|Deze tekst of dit mediabestand is op deze website geplaatst met een beroep op het citaatrecht, en heeft tot doel de geschiedenis van de Wikimedia projecten vast te leggen. Zie ook het mediabeleid.
This image or other media file refers to the quotation law (citaatrecht) in The Netherlands and Belgium. This is not the same as fair use, but probably it can be placed under this license in the United States and other countries with a fair use policy.
- Eerste stuk (in het Nederlands) http://www.scienceguide.nl/article.asp?articleid=104136
- Tweede stuk (in het Engels) http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/2007/10/07/repurposing-the-wikiscanner-comparing-dutch-universities-edits-on-wikipedia/
- Derde stuk (oorspronkelijke onderzoek), http://wiki2.issuecrawler.net/twiki/bin/view/Dmi/DutchUniversities#Overall_Activity
Wikipedia-input van universiteiten vergeleken
Met de Wikiscanner kun je aantonen hoe (koninklijke) hoogheden hun biografie op Wikipedia proberen te verfraaien. In plaats van je op dergelijke schandalen te richten, kun je ook laten zien hoe bijvoorbeeld Nederlandse universiteiten input leveren voor Wikipedia. Uit onderzoek van lector Geert Lovink (HvA) blijkt dat de universiteit van Groningen het actiefste is op Wikipedia, gevolgd door die van Twente en de UU. Het soort artikelen dat mensen maken of bewerken verschilt sterk per universiteit.
Lemma’s over Nederlandse cultuur, geschiedenis en politiek worden vooral geschreven aan de universiteiten van Groningen, Utrecht en Leiden, zo blijkt uit het onderzoek van Lovink. UvA-mensen hebben kennelijk echt iets met beroemdheden, want zijn werken veel aan biografische lemma’s. Vanuit de technische universiteiten wordt er veel geschreven over wiskunde, natuurwetenschappen, techniek, maar ook fantasy en games.
Het volledige artikel van Geert Lovink leest u op zijn weblog.
Weblog Geert Lovink
Under the banner of the Digital Methods Initiative, Erik and I have been working on a project called Repurposing the Wikiscanner. The following is an introduction to the project and the first of two case studies: this one deals with the presence of Dutch universities on Wikipedia, including how much they ‘anonymously’ contribute and the kinds of articles they edit. In the conclusion I suggest that the Wikiscanner, with some modifications, could prove a valuable tool for researching ‘local’ aspects of Wikipedia production.
The Wikiscanner ‘de-anonymizes’ edits on Wikipedia, linking IP addresses to the organizations and institutions where the edits were made. Released in August 2007, it was quickly taken up on the Web and in the media, and within days a number of high-profile cases of misconduct were revealed. These included unsavory edits by “the Al-Jazeera network, Fox News Channel, staffers of Democratic Senator Robert Byrd and the CIA” and, here in the Netherlands, a revelation that ‘the Royals’ were touching up their involvement in the Mabel affair.
As a tool, the scanner is skewed toward scandal research. Its question, ‘Who edits Wikipedia?’ comes with a suggestion: some of these edits will be “salacious”. The results are presented per edit rather than aggregated, meaning the focus is not on collaborative processes or article ‘evolution’, but on the single, incriminating edit. On the one hand, this benefits from a core assumption about Wikipedia, that it is subject to manipulation and should be approached with caution. On the other, it is perfectly in line with the larger Wikipedia narrative, the power of the many over the few.
The Wikiscanner reapplies the Wisdom of Crowds at a meta-level. Meta-editors now lead the charge in exposing conflicts of interest. But will this result in a better encyclopedia, or simply a relocation of ongoing ‘edit-wars’ to more news-worthy portions of the Web? At what point do we need to know who queried a certain set of Wikiscanner results?
Taking a step back, we wonder whether the Wikiscanner can be repurposed as a (new) digital method. Tools for Web research, including the Wikiscanner but also those created by the DMI team, use exploits in Web services (Google, Wikipedia, etc.) to test them and make claims about the knowledge they produce or make available. However, the tools themselves come with methods ‘built-in’. Can research questions be tweaked without tool-modification? Perhaps we are better off aiming for tool-amalgamation - combining existing tools so as to reposition their individual limits. Can we get past scandal research with the Wikiscanner?
Anonymous Wikipedia Production by Dutch Universities
(for the full case study, with a smörgåsbord of tables and tag clouds, go here.)
Every year, the Dutch weekly Elsevier conducts a large survey among students and professors, asking them to ‘grade’ the universities. The results are always highly anticipated, and a source of (somewhat) friendly competition. In addition to the ratings given by students and staff, the magazine looks at indicators of universities’ relevance in terms of scientific publications. Taking a cue from Elsevier, one could query Wikipedia for the relative presence of Dutch universities.
