Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Research Fund/Exploring knowledge integrity on non-English Wikipedias

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statusnot funded
Exploring knowledge integrity on non-English Wikipedias
start and end datesJuly 2023 - July 2024
budget (USD)41,454 USD
fiscal year2022-23
applicant(s)• Heather Ford, Michael Davis and Flora Hung-Baesecke



Heather Ford, Michael Davis and Flora Hung-Baesecke

Affiliation or grant type

University of Technology Sydney


Heather Ford, Michael Davis and Flora Hung-Baesecke

Wikimedia username(s)

Heather Ford: User:hfordsa

Project title

Exploring knowledge integrity on non-English Wikipedias

Research proposal[edit]


Description of the proposed project, including aims and approach. Be sure to clearly state the problem, why it is important, why previous approaches (if any) have been insufficient, and your methods to address it.

The project will explore Wikipedia’s ability to respond to systematic disinformation attacks, particularly in non-English versions. Such attacks often involve multiple actors working in ways that evade Wikipedia’s vandalism detection systems. There has been some work on systematic disinformation attacks in non-English Wikipedia (for example, by Stephen Harrison and Carl Miller), but little research investigating the context of such events or the effectiveness of interventions like global banning of perpetrator accounts.

This project, a pilot for a larger program investigating information integrity on multiple Wikimedia versions, will involve case study analysis of Chinese Wikipedia after a ban of several Chinese administrators in 2021.

Research questions:

Has the 2021 banning of administrators reduced threats to knowledge integrity on Chinese Wikipedia? If not, what kinds of threats are currently faced and how effective are Wikipedia policies and practices in mitigating against them?

We will focus on 3 themes:

1. Threats (to Wikipedia’s NPOV and to individual editors);

2. Strategies used by editors and their networks to influence articles and governance processes;

3. Local policies and their comparative effectiveness.

The project will be housed by the Centre for Media Transition (CMT) at the University of Technology Sydney. CMT’s interdisciplinary approach cuts across law, policy, communication and journalism, with technology as a key theme. We collaborate with industry, government, academic and civil society on research, engagement and education projects around the Asia Pacific.

Our broad-based approach understands information quality as contextual, i.e. dependent on features and practices of the environment in which information is developed and applied. Instead of focusing only on obvious cases of false information at the extreme, we are interested in practices of information production on Wikipedia more generally and the extent to which they support information integrity.


a) Analysis and comparison of Chinese and English Wikipedia policies on representation of truth claims;

b) Interviews with Chinese Wikipedians in Taiwan;

c) Analysis of a selection of controversial articles including on Taiwan and Hong Kong.


  • Monica Attard, co-director of the Centre for Media Transition, University of Technology Sydney (Australia)
  • Derek Wilding, co-director of the Centre for Media Transition, University of Technology Sydney (Australia)


Approximate amount requested in USD.

41,454 USD

Budget Description

Briefly describe what you expect to spend money on (specific budgets and details are not necessary at this time).

The budget will be spent on personnel i.e. a part-time 0.6 FTE research assistant for 6 months ($18,087) and teaching buy-out for two academics for one tutorial during the term when the fieldwork will be conducted ($6,752), travel to Taipei for two researchers ($7,832), a public event hosted by UTS ($3,376) and 15% overheads required by UTS.


Address the impact and relevance to the Wikimedia projects, including the degree to which the research will address the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction and/or support the work of Wikimedia user groups, affiliates, and developer communities. If your work relates to knowledge gaps, please directly relate it to the knowledge gaps taxonomy.

This project will contribute significantly to understanding what interventions are necessary for combating misinformation and disinformation on underserved Wikimedia communities. It will have particular impact for Chinese Wikipedia communities but will also impact on other language Wikipedias where similar measures have been used to prevent systematic attacks on Wikipedia (such as recent global bans of Arabic Wikipedia editors). This work supports the 2030 Strategy Direction in its focus on knowledge equity: breaking down “barriers (including censorship, control, and misinformation) that “(prevent) people from accessing and contributing to knowledge” among underserved (and understudied) Wikimedia communities in Asia.


Plans for dissemination.

We plan to produce at least one open access journal article in a high ranking media and communications journal such as IJOC and a parallel public report aimed at the Wikimedia community that focuses on practical implications of the research. We will also present the research at a relevant forum (for example, the Wikimedia Research Showcase, the Wiki Workshop or Wikimania) and an event at UTS in Sydney for researchers and Wikipedians.

Past Contributions[edit]

Prior contributions to related academic and/or research projects and/or the Wikimedia and free culture communities. If you do not have prior experience, please explain your planned contributions.

Heather Ford is a former Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board Member, former Executive Director of iCommons and co-founder of Creative Commons South Africa. She has researched Wikipedia for the past decade where she studies truth-making practices. Michael Davis is a social epistemologist working on disinformation. He previously worked in the Disinformation Taskforce at the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Flora Hung-Baesecke is Senior Lecturer at UTS. She is native Taiwanese and her research interests include social media and stakeholder engagement.

None of the individuals or the team as a whole have previously been funded by the Wikimedia Foundation or the Wikimedia Research Fund.

I agree to license the information I entered in this form excluding the pronouns, countries of residence, and email addresses under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. I understand that the decision to fund this Research Fund application, the application itself along with all the information entered by my in this form excluding the pronouns, country of residences, and email addresses of the personnel will be published on Wikimedia Foundation Funds pages on Meta-Wiki and will be made available to the public in perpetuity. To make the results of your research actionable and reusable by the Wikimedia volunteer communities, affiliates and Foundation, I agree that any output of my research will comply with the WMF Open Access Policy. I also confirm that I have read the privacy statement and agree to abide by the WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.