit is about 0.72%; all well and good. How is it that we are given a retention rate for contributors who have made one and a half edits? How is it that we are given a retention rate for contributors who have made no edits? Has any thought at all gone into this?

      The rest of the study may possibly have some good stuff in it, but the incompetence that has gone into this graph leaves me with grave reservations. I notice, for example, that the main body on p. 15 refers to "FIGURE 2 ABOUT HERE". I also notice that there is no figure 2. I don't think this study has a shred of credibility.

    • by photon317 (208409)

      I don't find it surprising either. It sounds like the expected results to me. Basically, when a person first discovers it's possible to edit something on wikipedia, and wants to do so, they probably don't have an account. Therefore their first (perhaps even first few) submissions or edits are likely to be anonymous. These new users fall into two basic categories: Well-meaning individuals, and idiots who deface wikipedia. The idiots continue to submit anonymously because a named account doesn't last lon
  • ha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:42PM (#21019657)
    RESPECT ME!
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:42PM (#21019661)

    That study was published by Dartmouth College. Dartmouth University is an unrelated entity in Canada.

    • by Myopic (18616)
      Thank you. We take that distinction very seriously.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by njfuzzy (734116)
      Interestingly, Dartmouth College is structurally a University-- it consists of multiple distinct schools or colleges. (Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and Tuck School of Business.) I always wondered why it was still called "Dartmouth College", and perhaps the Dartmouth University in Canada explains that.
  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:43PM (#21019667) Journal
    Look at it another way... registered users who are "experts" are no better than the riff-raff.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Reader X (906979)
      This being Wikipedia, where they are by definition the same.

      It would be interesting to try that study with a commercial entity.

    • Yo, mod point tanks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by skulgnome (1114401)
      This here post is properly termed "insightful", rather than "funny". It may be funny because it's true, but it's insightful first.
  • by Nrbelex (917694) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:43PM (#21019671) Homepage
    Another interesting study might determine how many posts a person usually makes before becoming registered...
    • by Fallingcow (213461) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:57PM (#21019777) Homepage
      I made a few grammar, punctuation, and spelling fixes before I ever bothered to register.

      If I'm not already logged in and see a minor problem in an article, I'll usually fix anonymously. Not worth the time to log in.
      • by Firehed (942385)
        I take that same approach for any edits. I think I have an account, but I'm not even sure why. I know I haven't logged in once since I started it, if I even did (it's only vaguely familiar as I've messed around with setting up my own wiki). I don't care about any sort of attribution so I get credit for corrections, and if it's a page that tends to get vandalized a lot and as such has been partially locked, I figure that any changes I make will end up getting reverted anyways. Basically, it's impersonal
        • I use the account for major edits so I can use the "track this article" feature and make sure no one vandalizes it, plus I'm always curious to see what kind of fixes get applied to the things I submit.

          But yeah, I don't even do typo fixes on partially locked or "this article is disputed" pages because I figure it'll just get lost in the revert war or undone by a knee jerk "OMG an edit it must be vandalism on my precious page!" reaction.
    • I'm pretty sure I have a Wikipedia account somewhere, but I almost never log in unless I'm going to do a big edit on something. 90% of the time I only visit to read; if I happen to notice a mistake, I don't want to go through the hassle of logging in to make a tiny edit. I'd bet a lot of anonymous editors are the same.
    • by Raul654 (453029) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:20PM (#21019979) Homepage
      Doing such a study requires checkuser [wikipedia.org] access, which is something only a few people on Wikipedia have. Fortunately, I am one of them. I just sampled ten users out of the new user log [wikipedia.org]. I am assuming a 1:1 mapping between IP and user (that is, that a user made no anonymous edits except with the IP he used to register his account). The number of anonymous edits prior to registeration for each user was:

      A - 0
      B - 0
      C - 0
      D - 2
      E - 0
      F - 0
      G - 0
      H - 0
      I - 0
      J - 0

      In short: most of the people registering accounts had made no edits prior to registering. It's common knowledge on Wikipedia that something like half of all accounts registered never make any edits at all, so this makes sense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by keyero (1069796)
        A large portion of new users never make edits after they register. See here the new user log [wikipedia.org]. New users that have made edits will have the word "contribs" shown in blue; otherwise, it is shown in red. For many new users that have made edits... those edits turn out to be vandalism and the account, a vandalism-only account that is blocked.

        How many of those new users you selected have made edits since registering? I think many of those you sampled will never edit, period. Not before, not after. To mak
        • Yeah... and a larger sample size wouldn't hurt either. Also picking new users would tend to give you false positives on people who never edit after registering... picking users NOT on that list would be a better move.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Another interesting study might determine how many posts a person usually makes before becoming registered...