Using the Wikiscanner, anonymous edits from 13 Dutch universities were aggregated and compared. The greatest number of edits were made by the University of Groningen, followed by Twente and Utrecht. Given the University of Twente’s relatively small size, it is surprising to find it in the top three. However, friends have explained that this is probably because Twente has a lively campus, with students living close by, meaning much of their regular Web surfing will happen at the university.
Making Wikipedia Local
There were 639 articles edited by users from more than one university. Of these, 120 articles related to Dutch culture, history and politics. The most active universities in this area were Utrecht, Groningen and Leiden. Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprising, these same three universities have the highest-rated Language and Culture programs, according to one recent national survey. Wageningen University and Research Centre is also very active on these topics, but a closer look reveals that this has been ‘inflated’ by a great number of edits on just a few articles (especially ‘Ayaan Hirsi Ali’, ‘Wageningen’ and ‘Wageningen University’).
Profiling Technical Universities
The three technical universities (Twente, Eindhoven and Delft) were ‘profiled’ based on the articles each edited. As expected, each contributes often to articles relating to mathematics, science and technology. In addition to this, each was found to conform somewhat to ‘Geek’ stereotypes, with a high proportion of edits on topics dealing with science fiction and fantasy games. (I hope it is clear that, as a new media student, I would never use ‘Geek’ in a negative way.) This was most pronounced in the results for the Technical University of Eindhoven.
Cloud: Wikipedia articles edited anonymously from the Technical University of Eindhoven (Numbers indicate edits per article. Click image for a larger version)
Star-gazing at the University of Amsterdam
Last but not least is the University of Amsterdam, ‘home’ to the Masters of Media students. The most visible trend in the edits from our university could be termed a ‘Great Man’ view of Wikipedia. Half of the top thirty articles edited were biographies, and generally more than one were of a certain type (e.g. artist, charismatic leader, University of Amsterdam professor). Emphasis has been added in the cloud below to show this trend in the articles edited by the UvA
While the question has mostly been, ‘what can the Wikiscanner tell us about Dutch universities?’, the reverse is more interesting. What do the exercises carried out here say about the possible uses of the Wikiscanner for Wikipedia research?
The Wikiscanner, with some tweaking, makes it possible to ‘localize’ Wikipedia activity by linking edits to specific institutions or within geographical borders. Such a move adds a dimension to studies of Wikipedia. Where these have had to hang on to notions of the ‘virtual community’ in describing the ins and outs of collaboration online, the kind of research hinted at here will make it possible to rethink this production as both a local and global operation. General assumptions about Wikipedia’s ‘U.S.-centrism’ should be tested empirically, and alongside article content researchers should make use of location as a variable. In the case of universities, presumably hubs for the production of knowledge, this ‘trick’ is all the more interesting and relevant.
But the Wikiscanner also comes with limitations. Only anonymous edits are indexed, meaning the samples are relatively small and, until one can prove otherwise, not representative of all edits. Also, despite any attempts here or elsewhere, it will be tough to disassociate ‘anonymous’ from ‘discreditable’. With the profiles of technical universities, there is some indication that such samples are representative, but this needs more work. Taking the Wikiscanner further will require adequately theorizing the ‘anonymous edit’.
Comparing Anonymous Wikipedia Production by Dutch Universities
* Introduction * Method * Analysis o Overall Activity o Comparison of Articles Edited + Exporting Culture: Locating the Nation on Wikipedia + Wikipedia-profiling: Technical Universities and their Preferences + Star Gazing at the University of Amsterdam * Conclusion * Notes
Every year, the Dutch weekly Elsevier conducts a large survey among students and professors, asking them to 'grade' the universities. The results are always highly anticipated, and a source of (somewhat) friendly competition. In addition to the ratings given by students and staff, the magazine looks at indicators of universities' relevance in terms of research. For instance the 2006 study produced the following ranked lists of universities based on the number of scientific publications:
1. University of Utrecht 2. University of Amsterdam 3. University of Groningen 4. Free University of Amsterdam 5. Radboud University Nijmegen 6. Leiden University
1. University of Tilburg 2. Erasmus University Rotterdam 3. University of Maastricht
1. Technical University of Eindhoven (tied for 1st) 2. Technical University of Delft (tied for 1st) 3. University of Twente
Taking a cue from Elsevier, this analysis looks at the presence of Dutch Universities on Wikipedia. Using the Wikiscanner, anonymous edits made through University IP addresses are compared, producing a sample of each university's 'output' on Wikipedia. Which universities are the most active on Wikipedia? Do the edits reflect univeristy research interests, or are they more eclectic? Can university cultures be distinguished in the edits they make?
