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Research:Understanding privacy and security decisions in WMF projects

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21:13, 5 October 2016 (UTC)
Rachel Greenstadt
Duration:  2017-01 – 2021-01

This page documents a proposed research project.
Information may be incomplete and may change before the project starts.

Much of the vitality and innovation credited to the Internet is a product of volunteerism and participation on a massive scale. From product and service reviews, to open source software, encyclopedias, citizen science and journalism, open collaboration projects involve volunteers generating valuable content and products. Wikipedia in particular has been viewed as archetypical of a paradigm shift toward freeing information from traditional economies of production and “democratizing” knowledge by offering widespread opportunities to contribute. This project aims to better understand both how contributors to projects like Wikipedia view their privacy and the threats associated with participation and how organizations like Wikimedia Foundation view the tensions between privacy and transparency and threats to the integrity of their projects and services. With this understanding, we aim to inform the design of privacy tools and practices that better serve both projects and contributors.


This project is a followup to the project: Anonymity and Peer Production, which was completed and yielded one publication. [1]

We aim to interview decision makers both at the Foundation and among the volunteer base (as well as at other organizations that support open collaboration projects) who contribute to decision making about privacy and security infrastructures.


We aim to conduct interviews in year one of the project (2017) and any publications and reports from the interview study should appear in year two (2018).

Policy, Ethics and Human Subjects Research[edit]

IRB approval will be sought prior to commencing recruitment for interviews. We will rely on internal contacts at the Foundation to refer us to potential participants.


Once your study completes, describe the results an their implications here. Don't forget to make status=complete above when you are done.


  1. Andrea Forte, Nazanin Andalibi, Rachel Greenstadt. (2017) Privacy, Anonymity, and Perceived Risk in Open Collaboration: A Study of Tor Users and Wikipedians Proceedings of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) Portland, OR, USA. [1]