Yearly Archives: 2012

Which Wikipedia pages are edited mainly by females?

Some time ago we developed Wikitrip, a web tool which shows the world location of editors of a chosen Wikipedia page and also the gender of editors, i.e. how many edits were made by males and females. We released Wikitrip as open source on github and we also deployed 3 live APIs: api.php (various stats about a specific Wikipedia page), api_gender.php (returns timestamp and gender for any edit to a specific Wikipedia page by a registered user that specified his/her gender), api_geojson.php (returns a GeoJSON for anonymous edits on a specific Wikipedia page). If you want to use the APIs in your mashups, we’ll be delighted, more details about the APIs can be found at the end of this blog post.

In fact, today I discovered via Gizmodo that Santiago Ortiz has used our Wikipedia Gender API for creating a fantastic visualization of Wikipedia pages based on how many female and male contributors each of the articles has.
Using the cool visualization you can for example “discover” that currently, out of more than 4 million pages in the English Wikipedia, JUST ONE article is edited more by females than males!!! That article, with 7 male editors and 9 male editors, is Cloth menstrual pad.
Note that the API we released is based on data from Wikipedia and that only users who specified their gender in Wikipedia are counted in (these users are a minority, around 10%). Note also that in our Wikitrip visualization we show a plot with number of edits from gendered users while Santiago show the number of different users. For example in Wikitrip you see that the page Cloth menstrual pad has 62 edits from females and 15 edits from males but the different users who edited the page are 7 male and 9 female.

Wikipedia gender divide visualized

Now I give you some more info about the APIs released with WikiTrip so that you can use them as well in your mashups if you wish so.

  1. api.php

    Get various stats about a page


    • article: page title
    • lang: desidered language (default: en)
    • family: wiki family (default: wikipedia)
    • year_count: show edit count per month (default: false)
    • editors: show unique editors for the page (default: false)
    • max_editors: maximum number of editors displayed (only if “editors” option is set)
    • anons: show anonymous unique editors (default: false)
    • top_ten: show top 10% of editors (default: false)
    • top_fifty: top 50 editors (default: false)


  2. api_gender.php

    Get timestamp and gender for any edit by a registered user that specified his gender on a specific page (might be quite slow)


    • article: page title
    • lang: desidered language (default: en)
    • family: wiki family (default: wikipedia)


  3. api_geojson.php

    Get a GeoJSON for anonymous edits on a specific page


    • article: page title
    • lang: desidered language (default: en)
    • family: wiki family (default: wikipedia)


P.s.: the coder of all Wikitrip awesomeness is the amazing Federico “fox” Scrinzi!

Models of economic production, Encarta vs Wikipedia, and sober economists

An excerpt from Dan Pink’s TED talk “The surprising science of motivation

The mid-1990s, Microsoft started an encyclopedia called Encarta. They had deployed all the right incentives, all the right incentives. They paid professionals to write and edit thousands of articles. Well-compensated managers oversaw the whole thing to make sure it came in on budget and on time. A few years later another encyclopedia got started. Different model, right? Do it for fun. No one gets paid a cent, or a Euro or a Yen. Do it because you like to do it.

Now if you had, just 10 years ago, if you had gone to an economist, anywhere, and said, “Hey, I’ve got these two different models for creating an encyclopedia. If they went head to head, who would win?” 10 years ago you could not have found a single sober economist anywhere on planet Earth who would have predicted the Wikipedia model.

MIT Press book “The Reputation Society” (containing a chapter by me) is out!

The MIT Press I contributed to with a chapter is out! It is titled “The Reputation Society: how online opinions are reshaping the offline world” and edited by Hassan Masum and Mark Tovey.
It is available on MIT press and on Amazon.
The chapter I wrote is titled Trust It Forward: Tyranny of the Majority or Echo Chambers? and on it I ramble about objectivity/subjectivity, minorities/majorities, etc.

