Assessing the Contribution of Subject-matter Experts to Wikipedia

Alex Yarovoy, Yiftach Nagar, Einat Minkov, Ofer Arazy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attempts to explain the success of knowledge co-production communities have focused on organizational design, including structure, motivation, roles, and coordination mechanisms. Meantime, the role that subject-matter-experts play in these knowledge production settings has largely been left in a theoretical and empirical void; its existence has been assumed, but we know little about its nature and scope, as it is difficult to observe. In this article, we start filling that void, using Wikipedia as the setting for our empirical investigation. First, we carefully crossed information from individual Wikipedia editor pages with external sources such as Google Scholar to reliably identify editors who are credentialed experts. Matching these credentialed experts with their Wikipedia editing patterns, we used this dataset to train a machine learning classifier that we then employed to identify additional expert editors and assess the nature and the scope of their work across Wikipedia. Our results suggest that the scope of expert involvement is substantial, albeit with considerable differences across topics. We estimate that approximately 10%--30% of Wikipedia’s contributors have substantial subject-matter expertise in the topics that they edit. We discuss implications for theory and practice of peer-production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalACM Transactions on Social Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the Contribution of Subject-matter Experts to Wikipedia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this