Cross‐cultural analysis of the Wikipedia community

Shachaf, Pnina and Hara, Noriko and Hew, Khe Foon Cross‐cultural analysis of the Wikipedia community. Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology, 2010, vol. 61, n. 10, pp. 2097-2108. [Journal article (Paginated)]


Download (391kB) | Preview

English abstract

This paper reports a cross‐cultural analysis of four Wikipedias in different languages and demonstrates their roles as communities of practice (CoPs). Prior research on CoPs and on the Wikipedia community often lacks cross‐cultural analysis. Despite the fact that over 75% of Wikipedia is written in languages other than English, research on Wikipedia primarily focuses on the English Wikipedia and tends to overlook the Wikipedias in other languages. This paper first argues that Wikipedia communities can be analyzed and understood as CoPs. Second, norms of behaviors are examined in four Wikipedia languages (English, Hebrew, Japanese, and Malay), and the similarities and differences across these four languages are reported. Specifically, typical behaviors on three types of discussion spaces (Talk, User Talk, and Wikipedia Talk) are identified and examined across languages. Hofstede’s dimensions of cultural diversity as well as the size of the community, and the function of each discussion area provide lenses for understanding the similarities and differences. As such, this paper expands the research on online CoPs through an examination of cultural variations across multiple CoPs, and increases our understanding of Wikipedia communities in various languages.

Item type: Journal article (Paginated)
Keywords: Wikipedia
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information
Depositing user: Pnina Shachaf
Date deposited: 12 Apr 2011
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:18


Anthony, D., Smith, S. W., & Williamson, T. (2009). Reputation and reliability in collective goods:

The case of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Rationality & Society, 21, 263‐306.

Ardichvili, A., Maurer, M., Li, W., Wentling, T., & Stuedemann, R. (2006). Cultural influences on

knowledge sharing through online communities of practice. Journal of Knowledge

Management, 10(1), 94‐107.

Ardichvili, A., Page, V., & Wentling, T. (2003). Motivation and barriers to participation in online

knowledge–sharing communities of practice. Journal of Knowledge Management, 7(1),


Barab, S.A., MaKinster, J. G., & Scheckler, R. (2004). Designing system dualities: Characterizing

an online professional development community. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. H. Gray


(Eds.), Designing for virtual communities in the service of learning. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Beschastnikh, I., Kriplean, T., & McDonald, D. (2008). Wikipedian self‐governmance in action:

Motivating the policy lens. In the proceedings of Web Intelligence Conference. IEEE CS

Press, 45‐51.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Bryant, S. L., Forte, A., & Bruckman, A. (2005). Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of

participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. Proceedings of the 2005

International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work, November 6‐9,

Sanibel Island, Florida.

DiMicco, J., Millen, D. R., Geyer, W., Dugan, C., Brownholtz, B., & Muller, M. (2008). Motivations

for social networking at work. Proceedings of the ACM 2008 Conference on Computer

Supported Cooperative Work, 711‐720.

Dubé, L., Bourhis, A., & Jacob, R. (2006). Towards a typology of virtual communities of practice.

Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management, 1, 69‐93.

Forte, A., Larco, V., & Bruckman, A. (2009). Decentralization in Wikipedia Governance. Journal

of Management Information Systems, 26(1), 49‐72.

Gray, B. (2004). Informal learning in an online community of practice. Journal of Distance

Education, 19(1), 20‐35.

Hall, E.T. (1976). Beyond culture. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.

Hall, E.T. (1983). The dance of life. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.

Hara, N. (2009). Communities of practice: Fostering peer‐to‐peer learning and information

sharing in the work place. Berlin: Springer.

Hara, N., & Hew, K.F. (2007). Knowledge sharing in an online community of health‐care

professionals. Information Technology & People, 20(3), 235‐261.

Hara, N., Shachaf, P., & Storeger, S. (2009). Online communities of practice typology revisited.

Journal of Information Science, 35(6), 740‐757.

Hew, K.F., & Hara, N. (2007). Knowledge sharing in online environments: A qualitative case

study. Journal of American Society for Information Science & Technology, 59(14), 2310‐


Hofstede, G.H. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. London: McGraw‐Hill.

Hofstede, G.H. (2008). Announcing a new version of the Values Survey Module: the VSM 08.

Retrieved January 6, 2009, from

Holmes, J., & Stubbe, M. (2003). Power and politeness in the workplace: A sociolinguistic

analysis of talk at work. London: Pearson.

Hamburger, H., Guyer, M., & Fox, J. (1975). Group size and cooperation. Journal of Conflict

Resolution, 19(3), 503‐531.

Jiang, W. (2000). The relationship between culture and language. ELT Journal, 54 (4), 328‐334.