- Use Wikiscanner to find all anonymous Wikipedia edits by University IP addresses (NB: Wikiscanner uses a database of Wikipedia, and includes edits made between February 7th, 2002 and August 4th, 2007).
- Aggregate results; tabulate and visualize universities' edits.
Which universities (anonymously) contribute the most to Wikipedia? This table presents the universities' rank according to size (number of students + staff) alongside data depicting their anonymous activity on Wikipedia, including number of edits, the number of IP addresses used on Wikipedia and the number of articles edited. (Re-sort data by clicking on table headers.)
Table: Anonymous Activity on Wikipedia per Dutch University
|University||Rank according to size||Rank according to no. of edits||No. of anonymous edits||No. of articles edited||No. of individual IP addresses used to edit Wikipedia||Mean no. of edits per article||Mean no. of edits per individual IP address used on Wikipedia|
|University of Utrecht||1||3||2641||1324||624||1.99||4.23|
|University of Amsterdam||2||6||1972||1031||558||1.91||3.53|
|University of Groningen||3||1||3002||2069||606||1.45||4.95|
|Erasmus University Rotterdam||4||12||432||224||104||1.93||4.15|
|Radboud University Nijmegen||6||8||1282||767||372||1.67||3.45|
|Free University Amsterdam||7||11||976||732||248||1.33||3.94|
|Delft University Of Technology||8||7||1785||984||467||1.81||3.82|
|University of Tilburg||9||13||302||161||116||1.88||2.60|
|University of Maastricht||10||9||1270||703||398||1.81||3.19|
|Wageningen University and Research Centre||11||10||1089||657||128||1.66||8.51|
|University of Twente||12||2||2840||1836||706||1.55||4.02|
|Technical Univ. Eindhoven||13||4||2143||1761||510||1.22||4.20|
It has to be stressed that these results only depict anonymous activity on Wikipedia, so it is unlikely that this could be a representative sample for all Wikipedia edits through university IP addresses. Still, there are some interesting points to make:
- Taking into consideration the relative size of each university, the University of Twente and the Technical University of Eindhoven stand out as the most active on Wikipedia. There are two probable explanations. First, these both have U.S.-like 'campuses': students are more likely to spend time at the university and access the Web through university IPs. Second, these are technical universities, with possibly more affinity with new media, something that would have to be evidenced in the kind of articles edited (see below).
- The Erasmus University Rotterdam and the University of Tilburg are the least active, with the former being the standout 'underachiever' when taking size into consideration. This is also explained by the University environment. Erasmus is relatively isolated, and students are more likely to only be at the university for classes.
- The problem of distribution: when just a few IP addresses produce most of the edits, it could be supposed that a small number of active editors make up the majority of the university's contribution. For example, the Wageningen University and Research Centre has the highest number of edits per IP address, possibly pointing to a small group that is responsible for most of the university edits.
Comparison of Articles Edited
Do universities have clear topic preferences, and do these reflect broader research interests? For example, do technical universities (Twente, Eindhoven and Delft) stick to technical topics? Which universities focus on articles relating to the Netherlands, and which have the strongest 'international' presence?
Here, just a few examples are given to illustrate the type of findings that come out of this research. Tag clouds for each university can be found here.
Exporting Culture: Locating the Nation on Wikipedia
In an ongoing public debate on Dutch national identity, Princess Maxima noted that in her years in the Netherlands she has been unable to find one Dutch identity. Given this, she sides with a recent WRR report that argues that the term no longer be essentialized in policy-making (e.g. in 'citizenship classes' for immigrants). Has a constructivist view of identity gone mainstream? (Some politicians will disagree.)
Taken together with the assumption that new, participatory media present the Dutch government with an opportunity to gauge the 'pulse' of the nation (1), the notion of identity performance may be explored further in the Dutch and English versions of Wikipedia (as well as on social networking sites, on forums, etc.) One way of approaching this question is to think in terms of representation. If the Netherlands is represented by articles on Dutch culture, what portion of those are produced by Dutch users? What Dutch articles are edited by different Dutch groups (in this case universities), and what are the levels of activity?