If reputation systems weight all perspectives similarly, they may devolve into simple majority rule. But if they give each user reputation scores that take only other similar users’ opinions into account, they run the risk of becoming “echo chambers” in which like-minded people reinforce each others’ views without being open to outside perspectives. Massa discusses design choices and trust metrics that may help balance these two extremes and the broader implication for our future societies.

the reputation society book cover The book received endorsements by people I really admire.
“As our societies expand from local villages to global networks, our ways of assessing and sharing reputation—the foundation of trust and community—must also evolve, but how? The thoughtful and thought-provoking essays in The Reputation Society bring a wide range of perspectives to this question, including the design of technological solutions, applications in philanthropy, science and governance, and warnings about the loss of privacy and autonomy. It is a fascinating collection of readings not only for scholars, but for anyone interested in the dynamics of the reviews and recommendations that shape our decisions—or in the future of how we will judge and be judged.”
Judith Donath, Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

“Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. These provocative essays, by some of the leading thinkers in the domain of reputation systems, illuminate how reputations regulate actions across time and social distance and point to the opportunities and obstacles that reputation systems present for commerce and democracy.”
Paul Resnick, Professor, University of Michigan School of Information

“The Reputation Society enriches the discussion of reputation by bringing together technologists, philosophers, legal scholars, and industry leaders to sort through the promise and perils we face today. It covers the practical, for those interested in the nuts and bolts of the challenges we face today, and the theoretical, for those looking to engage in broader discussions of the ethical and moral concerns. In short, a terrific and enlightening read!”
Danielle Keats Citron, Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law

The list of my co-authors is also very delightful.
Trust, reputation systems, and the immune system of democracy / Craig Newmark
Building the reputation society / Hassan Masum, Mark Tovey, & Yi-Cheng Zhang
Designing reputation systems for the social web / Chrysanthos Dellarocas
Web reputation systems and the real world / Randy Farmer
An inquiry into effective reputation and rating systems / John Henry Clippinger
The biology of reputation / John Whitfield
Regulating reputation / Eric Goldman
Less regulation, more reputation / Lior Strahilevitz
The role of reputation systems in managing online communities / Cliff Lampe
Attention philanthropy : giving reputation a boost / Alex Steffen
Making use of reputation systems in philanthropy / Marc Maxson & Mari Kuraishi
The measurement and mismeasurement of science / Michael Nielsen
Usage-based reputation metrics in science / Victor Henning, Jason Hoyt, and Jan Reichelt
Open access and academic reputation / John Willinsky
Reputation-based governance and making states “legible” to their citizens / Lucio Picci
Trust it forward : tyranny of the majority or echo chambers? / Paolo Massa
Rating in large-scale argumentation systems / Luca Iandoli, Josh Introne, & Mark Klein
Privacy, context, and oversharing : reputational challenges in a Web 2.0 world / Michael Zimmer & Anthony Hoffman
The future of reputation networks / Jamais Cascio
“I hope you know this is going on your permanent record” / Madeline Ashby & Cory Doctorow.

The cover of the book reads as follows.

In making decisions, we often seek advice. Online, we check Amazon recommendations, eBay vendors’ histories, TripAdvisor ratings, and even our elected representatives’ voting records. These online reputation systems serve as filters for information overload. In this book, experts discuss the benefits and risks of such online tools.

The contributors offer expert perspectives that range from philanthropy and open access to science and law, addressing reputation systems in theory and practice. Properly designed reputation systems, they argue, have the potential to create a “reputation society,” reshaping society for the better by promoting accountability through the mediated judgments of billions of people. Effective design can also steer systems away from the pitfalls of online opinion sharing by motivating truth-telling, protecting personal privacy, and discouraging digital vigilantism.

Article about Manypedia on Italian newspaper Corriere

I’ve been interviewed by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera about Manypedia (and Wikitrip). If you know Italian, you can read the resulting article titled “Every Wikipedia represents its own culture: even the concept of controversiality is controversial” at The journalist liked to stress the fact both Manypedia and WikiTrip are open source, which is a good thing I think.
Manypedia on