Harvard releases Wikipedia dispute resolution report

Here is something new to digest, or perhaps, considering the topic, it will turn out to be indigestion. “Reaching the Zone of Online Collaboration” is a study of Wikipedia’s dispute resolution processes done by Harvard University.

There is a research description on Meta, still listed as ongoing Research:Developing Wikimedia’s anti-harassment and behavioral dispute resolution systems

The report itself is on Commons here. Or you can download the PDF file here (with American spelling in the file name.)

Wikimedia Harvard projectThis is the project on the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) here (archived):

“WMF has engaged HNMCP to analyze disputes and make recommendations towards the design of a dispute resolution system…”

The authors are Han A. Lee or maybe Hanna Lee or Han (Hanna) Lee (there are several  Han Lees in the law school), and Joseph Crupi (also here).  The supervising instructor is Andrew Mamo.

Team-Wikimedia-hi-res-300x190 andrew mamo

There is some sort of problem in the display with the Commons file though. Even though the file uploaded to Commons seems to have all 50 pages, you can only see the first 3 pages in the page viewer. I have no idea what is wrong with it. [Commons files are now working.]

page 4 of report missing
Pages 4-50 do not display in the Commons page viewer.



3 thoughts on “Harvard releases Wikipedia dispute resolution report

  1. Thanks for reporting this. An important, but overlooked study. I searched the Signpost archives for this but couldn’t find any mention of it.

    I give the Harvard Law students an A for their analysis of the problems, and a B for their proposed solutions. When they talk of “discussion facilitators” that brings to mind the role I believe Larry Sanger played for the first year or so. I think that rather than fire Larry, who provided good “adult supervision”, Jimbo should have gradually built a small team of facilitators led by Larry.

    At this point building a database of precedents is a huge task, but better to start on it late than never.

    P.S. I’ve been reading your archives. Add me to your list of fans, your stuff is great!

  2. Why thank you, and I have also been having good reports of you, as being one of the adults in the room.

    Jimbo I see as one of the “idea guys”. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the idea of stages of an organization, but when a movement is young it needs a particular type of leadership, and Jimbo seems to have had the Messiah touch. But if the organization is to survive, as it grows larger and more unwieldy, it needs to develop a more boring type of leadership. I hate to say “bureaucracy”, but it needs to have functioning structures instead of people who are expected to micromanage everything. This is the phase the WMF is in right now, trying to transition from being a teenager to being an adult.

    There have been a number of internal reports on governance as well, but who is reading them and acting on them? Surely the volunteer community does not have the time or the expertise or qualifications for this. Dispute resolution is a Thing. You can get a degree in it. It looks like some very valuable contacts were made with this report, but it needs a project manager to follow through. But ever since Lila, the WMF seems to think of itself as a software house, so if they are true to form they will probably just assign someone to “build a tool” without defining what they are trying to accomplish.

    A lot of people had great hopes about this ongoing strategy process, but it looks now like it’s just a way to reward the faithful by letting them write mission statements, rather than developing and legitimizing meaningful policy. I dropped into one of their scheduled meetings at Wikimania and there was nothing going on, just a bunch of people sitting around using their cellphones.

  3. @wbm1058, it just occurred to me to ask if there is a particular topic you are interested in. There are now over 500 articles here, but I’m afraid my category system is rather capricious. I do have an internal search function though, and could add some categories if I knew what someone was looking for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s