Editors from more than one university were active on 120 articles dealing with Dutch language, culture, history and politics (list available here). These topics received a total of 768 anonymous edits, broken down by university below. 'Dutch' articles edited by just one university have not been included here due to time limitations:
University No. of edits on local topics Erasmus University Rotterdam 44 Delft University of Technology 49 Leiden University 99 University of Groningen 101 Radboud University Nijmegen 50 Technical University of Eindhoven 30 University of Maastricht 29 University of Tilburg 10 University of Twente 66 University of Utrecht 124 Free University 26 Wageningen University 91 University of Amsterdam 49
- Judged on these data, Utrecht, Leiden and Groningen appear to be the most Dutch of Dutch universities. This might please Humanities professors, as they chose the Language and Culture programs from these three universities as the best in the Netherlands. (see the report by Elsevier (pdf)).
- Notable for their lack of presence on Dutch topics are the technical universities (Delft, Twente, Eindhoven) and the two Amsterdam universities.
- A closer look at the tag cloud reveals that the bulk of Wageningen's high number of edits were made on three articles related to Dutch culture: 'Ayaan Hirsi Ali', 'Wageningen' and 'Wageningen University'.
Wikipedia-profiling: Technical Universities and their Preferences
Can a university, or any other organization for that matter, be 'profiled' based on the Wikipedia articles it edits? On the Web, your behavior is presumed to reflect and predict what you might do online or elsewhere - Amazon's recommendations, and Google's personalized ads, remain instructive. Can university cultures be made visible on Wikipedia (or other platforms for user-generated content, such as Facebook and Myspace)?
- As could be expected, the three universities actively edit technical articles, though this is less so for the University of Twente. Twente is a special case, as it offers a couple of courses in the social sciences next to its main focus on technology, providing a plausible explanation for the difference.
- In addition to the technical topics, the universities' edits display a common interest in science fiction and games - the Top Geek award, however, really must go to the Technical University of Eindhoven, where the edits seem equally divided among physics, computing and online role-playing games. (The word 'geek' here is not an insult, and I wouldn't be studying new media if I were the type to look down on World of Warcraft. That said, I'm sure the students and staff in Eindhoven would agree that this tagcloud puts a clear stereotype on display.)
- Where the Technical University of Eindhoven sticks to science fiction, Twente and Delft have other identifiable interests. From Twente, a substantial number of anonymous edits were made to articles dealing with Islam and religion more generally, and trends in Delft's editing include Indian culture and history.
Star Gazing at the University of Amsterdam
Last but not least, I wanted to look at the anonymous edits made from the University of Amsterdam (UvA?), where I attend. Originally, the plan was to test these against research programs or perceptions of the university in the press or otherwise (e.g. as left-wing). However, the data also presented another story: more than any of the other universities (no exact count was made, but it seems obvious from the clouds), the UvA? edits biographies. A high proportion of these are of famous writers and (performing) artists: Harry Belafonte, Sidney Portier, Oscar Kiss Maerth, Rush, etc. Other 'great men' among the edits are historical figures (Julius Caesar and Augustus) and at least three current or former UvA? professors. In the cloud below, emphasis has been added to make this overall trend more readily visible.
While the question has mostly been, 'what can the Wikiscanner tell us about Dutch universities?', the reverse is more interesting. What do the exercises carried out here say about the possible uses of the Wikiscanner for Wikipedia research?
The Wikiscanner, with some tweaking, makes it possible to 'localize' Wikipedia activity by linking edits to specific institutions or within geographical borders. Such a move adds a dimension to studies of Wikipedia. Where these have had to hang on to notions of the 'virtual community' in describing the ins and outs of collaboration online, the kind of research hinted at here will make it possible to rethink this production as both a local and global operation. General assumptions about Wikipedia's 'U.S.-centrism' should be tested empirically, and alongside article content researchers should make use of location as a variable. In the case of universities, presumably hubs for the production of knowledge, this 'trick' is all the more interesting and relevant.
But the Wikiscanner also comes with limitations. Only anonymous edits are indexed, meaning the samples are relatively small and, until one can prove otherwise, not representative of all edits. Also, despite any attempts here or elsewhere, it will be tough to disassociate 'anonymous' from 'discreditable'. With the profiles of technical universities, there is some indication that anonymous edits are representative, but this needs more work. Taking the Wikiscanner further will require adequately theorizing the 'anonymous edit'.
1) This can be sensed in government initiatives to engage the e-citizen. According to the WRR, in making media policy for the digital age, "the foci of attention should be the functions that the media landscape is expected to fulfil in a democratic society. These include for instance independent news, debate and public opinion, education and culture. In the new media landscape, these functions will enable us, much more than technical media do, to search for and determine the public interests that demand and legitimate a role of government in the media landscape." Wetenschappelijk Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (2005), "Media Policy for the Digital Age," Amsterdam University Press: 10, emphasis added. (Full report available here) _