Research:Understanding sources

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This page documents a completed research project.

Key Personnel[edit]

  • Heather Ford


Project Summary[edit]

This project aims to analyze the current systems that editors use to track and verify news sources on rapidly evolving pages of .en Wikipedia. How did editors verify news sources in scenarios like the Japan earthquake and the Egyptian revolution or around cultural phenomena like the Kenyan Makmende story where notability and verifiability is often situated outside the frame of reference of most established editors? What techniques do editors use to track issues around pages that they edit? What role does social media play in this process?

Wikipedia Sources: Managing sources in rapidly evolving global news articles on the English Wikipedia

Recruitment Details[edit]

We are looking to recruit editors who edit more than one language version of the encyclopedia. We will use "fieldsite as network" (Burrell) approach.

Benefits for Wikipedia[edit]

In the second phase of the project we will apply the learnings from the research phase to SwiftRiver Ushahidi's SwiftRiver tools for experimental use in Wikipedia. The research will be helpful in developing algorithms that users can apply to stream specific types of content according to different levels of authority, accuracy and trustworthiness over time.

The platform, launched by Ushahidi as a way to manage large quantities of data during a crisis, holds promise for assisting Wikipedia editors in doing their work in a more holistic, authoritative and reflective way. This could be done by making transparent the process by which editors choose one source over another, and by tracing social media sources before an event/phenomenon hits mainstream news.

Related projects[edit]

Time Line[edit]

2011 July

  • Input from stakeholders regarding methodology, goals - done
  • Develop interview guide - done


  • Test interview instrument - done
  • Conduct interviews at Wikimania - done


  • Official launch - done

October, November, December

  • Interviews - done
  • Literature review - done

2012 January to July

  • Write up and review research - done


Wikipedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection[edit]

Our foremost concern is to conduct our research project in an ethical, respectful, and non-disruptive manner. For this reason, we will ensure that we conform to strict standards of informed consent and openness of data collection methods. In particular, we will inform respondents about our affiliation, purpose, and research goals and describe and address any risks associated with participation in this study.

Contact Us[edit]

We welcome your feedback. Please contribute to our Discussion page or feel free to contact us directly via email at Heather Ford @ Ushahidi / SwiftRiver.

Project updates[edit]