I submitted the following project proposal for the Artificial Intelligence Ethics Challenge:
Unpacking Wikipedia’s Lessons for Journalism
In its 18 years, Wikipedia has established itself as a titan of the Internet, built on a model utterly different from other top websites; this project will help journalists understand it better, and empower them to better access its data, and to draw effective contrasts with other top websites.
Major websites like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are well covered by major media; Wikipedia is often covered inaccurately and/or incompletely. A key ingredient in overcoming this is better understanding among journalists of how Wikipedia operates, and what unique benefits it provides.
This project will have three outputs:
- An app facilitating analysis of the growth and refinement of Wikipedia content, including addition of citations, amount of discussion, addition & removal of quality
control banners, etc.;
- Detailed articulation of a theory for what Wikipedia can teach us about the necessary ingredients for collaboration, which can inform software design for collaborative
projects, submitted for publication to media outlets (see here); and
- A panel discussion at a major journalism conference, in which journalists and
Wikipedia experts will evaluate the role of Wikipedia, including both
human and automated edits, in shaping and summarizing knowledge and
One major reason we are holding this open call for ideas is to support voices which are frequently left out of the design, development and deployment of artificial intelligence systems. How does your project help forward this goal?
Wikipedia struggles with the demographics of its content, and of its editor base. By taking an intentional approach to cultivating its network of volunteer software developers, it has improved the culture of its events, and raised awareness of dynamics that tend to exclude those who are frequently underrepresented. In recent years Wikipedia emerged as a forum for strong advocacy and discussion of these issues. One dynamic that contributes to “clubbiness” is lack of understanding of rules and cultural dynamics. By helping journalists, and thereby their readers, to learn about these important areas, this project will address a condition that underlies imbalance in the software development and
editorial community of Wikipedia.