Analysis of social knowledge collection communities

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User Behavior in Social Knowledge Collection Sites

Our initial focus is semantic wikis, as there are hundreds of communities that are using them for social knowledge collection. They are collaboratively creating structured content. Improving the ability of all users to contribute to the semantic aspects of the wiki will help extend the use of knowledge-rich systems and broaden the adoption of semantic web technologies.

We have analyzed communities that use Semantic MediaWiki as a platform for social knowledge collection. There are hundreds of communities that use this platform, see this site for an organized list. Some semantic wikis have a serious use, such as scientific knowledge organization. Others have practical use, for example gardening or restaurant finding. Some wikis have users that are on the younger side, such as teens who are card traders and want to organize all the information about the different characters in the cards.

Our initial analysis covered twenty semantic wikis that focus on a variety of topics and with diverse communities. This represents an initial formative analysis that provided indications of how semantic wikis are used. This kind of analysis can be the basis to understand communities of semantic wiki users and improve the support and usability of semantic wikis. We did a quantitative analysis regarding the creation of structured properties and the editors that create them. We uncovered patterns of use that are common across wikis. See (Gil et al 2013) below for more details on this analysis.

We then did a broader analysis that included 230 semantic wikis, focusing on how users edit wikis to add structure to the contents. We collected data about their creation and edits, as well as the wiki users who edited them. We found that concepts are not used very often, and not used at all in many wikis. Properties were used in all the wikis, although very small numbers of users edit them. Very large numbers of property assertions are used in almost every wiki. See (Gil and Ratnakar 2013) below for more details of this analysis.

We are currently analyzing these behaviors in more detail. We are trying to understand the limited use of some semantic features of the wiki, such as defining concepts, as well as the small number of users who make property definitions. We are also investigating the extent of use and enforcement of restrictive editing policies. It is possible that additional users would be involved in the creation of properties if there were facilities in the wiki to detect and resolve conflicts collaboratively. A future research direction is to investigate extensions to semantic wikis that proactively prompt users to define concepts or properties, detect inconsistent definitions, and mediate their resolution.


This work is reported in the following publications:

* “Knowledge Capture in the Wild: A Perspective from Semantic Wiki Communities.” Gil, Y.,
and Ratnakar, V.  Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Knowledge Capture (K-CAP), 
Banff, Canada, June 2013.  Available as a preprint.
* “The Democratization of Semantic Properties: An Analysis of Semantic Wikis.” Gil, Y.; 
Knight, A.; Zhang, K.; Zhang, L.; Ratnakar, V.; and Sethi, R. In Seventh IEEE International 
Conference on Semantic Computing (ICSC), Irvine, CA, 2013. Available as a preprint.
* “An Initial Analysis of Semantic Wikis.” Gil, Y.; Knight, A.; Zhang, K.; Zhang, L.; 
and Sethi, R. In Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces 
(IUI), Santa Monica, CA, 2013. Available as a preprint.
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