Who visualizes Wikipedia?

Overview of the academic studies applying data visualization in Wikipedia analysis

Hi! I’m Martina, a student that has developed her thesis project “Visualizing controversies in Wikipedia” in the Density Design Lab and obtained the master degree in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano on April 2014. The aim of my research was to analyze “Family Planning” article of the English version of Wikipedia as a case study to understand how controversies on the web develop.

Thanks to its increased popularity and relevance as a new form of knowledge generated by its users, but also to its fully accessible database, Wikipedia has received much attention in the last years from the scientific and academic community. The starting point of my research was thus the collection and the categorization of all the studies which addressed Wikipedia data analysis and visualization. Some researchers investigated pages growth rate, others the motivation and quality of users’ contribution, while others the ways in which users collaborate to build the article contents. A group of the considered studies also focused on conflict and controversy detection in Wikipedia rather than on consensus and agreement.

Nevertheless, among the 37 considered studies, only 9 of them used data visualization as an integrated method to investigate and convey knowledge. The scheme above summarizes these studies grouped by the visualization method they used, highlighting how they call their methods, which part of the Wikipedia page was analyzed and the study aims. Moreover, studies that focused on the same part of Wikipedia’s article are linked together with the same type of line. Do you think that I can add other interesting studies that used data visualization in Wikipedia analysis?


1. [Bao, Hecht, Carton, Quaderi, Horn, Gergle 2012] Omnipedia: bridging the Wikipedia language gap

2. [Brandes, Lerner 2008] Visual analysis of controversy in user-generated encyclopedias

3. [Brandes, Lerner, Kenis, Van Raaij 2009] Network analysis of collaboration structure in Wikipedia

4. [Kittur, Suh, Pendleton, Chi 2007] He says, she says: conflict and coordination in Wikipedia

5. [Laniado, Tasso, Volkovich, Kaltenbrunner 2011] When the wikipedians talk: network and tree structure of Wikipedia discussion pages

6. [Suh, Chi, Pendleton, Kittur 2007] Us vs. them understanding social dynamics in Wikipedia with revert graph visualizations

7. [Viegas, Wattenberg, Dave 2004] Studying cooperation and conflict between authors with history flow visualizations

8. [Viégas, Wattenberg, Kriss, Ham 2007] Talk before you type

9. [Wattemberg, Viégas, Hollenbach 2007] Visualizing activity on Wikipedia with chromograms

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