      Can't speak for the anonymous posters at Wikipedia or even any of the ACs here but for myself. The validity of a statement is the greatest when it can stand on its on without the benefit or detriment allocated to the statement by its maker. Posting as AC often draws extra scrutiny as to the validity and worth of the posting. If a moderator perceivers value in it worth their mod point application then

      • Your argument looks appealing. However, the problem is that most people don't have the time to evaluate the validity of each and every random statement they encounter. Thus, for economic reasons people tend to filter information based on the repudiation of the source. You may bemoan this on philosophical grounds, but it's actually a fairly sound way to deal with the problem at hand.
  • Lost Passwords? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mochan_s (536939) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:44PM (#21019677)
    Maybe someone just forgot his/her password or don't want to login in library computers.
    • I know I certainly can count the number of times I've not bothered to login for an edit or just not noticed I was logged out until after being done.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:44PM (#21019679) Homepage
    Researchers at Dartmouth University have recently discovered that infrequent anonymous contributors, so called "Good Samaritans," are as reliable as registered users who update constantly and have a reputation to maintain.

    Even better, the number of these "Good Samaritans" has tripled in the last six months!
  • well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:45PM (#21019689)
    This is to be expected. A lot of people read wikipedia to look up stuff and learn and all that. They never really wanted to edit it though cuz they're lazu. And then when they look up a topic near and dear to their heart like a specific video game or show and find something incorrect or totally lacking and just can't bear to not do something about it. But that's as far as the motivation takes them. I'd assume the majority of editors are like that. Who has like hours and hours to write really good articles all the time?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by nomadic (141991)
      Who has like hours and hours to write really good articles all the time?

      I was going to agree with you, then I noticed I've broken the 5,000 post mark on Slashdot. So apparently I do have the time and can't make fun of the wikipedians.
    • They never really wanted to edit it though cuz they're lazu.
      I'm trying to figure out if this is irony or not.
  • Depends, (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fengpost (907072) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:49PM (#21019715)
    Just don't cite wikipedia as a reliable source of the elephant population.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      Lol.. I wouldn't cite it as a reliable source ever. I would use it as a starting point to get familiarity with a topic or subject or to point some one to where they could. But I wouldn't stake a grade or even an argument on the accurateness of it.

      Wikkipedia has had it's share of experts that amount to people lieing about their credentials to fix a page in a certain way and keep the tones of pages agenda driven. This is especially true for anything political or even emotional. I don't know how many times I h
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:56PM (#21019767)
    Which is why I should be allowed to accrue karma.
  • Collecting data on which submodels of cable boxes were in use in which cable franchise. I had little traffic, I think maybe less than 800 submissions over the lifetime of the site. But not once did anyone screw with it, despite there being several freeform fields. I would have thought I'd get at least one "FUCK OYU" plugged in there, before I started. Never once.

    Maybe I was below the traffic threshold for trolls to show up.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:59PM (#21019803) Homepage
    The graph on page 31 is the retention rate of characters contributed by an editor relative to the total edits by that editor to the article ("The dependent variable is the retention rate, R, of contributions, measured as the percent of characters retained per contribution by each contributor.")

    This metric makes sense if the wiki is new, and most of the edits are adding new content. The metric is virtually meaningless if the wiki is established, and most of the edits by a group of people are vandalism or reverts - people fixing the article will have a lower score by virtue of the fact that they are making the same edit (more or less) over and over again.

    Normally, you'd expect that the more edits a user makes, the more trustworthy he is. If he were vandalizing, he wouldn't make more than a few before being blocked. If he's making hundreds, he should be considered more trust worthy (and have a higher retention rate) than if he's new. The results here show the exact opposite for anonymous users. In short, the methodology is flawed and the results are wrong.
    • by drmerope (771119)
      I think you are mistaken as to what is meant by "the percent of characters retained per contribution by each contributor."

      "Vandalism : Revert : Vandalism : Revert" is counted such that Revert is credited with 100% retention and Vandalism is credited with 0% retention. What matters is which characters of an edit are preserved going forward, not if they were preserved in an immediate sense.

      The "per-contribution" aspects refers to averaging/normalization.
  • by SamP2 (1097897) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:10PM (#21019895)
    I fully admire the eagerness of individual contributors, anonymous or not, to improve Wikipedia.

    Unfortunately, not all edits which are good-intended actually contribute to the overall quality. Of course, edits which fix simple things like revert vandalism, fix a typo, update a number etc, are all good. But the rest pose a potential problem. First off, newcomers, while well-intented, simply do not know the way Wikipedia works. They may include unsourced or poorly sourced material, insert a POV without even realising it, piss off another editor by being careless (and thus start an edit war) etc.

