Wikipedia Evolution: Trends and Phases
In the previous chapters, we presented a theoretical framework to explain the emergence and transformation of complex organizational configurations from an integrated perspective. We suggested that structural differentiation is an early and constitutive process by which online social organizations emerge, grow, and become stable. In this chapter, we explore some empirically measurable trends on Wikipedia that more concretely reveal structural differentiation through the lens of organizational configurations. We analyze data across the five dimensions of inbound and outbound degree centralization, betweenness centralization, assortativity, and entropy to track the ways in which Wikipedia has changed over time. We also propose a statistical method that may be used to determine the moments at which internal and external phenomena triggered revolutionary shifts in an organization’s development, and we subsequently use that method to identify transformative changes in the social structure of the online group that built Wikipedia.
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