Awarding the self in Wikipedia: Identity work and the disclosure of knowledge

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Citation: Daniel Ashton (2011) Awarding the self in Wikipedia: Identity work and the disclosure of knowledge. First monday (RSS)



Ashton suggests that many Wikipedians and scholars that study Wikipedia have conceptualized participation in Wikipedia as forms of contribution. Ashton suggests that we instead consider work in Wikipedia as a type of "disclosure."

Wikipedians choose which information they want to disclose (often, as he points out, decoupled from claims rooted in fact) as well as in their edits and the way they interact in their work on Wikipedia. Ashton argues that work on Wikipedia can be seen -- more less explicitly -- as a form of identity work.

Ashton explores this idea using the example of Wikipedia service awards which are given by Wikipedians to themselves to self-recognize a set of contributions over a period of time. He argues that these provide a strong reflection of the explicit way in which contributions are treated as a form of identity work by contributors in Wikipedia.

Ashton's treatment is entirely theoretical. Although he mentions the Essjay incident and describes Wikipedia awards he explicitly distances his treatment from an empirical one. He suggests that it technological as well as social structural aspects of context help frame the nature of identity work and cites example from Wikipedia to support this claim.