On the "how" and "why" of emergent role behaviors in Wikipedia

Ofer Arazy, Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, Oded Nov, Johannes Daxenberger, Martina Balestra, Coye Cheshire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Research on peer-production suggests that as participants choose what actions to perform, prototypical activity patterns emerge. Recent work characterized these patterns and demonstrated that informal emergent roles are highly stable. Nonetheless, we know little about the ways in which contributors take on and shed emergent roles. The objectives of this study are to: (a) delineate the temporal dynamics of participants' emergent role taking behaviors, and (b) identify the motivations driving role-transition behaviors. Our study links motivation to role-transition behaviors within Wikipedia. Our first sample covered eleven years and 222,119 contributors, and was used to identify four categories of temporal role-taking behaviors, that differ in their mobility between emergent roles and across Wikipedia articles. Our second examination linked the motivations of 175 new participants to their subsequent role-taking activity over 14 months. Together, the two analyses reveal that role-taking categories can be distinguished based on participants' motivational orientation (intrinsic/extrinsic and self/others-oriented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCSCW 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450343350
StatePublished - Feb 25 2017
Event2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2017 - Portland, United States
Duration: Feb 25 2017Mar 1 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW


Other2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Emergent roles
  • Motivation
  • Online production communities
  • Role mobility
  • Role-taking
  • Wikipedia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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