International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media

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March 26-28, 2007

On the Evolution of Wikipedia

Rodrigo Almeida, Barzan Mozafari and Junghoo Cho

A recent phenomenon on the Web is the emergence and proliferation of new social media systems allowing social interaction between people. One of the most popular of these systems is Wikipedia that allows users to create content in a collaborative way. Despite its current popularity, not much is known about how users interact with Wikipedia and how it has evolved over time.
In this paper we aim to provide a first, extensive study of the user behavior on Wikipedia and its evolution. Compared to prior studies, our work differs in several ways. First, previous studies on the analysis of the user workloads (for systems such as peer-to-peer systems [10] and Web servers [2]) have mainly focused on understanding the users who are accessing information. In contrast, Wikipedia’s provides us with the opportunity to understand how users create and maintain information since it provides the complete evolution history of its content. Second, the main focus of prior studies is evaluating the implication of the user workloads on the system performance, while our study is trying to understand the evolution of the data corpus and the user behavior themselves.
Our main findings include that (1) the evolution and updates of Wikipedia is governed by a self-similar process, not by the Poisson process that has been observed for the general Web [4, 6] and (2) the exponential growth of Wikipedia is mainly driven by its rapidly increasing user base, indicating the importance of its open editorial policy for its current success. We also find that (3) the number of updates made to the Wikipedia articles exhibit a power-law distribution, but the distribution is less skewed than those obtained from other studies.

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