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Wikipedia in the anti-SOPA protests as a case study of direct, deliberative democracy in cyberspace

Title
Wikipedia in the anti-SOPA protests as a case study of direct, deliberative democracy in cyberspace
Author
Konieczny, Piotr Bronislaw
Keywords
Global social movements; online social movements; mobilization; direct democracy; deliberative democracy; participation inequality; wikis; Wikipedia; IRON LAW; ORGANIZATION
Issue Date
2016-03
Publisher
Routledge
Citation
Information, Communication and Society, v. 20, No. 2, Page. 167-184
Abstract
This paper contributes to the discussion on deliberative, direct democracy and volunteer mobilization in the Internet era by analyzing the vote participation levels of Wikipedia volunteer editors (Wikipedians). On 18th January 2012 in the 'first Internet strike' against the American 'Stop Online Piracy Act' legislation, over two thousand Wikipedians took part in the vote concerning whether their site should undertake a protest action, with vast majority expressing support for this action. However, the vote participants formed only a tiny fraction of the total number of Wikipedians who number in millions. Although Wikipedia can be seen as an open, democratic forum practicing deliberative, direct democracy, the process of voting on Wikipedia is significantly influenced by participation inequality, with a majority of the vote participation coming from a small group of most active contributors - an effective oligarchy. This paper discusses the intricate dynamics between Wikipedia egalitarian ethos and the creed to discuss project matters deliberately on one hand and the conspicuous lack of promotion and advertisement stemming from a rule against 'canvassing' and an overall skepticism regarding the status of majority votes. While voters' passivity and lack of interest play a major role, as expected, another factor emerges as a significant factor responsible for the low levels of participation: an inefficient information distribution system, as the vast majority of Wikipedians were not aware of the ongoing discussions and the vote itself until after their conclusion.
URI
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1157620http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11754/65537
ISSN
1468-4462; 1369-118X
DOI
10.1080/1369118X.2016.1157620
Appears in Collections:
COLLEGE OF COMMUNICATION[E](언론정보대학) > INFORMATION SOCIOLOGY(정보사회학과) > Articles
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