    But even those edits which do not break any Wikipedia rules or guidelines still can cause damage, this time much more subtle. The thing is, a (good) Wikipedia article is not just a collection of facts, even if every single fact is relevant, neutral, sourced, and deserves to be in the article. An article is a unified piece of work. It should flow to the reader, not bump. Information must be properly organized and related to each other. A major suffering of Wikipedia is the so-called "contribution creep", where people just keep dumping more and more facts into the article. The result is grossly disproportional coverage of some sections compared to others, a huge overemphasis on bullet-point lists rather than coherent paragraphs, lots of small factoids which while each good on their own right, do not belong together, parts of articles being outdated compared to other parts, and a lot of other problems which make Wikipedia look like a search result by Google rather than a real encyclopedia.

    Early on, Wikipedia's first priority was to fill its databank with stuff, and all contributions (other than those breaking policy) were welcome. Recently, WP is at the stage of more stringent enforcement of policies, as well as guidelines and styleguides. And by all means, that is very important and should be the first priority. But it's not enough to be a good encyclopedia. Making sure everything is neutral, notable, verifiable, attributed, legal, and formatted according to style, is all sub-article tasks, which you apply to a particular sentence, paragraph, or image. But then you have to pause for a moment and look at an article at the big picture. Does it flow smoothly? Are all sections balanced? Are all parts equally updated? Would an average reader get a proportional representation from the article?

    You can easily handle the sub-article problems (those that break a clearcut policy or guideline) contributions from anonymous edits (as well as non-anonymous edits). But "Contribution creep" is biggest problem to the overall article, where there is no clearcut right or wrong. And that's why, no matter how important anonymous edits are to Wikipedia (and they certainly are), the already developed articles should be marked as "revised" and new contributions screened before updating them. Not because of potential vandalism or policy violations (those are easy to fix), but precisely to manage contribution creep and make sure well-intented contributions don't introduce speedbumps to an article and break its coherent organization and flow.
    • by Titoxd (1116095) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:44PM (#21020171) Homepage
      You have described the dilemma of the Wikipedia editor/administrator.

      There are edits that are obviously unhelpful; there are others that are clearly helpful. But there is a gray area of edits that falls in between, and for which editors' reactions vary a lot.

      A good example is an anonymous/new editor adding unsourced information to a carefully-sourced Featured article. You can't let the information just remain there, as editors have gone through that page, double-checked the citations and validity of the statements, and generally polished the article to have its prose crisp and clean. But you cannot just revert the edit wholesale, as the edit was not done in bad faith. While sometimes the edits can be fixed, there are many times that the edits are incorrigible, and need to be completely reworked or removed (such as introducing widespread, irrelevant rumors on the biography of a celebrity).

      So, at this time, some editors remove the text, with an explanation in the edit summary. Sometimes anonymous editors read the edit summaries, sometimes they don't. Often they wonder why their text got removed, justifiably so. Some users take that personally and begin accusing us of being "grammar Nazis", or even "suppressors of the truth" (I've heard that one before). But in a way, we're just trying to keep everything in order.

      ~~~~
      • by solferino (100959)
        Why not just move the text to the article's talk page and leave a message on the user's page explaining what you have done?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Titoxd (1116095)
          Because the chance of the new editor reading the talk page is dismally low, as well, and probably even lower than reading an edit summary. (New editors: YMMV, of course.) I've done that before, and it is like watching a tumbleweed go over a remote road: Not even registered editors care to discuss that stuff in many cases.

          ~~~~
      • If you look up my name, you could find out about me, but I'll assume you'll read the post first.

        The problem, as I saw when I was still active, was not that mop-wielders were editing, but that mop-wielders often forgot to act in bad faith, and were also overwhelmingly deletionist in almost every line of thinking and discussion. While there are many good admins, there are many more bad admins, and the systemic nature of the problem is such that many bad admins think they are seriously doing good work by simpl
      • If i wanted clear articles and order i'll read britannica or dictionary.com.I want facts, more= better. Removing information because its written in bad style/non-notable/original research is one of major mistakes of wikipedia and will eventually lead to its decline.
        All it requires is a server cluster,a copy of wiki, minimum rules and some advertisement.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)
        The problem is that when a longtime editor is wrong, they are generally much more committed than the anonymous editor, so even worse than democracy, articles become shoutocracies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No matter how many editors there are, there are going to be topics that some people who are not editors know more about.
      So if someone sees something lacking, they should be free to add to it. If the content they add isn't formatted correctly or
      whatever, that is what editors should fix, no?
      As it stands, I've made minor modifications to wikipedia as well as attempting to add at least two pages that have links
      to the page already, but aren't filled out. The modifications went ok, but last I checked the pages I
    • Early on, Wikipedia's first priority was to fill its databank with stuff, and all contributions (other than those breaking policy) were welcome.

