There was an interesting article in Fast Company’s April 2007 about Jimmy Wales new search venture, Wikia.  (If you haven’t heard: he’s hoping to do for search what Wikipedia does for content, by using armies of volunteers to sift through search results.) 

One quote from the article stuck out to me: “The way Wikipedia deals with saboteurs is to change them, not to
crush them,” says Tapscott. “They find something good about them and
embrace it. This attitude is what you need to make this work.” 
Is that really true?  Does Wikipedia really convert saboteurs into converts, who add value to the encyclopedia?  Seeing the quote from Tapscott in print helped me realize that I’ve had an unconscious assumption that saboteurs are mostly persistent bad guys, who may be discouraged, but not improved.  One challenge to the traditional post hoc data analysis to try to figure out whether saboteurs are converting is that saboteurs are more likely than regular wikipedia contributors to contribute anonymously.  How can this weakness in the data be overcome?


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