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Janitors of Knowledge: Constructing Knowledge in the Everyday Life of Wikipedia Editors

Sundin, Olof LU (2011) In Journal of Documentation 67(5). p.840-862
Abstract
Purpose: The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia.

Design/methodology/approach: The study is inspired by online ethnography. It includes eleven Wikipedia editors, together with the sociotechnical resources in Wikipedia. The material was collected through interviews, online observations, web documents and discussions, and e-mail questions. The analysis was carried out from a perspective of science and technology studies (STS).

Findings: Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory... (More)
Purpose: The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia.

Design/methodology/approach: The study is inspired by online ethnography. It includes eleven Wikipedia editors, together with the sociotechnical resources in Wikipedia. The material was collected through interviews, online observations, web documents and discussions, and e-mail questions. The analysis was carried out from a perspective of science and technology studies (STS).

Findings: Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory for knowledge construction in which the already published is being recycled. The references to external sources anchor the participatory encyclopaedia in the ecology of established media and attribute trust to the knowledge published. The policy on Verifiability is analysed as an obligatory passage point to which all actors have to adjust. Active Wikipedia editors can be seen as akin to janitors of knowledge, as they are the ones who, through their hands-on activities, keep Wikipedia stable.

Originality/value: The study develops an innovative understanding of the knowledge construction culture in one of the most popular sources for information on the internet. By highlighting the ways in which trust is established in Wikipedia, a more reflexive use of the participatory encyclopaedia is made possible. This is of value for information literacy training. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
participatory media, publication, trust, Wkipedia, credibility
in
Journal of Documentation
volume
67
issue
5
pages
840 - 862
publisher
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
external identifiers
  • wos:000296598600006
  • scopus:80053072675
ISSN
0022-0418
DOI
10.1108/00220411111164709
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
91d390ef-6537-4bba-aad0-89b422c5d27f (old id 1693489)
date added to LUP
2010-10-20 10:58:05
date last changed
2017-11-19 04:02:18
@article{91d390ef-6537-4bba-aad0-89b422c5d27f,
  abstract     = {Purpose: The aim of this article is to explore how trustworthy knowledge claims in Wikipedia are constructed by focusing on the everyday practices of Wikipedia editors. The article focuses particularly on the role of references to external sources for the stabilisation of knowledge in Wikipedia. <br/><br>
Design/methodology/approach: The study is inspired by online ethnography. It includes eleven Wikipedia editors, together with the sociotechnical resources in Wikipedia. The material was collected through interviews, online observations, web documents and discussions, and e-mail questions. The analysis was carried out from a perspective of science and technology studies (STS). <br/><br>
Findings: Wikipedia can be regarded as a laboratory for knowledge construction in which the already published is being recycled. The references to external sources anchor the participatory encyclopaedia in the ecology of established media and attribute trust to the knowledge published. The policy on Verifiability is analysed as an obligatory passage point to which all actors have to adjust. Active Wikipedia editors can be seen as akin to janitors of knowledge, as they are the ones who, through their hands-on activities, keep Wikipedia stable. <br/><br>
Originality/value: The study develops an innovative understanding of the knowledge construction culture in one of the most popular sources for information on the internet. By highlighting the ways in which trust is established in Wikipedia, a more reflexive use of the participatory encyclopaedia is made possible. This is of value for information literacy training.},
  author       = {Sundin, Olof},
  issn         = {0022-0418},
  keyword      = {participatory media,publication,trust,Wkipedia,credibility},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {840--862},
  publisher    = {Emerald Group Publishing Limited},
  series       = {Journal of Documentation},
  title        = {Janitors of Knowledge: Constructing Knowledge in the Everyday Life of Wikipedia Editors},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00220411111164709},
  volume       = {67},
  year         = {2011},
}