      And ideally it should still be like this.

      Recently, WP is at the stage of more stringent enforcement of policies, as well as guidelines and styleguides

      Which is a very Bad Thing, IMO. Wikipedia is still incomplete, and the more paranoid it becomes about 'protecting' its content, the less contributions it's going to get. There is now too much unnesessary bureaucracy on Wikipedia that makes everyone's life very difficult.

  • I just want to reacte to the makesense tag. I think it is an example of hindsight bias... given the statistics we think:

    "An anonymous user who makes a single edit is probably a good guy who spotted a mistake, an anonymous user who makes lots of edit is probably a vandal, if his contribution were good he'd probaly register to get credit. A registred user who does bad edits would be kicked pretty soon therefore registered user with large number of edits probably do quality edits".

    Duh ?

    If the finding were the
  • the quality of contributions of anonymous users goes down as the number of edits increases while quality goes up with the number of edits for registered users

    This makes sense, right? If someone is editing anonymously, why are they editing anonymously? If they edit the Wikipedia frequently and just haven't bothered to get an account, it seems likely that they're lazy, stupid, or have something to hide. If they're anonymous because they don't make frequent edits and don't see the point in making an accoun

    • by sumdumass (711423)
      I edit frequently. Well, it goes in spurts depending on the topic, what I find wrong with it and how much time I have. But I haven't registered and don't plan on doing so. This doesn't mean I'm lazy, stupid, or have something to hide. I don't register because I don't want Wikki to have my personal information. This isn't because I have done something wrong, It isn't because I vandalize, and it defiantly isn't because I an hiding something. It is because it isn't any of their business. They advertise anonymi
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Titoxd (1116095)
        Um... you don't need *anything* to register a Wikipedia account. While the login form [wikipedia.org] may ask you for a ton of fields, only your username and password are required; nothing else is (aside the CAPTCHA, but that goes without saying). In fact, being an unregistered editor exposes your IP address to the public, while registered editors are covered by the Wikimedia privacy policy [wikimediafoundation.org].

        ~~~~
  • This is true... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:36PM (#21020125) Journal
    I've made only one edit ever on Wikipedia, in the section on heat pipes. I happened to notice a minor, but not insignificant, omission.

    I would imagine that most single edits are like that - someone with a good depth of knowledge on a subject, noticing something that's not quite right. The threshold for action is high enough that you'd only do it if it was worthwhile.

  • ease of logging in (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sh3l1 (981741) * on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:45PM (#21020181) Homepage
    I often don't log in when i want to edit an article, because i don't care how my "rep" is, i just want to fix something.
  • Dynamic IP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mattb112885 (1122739)
    If a contributor contributes regularly from a dynamic IP address, are these contributions all considered by different anonymous users? As far as I know, dynamic IPs are quite common and if their data was taken over different days (I didn't notice a mention of their time frame in the article, except they took the data "as of March 1st 2005") this could explain why they found anonymous users with less contributions tended to make more quality edits.
  • Generally if you just make a few anonymous edits, you're reading something, and you know it is wrong and change it. Or you change a spelling/grammar mistake. And if someone is making A LOT of anonymous edits, it's probably random gibberish.

    And if you're going to go though the trouble of making an account, you're either going to do a quick piece of vandalism and leave, or be an active contributor.

    I don't even think this is hindsight bias kicking in for calling this obvious. It really is just common sense. I'
    • I'm surprised someone actually got money to research this.

      Research is useful even if it's obvious. Previously we couldn't cite anyone if we wanted to say that anons who edit once or twice make good edits. Now, thanks to this research, we can. While it's true that these researchers could spend their time and money in better questions, for example examining P=NP, but this research is still useful, if not for everything else, at least for putting it in the references of some other wiki-related research. Now, if I want to write a paper on wikis, I can cite their

  • I find it strange that it is suggested that logged-in users care about their reputation. I am such a logged-in user [wikipedia.org] and I don't care that much about reputation or what people may think or say about me, even though my Wikipedia account is linked with my real name. I mostly care to improve articles or correct misunderstandings. If I find that in some specific occasion I can make the encyclopedia better at the cost of making 500 people hate me, I won't give a fsck what the people are going to think or say a

  • my experiance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @06:36AM (#21022861) Homepage
    anon contributors tend to be the sort that only make minor contributions, sure they fix a typo or add something useful from time to time but it is the long termers who do the real meat of the editing trying to keep structure to the articles, add citations and so on.

  • by Espectr0 (577637) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @07:00AM (#21022971) Journal
    I am not a registered user, but i browse wikipedia quite frequently, and when i spot a simple error, i usually modify it. I think that lots of the anonymous contributors have this same pattern, so i am not impressed with this study.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal

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