B.T. Adler, L. de Alfaro, I. Pye, V. Raman. Measuring Author Contributions to the Wikipedia. In WikiSym 2008: International Symposium on Wikis. Abstract PDF

Abstract

We consider the problem of measuring user contributions to versioned, collaborative bodies of information, such as wikis. Measuring the contributions of individual authors can be used to divide revenue, to recognize merit, to award status promotions, and to choose the order of authors when citing the content. In the context of the Wikipedia, previous works on author contribution estimation have focused on two criteria: the total text created, and the total number of edits performed. We show that neither of these criteria work well: both techniques are vulnerable to manipulation, and the total-text criterion fails to reward people who polish or re-arrange the content. We consider and compare various alternative criteria that take into account the quality of a contribution, in addition to the quantity, and we analyze how the criteria differ in the way they rank authors according to their contributions. As an outcome of this study, we propose to adopt total edit longevity as a measure of author contribution. Edit longevity is resistant to simple attacks, since edits are counted towards an author's contribution only if other authors accept the contribution. Edit longevity equally rewards people who create content, and people who rearrange or polish the content. Finally, edit longevity distinguishes the people who contribute little (who have contribution close to zero) from spammers or vandals, whose contribution quickly grows negative.