Jones, Q. (1997). Virtual‐communities, virtual‐settlements and cyber‐archaeology: A theoretical

outline. Journal of Computer Mediated Communications, 3(3). Retrieved July 10, 2005,


Johnson, C.M. (2001). A survey of current research on online communities of practice. The

Internet and Higher Education, 4(1), 45‐60.


Kittur, A., & Kraut, R.E. (2008). Harnessing the wisdom of crowds in Wikipedia: Quality through

coordination. In the proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 37‐45.

Kluckhohn, C., & Strodbeck, F.L. (1961). Variation in value orientation. Evanson, IL: Row and


Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Mayers, M.D., & Tan, F.B. (2002). Beyond models of national culture in information systems

research, Journal of Global Information Systems, 10(1), 24‐32.

Nisbett, Nisbett, R.E. (2003). The geography of thought: How Asians and Westerners think

differently and why. New York: The Free Press.

Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Orr, J.E. (1996). Talking about machines: An ethnography of a modern job. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.

Ortega, F., Gonzalez‐Barahona, J.M., & Robels, G. (2008). On the inequiality of contributions to

Wkipedia. In proceedings of 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System

Sciences. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press. Retrieved January 27, 2009 from

Pan, S.L., & Leidner, D.E. (2003). Bridging communities of practice with information technology

in pursuit of global knowledge sharing. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 12, 71‐


Pfeil, U., Zaphiris, P., & Ang, C.S. (2006). Cultural differences in collaborative authoring of

Wikipedia. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 12(1), article 5. Retrieved

January 2, 2009, from

Riehle, D. (2006). How and why Wikipedia works: an interview with Angela Beesley, Elisabeth

Bauer, and Kizu Naoko. Proceedings of the 2006 international symposium on Wikis,

Odense, Denmark. Retrieved September 29, 2006, from

Roberts, J. (2006). Limits to communities of practice. Journal of Management Studies, 43(3),


Schlager, M., Fusco, J., & Schank, P. (2002). Evolution of an online education community of

practice. In K. A., Renninger & W. Shumar (Eds.), Building virtual communities: Learning

and change in cyberspace (pp. 129‐157). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shachaf, P., & Hara, N. (2010, in press). Beyond vandalism: Wikipedia trolls. Journal of

Information Science.

Spencer‐Oatey, H. (2000). Culturally speaking ‐ Managing rapport through talk across cultures.

London: Continuum.

Straub, D., Loch, K., Evaristo, R., Karahanna, E., & Srite, M. (2002). Toward a theory‐based

measurement of culture. Journal of Global Information Management, 10(1),13‐23.

Stvilia, B., Al‐Faraj, A., & Yi, Y.J. (2009). Issues of cross‐cultural information quality evaluation—

The case of Arabic, English, and Korean Wikipedias. Library & Information Science

Research,31(4), 232‐239.

Stvilia, B., Twidale, M., Smith, L.C., & Gasser, L. (2008). Information quality work organization in

Wikipedia. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 59(6),



Tapscott, D., & Williams, A.D. (2008). Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything.

New York: Portfolio.

Trompenaars, F., & Hampden‐Turner. C. (1998). Riding the waves of culture: Understanding

cultural diversity in global business. New York: McGraw‐Hill.

Veenswijk, M., & Chisalita, C. (2007). The importance of power and ideology in communities of

practice. Information Technology & People, 20(1), 32‐52.

Viégas, F.B., Wattenberg, M., Kriss, J., & van Ham, F. (2007). Talk before you type: Coordination

in Wikipedia. Proceedings of the Forty Hawai'i International Conference on System

Sciences (HICSS‐40). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Press.

Wagner, C., & Bolluju, N. (2005). Supporting knowledge management in organizations with

conversational technologies: Discussion forums, weblogs, and wikis. Journal of Database

Management, 16(2), 1‐13.

Wasko, M. M., & Faraj, S. (2005). Why should I share? Examining social capital and knowledge

contribution in electronic networks of practice. MIS Quarterly, 29(1), 35‐57.

Wenger, E. (1990). Toward a theory of cultural transparency: Elements of a discourse of the

visible and the invisible. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California,


Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W.M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A

guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Yates, J., Orlikowski, W.J., & Okamura, K. (1999). Explicit and implicit structuring of genres in

electronic communication: Reinforcement and change of social interaction.

Organization Science, 10(1), 83‐103.

Yates, D., Wagner, C., & Majchrzak, A. (in press). Factors affecting shapers of organizational

wikis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Yong, E. (March, 2009). East meets west: How the brain unites us all. New Scientist 2698.

Retrieved February 5, 2010 from:‐beyond‐east‐and‐west‐howthe‐



Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item