A forthcoming book about Wikipedia’s first 20 years

Wikipedia @ 20 is a collection of essays where seasoned Wikipedians share their lessons learned during Wikipedia’s first 20 years online. It is edited by Joseph Reagle and Jackie Koerner, who envision anyone interested in Wikipedia as potential readers of this work. The print publication is planned to be available in early 2020 with CC-BY-NC licensing.

This collaborative work has received more than 20 contributions and runs on PubPub, MIT Press’ online collaboration tool. The essays published there are open for public feedback and comment. If you’d like to contribute your views, please do so by July 19!

About the essay collection

As Wikipedia’s twentieth anniversary approaches, many of the site’s early peers have fallen by the wayside; those that survived have been overrun with ads and misinformation. Wikipedia—the free encyclopedia founded on radical collaboration and reliable sourcing—persists. What was once a scrappy experiment has become the world’s most popular reference work. Recently, Wikipedia was even enlisted by its peers (unknowingly) to counteract their problems with fake news.

Yet, the online encyclopedia was not always looked to as the grownup of the web. Within its first ten years, some labeled the project a fad bound to fail, others claimed it as a harbinger of the Web’s future. Wikipedia did not fail, but the open collaboration it exemplifies has also not become the norm.

Wikipedia’s legacy is an opportunity to reflect on this project and online communities more generally. That is, what insights are available from Wikipedia’s twenty years of history? What does this history tell us of expectations fulfilled or disappointed, opportunities seized or missed, myths confirmed or busted, lessons learned, or the probable future?

About the call for proposals

The call for proposals ended November 1, 2018. In order to understand what insights we can draw from Wikipedia’s first 20 years, we asked researchers and Wikipedians three questions:

  1. What initially attracted your attention to Wikipedia?
  2. What has changed since then?
  3. What do these changes portend for the future of Wikipedia, online community, and beyond?

We hope that across the domains of communitycontributorsecosystem, and meaning we’ll find compelling and accessible insights to more specific questions, such as:

  • How has Wikipedia changed? How much of this is unique to Wikipedia and how much is common across online communities?
  • Did the precipitous growth and plateauing of contributions represent as large of a problem as was once thought?
  • What has come of efforts to increase contributor diversity, increase its global reach, counter systemic bias, and recruit newcomers?
  • How did Wikipedia succeed or fail to meet the early expectations of proponents and critics alike?
  • Is Wikipedia the heart of a new data ecosystem or the lone survivor of an older and better web?

Get involved

Community feedback is priceless. To share your views and comments please use the PubPub platform. The public review period closes on July 19. Your views will provide the contributors with valuable community perspective.


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